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Slow-Motion Car Crash by Ben Clifford - Comedy, Romantic Comedy - A self-absorbed, narcissistic young writer implodes his life in an attempt to get his ex-boyfriend back - despite the fact that his ex left him for a young and (objectively much better) woman. When the woman is cast on the same TV he writes for, all hell breaks loose for everyone. 91 pages - pdf format
It’s rare that I come across a feature length script on here and decide to read it, even rarer still that once I start reading I just can’t put it down. Because Wow! this was a refreshing read. A very well thought out, witty and funny story. Although the story just kinda ends on page 91, it is mostly a great read. I thought the dialogue was realistic and the characters themselves weren’t just exaggerated versions of stereotypes as you’d imagine from a story the revolves around mainly Gay and Bi-Sexual people. They’re also complex and motivate, that is up until the final conflict on the last few pages when every single character seems to turn on their own beliefs they’ve had through out the whole story. The ending has its issues but over all it’s an amazing script.
Those who believe that they are the best, the most popular, the go to guy, those are usually the ones who need the most help.
I enjoyed reading this one. Really good dialogue throughout and a story that kept me laughing. I agree with Xavier about the ending. It seems like you wrap this one up quite quickly and I'd like to see you tease out that final conflict a bit more.
Other than that, this one had me laughing out loud quite a lot, especially the moment when you straight up just refuse to write a joke and then this lil gem on page 61:
"Ishmael, forlorn, sits on his childhood bed. He looks at three hangings on the wall: one is a semi-ironic Cosby Show poster, a Usual Suspects poster featuring Kevin Spacey prominently, and another poster for an early Louis C.K special.
Hey mate, enjoyed this one. Very easy read. First thing I noticed was the dialogue. Great stuff. Each character has their own voice and that's a big thing. There is no corny moments or lines even though these types of characters are quite common and so easily mirrored in movies nowadays. It was refreshing.
As for the story, I think you've done well. You kept me engaged and it never got stale. The story moved at a first class pace and something new was always around the corner. I could definetly see this as an Indie film.
On the ending: You maybe could end it with a pretty bow, but I think it works as is. It's esscentrically itself throughout and the ending suits it.
Keep it up man, this is awesome work.
Just some typos:
Page 45 - Charlie doesn't SEE Ishmael straight away.
Page 48 - Ishamel: I can't believe THAT was the nicest way -
Thanks Bsaunders (sorry I don’t know your first name)!
Glad to see you enjoyed this - some of the feedback I’ve gotten about the characters themselves have been super mixed. Did you find it it all hard to finish readingas a result of how horrible everyone was?
I think I’m probably still going to add an epilogue to tie things up but appreciate you feel it works as is.
I got some really helpful notes about this script on coverfly x, which never happens. Really captured the scripts spirit but still gave some actionable criticism for a new draft. Copying and pasting below if anyone’s interested. I can recommend coverfly peer coverage if this is the possible quality of feedback:
“What are some of the script's strengths?
There were so many lovely pieces of this script. This was actually the best script I've read on Coverfly so far (out of 5 scripts!). I really enjoyed your characters and felt immersed in your world. You had a great grasp on how to build the story in a natural way and how to create a snappy, quick paced script that flows. The script's biggest strength is that it has a really strong overall tone. It feels like a cohesive voice throughout the whole storyline and that gives the reader a great sense of your personality. One of the other great strengths of this script are its' characters. The plot is simple, but works because it's so heavily dependent on a crew of dysfunctional faux-adults. Ishmael has a really clear voice and I could see him being played by John Early. I really enjoyed Jessica, Danica and Bridget as well. It feels as if their dynamics are well crafted in a way to subtly suggest things about the world and Ishmaels' failures that the audience may not be thinking of.
Something else I really enjoyed about this script was that you were careful to keep it snappy. No piece of the script felt unnecessary or longwinded. I think you could even spend time building out the third act a little more, but I'm hesitant to tell you to play with that act too much because I think the ending is also really strong.
In general I feel I got a really good image of a very common toxic sort of asshole guy that hates himself but is also completely obsessed with himself in a way that is harmful to himself and all those who get involved with him. It's sad, but also makes for a really vulnerable and interesting character to look at. I think a lot of people can be Ishmael at one of point of their month or etc, and it's just a function of having an ego.
What are some of the script's weaknesses?
I have very few notes on places to beef this script up. My largest note is that I think there could be a more clearly defined emotional backbone of this story. It's not totally clear to me what kind of argument you're making with this story. You start with a character who is miserable and doesn't know how to be a good partner. Can you show us more clearly moments when Ishmael is shown what good partnership looks like? Does he try this out? Can you nudge at this plotline a little more, and maybe tug at the fact that as much as he may *want* to be a good partner, he is too overrun with ego to ever really give into it fully?
My next note would be that the third act feels slightly rushed. I really like the ending and the chaos of it, but I think there could be some tighter writing and some larger comedic moments pulled out of that. For example, I think it is really funny that he gets the call about LA during the final fight, but it felt so out of the moment to answer the phone. Maybe Patience drops that she's pregnant, and the room goes quiet, and then Ishmael still answers his phone and is later received with even more contempt.
The other large note is that it feels as if your cultural references are a tad messy. I wish they could feel a little more succinct and focused. There are references to Moby Dick, Shakespeare, Louis C.K., etc. and it feels as if I have no idea what to do with all of these cultural touchstones. Can you tease maybe what you want the audience to get out of them a little more?
Other small things: Googling Moby dick on page 10 felt awkward. Placement of the Yeast infection line on page 17 feels weird and a bit like directing from the page. The kiss on page 52 feels rushed. On page 79 it could be funny if Patience gets makeup on the guys' shirt.
Do you have any additional thoughts that are worth sharing? (Optional)
Things this reminded me of: Master of None, Annie Hall, It's Complicated, We Are Who We Are “
Got through your script. Overall, some portions I liked, others not as much. Dialogue is your strong point. An easy read. I didn't read any other reviews, so maybe some doubling up happening.
I did some nit picks on the first few pages.
* Remove the date on the cover page. Do a copyright and include the year. * P1: I would do a SUPER over black instead of Text on black screen. * FADE IN: on the left (Final Draft I believe puts it on the right, depending on the version you use) * I'm all for clarity, but underlining Slug-lines don't really add anything, just my opinion. * P1: Not sure if you need quotation marks in the first dialogue (Charlie). * I wouldn't know if Charlie hams it up as Macbeth. Maybe an external shot to show what the community theater shows. * General: I would go easy on verbs ending in -ing. This repeats throughout the script. Use present tense (ex: hangs instead of hanging). * General: Emphasis in dialogue should be underlined (not bolded or capped). * P2: "There is a long silence --", remove the dashes. * P3: "I have yet to find it" -- I liked it. * P3: Slug "SHITTY APARTMENT" - I would describe apartment in action, not in the slug. * General: Words in action like, begin, start, probably, really are basically fillers and don't add anything, you're telling us. * P3. "Patience" in Ishmael's dialogue, remove quotation marks. * P4: PATIENCE (21), beautiful and young -- we get that she's young, she's 21, so young is redundant. * P4: I'm not a big fan of Caps in action (GRIMACES), but this might be more of a personal preference. If used, make sure something BIG happens, a GRIMACE doesn't really need to be capped. * P4: "Danica and Ishmael look across at the room" -- don't think you need "at." * P5/6: Two pages of dialogue and very little action. I would add a few lines of action. * P5: "Beat" is not that popular anymore. * P5: Some funny dialogue. * General: Expressions like: uh, hmm, Eugh, to me these are fillers, let the actor/director decide. * P6: "(shaking hands)", parenthetical -- I would put that in action. * General: I do see throughout the script the use of "--" and "...". As far as I know, "--" is used when someone gets interrupted and "..." can be used as a pause/continuation in dialogue and action. * P6: PATIENCE "Yeah. It sounds -- I mean, Charlie" -- I would use ... instead of --, it's a pause. * P7: Some funny dialogue. * General: words ending in -ly, go easy on these too. EX: P8: "They drunkenly share a cigarette" -- why not something like, "Buzzed/Drunk, they share a cigarette." * Music choices might be better left up to the producer/director. * P7: ACROSS THE ROOM - LATER --don't like this slug, better in action. * There are some orphans in your script (Ex on P72: 4 of them), they eats up space quickly. * General: Unfilmables in your action, go easy on those, show us, don't tell us. (P22: "The new studio seems even smaller now, with all his belongings." -- telling, not showing me.) P25:"Ishmael racks his brain, brimming with questions. He slowly asks." -- telling us. * P10: Why not make the slug a mini "BEDROOM", that's sufficient (within the same space/apartment, mini-slugs can be used, simplify things). * P12: EXT. BALCONY - NIGHT -- don't repeat in action what's been established in the slug (balcony). * P16: "Ishmael sits at a conference table with a a group of COPYWRITERS, including Danica next Ishmael." -- missing words "to" and too many characters, "a." * General, words like "is/are/does/doesn't" -- don't show us, mostly tell us. * General: CONT'D not used anymore. * General: No need to use CUT TO: -- new slug would do the job. * P22: The (O.S.), shouldn't that be (V.O.), cause Rory is not in the apartment, he's outside, not sure. * P24: SOON AFTER -- don't like this slug, if it can be considered a slug
* P33: "He points to a door. They enter. INT. WRITER’S ROOM - BREADTUBE - DAY Ishmael enters. Mervyn leaves immediately". -- why the second enter when they enter before the slug. Also, why not have the slug as "WRITER'S ROOM" only.
* P33: Braiden, Brayden, Braeden -- I'm gonna guess you did this to piss off the writers. I liked it, funny, goes against screenwriting practices, virtually the same names.
P48: 4 orphans, eats up space, some more throughout. P61: Dialogue should be Charlie, not Patience. P73: "Ishmael and Charlie lay in bed together, spooning." -- lie in bed.
As I mentioned, dialogue is your strong point, IMO. Portions of the script I found funny. Action needs to be more visual and crisp, show us, don't tell us. Not sure if this is a romantic comedy, maybe more of a comedy, IMO. I felt like most of the characters behaved and talked the same language. The tone was kept throughout the script.
My gripe about some of the scenes, later in the script, is that it focused on getting high, snorting coke, giving and getting a bj, puke. it became a little bit boring, kind of rehashing the same stuff.
I'm curious, the way the script ended, you plan a sequel? Ended flat, open ends/threads? Well, maybe some closure, Charlie/Ishmael getting back together, not clear though.
What about the "Chapters", what's behind that? Why did you section your script in chapters?
What was the thought behind Ishmael's Dad funeral? That his life was really imploding, but he didn't really care too much, left his mom to go back to work. I guess it created tension between Bianca and him, but what was the real thought behind the funeral/meeting family section.
The other scene with Rory, transgender, was that cause Ishmael was just lonely, or horny?
I was hard pressed to find a likeable character(s), maybe I was not suppose to. I liked that you had Patience/Ishmael meet after Ishmael/Charlie break up, tension building.
Logline too lengthy, but I'm no expert. I'll pass on any suggestions.
First of all thank you for reading a feature and writing such thorough feedback, I know it takes a lot of effort and it's really helpful stuff.
I just want to gently question some of your thoughts?
You point out it's hard to find a likeable character. That's intentional and the majority of the feedback I've received has noted this (even when it hasn't been a readers favorite thing, its evidently purposeful).
I think you've misinterpreted or misread the scenes around Ishmael leaving his mum after the funeral. He's ditching her for Charlie because he's selfish; it's relatively uncomplicated. I'll take a second look at whether this can be more clear but no one else has had trouble with this conceit yet.
I agree that the action lines are not crisp enough throughout and I pored most of my effort into dialogue, I'll definitely be considering this when I rewrite.
Regarding unfilmables, though: everyone has a view on these and evidently your's is that they have no place in any script. I have read some really atrocious unfilmables (e a real example: "David looks out the window remembering his brother's death") in specs before and I agree there's a line. The examples you've pointed out here don't really bother me, though. For instance the "Ishmael racks his brain [...]" line doesn't bother me because, even though it's not a clear action, it gives an actor a prompt for how to make this expression. I think "Ishmael frowns/raises his eyebrows" or whatever is way less strong and really boring.
Yes - the Ishmael/Rory stuff is just Ishmael dealing with loneliness in a really selfish way.
Your stuff about -let words: definitely something I have trouble with and needs a run through so thank you for pointing them out.