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Don
Posted: April 15th, 2020, 6:29pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Doubles by Daniel Ehrlich - Comedy - Tennis is more than just a game for one and a nuisance for the other - but when the opportunity for superstardom arises, these two teenage misfits must put behind their mutual loathing for fame, fortune and love. 127 pages - pdf format

Writer interested in feedback on this work



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eldave1
Posted: April 15th, 2020, 7:56pm Report to Moderator
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Daniel - just a quick scan through the first few pages.

Man - that opening narration is thick and we don't have a clue what he is narrating over (over black?)  Regardless - I would certainly chop this down.


Quoted Text
INT. HOSPITAL - DAY, ANYWHERE USA
A woman rests in a hospital bed. She swaddles a small newborn


Name the Mom here - she's going to be in the next several scenes.


Quoted Text
EXT. SHANTY HOUSE - DAY (SIMULTANEOUS TO NARRATION)


If so - out the narration in the scene.


Quoted Text
Splint's mother and father lie in a double bed, shoulder to
shoulder, as Rustic bounces an ever-present tennis ball while
his arm hangs off his side of the bed. A picture of Emmanuel
Agassi with a young Andre hangs from the wall on one side of
the room. A picture of Richard Williams with a young Venus and
Serena hangs on the other. The room is otherwise simple and
sparsely decorated, not that there is any space for stuff.


Break up your description/action blocks into bite sized chunks.

Splint's mother and father lie in a double bed, shoulder to
shoulder, as Rustic bounces an ever-present tennis ball while
his arm hangs off his side of the bed.

A picture of Emmanuel Agassi with a young Andre hangs from the wall on one side of
the room. A picture of Richard Williams with a young Venus and
Serena hangs on the other.

The room is otherwise simple and sparsely decorated, not that there is any space for stuff.


Quoted Text
INT. SHANTY HOUSE, RUSTIC'S BEDROOM - DAY

We return to the POV of Splinter's mom, now nursing Splinter in


You really don't need the camera angles here - its a spec script


Quoted Text
EXT. SHANTY HOUSE BACKYARD, DAY,

TEXT READS: ONE YEAR LATER

Splint crawls up a small dirt mound. Rustic's voice can be
heard in the background:


I assume you mean SUPER - and it needs to go after you've described something in the scene

EXT. SHANTY HOUSE BACKYARD, DAY,

Splint crawls up a small dirt mound. Rustic's voice can be
heard in the background:

SUPER: ONE YEAR LATER

So to me, the nut of the writing is fine - I like your dialogue - but it's just top clunky and dense and tricked up with camera angles, etc that it takes one out of the read. Think crisp and clean - hope this makes sense


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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stampede331
Posted: April 15th, 2020, 8:41pm Report to Moderator
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Opening narration not over black but a montage of iconic sports clips that describe the narrator's feelings.  Didn't know I was supposed to include.

What do you mean "out the narration in the scene."  This is the first script I've ever written.

I didn't know I was allowed to break exposition up into paragraphs.  

The mom not having a name is part of the script.

The first 11 pages are the choppiest in the script.

Also don't know what you mean by adding the word "SUPER."


Thanks for reading the beginning.



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stampede331
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Also just read the first 10 pages of The Last Statesman, so I see how clean and unchunky (not a word) your exposition is.
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eldave1
Posted: April 15th, 2020, 9:12pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted Text
Opening narration not over black but a montage of iconic sports clips that describe the narrator's feelings.  Didn't know I was supposed to include.


Basically, you should include what you wanted us to see - you just open with a narration. What are we seeing when this narrator is talking?

If you want a montage of sport clips - you need to write that the montage,  I only mentioned over black since you hadn't written what we wee supposed to see so I just assumed it was over black.


Quoted Text
I didn't know I was allowed to break exposition up into paragraphs.  


Yep - absolutely.


Quoted Text
The mom not having a name is part of the script.


Okay


Quoted Text
The first 11 pages are the choppiest in the script.


They need to be your least choppiest.


Quoted Text
Also don't know what you mean by adding the word "SUPER."


SUPER  is short for SUPERIMPOSE. It means we are going to see words on the screen over a scene (something we are seeing).

Hope this helps


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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stampede331
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It does help.  Thanks!
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stampede331
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Title: Doubles
                                             Written By: Daniel Ehrlich
FADE IN:

SUPER We begin with images of the majesty of sport - the still interiors of Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Lambeau Field, Giants Stadium, The Staples Center, Madison Square Garden, Billy Jean King Tennis Center, Wimbledon; then Pop Warner Football Fields, little league fields in lush green, neighborhood basketball courts and junior tennis courts with still images of children playing on them; then an iconic still image of Gary Kasparov and a famous painting of the founding fathers signing the constitution

NARRATOR (V/O)
I once held the theory that sports are not meant for man in his current state.  Sports, after all, are beautiful expressions of competition, fully realized in concept, governed by the incontrovertible logic of their own rules and regulations, and yet easily adaptable to suit the particular ages, needs and ability levels of their practitioners.  In my opinion, there is no major sport that is not the equal of chess in precision of design or constitutional democracy in durability of design.  

SUPER The collage from above becomes alive as still images are joined with live clips of the most unsportsmanlike behavior caught on film: Tyson bites Holyfield’s ear; Don Zimmer fights Pedro Martinez; Ndamukong Suh stomping on his opponent’s hand; David Ortiz smashes his bat into the dugout phone; Ron Artest breaches the stands to attack fans; and on and on

NARRATOR
Now man, man is not beautiful.  In fact, man is often quite ugly, governed by wild, intemperate passions that yield to nothing and capitulate to no one.  He is cruel and stubborn and vain and ignorant, and all of these qualities are crucial to his failures, though even this he does not know.  Now again, I had this theory about Man and Sports, and for most of my life I would have loved to elaborate on it with you, but then I was tasked with the job of covering the craziest son-of-a-bitch and the saddest-son-of-a-bitch the sport of tennis has ever known for my local newspaper.  I still can't decide which one is which, but more importantly, I no longer hold the theory I once held.

Is that better
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eldave1
Posted: April 15th, 2020, 10:32pm Report to Moderator
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Better - but you are misusing the SUPER. Check out this link:

https://thestorydepartment.com/formatting-tip-audio-over-black-and-text-over-image/


I would write it like this

FADE IN:

MONTAGE OF SPORT EVENTS

- The still interiors of Fenway Park,  Yankee Stadium, Lambeau Field.

- A Pop Warner Football Field. Youngsters in helmets too large for their heads battle on the pee wee gridiron.

-  An iconic still image of Gary Kasparov at the chess championship.

NARRATOR (V.O)
I once held the theory that sports are not meant for man in his current state.  Sports, after all, are beautiful expressions of competition, fully realized in concept, governed by the incontrovertible logic of their own rules and regulations, and yet easily adaptable to suit the particular ages, needs and ability levels of their practitioners.  In my opinion, there is no major sport that is not the equal of chess in precision of design or constitutional democracy in durability of design.  

-  Tyson bites Holyfield’s ear at the MM sports arena.

- Don Zimmer fights Pedro Martinez at Fenway Park.

-  on Artest breaches the stands to attack fans.

NARRATOR (V.O)
Now man, man is not beautiful.  In fact, man is often quite ugly, governed by wild, intemperate passions that yield to nothing and capitulate to no one.  He is cruel and stubborn and vain and ignorant, and all of these qualities are crucial to his failures, though even this he does not know.  Now again, I had this theory about Man and Sports, and for most of my life I would have loved to elaborate on it with you, but then I was tasked with the job of covering the craziest son-of-a-bitch and the saddest-son-of-a-bitch the sport of tennis has ever known for my local newspaper.  I still can't decide which one is which, but more importantly, I no longer hold the theory I once held.

You need more then what I wrote - the point being you have to paint the specific image you want on the screen in the order that you want it.

That being said - I wouldn't start with the opening narration at all. You don't need it. We will learn all the things the Narrator is laying out up front as we go through your story.

I would start the script like this: (I just made up hte ages for example)

FADE IN:

INT. HOSPITAL - DAY

A WOMAN (25) rests in a hospital bed cradling a newborn
baby in her arms,

SPLINTER (30) sits in a chair to her right.

In a chair next to him sit RUSTIC (30), Russian. He impatiently
bounces a tennis ball. like players do before a serve.

A nurse enters

Lose your camera directions and get rid of the things we can't see - For example, you can't tell us he's a father (how do you film that). You are limited to things we can actually hear or see.







My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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spesh2k
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SUPER is reserved for text over screen, as in superimposed over the screen. SUPER isn't used for description.

Take off the SUPER before the description you have and you're on the right track.

And white space is easier on the reader's eyes. You can still split up the images and split up the dialogue.

FADE IN:

As images flash across the screen, exhibiting the majesty of sport...

NARRATOR (V/O)
I once held the theory that sports are not meant for man in his current state.

Images of the still interiors of Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium, Lambeau Field, Giants Stadium, The Staples Center, Madison Square Garden, Billy Jean King Tennis Center, Wimbledon...

NARRATOR (V/O)
Sports, after all, are beautiful expressions of competition, fully realized in concept, governed by the incontrovertible logic of their own rules and regulations, and yet easily adaptable to suit the particular ages, needs and ability levels of their practitioners.

Images of pop Warner Football Fields, little league fields in lush green, neighborhood basketball courts and junior tennis courts with still images of children playing on them; then an iconic still image of Gary Kasparov and a famous painting of the founding fathers signing the constitution.

NARRATOR (V/O)
In my opinion, there is no major sport that is not the equal of chess in precision of design or constitutional democracy in durability of design.

The collage from above becomes alive as still images are joined with live clips of the most unsportsmanlike behavior caught on film: Tyson bites Holyfield’s ear; Don Zimmer fights Pedro Martinez; Ndamukong Suh stomping on his opponent’s hand; David Ortiz smashes his bat into the dugout phone; Ron Artest breaches the stands to attack fans...


And so on...

-- Michael








THE SUICIDE THEORY (Amazon Prime, 79% Rotten Tomatoes) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2517300/?ref_=nm_knf_i1
RAGE (Coming Feb. 2021) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8874764/?ref_=nm_knf_i2

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stampede331
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Thank you, Michael and Eldave.  Clearly you both have lots of screenwriting under your belts.  This is my first attempt at a feature and my first attempt at writing in over a decade.  I will make these changes and check out that link
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spesh2k
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Quoted Text
INT. HOSPITAL - DAY, ANYWHERE USA

A woman rests in a hospital bed. She swaddles a small newborn
baby, SPLINTER. Seated to her right is the boy's father,
RUSTIC, who speaks with a thick Russian accent. He sits with
impatience, bouncing a tennis ball in a rehearsed fashion, as
players do before a serve. A nurse walks into frame.


For you scene heading, it should just be...

INT. HOSPITAL ROOM - DAY

No need to say Anywhere, USA. Write what we see. As of now, we see that we're in a hospital. And you should specify where in the hospital we are in the scene heading.

Also, your description, you should CAP all characters when introducing them, including WOMAN and NURSE. Especially with WOMAN, try to include an age and physical description so we know what kind of woman we're looking at. Creates more of a visual, thus feels more like a film. And, if she is the mother, maybe give her a name (if she's somewhat relevant).

And try splitting up your action blocks a little bit. The way I split up action blocks is as if I were directing the film, without mentioning camera directions. I split them up based on the order of what we see. As soon as the visual changes focus, I start a new action block - as if changing camera angles. It's a small detail that really does have somewhat of a subliminal effect on the reader. And it also helps presentation - white space is easy on the eyes. When you have huge action blocks, even action blocks that are 5 lines long, it can be like looking at a Daily News word search.

INT. HOSPITAL ROOM - DAY

A WOMAN (age, description) swaddles a small newborn named SPLINTER while resting in bed.


Then the next visual.

RUSTIC (age, description) sits at bedside, nervously bouncing a tennis ball as a NURSE enters.

You don't need to mention that he has a Russian accent until he speaks.

RUSTIC
(thick Russian accent)
Dialogue.


So that paragraph would look something like this --

INT. HOSPITAL ROOM - DAY

A WOMAN (age, description) swaddles a small newborn named SPLINTER while resting in bed.

RUSTIC (age, description) sits at bedside, nervously bouncing a tennis ball as a NURSE enters.


It simulates a film more accurately, especially since 1 page = 1 minute of screen time (roughly). And it reads at the pace of an actual film. Which is what you want. The second we feel like we're reading rather than seeing a film, it feels like a chore. The easier a script is to read, the more your readers can focus on the actual story and see it visually. Which makes it easier for us to judge the story as a whole.

-- Michael



THE SUICIDE THEORY (Amazon Prime, 79% Rotten Tomatoes) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2517300/?ref_=nm_knf_i1
RAGE (Coming Feb. 2021) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8874764/?ref_=nm_knf_i2

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stampede331
Posted: April 15th, 2020, 11:39pm Report to Moderator
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THANK YOU, I've made considerable changes tonight based on the advice of both of you
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stampede331
Posted: April 16th, 2020, 12:12pm Report to Moderator
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https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B5wNeoYV7tMRWmlNQmVjaFRMZ2s

Just an updated look at the script based on the great feedback received here
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eldave1
Posted: April 16th, 2020, 12:36pm Report to Moderator
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The link says accessed denied


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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ajr
Posted: April 16th, 2020, 12:45pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Daniel,

Congratulations on getting a feature script done... no small feat.

To echo and build upon what Dave and Michael are saying, with the opening narration:

Narrators are usually 3rd person omniscient - meaning that they know all, and are there to feed us exposition. A cheap trick in some cases, but very clever and useful in other cases when it's done properly, and in moderation.

Your narrator says "in my opinion", which means he or she has now insinuated themselves into the plot, and we must know who they are. Moreover, we must "care" about their opinion now. Very difficult to do right off the bat without any other visuals or character introductions. Does this narrator take form later on in the script? Or is he / she meant to simply provide play-by-play? It needs to be one or the other. Just food for thought -

AJR


Click HERE to read JOHN LENNON'S HEAVEN https://preview.tinyurl.com/John-Lennon-s-Heaven-110-pgs/
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stampede331
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Very clever, AJR.  No, the narrator is not just here to narrate.  He becomes an integral character 3/4ths of the way through the script, no longer narrating but participating.  I'm not sure why it says access denied.  I will try again to post a link to the updated script.  Thanks for the kind words.  Writing a feature length script was an Everest I put off climbing for too long.  
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stampede331
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Revision History (1 edits)
stampede331  -  April 16th, 2020, 1:11pm
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stampede331
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https://drive.google.com/file/d/1YbyoZivfxgKt-kwsmHKgbrf9EDNA7-Ld/view?usp=sharing

A new opening, completely different from the original script I posted.  When in the writing process does the editing end?  Does it ever?

Revision History (1 edits)
stampede331  -  April 17th, 2020, 9:07pm
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ajr
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Hey Daniel,

So this has a Wes Anderson meets THE SANDLOT vibe to it... not sure if that's what you intended, or if you stumbled upon it... but you have my attention so far. I'm at page 21 and I'm going to try to continue as long as I can, but I have to be honest with you that the formatting is making it a real chore to read... You have CUT TO's and *'s that disappear after the first few pages, and SCAB's dialogue is formatted like action lines (flush left), and your scene headings have commas instead of dashes, and some sentences don't have periods at the end of them. You really need to scrub this and get it into screenplay-ready format.

Some random thoughts:

Do we need the narrator? I'm wondering if this can be told from someone else's POV; maybe you do need the narrator, however he is too prominent early on. He has too much dialogue, and I think the Waldo thing is out of left field and lands flat. The narrator should say ONLY AS MUCH as is necessary to propel your narrative along, and not one word more. He says several times that he's the one that breaks a big story, etc. Don't let him steal the movie from Scab and Samuel.

I do like that he reveals how Scab got his name, though. In spots he feels like the Burl Ives character in RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER (the Rankin-Bass version).

Why isn't Scab's mother given a name?

At one point you say "Scab's mother and father" lie next to each other, and the next sentence you start with Rustic. Things like these need to be cleaned up. You've already named Scab's father.

I like the exaggeration of Samuel's character. How he's set up to literally be Peter Perfect. Again, very Wes Anderson.

We need more emotion in the first few pages. I'll tell you where you captured me, and got me to read on. It was page 12, when Samuel tells Scab he's going to be the catcher, and you said "Little Scab nods timidly." That pulled on my heartstrings. We need more of that. THAT is why you are writing. To get us to root for the underdog.

Samuel's conquests with the Magnum condoms is quite humorous.

I think the advancing of their ages needs to be sharpened a bit. Also, you have Scab aging past toddler-ism and then you begin with Samuel at birth. Maybe run those side by side, since they are the same age? It got a little confusing.

I'm up to the point where the boys meet and Scab and Anna are showing interest in each other. So now it's cute, and the dialogue is actually pretty good.

Rustic is a good character. His death was both sad and funny. I liked how neither Scab or his mother showed emotion.

So, in summary, so far? I think you have a cool story here, and the trick is to craft, and hone, and read, and get better at telling your story in visual form. And get slavish to the screenplay format.

More to come --

AJR


Click HERE to read JOHN LENNON'S HEAVEN https://preview.tinyurl.com/John-Lennon-s-Heaven-110-pgs/
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stampede331
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Wow, thanks for reading AJR.  This is the first script I've written, with the exception of 8-10 page scripts in college.  I wonder if I should have read one of those books on how to write a script first, since I thought I formatted correctly.  I saw the problem with the SCAB action lines this morning because I changed his name and it screwed up that element of the formatting.  This link should have the correct formatting.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1bQMYd-h-W7bSgv3wA1lghMyWGufQlxno/view?usp=sharing
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spesh2k
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Quoted Text
FADE IN: Black

We open to a blinking cursor under the heading: The Summerfield Times on pre-formatted journalism software.


The visual you want us to have feels a little confusing as most of us who aren't journalists don't know what pre-formatted journalism software looks like.

And I'm not sure what you mean by FADE IN: Black. You can't fade into black unless there was something else before this. So, overall, the opening image is hard to visualize.

FADE IN:

ON A COMPUTER SCREEN - A cursor blinks on a blank document, only a headline reading, "The Summerfield Times" above it.


Then we have the narrator. I really don't think acknowledging in the dialogue that the narrator is actually a character is the best of ideas. Why can't we just come to find out who the narrator is naturally as the story unfolds? And does the narrator have a name when it's revealed who is narrating the story?

I'm a huge Elmore Leonard fan. Now, he's a novelist, but his books are about as close to screenplays as you can get without being a screenplay. And, I forget the exact quote, but, to paraphrase -- Cut out the fat.

Whatever you don't need, whatever doesn't contribute to your story, theme or the personality/tone of your story, I say take out. Get right to it, IMO.

FADE IN:

ON A COMPUTER SCREEN - A cursor blinks on a blank document, only a headline reading, "The Summerfield Times" at the top of the page.

NARRATOR (VO)
Hi. My name is Blah-blah-blah. And I'm a
sports journalist for the
Summerfield Times.


Then you have this:


Quoted Text
CUT TO:
The Narrator as the camera zooms in to locate him. He is
circled with a sharpie in the upper left corner of the screen,
taking notes in the bleachers of SAMUEL’S middle school
baseball games. We will identify this scene again later.


You don't need any "CUT TO:". Just start a scene heading, it's the same thing and doesn't take away from the read.

Where are we? We don't find that out until the third line of your description that we're at a middle school baseball game. And who is Samuel? Is that the name of the middle school?

FADE IN:

ON A COMPUTER SCREEN - A cursor blinks on a blank document, only a headline reading, "The Summerfield Times" at the top of the page.

NARRATOR (VO)
Hi. My name is Blah-blah-blah. And I'm a
sports journalist for the
Summerfield Times.


EXT. SAMUEL'S MIDDLE SCHOOL BASEBALL FIELD - DAY

NARRATOR *probably should give him a name, in CAPS when you intro any character* (age/description), takes notes from the bleachers as a ball-game ensues.

NARRATOR (VO)
That's me, right there. Covering
a middle school baseball game.

ON THE FIELD

The 13-YEAR-OLD PITCHER sends a heater over the plate, the BATTER wiffing on his swing --

UMPIRE
Steee-rike!


See what I mean? We feel like we're there, we know where we are and what we're SEEING. Film is a visual medium, you should write what we see as we see it.

Another example, right after this...


Quoted Text
EXT. SUMMERFIELD TIMES HEADQUARTERS

NARRATOR (CONT’D)
No, it’s not like that. I’m no
pervert. Let me start over: I’m a
sports journalist for the
Summerfield Times...


What does the Summerfield Times Headquarters look like? What are we looking at?

As I read on to page two, you actually show the NARRATOR prominently... didn't you just say we weren't going to see him for 20 minutes in your voice over at the beginning?

And, again, he should have a name IMO.

-- Michael






THE SUICIDE THEORY (Amazon Prime, 79% Rotten Tomatoes) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2517300/?ref_=nm_knf_i1
RAGE (Coming Feb. 2021) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8874764/?ref_=nm_knf_i2

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spesh2k
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I am intrigued to read more after checking out some of page 2 -- I actually used to be a sports columnist for a small town paper. And I specifically covered high school girls tennis, so I might be able to relate to the material somehow. It kinda sucked covering boring middle school and high school games. But the tennis stuff was fun and I got to travel around a little bit.



THE SUICIDE THEORY (Amazon Prime, 79% Rotten Tomatoes) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2517300/?ref_=nm_knf_i1
RAGE (Coming Feb. 2021) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8874764/?ref_=nm_knf_i2

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stampede331
Posted: April 18th, 2020, 11:11pm Report to Moderator
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So I'm reading and taking into account all of your feedback.  I'm a stone cold amateur and would not pretend to be anything different.  I decided to lop off the first half of the introduction by the narrator and start at the meat.  I don't think it takes anything away from the story except a cheesy laugh.  Nice pic of your time as a tennis journalist.  I wrote this for tennis aficionados and fans of bildungsroman buddy comedies.  It's a bit crude but I hope has heart.  The description of Wes Anderson meets The Sandlot might be the best description.  Here's a link to what's yet another draft.  I wrote the beginning 8 years ago and the next 110 pages in the last two weeks.  I sort of shoehorned a script into an introduction from a writer and person who is practically no longer me.  Anyways, here's the updated link.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1aKXBMiRrOoTJXOjUXYolH8aWWscTmkS3
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spesh2k
Posted: April 18th, 2020, 11:20pm Report to Moderator
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Yeah, that was like 20 years ago. I actually kinda hated writing for a newspaper. But I grew an appreciation for tennis after that -- when I was hired, I lied that I knew tennis well so I could get the job. So I had to research a lot and I do appreciate the work that goes into it. And it is pretty entertaining.

Anyway, yeah, I'll give this a look in a little bit, give you my thoughts... just glancing at it, the presentation looks easier on the eyes... will give you my thoughts.

-- Michael


THE SUICIDE THEORY (Amazon Prime, 79% Rotten Tomatoes) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2517300/?ref_=nm_knf_i1
RAGE (Coming Feb. 2021) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8874764/?ref_=nm_knf_i2

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stampede331
Posted: April 18th, 2020, 11:28pm Report to Moderator
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Cool, thanks Michael
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ajr
Posted: April 19th, 2020, 10:28am Report to Moderator
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Hey Daniel,

I agree with Michael about the narrator. I spoke about him in broad terms, however he did a nice job of showing you how to pare this plot device down to its barest elements. I also think the Waldo thing is not necessary and tends to take the audience out of the read. Plus there would be licensing issues with this. I really applaud your willingness to learn, listen and adapt, and I look forward to finishing this later on today.

AJR


Click HERE to read JOHN LENNON'S HEAVEN https://preview.tinyurl.com/John-Lennon-s-Heaven-110-pgs/
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spesh2k
Posted: April 19th, 2020, 4:07pm Report to Moderator
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So, I read up to page 25 so far. This is actually pretty good. The dialogue is funny, although I don't think it's fits the age of its characters at times. And I like how we show how different Scab and Sam's lives were in contrast to each other's growing up. Some good character development, here. They're complete opposites yet are similar, setting up conflict for the rest of the story.

As I mentioned, it's the writing that needs the most work. But it's fixable and not TOO, TOO far off. Despite some of the writing, this actually moved pretty fast. So I will be getting to the rest of this during the next few days or so.

Here's notes I made as I went...

PAGE 1:
Your narrator should be a voice over since he, himself is not speaking to the camera. So don’t forget to put NARRATOR (VO) in.

Also, what does the exterior of the hospital look like? There should be at least a quick, one-line description of it to give us some kind of visual.

BOTTOM PAGE 1:


Quoted Text
INT. HOSPITAL, NATAL WARD – DAY

A woman (30, plain looking) rests in a hospital bed. She swaddles a small newborn baby, SCAB (diminutive, oddly silent). Seated to her right is the boy's father, RUSTIC (35, severe looking). He sits with impatience, bouncing a tennis ball in a rehearsed fashion, as players do before a serve. A nurse walks into frame.


Capitalize WOMAN. Also, maybe give her a name. And try splitting the action line up – 5 lines can be a little too much, especially here. Give us the description as we see it in real time. Pretend your a director – and I don’t mean including camera directions. And cut out the use of “We see” in description. Of course “we see” it if you’re describing it. It’s redundant. Be more economical with your words.

I already gave you an example of how to write this action line earlier in your thread.

PAGE 2:


Quoted Text
RUSTIC (thick Russian accent)
The check.


Should be:

RUSTIC
(thick Russian accent)
Ze check.


ALSO PAGE 2:

You don’t need “CUT TO” to transition to every scene. But for this, it should be, all the way to the right of the page –

CUT TO BLACK:

SUPER:

SCAB?


Also, what is the point of showing SCAB? Maybe just have the question mark. Even then, it’s not a great visual just having that over black. Maybe super impose a question mark on screen as we see the baby on screen while continuing the voice over.

PAGE 3:

Again, probably give mother a name and description when you first introduce her. She’s not just some generic bit character that only appears for one line of description.

PAGE 3 – 5:

When NARRATOR is heard, we need (VO) next to his character name. Again, as I suggested before, maybe give your narrator a name.

And I’m not sure what’s going on with the voice over, it sounds non-sequitur. You have the narrator talk about the baby not having a name and then, a minute later, we hear him say, “Without milk”… feels out of place and doesn’t sound like a continuation. And if it is a continuation from previous NARRATOR dialogue/voice over, it takes too long to come back to the voice over. A minute has lapsed. And then you having him say, “Love” on the page after that. The voice over, if continuous, shouldn’t be spaced out that far. And, again, it doesn’t sound like a continuation.

PAGE 5:

So, the boy is at least 3 years old now and his mom is still trying to breast feed him? I guess. It does show the difference in mother and father’s personalities – mother is nurturing, father isn’t.

PAGE 7:

Why does the 4 year old boy talk like an 8 year old boy? I get that he’s probably a little more advanced due to the way his father is raising him. But still.

PAGE 8:

Your scene headings are a little wrong –
Quoted Text
INT. HOSPITAL, NATAL WARD, DAY


Should be dashes in between, not commas – INT. HOSPITAL – NATAL WARD – DAY

PAGE 8 – 9:

Ha! I like how Samuel’s upbringing is so different than Scab’s. This scene when he’s born is pretty funny, the doctor’s and parent’s reactions.

PAGE 9:


Quoted Text
EXT. KURT’S LARGE HOUSE, BACKYARD, BATTING CAGE


Again, dashes not commas. And a brief description of the setting.

PAGE 10:


Quoted Text
INT. PRESCHOOL, DAY

A retinue of children exits off a small yellow bus one by one. Each child is dressed in normal garb. Finally, Sam is revealed. He’s wearing a superman costume, cape and all. He walks in slow motion from behind the rest of the crew, his chest up like a superhero. As he approaches a small series of stairs, which his peers negotiate with care, he leaps off the ledge and lands five steps below on the ground in a crouched hero’s pose.


Break this up a bit. And you don’t need to really describe what they’re dressed like, we can assume they’re wearing school clothes. And how are we INT. PRESCHOOL? What kind of a school has a bus parked inside of the school?

EXT. PRESCHOOL – DAY

A YELLOW BUS pulls up to the curb, its door opening.

A retinue of PRESCHOOL CHILDREN exit the bus, one by one until...

Samuel emerges from inside, wearing a caped Superman costume, leaping heroically and gracefully from the top of the bus’s stairs, off of the bus.

He struts towards the school’s entrance with the confidence of a high school jock, his band of 4-YEAR OLD PALS following their leader into class.



PAGE 11:


Quoted Text
SAMUEL
Get behind home plate. You’re catching. Your job is to throw the ball back to me after each pitch. That’s it. In the unlikely scenario that someone on their team is running home, get out of the fuckin’ way. Then I’m the catcher.


Funny, yes, but I just can’t buy a 7 year old talking like this. Sure, I used to curse when I was that age, but using words like “unlikely scenario” just doesn’t ring true to me.

Also, again, describe the INT. MIDDLE SCHOOL. And indicate their ages as they get older… a new actor will be required to portray each version of Sam and Scab.

PAGE 12:

Haha! Funny (the condom talk). It almost feels like watching Stifler grow up. He’s like a lovable dick.


Quoted Text
NARRATOR (V.O.)
See that guy, the preoccupied one next to Scab and two rows below the girl jilted by Sam. That’s me. I guess now is the time to reveal: I’m not merely the narrator of this story. I’m a sports journalist for the town’s newspaper.


You don’t mention that the NARRATOR is present in the description. And there’s no description of narrator. I HIGHLY recommend giving him a name.

Also, you’ve pretty mentioned this already on the first page that he’s a journalist. Why not mention that he writes for the local paper off the jump? Why a 12 page set up to reveal a surprise that really has no bearing on the story? There is no reason to hold off on revealing who he is.

And, again, him acknowledging himself as the narrator of the story doesn’t really work. We know he’s the narrator because he’s narrating and then he points himself out.

PAGE 14:


Quoted Text
INT. MASKED SEX PARTY, MANSION, NIGHT
Samuel wears the mask from Eyes Wide Shut. He rips open magnum after magnum after magnum with his teeth as a harem of topless girls who wear exotic masks themselves throw their bodies in his direction.


Middle school kids having sex isn’t that far fetched – but being involved in underground, sophisticated sex parties at age 12-13? Not sure about that. It’d be a little more believable if he was 16 or 17. And even then, a little advanced. The people throwing these sex parties would have to be older and that suggests something illegal, especially with 12-13 year old kids.

PAGE 17:

Ha – obsessive cocksucker disorder. Nice.

PAGE 20:


Quoted Text
DOCTOR
A tumor the size of a tennis ball in his brain. Malignant. Probably been growing for years.


Love the irony.

PAGE 22:

Again NARRATOR should have (VO) next to his name.


THE SUICIDE THEORY (Amazon Prime, 79% Rotten Tomatoes) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2517300/?ref_=nm_knf_i1
RAGE (Coming Feb. 2021) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8874764/?ref_=nm_knf_i2

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stampede331
Posted: April 19th, 2020, 5:10pm Report to Moderator
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Again, infinitely grateful for the continued read.  I'd already made the change to the narrator explaining that he's the guy in the bleachers.  I' unfortunately in the midst of two very different drafts and some of the inconsistencies were not erased so that revisions could provide clarity when I posted the script.

In the other cases, I have just made the changes you have advised.

The mother is sort of supposed to not have a name because she's just "woman" in the way that Scab is "boy."  She also doesn't really appear much in the script, except as a prop character.

Thank you again for the time you have put into this first feature script attempt of mine.

Oh yeah, and as far as there being too much time that elapses in the narrator's VoiceOver...I'm aware of this problem.  If I were to write the script over again, there would be no narrator.  Parts of pages in the 50s and 60s suffer from narrator syndrome, in which I try to include narrative voice over, newspaper clippings and short montage clips in the same time frame.  Totally doesn't work and yet I can't figure out how to fix it.  I feel like if I were to try to remove the narrator from the script, and more importantly the story arc, it would be like trying to unweave a spider's web.  Not even the spider could do it.
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spesh2k
Posted: April 19th, 2020, 5:17pm Report to Moderator
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No problem man, will get back to it after some errands.

As for the mother, I get that, but she's in it enough to describe her and give her a name at least. It makes it easier to follow. WOMAN is reserved for a featured extra or someone with a line of dialogue, only appearing in one scene. And if you have another WOMAN in the script that is a bit character, it's easy to mix up with woman, the mother of Scab, if that makes any sense.


THE SUICIDE THEORY (Amazon Prime, 79% Rotten Tomatoes) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2517300/?ref_=nm_knf_i1
RAGE (Coming Feb. 2021) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8874764/?ref_=nm_knf_i2

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stampede331
Posted: April 19th, 2020, 6:14pm Report to Moderator
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Most updated script:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Ex4srsy5YPuoKB3HXqGJd3ER2NYw76ht

By the way, I'm gonna look for The Suicide Theory on streaming services.  Where is it streaming now, including pay sites?
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spesh2k
Posted: April 19th, 2020, 6:22pm Report to Moderator
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Cool man. I'm just gonna read straight through the script, won't comment on writing as to not repeat myself -- unless it's something new I spot.

RE: The Suicide Theory, it's no longer available on Netflix, but you can still check it out on Amazon Prime, Itunes, Google Play, Youtube Rental, Vudu, etc.


THE SUICIDE THEORY (Amazon Prime, 79% Rotten Tomatoes) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2517300/?ref_=nm_knf_i1
RAGE (Coming Feb. 2021) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8874764/?ref_=nm_knf_i2

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stampede331
Posted: April 19th, 2020, 6:38pm Report to Moderator
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Great, just found it on Prime.  Will be watching in bed tonight.
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spesh2k
Posted: April 19th, 2020, 7:07pm Report to Moderator
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The link is asking me to request access...


THE SUICIDE THEORY (Amazon Prime, 79% Rotten Tomatoes) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2517300/?ref_=nm_knf_i1
RAGE (Coming Feb. 2021) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8874764/?ref_=nm_knf_i2

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stampede331
Posted: April 19th, 2020, 7:52pm Report to Moderator
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https://drive.google.com/open?id=1HIhWzjIDEWIuDeFlSuqxa-Sna3PNhLWj

This new link worked for me when I clicked.  Hopefully it works for. you too.
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ajr
Posted: April 19th, 2020, 9:32pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Daniel,

So I just finished. My notes are going to be random so please forgive that.

You've written a lot of great characters. I liked Scab and Sam. Anna was great, too. And the supporting cast, again, as I said, you've woven a bit of crazy into each of them, ala Wes Anderson meets THE SANDLOT, but then I see a touch of Farrelly Brothers / KINGPIN in it as well.

If we can ignore the formatting, which certainly has to be addressed, the story does flow quite well. This is overwritten in a lot of spots, particularly the narratives. They need to be much shorter, less blocky, and you need to say just enough to set the picture in the reader's head without over-describing. At 121 pages this is rather long, and would need to be in the area of 110 pages, max. The bad news is that in the version I read, Scab's dialogue is stretched out like narrative lines, so when you correct that, it's going to add length to this, I figure it's going to be about 130 pages, which means you need to trim 20 pages.

You can do that first by shortening the narratives. See where that gets you. And then you might have to make some hard choices. We spend an awful lot of time with these guys at certain ages. You might have to leave some of that out.

A good example of shortening dialogue would be Anna on page 22 where she says something like "I know, I make too many family jokes." Things like this, which states or restates the obvious, can be left out. Otherwise, your dialogue is not bad at all, and it's pretty funny in spots, and then at times it does get verbose.

On page 30 you mention COVID - I would not. Something about teens being in a freer state because of it. COVID doesn't need to exist in your world and I would not invoke it. That's just me. And something about mentioning it and also having Arthur Ashe as alive (even though we don't see him) - didn't he die in 1993? So I'm not sure in what time period your story takes place.

During the tennis matches I also get a little WHITE MEN CAN'T JUMP vibe. It might be too much in spots. Sam and Scab are always at each other. Work on them a little bit. Is Sam's bravado a defense mechanism? Or does he really believe he's God's gift? It's a tough line to walk, but you should look at that in further rewrites.

I made a note on page 45 saying "the coaches shouldn't curse" because I started to think that all the characters were sounding homogenous. But then, looking back after having read the entire thing, all these people are so wacky that I don't think it makes a difference.

Page 49 had an example of too much narration - I think the Narrator going into what he's overheard or what his sources tell him is an example of what can be cut.

Page 50, on the other hand, had a very pithy, emotional bit of narrative - "And that was the day boy became a
man and Scab�s father really died." More of that. Digging deep, giving us some color rather than telling us (instead of showing) what is happening.

I laughed out loud on page 54 when Sam said to his dad "wait, weren't you there to liberate the Iraqis?" and Sam's dad said "Ah, who the hell knows." That's a brilliant line, funny but with a huge amount of subtext. Again, more of that, please.

Page 54, again, an example of too much narration - you've got several lines describing Anna waiting for scab on the tennis court, #6 I believe. You go into great detail about #6. Don't get too bogged down. It's more like:

Anna waits for scab under the lights.

Scab gingerly lays his bike down, careful not to touch the lines.

Something like that. Space saving, and giving us the info we need without over-explaining.

You took me in a direction I didn't think we were going to go, and I applaud you for that. When Scab and Sam both drop out of college. Now of course I knew we were in for the rags to riches ending, but this was great, because you put an obstacle in the way, and that's what screenplays must have. It might have resolved itself too quickly, however? Maybe get to it sooner, and make the guys struggle a bit more, instead of having the Narrator come with a Willy Wonka golden ticket? Just a thought.

The other issue with this is that you wrote a big budget film. It didn't start off that way, though the amount of tennis action shots you wrote in are not going to be easy to film. But now, when these guys go to the US Open? Crowd scenes are expensive. Sure, it can be shot creatively with green screen backgrounds, but it will still be costly because now you've written in special effects. And you have a speaking role for John McEnroe, which will be difficult to pull off.

So all in all this was an enjoyable read which took me places I didn't expect to go, and had some very funny and at times natural and interesting dialogue.

This needs to be meticulously combed and pared down. First, start with proper screenplay format. You can get there by reading other scripts, and there are websites and books that will show you how to structure everything. You need to KNOW the rules before you can break the rules. Like I said, I was ready to bail because of the structure, and on page 12 you had a piece of emotional narrative that pulled at my heartstrings, and then I knew you had a bit of a special story here. You also have tremendous tennis knowledge, which is probably going to go over the heads of the non-fans. But there are so many tennis fans out there that I think there would be an audience for this. A Farrelly Brothers tennis movie. Why not?

Please reach out with any questions, I'm happy to help. I wouldn't rewrite this in sections and post umpteen versions. Take it under the hood, do a comprehensive overhaul with the proper formatting, and let's see what that looks like. Not sure how you get over the big budget aspect, and getting something like this made wil take years of hard work... but who knows? It's interesting, and different. Good job on your first one.

AJR


Click HERE to read JOHN LENNON'S HEAVEN https://preview.tinyurl.com/John-Lennon-s-Heaven-110-pgs/
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stampede331
Posted: April 19th, 2020, 10:18pm Report to Moderator
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I'm just going to quickly go into this very kind review and tell you that Kingpin and the Farrelly Brothers were exactly what I was going for.  When I told people I was writing a screenplay a few weeks ago, I told them to think Kingpin and the Farrelly brothers more generally.  The fact that you saw this means a lot to me.  I will not keep posting each iteration.  I know I need to read a book on screenwriting to fix all of the formatting errors and then go under the hood and revise as necessary.  

I must not have made this joke as obvious as was needed, but the coach has dementia, hence his inviting Arthur Ashe to the match.  Like you said, the characters are all kooky.  And the coach, though a kind character, is no exception.

Anyways, thanks again for reading.  I appreciation the constructive criticism as much as the kindness.  
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spesh2k
Posted: April 19th, 2020, 10:41pm Report to Moderator
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I would also suggest reading a few scripts... I recommend Alexander Payne's "Sideways". I read it back in 2004 and it changed the way I write scripts. After reading it (I finished it in about an hour, which is about as long as a screenplay should take to read straight through), I just thought to myself, "How the fuck did he do that?" The way it's formatted, the white space and the way the description was written was a real game changer for me. It's how a script should be written. I also recommend any of Rian Johnson's scripts -- "Looper", although sci-fi, was so well written, you could picture everything as you were reading... and it only took an hour to read. And despite the complexity of the premise, the way it was written made everything so simple and easy to follow. HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! I pretty much took my style from them.


THE SUICIDE THEORY (Amazon Prime, 79% Rotten Tomatoes) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2517300/?ref_=nm_knf_i1
RAGE (Coming Feb. 2021) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8874764/?ref_=nm_knf_i2

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eldave1
Posted: April 19th, 2020, 10:44pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from spesh2k
I would also suggest reading a few scripts... I recommend Alexander Payne's "Sideways". I read it back in 2004 and it changed the way I write scripts. After reading it (I finished it in about an hour, which is about as long as a screenplay should take to read straight through), I just thought to myself, "How the fuck did he do that?" The way it's formatted, the white space and the way the description was written was a real game changer for me. It's how a script should be written. I also recommend any of Rian Johnson's scripts -- "Looper", although sci-fi, was so well written, you could picture everything as you were reading... and it only took an hour to read. And despite the complexity of the premise, the way it was written made everything so simple and easy to follow. HIGHLY, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! I pretty much took my style from them.


You can find sideways here

https://sfy.ru/?script=sideways_2004


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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spesh2k
Posted: April 19th, 2020, 11:01pm Report to Moderator
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You can find "Looper" here. This script is the reason I started using bold face for my slugs back in 2012. I always was aware of setting throughout. https://a2e7234c-7b41-4f94-bb5.....a928e09a62005b39.pdf

Rian Johnson also has all of his produced scripts available on his webpage -- https://www.rian-johnson.com/screenplays


THE SUICIDE THEORY (Amazon Prime, 79% Rotten Tomatoes) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2517300/?ref_=nm_knf_i1
RAGE (Coming Feb. 2021) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8874764/?ref_=nm_knf_i2

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stampede331
Posted: April 19th, 2020, 11:15pm Report to Moderator
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Eldave, thanks for the link.

SPESH2K - I watched The Suicide Theory Tonight.  

What to say?  When it finished, I went, "what the fuck did I just see?"  but in a good way!  It was a singular take on the hitman genre, which is to say, I did not expect the film to explore the meaning of friendship and the ties that bind us after the opening 5 minutes.  I expected to see a guy get paid to kill people.  Took me for a loop.  

I actually have more to say about the story but I have a number of questions that I feel like I should think on before asking about explicitly.  Some of the answers might come to me overnight.  But the main question concerns the assassin's survival and what it means for his own mortality.  I'll check in with you tomorrow.
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stampede331
Posted: April 20th, 2020, 3:14pm Report to Moderator
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So yeah, my big question is: did the assassin inherit the curse of not being able to die and, if so, are we supposed to be able to deduce which character can free him of this curse?  Very cool that I can ask the writer of the movie.  Thanks in advance.  Enjoyed it.
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spesh2k
Posted: April 20th, 2020, 5:43pm Report to Moderator
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Okay, I read up to page 60. The writing does need to be worked on as it does make the read a little bit of a chore. You need to split up your action lines a bit -- blocks of five-lined description can be intimidating to look at, feels like reading a book at times. And be more economical with your word usage and tighter with your sentence structure. I see that the script is 125 pages long... it could be around 110 just by fixing up the writing.

But, despite that, the story is pretty damn good so far. It kinda does remind me of Kingpin a little bit, but with a teen-sex comedy type humor, like American Pie. And instead of an Amish guy, he's pretty much mentoring Stifler.

The dialogue is pretty damn good, too. You know your characters very well and all of them are very well realized. I like this "odd couple" type pairing with Sam and Scab. It makes for funny banter. And despite Sam being a dick, we're rooting for both of them. The 2nd act starts off really strong and you throw in other factors into the equation that add to the conflict and tension between the pair -- Anna, for instance, who is a very strong character in her own right. The scenes so far ring true and feel genuine, in line with each character's personalities -- Scab playing the straight, serious man here. It's a cool dynamic.

Here's some notes I made as I read.

PAGE 24:

SAM Well this is early stage research. (Peeved)
What the fuck do you want?

SCAB (More to himself)
What the fuck do I want? (A pause)
Do you know who Novak Djokovic is?

This is incorrect. Should be:

SAM
Well this is early stage research.
(peeved)
What the fuck do you want?

SCAB
(more to himself)
What the fuck do I want?
(a pause)
Do you know who Novak Djokovic is?

The only time it should be SCAB (parenthesis) on the same line is if it’s a voice over or off screen, like so – SCAB (VO) or SCAB (OS).

Wrylies, as they’re called, go beneath the character name. But you shouldn’t include them constantly. You can get the same thing just by using ellipsis (…).

SAM
Well this is early stage research…
What the fuck do you want?

SCAB
What the fuck do I want…?

He looks Sam dead in the eye.

SCAB
Do you now who Novak Djokovic is?

PAGE 25:

I like how uses woman to convince Sam about tennis.

PAGE 30:

NARRATOR
hated him for being a selfish man whore and were ashamed of themselves for having lost their virginities to him. Hell, even I can’t believe so many lost their virginities to him, but this was a post COVID-19 world and the youth were living free. Anyways, as fate would have it, Scab’s locker was directly across from Sam’s.

Should be a … before the sentence starts instead of starting it with a lower-case “h”.

Also, wouldn’t it make sense to say “Before Covid19” instead of post? People were care free before this and that’s kinda what led to the outbreak.

Also…

INT. LOCKER, HALLWAY, HIGH SCHOOL

After a scene heading (which should have dashes in between, not commas), there needs to be some kind of description so that we have a visual and know what the characters are doing.

PAGE 32:

SAMUEL
1. Don’t ever call me your friend and
2. I’m gonna pop that cherry because even if it’s
been hit a thousand times before, only I can pop it.

You don’t start of dialogue with a numerical and you always spell it out unless it’s a long phone number or address or something.

PAGE 39 – 40:

Just have Anna say she has a condition from the start. This sounds repetitive.

Also, there’s a whistle used in tennis. Does this make her play better? If so, that would be cool.

PAGE 41:

It is told through deep stares shared between the two, laughter, tears and finally a hug. As they release their embrace, Samuel comes to. He sits up and asks

SCAB
Where the fuck am I?

Think you meant scab.

PAGE 45 – 49

I really liked this scene between Sam and Scab, over Anna. Sets up plenty of conflict. You’re a natural story teller!

PAGE 51:

He sees a reflection of himself in the locker’s metal sheen. In the reflection, a superimposition of his father appears.

SUPERIMPOSED FATHER
I always knew you were just a boy.

His father has a name at this point – so, in dialogue, show his character name when he speaks. Even if it is just an illusion.

I'll continue chipping away at this. The only thing holding it back is the writing, but you're not really that far off.

And thanks for checking out The Suicide Theory (on Amazon Prime?)... I'm glad you liked it.


Quoted Text
So yeah, my big question is: did the assassin inherit the curse of not being able to die and, if so, are we supposed to be able to deduce which character can free him of this curse?  Very cool that I can ask the writer of the movie.  Thanks in advance.  Enjoyed it.


Yes, the hitman character did inherit the curse. As to deducing which character can free him of the curse, I'll leave that up to the audience (I've heard theories on Reddit boards and IMDB boards - when they had them - about certain parts of the film. It's fun to read). The curse can only be broken by death... and admission of guilt, confronting the guilt. Since the chain of events was initially sparked by the hitman in the first place, it would be much more difficult find someone to truly break the curse.

-- Michael


THE SUICIDE THEORY (Amazon Prime, 79% Rotten Tomatoes) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2517300/?ref_=nm_knf_i1
RAGE (Coming Feb. 2021) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8874764/?ref_=nm_knf_i2

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stampede331
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Yes, I watched on Amazon Prime.  Super easy to find.  Looking forward to watching your next feature.

Your critiques mean so much to me.  I'm buoyant just having two established writers give my silly script some time.  And as my constant posting of each iteration shows, which I've now stopped doing, I've been taking heed of your notes.  I appreciate them greatly and have made several changes.  I was up all night last night just trying to economize the writing, which I've found somewhat difficult, but I'm not giving up the fight to get this down to around 110 pages.

Again, your words mean so much.  So thank you.
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spesh2k
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Quoted Text
Yes, I watched on Amazon Prime.  Super easy to find.  Looking forward to watching your next feature.

Your critiques mean so much to me.  I'm buoyant just having two established writers give my silly script some time.  And as my constant posting of each iteration shows, which I've now stopped doing, I've been taking heed of your notes.  I appreciate them greatly and have made several changes.  I was up all night last night just trying to economize the writing, which I've found somewhat difficult, but I'm not giving up the fight to get this down to around 110 pages.

Again, your words mean so much.  So thank you.


Just speaking for myself, I don't consider myself an established writer quite yet -- not until I get that one movie that really gets me out there (Honey Mustard?. Unless "Rage" gets some attention when it comes out -- we shall see. But, like David, I've been doing it a while and kinda/sorta know what I'm doing. It's good to see someone willing to learn, taking everything with a grain of salt without taking offense to anything.

And, after finishing the script, you have a natural talent as a storyteller. This was a fun script, I can see it getting made. It follows that comedy sports movie formula that's pretty much been proven. Yes, it reminded me somewhat of "Kingpin", with the lifer taking a prospect under his wing. And it had that "American Pie" type teen humor in it. It also reminded me of "Blades of Glory" a little bit, putting two oddball rivals together on a team. And, with the funny commentators, I got a little bit of "Dodgeball" out of it.

Though the budget would be pretty big -- that US Open stuff alone would be like triple the $ the whole budget of some movies.

The characters were strong and there was always an obstacle for each of the characters to get over. Not sure if Scab not knowing he had a last name really works logically -- I know it's a comedy but it's not a super, over-the-top slapstick. It does add a funny element I suppose. And all the characters were pretty funny -- the cocaine sniffing Dean, in particular. Though I'd cut down on his monologues just a bit. But I really like his character -- it's almost a caricature of the mean old dean from college party flicks, which I dig. And I like that he blames everything on his wife -- reminds of the game show host near the end of "Billy Madison".

A few things -- I know Scab is supposed to be the straight man, but I still think he can be funnier. He has OCD -- him unable to step on lines is fun and it comes full circle, completing his arc. But you can definitely utilize the OCD a little for some funny sight gags and scenarios -- I'd ramp that up a bit. Also, why is he so enamored with Sam in the first place? Why does he want to teach him tennis? Is it just something he picked up from his father? I think there needs to be a specific moment where he sees that Sam's skillset can translate to the court -- in Happy Gilmore, he can drive a ball 400 yards and that gets the attention of Carl Weathers' character. Maybe during their initial scuffle, Scab throws tennis balls at him and Sam picks up a racket (or maybe a baseball bat) and crushes one of the tennis balls and it shows up as a 130 mph serve or something, I dunno. And Scab -- if he's so good, why isn't he excelling at singles? Maybe he's just a better doubles player? I don't know, think there needs to be more of a reason that Scab wants to do doubles, period -- I know that he sees Sam as an opportunity to get him to Indiana, but still. Think there needs to be another reason.

I like how Ms. Cherry shows up to the final game, but I feel like she should be more flirtatious... and maybe when Sam sees that as a sign to hit on her, she shoots him down hard. Thus, the ending feels more earned. As of now, it reminds me a little bit of "Billy Madison" when the snot lady ends up hooking up with one of Adam Sandler's friends... or even moreso in "Step Brothers" when the psychiatrist shows up for Will Ferrell's character. Yes, it's funny, but I think just a little bit better of a set-up would elevate the payoff. Maybe Sam is obsessed with her or something, I dunno.

With Anna showing up at the end -- think there needs to be more of a build-up to that. Maybe some montage scenes of Scab calling, leaving messages, Anna listening... just something small.

Now, there's one major issue -- you show Scab and Sam growing up from middle school to college, which would require different actors. There's a lot of development as kids get older, especially from adolescensce, to teen years, to early 20s (are they in their early 20s at this point?). But... I believe there is a solution -- you just have the same adult actors portray the kids at age 13. It'd be silly, but funny -- Woody Harrelson in "Kingpin", Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum in "21 Jump Street", Ben Stiller in "Something About Mary" -- they all play high school versions of themselves. Now, we follow your characters from age 13 on, so it'd be much, much sillier. But I see it as something that can work and really mesh with the goofy-ish tone of your script.

Another thing I forgot to mention -- even with doubles teams, isn't there usually individual success with the players? You don't hear much news about doubles teams. But, despite that bit of logic, it works in the same way as "Blades of Glory"... that pair made front pages of newspapers despite the fact that, in real life, that wouldn't really happen, especially in American papers. Same with "Dodgeball".

Overall, very fun read. I'm sure you know that the reading needs a serious polishing. I didn't take further notes as it would be repetitive of examples in earlier notes. But, after a SCENE HEADING (which should have dashes) in between, there needs to be at least a sentence of description of the setting -- often times, you just have dialogue without describing where we are. Also, give Narrator a name. Now that I think about it, while I'm on the Narrator, I think he needs something a little more -- not sure how, though. But he's a vanilla character kinda. Just a little more personality/character. He's not in this much, but he is the narrator -- and when he does appear, he plays a major role in bringing the pair back, part of it because he wants to get his writing career on track an he needs a story. He gets them in the US Open.

Back to some of the writing -- your SCENE HEADINGS should only be one line. I saw a few times that it takes up two lines. Just try and find away to make it one line.

And, of course, give this a careful comb-through. A lot of typos -- in the CHARACTER NAME, I see SC instead of SCAB often.

Also, cut down on your action blocks and be a little more economical with the way you word things. Word it in a way that keeps the action moving forward.

Overall, very, very promising start. For a first script, I'm impressed. The story is good, albeit somewhat formulaic... but I think that's part of the reason WHY it works so well. It just fits the story and the comedy sports sub genre.

But yeah, I really think this script is worth some intense rewrites. Nice job!

-- Michael


THE SUICIDE THEORY (Amazon Prime, 79% Rotten Tomatoes) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2517300/?ref_=nm_knf_i1
RAGE (Coming Feb. 2021) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8874764/?ref_=nm_knf_i2

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stampede331
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Thanks again for such a thorough reply.  He is enamored with Sam in the first place because he sees in Sam someone with obvious athleticism who can cover the court to account for the difficulties OCD presents in his mobility.  The scene early in the script in which Scab calls Sam to the court and they get in an altercation that results in Sam wondering how Scab evades him without even touching a line...it also involves Sam hitting a serve that blows Scab's mind, considering Sam has never touched a racket.  That's supposed to be the equivalent of you scene in which he serves 130 mph.  It might just not be sufficient for the purpose of the script.

Yeah, I think I need another scene of Scab trying to get Anna back.  It's a short period of time (less than one year) that they're broken up.  He does call her in the script and she does ignore him, but I might need to repeat that to indicate his desire to get back with her and give her motivation to secretly show up at all his US Open matches.

The individual success of doubles players is hinted that each has a knockout model girlfriend showing up at every match in the US Open.  I also discuss the prize money Sam and Scab will get just for showing up at the US Open, $17,000, a figure which reflects the prize money of last year's tournament.

Again, thank you so much for putting in the time to read the script.  Glad you enjoyed the Dean character.  He was fun to write.  Not sure if I underwrote the gag that Coach Reggie is in the midst of dementia but as I comb over the script, I will do what I can to reinforce certain gags.

Waiting now till I can see Rage.  I will give Honey Mustard a look at too.

By the way, most of my life has been marred by a serious case of OCD.  OCD is not usually the result of experiences in life, such as a tyrannical father who lashes his child's feet for touching a line.  I sort of broke the cardinal rule of exploiting mental illness for the sake of plot development.  However, I try not to exploit his OCD for laughs; rather, I exploit Sam's cruelty in dealing with Scab's OCD, hence the scenes of Sam poking and prodding Scab with the racket while on court in an attempt to cause Scab to step on a line.  I just add this because, as the straight character, I'm not sure how much laughter should come at the expense of his having OCD.  I'm looking for the OCD to be Scab's sympathetic trait.

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Quoted Text
By the way, most of my life has been marred by a serious case of OCD.  OCD is not usually the result of experiences in life, such as a tyrannical father who lashes his child's feet for touching a line.  I sort of broke the cardinal rule of exploiting mental illness for the sake of plot development.  However, I try not to exploit his OCD for laughs; rather, I exploit Sam's cruelty in dealing with Scab's OCD, hence the scenes of Sam poking and prodding Scab with the racket while on court in an attempt to cause Scab to step on a line.  I just add this because, as the straight character, I'm not sure how much laughter should come at the expense of his having OCD.  I'm looking for the OCD to be Scab's sympathetic trait.


I'm not saying make fun of it -- but some funny scenarios can come from it. I'm sorry to hear you've had to deal with that, but is it too offensive to joke about? Maybe, I'm not sure. I do know some funny scenarios can come from it without making fun of it. Kingpin had some funny jokes about Woody Harrelson missing a hand and I don't think the amputee community got too offended by it. I know losing a hand doesn't fall under mental illness, but you get what I'm saying. It can be a sympathetic trait while getting some funny scenarios out of it. And what if it isn't really OCD? It could just stem from a traumatic experience -- for instance, in The Suicide Theory (sorry if it sounds like self promotion on your thread), the main character has trouble crossing the street because of a traumatic incident. It doesn't have to be OCD -- it could be something Scab needs to get over, symbolizing in a way, becoming his own man and breaking free of the trauma inflicted on him by his father. I think more people could identify with that, thus draw sympathy -- and then have us cheer for him when he does finally step on the line.


THE SUICIDE THEORY (Amazon Prime, 79% Rotten Tomatoes) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2517300/?ref_=nm_knf_i1
RAGE (Coming Feb. 2021) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8874764/?ref_=nm_knf_i2

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stampede331
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Oh, wait, sorry if it sounds like I'm squeamish about making jokes about OCD.  I'm fine with that.  I meant that in Scab being the straight man to Sam's comic foil, I just want to make sure that Sam is exploiting Scab's OCD; in other words, I do want to use the OCD to comic effect.  I just want to highlight Sam's juvenile insecurity through his meanness about the OCD.  But I"m also okay with mining OCD for comic effect if I can think of a joke good enough.  As acted, he's gonna be hopping over lines the whole movie in the action scenes, which I imagine will be funny.  But, perhaps unfortunately, I don't take too much offense to most jokes, so long as I see a purpose that isn't arbitrary, like so many Will Ferrell movies where I feel there is a laziness to the jokes.  But exploiting the humor of OCD in furtherance of the story and the characters - that's what I'm aiming to do in some respects.  And pimp your movie all you want.  You had a fuckin' movie made from your script.  That's awesome.
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spesh2k
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Even though Scab is the straight guy, it doesn't mean he can't be funny, too -- I think it may depend on the actor. Woody Harrelson plays the straight guy in Kingpin and he's hilarious in it. DeNiro was a funny straight guy in "Midnight Run", Steve Martin in "Planes, Trains and Automobiles", etc. One of the things that made them funny was their reactions to the goofball. Yes, Scab jumping over lines can be funny -- especially if he has to use a bathroom with tiled floors.

Especially with Sam and Scab being college roommates, there's a lot of potential there w/ the whole OCD thing. What if Sam draws lines on the floor or something to fuck with him -- probably not a great example, but you get what I'm getting at.


THE SUICIDE THEORY (Amazon Prime, 79% Rotten Tomatoes) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2517300/?ref_=nm_knf_i1
RAGE (Coming Feb. 2021) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8874764/?ref_=nm_knf_i2

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stampede331
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I totally get what you're getting at.  And as someone who struggled with tiled floors, I have a million idea for mining that.  It's just that my script is already too long so I'm trying to trim the fat.  But if I think of an OCD joke that works, it's going in.  OCD hardened me, rather than make me sensitive.  Again, not sure if that's good or bad, or what effect that will ultimately have on my writing, but don't feel at all like you have to worry I'll take offense to any suggestions.  I'm actually watching Kingpin now for the first time in years, just to see if the template gives me any more ideas for Doubles.  

God, you got me thinking about my own OCD and tile floors again.  I have been in remission for about four years.  I like your idea of a quick bathroom tile joke.  I just want it to be for the sake of plot furtherance.  I'll def let you know if I figure out where to put that in.

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stampede331
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A scene I added based on some suggestions.  May be too minimal but I was trying to fit in two important details - a second call to Anna (post breakup) and a scene involving Scab's OCD off the court, in a small amount of time.  Some context provided by adding the end of the prior scene and the beginning of the scene to come after:


SCAB
Perfect, because the tournament starts in two weeks.

SAMUEL
That gives us no time to practice.

SCAB
Practice?!  When have we ever practiced?

INT. 5-STAR HOTEL - EVENING

Scab, who leans back on a luxury loveseat, picks his cellphone up from an ottoman where his feet rest.  He searches for Anna in his contact list and calls her.  The phone rings a few times.

INT. ANNA�S HOME - BEDROOM - NIGHT
She receives a call from Scab.  She reaches for the phone before deciding not to answer.

INT. 5-STAR HOTEL - CONTINUED

The call goes to voicemail.  He hangs up.  He walks toward the bathroom, tiptoeing over the lines of the manifestly tiled floor until he arrives.

CUT TO:

EXT. ARTHUR ASHE STADIUM - GROUNDS - DAY

Sam and Scab walk through the grounds of the Billie Jean King Tennis Center.  Tennis is played around them, both singles and doubles.  Scab is still bearded.  He wears a conventional tennis outfit.  Sam wears his high school Nike tennis hoodie and sweats with the BEATS headphones, despite oppressive heat.
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spesh2k
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Ah, I like that, works well. And there's an improvement in the writing. Though you don't need CUT TO's in your script, almost ever.

-- Michael


THE SUICIDE THEORY (Amazon Prime, 79% Rotten Tomatoes) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2517300/?ref_=nm_knf_i1
RAGE (Coming Feb. 2021) https://www.imdb.com/title/tt8874764/?ref_=nm_knf_i2

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stampede331
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Good, I'm gonna erase em now and see how many pages go away.

What about here:

NARRATOR (V.O.)
Of course, it was too late that year for proselytization by way of the pussy to occur for Samuel and the game of tennis.  The season was almost over, and with the exception of Scab, the team was abysmal.  

CUT TO:
A row of courts...the camera pans across each one...on one side, balls skid into the net one after the next after the next...until we reach Scab’s court, where winner after winner is hit.

NARRATOR
Scab continued to win all of his singles matches, though he struggled navigating the the whole court with all those lines.

CUT TO:
Scab leaps acrobatically over a line after hitting a winner.

NARRATOR (V.O.)
Samuel never did finish his thesis, though he did form a definite opinion on whom the hottest wife of a tennis player was.

CUT TO:
Samuel ogles various photos of Bridgette Wilson, the wife of Pete Sampras

NARRATOR
The school decided to graduate him  to high school anyways, mostly out of pity for the injury he suffered, but also because there wasn’t a teacher who could afford to...

CUT TO:
FEMALE TEACHER ONE, who fucked him, scores Samuel an A - for the year in her grading book

NARRATOR (V.O.)
or who wanted to endure another year of him.  

CUT TO:
FEMALE TEACHER 2, who believed she saw Samuel working on his thesis, appraises the thesis he turns in.  It’s just his name and a series of pictures of Brigette Wilson wit Sam’s head cropped in for Pete’s.  She score shim a C-.

NARRATOR (V.O.)
For this, I’m thankful, because I happen to cover the high school tennis circuit and it’s in the spring of the following year when our story resumes.  
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stampede331
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I have a lot of cut tos that are essentially montage style scene shifts that are necessary for character reactions.  I'm not saying the CUT TO: is necessary.  But I don't know how to write a lot of the scenes in this script without CUT TO, even if this is not the correct way to be writing.

I also use cut to for newspaper clippings.  Not sure if this is correct.

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