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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Drama Scripts  ›  Christmas Story - 7WC Moderators: bert
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  Author    Christmas Story - 7WC  (currently 8269 views)
Don
Posted: May 7th, 2012, 9:33pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Christmas Story by Sean Chipman (mr. blonde) - Drama - A botched Christmas Eve liquor store robbery leads down a destructive path for a cop trying to reconcile with his estranged mother, an alcoholic mall Santa, a mentally unhinged man, his vindictive fiancé and her secret lover. 92 pages - pdf, format


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You will miss 100% of the shots you don't take.
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Revision History (2 edits; 1 reasons shown)
Don  -  July 25th, 2012, 3:20pm
new draft
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Mr. Blonde
Posted: May 8th, 2012, 5:58am Report to Moderator
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Thanks a bunch, Don, for putting the script up and to Cornetto for organizing this contest. Hopefully, you all don't think it's pitifully slow. =)

P.S. I apologize in advance about stories two and three ("Nothing Important Happened Today" and "Down Payment").


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Grandma Bear
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Sean,

I'm sorry it took me so long to finish this. Things came in the way which kept me from doing my hobby.

You asked me to proofread this for you. English is not my 1st language so I am probably not the best want to proofread anything. I am a decent speller, but I totally suck at grammar.    So if you ask me to read for that then you came to the wrong person. If you wanted input on format, I usually do not comment on the format unless it leaves me completely confused. I do not generally worry about format too much. All I can do is read and tell you what my thoughts are on your story and your characters which is what I have done here.

I had forgot that in your PM you had told me this was 5 vignettes. So, when I 1st started reading I admit that I did get very confused. It might be less confusing on film though. In the end I actually like how you interwove the 5 different character perspectives. That's good. I thought you had this story plotted pretty well. So good job on that too.

Your writing was fine. Some people might complain that it could be more economical and should be written in present tense. I would have preferred that myself as well, but it is not something that really bothered me. There were very few typos as well. In other words, I think your writing was sufficient, but it could be better too.

As far as the characters go, I have to be honest and let you know that I was a little less enthused. The only character that I connected with and felt anything for was Randall. All the other characters did not make an impression on me. For some reason I also got Jason and David confused at times. Not sure why but I did. I also mention later on that I think the character David should have a different name especially since the diner is called Dave's. Another thought I had was that I thought the main character was going to be Chris. I tried to attach myself to him to see where his story would lead, but he was quickly out and gone. Maybe that's another reason for confusion. There is no central character to root for.

So, what can you do to make this script better? I have already mentioned that I like how the 5 stories work together and that I also like the plot. To fix the problem with the characters, I'm not sure. Maybe I did not like them because they kept doing such stupid things all the time. This script is to me very much as if you would like it to be like a Quentin Tarantino script. You even told me it was very dialogue heavy. I read another script one time that was extremely dialogue heavy and when I commented on that to the writer he got defensive. He said that if I knew anything about film I would know that Quentin Tarantino's films are always dialogue heavy and that it's perfectly okay. I told him that Quentin Tarantino is one of my favorite directors and writers. The thing is, QT is a genius. I read somewhere that his IQ is 169 or something like that. His dialogues might seem like idle chatter, but they really are not. The dialogue in context to what else is going on in the scene is what makes his dialogue work. Even if it's just 2 guys talking about coffee when the dead guy is in the trunk of the car. Or as in the beginning of Inglorious Basterds for example, it is filled with tension and multi layered and filled with metaphors. IMHO, you have a lot of idle chatter in your dialogues. I think this would work a lot better if you could make the dialogue more interesting, smarter and not so mundane.

All in all, I think you did a good job, but it still needs work to be great. The following are page by page thoughts as I read your script. If they seemed terse or negative that is not my intention, I just simply wrote what I felt when I read what I read.

I hope this can be of any help to you. Good luck with it.  

Page 1. Chris says " dispatch said you caught him”. If Chris has already been told that they caught the guy, then why is he driving with the sirens on?

Perhaps Chris, should look into the police car and have a good look at Randall Edwards.

Page 4. Is it important that the car is a red 1990 Chrysler LeBaron? If not, I would scratch that description of the car.

I thought the slug line EXT. DAVE'S was odd. When I 1st read it, I had to stop and think what you meant. Maybe make it easier by adding diner after DAVE'S.

page 5. I forgot what genre you told me this script is. I am suspecting comedy due to the fact that Chris doesn't notice that David is carrying a purse. If this is comedy, you may want to add something in the earlier pages that hint to comedy. With the robbery and the blood splattered in the store, I was thinking that this would be the darker story. A thriller perhaps.

Also, I was a little confused about the guys name is being David and the name of the diner being Dave's. I thought for a moment that maybe David was the owner. If he is not the owner then maybe renaming either David or the diner.

Page 6. Typo, the kind the counter and a mother...

Page 7. Did Maggie forgot about the mother and daughter?

Also, again, is the exact year model and color of the car important?

Page 8. When you 1st introduce the mother and daughter in capital letters, I think you should have introduced them in bed as Casey and Abby right then instead of waiting a few pages. When I 1st read Abby's dialogue, I thought, who the heck is Abby? By introducing them my name right away, it eliminates the confusion.

I am guessing here that the Santa Claus that robbed the liquor store is the mother and daughter husband and dad. Nothing wrong with that as people watching this film would not know this. I am just telling you what I'm thinking while reading.

Page 9. As a mother, I am putting myself in Maggie's shoes. If I was her, I would be very happy to see my son come in to the diner. I am not sure that I am buying Maggie demanding an apology. I don't know how old you are, but I can tell you that as you get older and 19-year-old is just a kid in your eyes. I don't believe any mother would shun her own kid doing something stupid as a teenager. I don't buy her saying ” I don't ever want to see you again”. For that to be believable, he should have done something extremely bad. Here he is as a police officer. If anything, she should be proud of him.

Page 10. Okay, I have now read the 1st 10 pages and now I'm thinking that this is a drama. If that is the case, then what was the part with David? A guy in the short sleeve shirt in winter hurries out of the diner with a purse. I am not sure what that whole part was about. At that time I thought this was comedy. Here we have a cop who obviously does not notice that this guy has stolen a purse. And also because Chris slipped on the ice on the steps. The script reads well and I do want to know what's going to happen next. That's good. But, at the same time I'm confused about the tone and genre. You might want to tweak that a little bit. After 10 min. of film we should definitely have a solid feel for what might be ahead.

Page 14. Slight confusion here. Also, again, I'm still not sure of the genre. Now we have murder too.

I don't quite get the SUPER: at the end of the page. Why inserting that nothing important happened today? Also, in the slug line it says DAVE'S - BACK. I'm assuming that you mean that David is at the backside of the diner.

Page 15. IMHO, I would probably just write "EXT. DAVE'S - NIGHT instead all back and front. Then just write in the action paragraph that Dave does this and that at the back of the diner then moves along the side to the front instead of using 2 separate slug lines. He is still in the same location EXT. DINER so that would be totally okay.

Page 16. David has just killed Chris, yet here he is with Sasha at the diner. Killing the cop didn't affect him at all? I find that rather unlikely.

There is also a lot of idle chatter on this page. I would suggest reworking the dialogue so it is not so pedestrian or trim it.

Page 18. Maggie says " you had me worried there for a 2nd. There's enough caffeine in there to stop a horse." Why does she even say that? David said it needed more shoulder, not caffeine.

Again, lots of idle chatter on this page as well. Try to remember that dialogue has to move the story forward. Otherwise it's just chatter that does nothing.

Page 19. Maggie just brought them coffee and now they are leaving. They don't even pay...

Page 22. David isn't very carefully is he?

Page 23. I would trim some of the dialogue on this page. The short little words that don't matter.

Page 24. Okay, I get it. This whole scene with David is from earlier. The past.

How does Vincent see David? Just curious.

Page 26. Instead of writing that David hears a loud bang, I would just write,  A loud BANG is heard.

Page 27. At this point I'm not really sure that David and Sasha were going to get married or not, but if they were, he sure does not seem very upset about what he has done. In fact, he does not show a lot of emotion at all.

I may be at a disadvantage here since I do not remember your log line. Is it possible that David just hears voices? That Vincent is in his head? To be honest, I don't understand this Vincent character at all. If he is all in David's head, then how would he know about Sasha and the beer and the underweare? David asking if it was true and Vincent said it was. How could he know and David did not?

Page 31. I'm not really sure why you decided on this type of timeline where you show one thing then go back and replay it from a different perspective.

LOL! I just read read your PM from simply scripts. I guess that explains it all! Except, I'm still confused about the genre.

I page 34. Okay, so I know you said in your PM that the same scene keeps playing over and over. That is fine, however, here on page 34 there is absolutely no tensions or anything since we already know that David will shoot Chris. I'm hoping, that you are not going to play this same scene over and over. If you do, I don't think it's going to work.

I am also still confused about Vincent. Is he in David's head or on the phone?



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Grandma Bear
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Page 36. The slide on the ground pulls back? By itself or does David do it?

David drops his gun. Does he leave it there? If he does that seems like a rather dumb move. They could probably tracing down by the gun but also, whenever the cops stop a car, the license plate has already been checked. The cop cars have cameras in them that automatically check every single license plate that come into their view. Besides, Chris was near the trunk of David's car. Chris' car would be parked behind David's car. In other words, all this would end up being filmed by the foreword camera in the cop car. Maybe that's how you wanted it, I'm just saying…

Page 37. I see, Vincent is just a voice in his head. So, David is a complete whack job. Oh, now David throws the Bluetooth out. I'm confused again. Who is Vincent?

Page 40. The whole dialogue piece with Maggie does nothing to further the story. Either rethink the dialogue to give it some meaning or skip that part.

Page 41. Except for Maggie the diner is empty. Did I miss something? I thought Abby was in there singing.

Page 42. If I were you I would skip that whole lecture by Matthew.

Page 44. Here we have Sasha hiring a hitman, and she asks him about his family and insisting to know his name and other silliness. I am not a big fan of this conversation here, I'm sorry to say. If that is really what you want her to do, then realize that she comes across as some major major idiot. What does she expect, for them to be friends?

Page 46. I highly doubt that a man would tell someone who hires him just how many people he had killed. IMHO, it is okay to have a lot of dialogue, but it must make sense and some of this does not.

Page 51. After reading this whole piece with Matthew, I can't say I'm a fan of it. I just cannot picture any hitman who sticks around and chit chats with this young girl. It just doesn't ring true to me at all. I mean, he knows enough about her and what she wants him to do, he's got the money, seems to me he would want to cut things short and just get the hell out of there. By sitting around and talking to her he is risking being not just seen but also remembered buy the other diner patrons.

Page 52. When Sasha says " never shake the devil's hand, what the hell is that even supposed to mean" again, it makes her sound rather stupid. Maybe that is what you want her character to be, I'm just pointing out in case that was not your intention.

In my humble opinion, you have a lot of words in the dialogue that are just things like, thanks, hey, you're welcome. Those can definitely be cut as they add nothing to this story.

Page 53. You write, that she sips her coffee then shrugs. Just curious, why does she shrugg? That action does not seem to fit here.

Page 57. What is a sobriety coin chip?

Page 61. Although, Randall is not a pleasant person, you managed to at least make me feel something for him. I understand his frustration with his situation, therefore, of all these vignettes, I like his the best so far. He is in my opinion a better developed character than some of the others. So, good job on him.

Page 62.” No one responds", I don't get that part. Who does not respond? The other cars or Casey and Randall?

Page 65. I don't know but you, but when I hear a gunshot and I am not at a shooting range, I tend to get scared and want to go as far away from the shooting as possible. I guess Randall it's a lot braver than me. Something to think about when it comes to believability of characters actions.

So, Jason used two guns?

Page 66. I don't think Randall, should be hanging his head in shame. He didn't do it. Seems more likely to me that he would be trying to convince the police of his innocence instead.

Still very good work with Randall.

Randall's speech here feels a little bit like preaching about social issues. In this case health insurance. I would trim that up some to lessen that feel.

Page 70. If Jason robs the liquor store wearing his Santa Claus outfit, you might want to mention that outfit when he comes running out of the store when Randall sees him.

Small typo, Heather " leans" on the counter.

I didn't know they have 24 packs of beer.

Btw, the interaction here between Jason and Heather is a good chance to make more interesting dialogue. Can't you think of anything better for Heather to say than, is this all? Maybe she could flirt or joke around with him a little bit. Maybe she could ask him " you think that's going to be enough?" And then have him say something back instead of just asking lazily if that's all?

Page 72. How does Jason know Heather's name?

Out of curiosity, why did Jason throw the gun in the snow? If he is not going to keep it, why did he not leave it in the store? I mean, it's not like they are not going to find it.

Page 73. Jason has just been upset that he shot Heather. He said he only wanted the money, yet here he is a few seconds later shooting at Randall. I know he did not hit him, but still, would someone who is upset about just having killed someone do that?

Very dumb move to throw the gun. Anyone who is at least a little bit familiar with guns knows better than to throw it. It could easily go off and the bullet could be heading right back at Jason. Also, what about fingerprints? I guess he does not worry about things like that.

Page 76. Other then the part with a lottery ticket where Jason wins $250,000 this scene is exactly like the one earlier. It takes away some of the fun when you are watching a repeat.

Page 77.” Matthew doesn't acknowledge. Probably ignoring Jason”? Surely you can find a better way to describe this.

Confusion here. Who is Joseph? I must have totally forgot about him because I have no idea who he is.

Page 80. Again, I'm having a hard time believing or even understanding some of the characters reactions to things here. Jason has just robbed a liquor store, killed the clerk and shot at Randall and here he is standing outside the diner jingling a bell for donations. Likewise, Sasha, did not seem to upset when Jason said he had killed the clerk. I know which movies we have to suspend our disbelief, but when characters responds or reacts to events that are totally unfamiliar to the audience we tend to not be able to connect with them. And that is how I feel now.

Page 85. Although it is a nice touch for Jason to give away a lottery ticket, it would be more powerful if Jason did not tell her how much the ticket was worth. It would make Jason more of a hero if he does not mention the money or how much it would help Abby. Giving anonymously it's more powerful then bringing attention to your gift.

Page 92. Even if the phone is broken, isn't the history still on the memory card?

Why would Matthew not to hand him the gun? Why tape it underneath a mailbox?

Page 94. There is no need to tell us that Sasha's body is still in the trunk. If we can't see it, don't tell us about it. Besides, it becomes obvious that she is still in the trunk when David pulls her out.

2 questions here. There is a 2 foot hole in the ground. Is it 2 feet deep or is it a 2 ft square? I just want to be able to picture it correctly. Also, it is winter and cold yet David has no problem digging in the ground…

I just realized that instead of having NIGHT or DAY you just write LATER and because of that I have no idea what time of day it is now. I don't comments much on format and such, but I do believe in using NIGHT or DAY only rather than whatever the writer feels like. And for production purposes especially they need to know if it is in night shoot or daytime shoot. Also, you use LATER incorrectly. LATER should be used only when we are still in the same location not an entirely different scene. You do as you please of course, I'm just saying…

Page 96. I'm confused again. What exactly happened to Randall?

I didn't quite understand why you start in the living room at David's house. Why show the living room when he is in the kitchen? Why not start there?

Page 99. Okay so I guess Randall committed suicide. In that same piece of dialogue btw, you called the clerk Michelle. I thought her name was Heather.

David says, somebody killed her sister. Whose sister? I'm confused again. Was she Sasha's sister? If so, that needs to be mentioned somewhere so an audience can make that connection. If you made their last names the same in this script, a reader with a good memory might make that connection, however, I don't think an audience would unless it is mentioned somewhere during the film.







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Mr. Blonde
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Pia,

Thank you for reading it, but don't apologize for taking so long. Let me apologize for subjecting you to it. This is a difficult script to sit through. Now, you had some great notes and some questions, I'm assuming, because you took notes as you read. It would make sense, because the answers come at some point.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
I also mention later on that I think the character David should have a different name especially since the diner is called Dave's. Another thought I had was that I thought the main character was going to be Chris. I tried to attach myself to him to see where his story would lead, but he was quickly out and gone. Maybe that's another reason for confusion. There is no central character to root for.


I was considering that and would likely change the character names. These are (mostly) my standby character names that I like to re-use. Yeah, the vignettes threw that off, with Chris. His story was, way back in the day, going to be an OWC contest entry, but then I asked the question, "Who killed him?"


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Maybe I did not like them because they kept doing such stupid things all the time. This script is to me very much as if you would like it to be like a Quentin Tarantino script. You even told me it was very dialogue heavy. I read another script one time that was extremely dialogue heavy and when I commented on that to the writer he got defensive. He said that if I knew anything about film I would know that Quentin Tarantino's films are always dialogue heavy and that it's perfectly okay. I told him that Quentin Tarantino is one of my favorite directors and writers. The thing is, QT is a genius. I read somewhere that his IQ is 169 or something like that. His dialogues might seem like idle chatter, but they really are not. The dialogue in context to what else is going on in the scene is what makes his dialogue work. Even if it's just 2 guys talking about coffee when the dead guy is in the trunk of the car. Or as in the beginning of Inglorious Basterds for example, it is filled with tension and multi layered and filled with metaphors. IMHO, you have a lot of idle chatter in your dialogues. I think this would work a lot better if you could make the dialogue more interesting, smarter and not so mundane.


I don't pretend to be nearly as good as him however many of the dumb character decisions were intentional. These are not, for the most part, career criminals. About the chatter, though, the dialogue wasn't as much idle chatter (in my own opinion) as it was in previous incarnations. I tried to give most of the lines a purpose, but didn't do so well, apparently.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
If they seemed terse or negative that is not my intention, I just simply wrote what I felt when I read what I read.


That's perfectly cool with me. I accept harsh any time it includes usable criticism. Bring it on.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Page 1. Chris says " dispatch said you caught him”. If Chris has already been told that they caught the guy, then why is he driving with the sirens on?


That line of dialogue was a last minute replacement (as was a good portion of it).


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Perhaps Chris, should look into the police car and have a good look at Randall Edwards.


I wanted to avoid him getting a good look at Randall intentionally. He's, at that moment, the villain.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Page 4. Is it important that the car is a red 1990 Chrysler LeBaron? If not, I would scratch that description of the car.


It's habit. No, it's not 100% necessary to know, but I have a belief with my stories that the cars the characters drive signify who they are inside. Most of my characters are down-on-their-luck people and tend to drive poor condition cars.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
I thought the slug line EXT. DAVE'S was odd. When I 1st read it, I had to stop and think what you meant. Maybe make it easier by adding diner after DAVE'S.


Strongly considering.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Page 6. Typo, the kind the counter and a mother...


Consider it fixed.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Page 8. When you 1st introduce the mother and daughter in capital letters, I think you should have introduced them in bed as Casey and Abby right then instead of waiting a few pages. When I 1st read Abby's dialogue, I thought, who the heck is Abby? By introducing them my name right away, it eliminates the confusion.


I probably will have to do that but I was really avoiding it. Basically, I wanted them to be an afterthought until Chris paid attention to them because this story was his point of view.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
I am guessing here that the Santa Claus that robbed the liquor store is the mother and daughter husband and dad. Nothing wrong with that as people watching this film would not know this. I am just telling you what I'm thinking while reading.


Half-right. Still good, though.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Page 9. As a mother, I am putting myself in Maggie's shoes. If I was her, I would be very happy to see my son come in to the diner. I am not sure that I am buying Maggie demanding an apology. I don't know how old you are, but I can tell you that as you get older and 19-year-old is just a kid in your eyes. I don't believe any mother would shun her own kid doing something stupid as a teenager. I don't buy her saying ” I don't ever want to see you again”. For that to be believable, he should have done something extremely bad. Here he is as a police officer. If anything, she should be proud of him.


That was a victim of extreme amounts of exposition. I had this whole backstory where he was pissed at her and his dad died of pancreatic cancer and Maggie just lives with a cat who's nearly as old as Chris but it rambled forever. I cut it down, but probably have to figure out another way.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
You might want to tweak that a little bit. After 10 min. of film we should definitely have a solid feel for what might be ahead.


I didn't want to play David's pratfall for laughs but I suppose that's how it came out. It was supposed to be drama for the most part.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
I don't quite get the SUPER: at the end of the page. Why inserting that nothing important happened today? Also, in the slug line it says DAVE'S - BACK. I'm assuming that you mean that David is at the backside of the diner.


In an effort to avoid confusion (which seemed to have the opposite effect), I gave each story a name. That's the super. "Nothing Important Happened Today" is the name of David's story like "The Gift of Family" was Chris'. As for the second part, correct.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Page 15. IMHO, I would probably just write "EXT. DAVE'S - NIGHT instead all back and front. Then just write in the action paragraph that Dave does this and that at the back of the diner then moves along the side to the front instead of using 2 separate slug lines. He is still in the same location EXT. DINER so that would be totally okay.


I tried to do the one that seemed like it would use less space. I guess if it makes for an easier read, I could sacrifice succinctness a bit.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Page 16. David has just killed Chris, yet here he is with Sasha at the diner. Killing the cop didn't affect him at all? I find that rather unlikely.


As you saw later on, this takes before the previous story.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
There is also a lot of idle chatter on this page. I would suggest reworking the dialogue so it is not so pedestrian or trim it.


I wanted it to seem like idle chatter, but I was hoping it would be explained in Sasha's story that she brought her sister up for a reason. I'm sure some of it could use trimming, though.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Page 18. Maggie says " you had me worried there for a 2nd. There's enough caffeine in there to stop a horse." Why does she even say that? David said it needed more shoulder, not caffeine.


I like characters having to misspeak intentionally, but sometimes it comes out wrong. I may fix that line.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Page 19. Maggie just brought them coffee and now they are leaving. They don't even pay...


Victim of editing.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Page 23. I would trim some of the dialogue on this page. The short little words that don't matter.


I suppose I could.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Page 26. Instead of writing that David hears a loud bang, I would just write,  A loud BANG is heard.


I had that at one point, but I tried cutting out as many "is"' as I could.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Page 27. At this point I'm not really sure that David and Sasha were going to get married or not, but if they were, he sure does not seem very upset about what he has done. In fact, he does not show a lot of emotion at all.


Short version, he was pissed that Vincent (who's basically his conscience, the devil on his shoulder) told him she was cheating. As you know, or hopefully was assumed, at least, Vincent was right.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
David asking if it was true and Vincent said it was. How could he know and David did not?


David doesn't believe in himself. He doesn't trust the facts when they're placed right in front of him. Vincent is the active part of David's psyche, the motivational side.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Page 31. I'm not really sure why you decided on this type of timeline where you show one thing then go back and replay it from a different perspective.


There are two versions of David's story that I have. There's the one with Vincent and the one without. In the one without Vincent, David's story ended when he said, "Hey, officer. Long time, no see" because there was nothing to add to the scene. In this case, there was. But, I obviously need to re-work it.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
LOL! I just read read your PM from simply scripts. I guess that explains it all! Except, I'm still confused about the genre.


The same scene doesn't play over and over. Basically, the events surrounding the robbery are detailed. David's is the only one with any sense of comedy (hopefully).


Quoted from Grandma Bear
I'm hoping, that you are not going to play this same scene over and over. If you do, I don't think it's going to work.


I'm not exactly playing the same scene over and over. I know it gets tedious and I apologized for the second half of story 2 and all of story 3.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
I am also still confused about Vincent. Is he in David's head or on the phone?


Vincent's in his head but David uses the phone to connect with him.


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Quoted from Grandma Bear
Page 36. The slide on the ground pulls back? By itself or does David do it?


If I said ground, I meant gun. And, it does it by itself when the gun's out of bullets.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
David drops his gun. Does he leave it there?


I really forgot to fix that? Shit. He was supposed to take it with him.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
whenever the cops stop a car, the license plate has already been checked. The cop cars have cameras in them that automatically check every single license plate that come into their view.


I didn't want exposition to claim that the car had no camera. Originally, I had it in the script, but couldn't get it across the way I wanted so I cut it.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Page 40. The whole dialogue piece with Maggie does nothing to further the story. Either rethink the dialogue to give it some meaning or skip that part.


That was my attempt at subtext. I hate trying to write subtext.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Page 41. Except for Maggie the diner is empty. Did I miss something? I thought Abby was in there singing.


We've gone backwards in time again. This takes place before David's story.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Page 42. If I were you I would skip that whole lecture by Matthew.


I probably should. I wanted to give Matthew character, but writing this particular story was nearly impossible. I couldn't get it like I wanted at all.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Page 44. Here we have Sasha hiring a hitman, and she asks him about his family and insisting to know his name and other silliness. I am not a big fan of this conversation here, I'm sorry to say. If that is really what you want her to do, then realize that she comes across as some major major idiot. What does she expect, for them to be friends?


In a way, yes. Sasha's basically my "Jerry Lundegaard" (from Fargo). Knows what she wants done but it highly inept at doing it.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Page 46. I highly doubt that a man would tell someone who hires him just how many people he had killed. IMHO, it is okay to have a lot of dialogue, but it must make sense and some of this does not.


Agreed completely.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
By sitting around and talking to her he is risking being not just seen but also remembered buy the other diner patrons.


The only other person in there was Maggie. Getting the timing down on this story was a bitch, but in the process, I think I lost the story.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Page 52. When Sasha says " never shake the devil's hand, what the hell is that even supposed to mean" again, it makes her sound rather stupid. Maybe that is what you want her character to be, I'm just pointing out in case that was not your intention.


It was. She wants David dead but she's not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
In my humble opinion, you have a lot of words in the dialogue that are just things like, thanks, hey, you're welcome. Those can definitely be cut as they add nothing to this story.


Conundrum. Write faker-sounding dialogue or cut out basic things that people say to each other. My dialogue here was bad enough without trying to make it even more movie-ish. I'll probably just cut it.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Page 53. You write, that she sips her coffee then shrugs. Just curious, why does she shrugg? That action does not seem to fit here.


Without having the script open in front of me, I don't recall. It can probably go, too.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Page 57. What is a sobriety coin chip?


For recovering addicts, it's a little coin they give you for different stages of how long you've been sober. Kind of like an accomplishment.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Page 61. Although, Randall is not a pleasant person, you managed to at least make me feel something for him. I understand his frustration with his situation, therefore, of all these vignettes, I like his the best so far. He is in my opinion a better developed character than some of the others. So, good job on him.


This story was mainly my brother's. He deserves the credit on this one. All the others were mine.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Page 62.” No one responds", I don't get that part. Who does not respond? The other cars or Casey and Randall?


I meant on the phone. I'll clear it up.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Page 65. I don't know but you, but when I hear a gunshot and I am not at a shooting range, I tend to get scared and want to go as far away from the shooting as possible. I guess Randall it's a lot braver than me. Something to think about when it comes to believability of characters actions.


He heard the gunshot, but didn't really hear it. That's kind of the reaction we were going for.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
So, Jason used two guns?


As you see later, no.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Page 66. I don't think Randall, should be hanging his head in shame. He didn't do it. Seems more likely to me that he would be trying to convince the police of his innocence instead.


He tries to explain then gives up. He's basically the type of person who has a rain cloud that follows them everywhere. He was accepting it as inevitable.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Randall's speech here feels a little bit like preaching about social issues. In this case health insurance. I would trim that up some to lessen that feel.


Wasn't trying to be but I can understand how it came off that way.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Page 70. If Jason robs the liquor store wearing his Santa Claus outfit, you might want to mention that outfit when he comes running out of the store when Randall sees him.


I didn't have him change clothes until the final scene of the story. I just assumed that it would be clear he's still dressed as Santa. I will fix that and make it clearer, though.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Small typo, Heather " leans" on the counter.


Consider it fixed.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
I didn't know they have 24 packs of beer.


Yep.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Btw, the interaction here between Jason and Heather is a good chance to make more interesting dialogue. Can't you think of anything better for Heather to say than, is this all? Maybe she could flirt or joke around with him a little bit. Maybe she could ask him " you think that's going to be enough?" And then have him say something back instead of just asking lazily if that's all?


Jason's extremely nervous about the situation. I guess I could've gone that route with Heather, but it would've just added more lines to the script, albeit more interesting lines.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Page 72. How does Jason know Heather's name?


Line of prose I cut. He reads her nametag.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Out of curiosity, why did Jason throw the gun in the snow? If he is not going to keep it, why did he not leave it in the store? I mean, it's not like they are not going to find it.


It was her gun and he took it while he was flustered and not thinking clearly.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Page 73. Jason has just been upset that he shot Heather. He said he only wanted the money, yet here he is a few seconds later shooting at Randall. I know he did not hit him, but still, would someone who is upset about just having killed someone do that?


It was meant as a reflexive move. Probably needs to be fixed as well.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Very dumb move to throw the gun. Anyone who is at least a little bit familiar with guns knows better than to throw it. It could easily go off and the bullet could be heading right back at Jason. Also, what about fingerprints? I guess he does not worry about things like that.


Another line of prose I cut for space. His completed Santa outfit included black gloves.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Page 76. Other then the part with a lottery ticket where Jason wins $250,000 this scene is exactly like the one earlier. It takes away some of the fun when you are watching a repeat.


One of the most troublesome scenes I had. For a while, my brother and I wrestled with the idea (jokingly) of a cuecard that comes up and reads "Three Minutes Later" and has Jason walking outside. I didn't know how to get around it, properly.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Page 77.” Matthew doesn't acknowledge. Probably ignoring Jason”? Surely you can find a better way to describe this.


Absolutely. But, I haven't gotten to that point in my revision and the script has a lot more serious problems. But, that fix'll go on the pile as well.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Confusion here. Who is Joseph? I must have totally forgot about him because I have no idea who he is.


Meant Jason. Misspelling.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Page 80. Again, I'm having a hard time believing or even understanding some of the characters reactions to things here. Jason has just robbed a liquor store, killed the clerk and shot at Randall and here he is standing outside the diner jingling a bell for donations. Likewise, Sasha, did not seem to upset when Jason said he had killed the clerk.


To cut half a page from the story, I removed a moment from the beginning of Sasha's story (when she's walking to Dave's) and she texts something to someone. In the beginning of Jason's story (when he's inside his car), he receives a text that says "stick to the plan". Basically, that meant do the Salvation Army thing as a cover until she leaves with David. It was a victim of editing but maybe should've stayed. As for Sasha being upset, why would she? She's about to pay a guy to kill her fiancee for his money and is also plotting to eventually kill Jason. She's not suspectible to emotions very easily.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Page 85. Although it is a nice touch for Jason to give away a lottery ticket, it would be more powerful if Jason did not tell her how much the ticket was worth. It would make Jason more of a hero if he does not mention the money or how much it would help Abby. Giving anonymously it's more powerful then bringing attention to your gift.


I'll definitely look into that one. Although, that's not the point of the story. I wanted everyone's story to end unhappily. Abby and Kasey's will because if they try and cash the ticket, it'll come up as stolen and they won't receive the money anyway.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Page 92. Even if the phone is broken, isn't the history still on the memory card?


Yes, but Matthew was making sure Jason couldn't use it anymore then the phone would just be taken out with the trash on December 26th.

Why would Matthew not to hand him the gun? Why tape it underneath a mailbox?


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Page 94. There is no need to tell us that Sasha's body is still in the trunk. If we can't see it, don't tell us about it. Besides, it becomes obvious that she is still in the trunk when David pulls her out.


We can see it. The trunk is open and David's sitting on the part that sticks out when the trunk is open.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
2 questions here. There is a 2 foot hole in the ground. Is it 2 feet deep or is it a 2 ft square? I just want to be able to picture it correctly. Also, it is winter and cold yet David has no problem digging in the ground…


I meant for two feet deep. And, yes, he would but time has passed. The short scenes that happen there were supposed to play out like a montage of everyone's situation throughout the night, leading up to Christmas morning.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
I just realized that instead of having NIGHT or DAY you just write LATER and because of that I have no idea what time of day it is now. I don't comments much on format and such, but I do believe in using NIGHT or DAY only rather than whatever the writer feels like. And for production purposes especially they need to know if it is in night shoot or daytime shoot. Also, you use LATER incorrectly. LATER should be used only when we are still in the same location not an entirely different scene. You do as you please of course, I'm just saying…


I'll re-write that part to make it clearer. In my above response, I explained what I was going for, but I don't think I got the spirit of it right.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Page 96. I'm confused again. What exactly happened to Randall?


Committed suicide in his cell overnight. I don't state an exact method because it's near impossible as they take away almost anything that can be used, but that's generally the idea.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
I didn't quite understand why you start in the living room at David's house. Why show the living room when he is in the kitchen? Why not start there?


I was trying to direct the scene without directing it. The camera would pretty much be passing through the living room into the kitchen where we see David.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
Page 99. Okay so I guess Randall committed suicide. In that same piece of dialogue btw, you called the clerk Michelle. I thought her name was Heather.


Another mistake like Joseph. Good call, Pia.


Quoted from Grandma Bear
David says, somebody killed her sister. Whose sister? I'm confused again. Was she Sasha's sister? If so, that needs to be mentioned somewhere so an audience can make that connection. If you made their last names the same in this script, a reader with a good memory might make that connection, however, I don't think an audience would unless it is mentioned somewhere during the film.


Yeah, that's what I was going for. The damn exposition is killing me. I guess I had to do it, though.[/quote]

But, thank you very much for reading, Pia, and your notes were extremely helpful. =)


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Electric Dreamer
Posted: May 9th, 2012, 9:47am Report to Moderator
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Hey Sean!

Congrats again on getting this one ready for the challenge!
Wanted to give you a shout here for your efforts.
Like I said before, I do enjoy the plot machinations in this one.
Though I do agree with Pia that the character motivations can use some sharpening.
But overall, I liked how you brought the stories together.

Is this draft much different than the one you sent me?
If so, I can take a look at those revisions for you.

Keep writing and rewriting!

Regards,
E.D.


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Mr. Blonde
Posted: May 9th, 2012, 11:17am Report to Moderator
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I wasn't able to make that many changes, Brett, before the contest. Instead, I noted them and am going to incorporate whatever I can from the help I get here into a re-write.

But, thank you for reading and for your notes.


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Reef Dreamer
Posted: May 10th, 2012, 5:22pm Report to Moderator
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Het Sean,

My first notes.

I've managed to avoid looking at Pia's comments but as this is an intriguing script i wonder what difference/similarities we have raised.

It has a real "memento" feel, so far. the story is a simple one, with an interwoven  plot,  jumbled about. I like the use of the main location from different angles and times.

So far i like it.

Will try and complete tomorrow.

My running notes were;


christmas story - feedback

P1 - continous - used in first three slugs yet i’m not sure its needed
Super - hope this makes snese in due course
James Anderson - what is it about the name Anderson in films?
AMBROZIK - awkward name, wonder whether the spelling has meaning?
P3 - first exchange is slighly confusing two questions without answer
“Was i unclear” - well i dont understand so dont know about him, is he wanted or not?
After - i assume he isnt needed?
P4 would it be clearer if you say he’s pulled up outside daves
Note - by page 5 we have had a lot of character introduced
P7 two specifci cars mentioned in first 7, meaningful?
P9 Maybe - “I Know”,  instead of I’m aware
P9 powerful statement from mother - does it need more suggestion as to ther ebing a reason?
P10 a very meaningful moment - good stuuf, just wonder whether it conflcist with teh way he made the decision, which appeared random/

Ok we have a disgruntle cop, a dark family past,  yet he set up as caring from the handling of the folk outside the bar.
P10 dont think you need the apologize. leav eit open at angry that it didnt go well?
Flashaback - straight after - not sure
Catalyst i assume P13/14 shot
Super - another one ?
P16-18 alot of david - to be honest this change of focus confuses me a little
P23 David is nasty - we had that before he shot the girl, i hope it makes a difference
P23 how does vincent know he has blood on his jacket? assume he is watching?
P25 WOAH - what have we here, time travel, etc Didnt he shoot chris? Is this the break into 2? a change of reality? And who the f**k is vincent . A voice inside the head?

Oh did i miss something that we have flashed backwards a la memento?
P29 whoever vincent is, if he exisis, theres alot of conversation with him
p30 vincent sees something that david doesnt? i wonder how this can be?\
P34 ok phone is off and vincent still calls!!
P35/36 - the impression i have is that david is an insane killer with schizphrenic tendaices - i’m just not persuded with the look or shame and sorrow etc, confused maybe.
P36 he killed his girlfreind brutally and in public, he was cool beforehand in the bar, very calculated, these actions dont come across as a remorseful person
P36 your just a voice in my head - too easy for my liking, too much reversed, too quickly
P37 so he drops the bluetooth out - maybe i’m wrong on the head problems, but ti doesnt come across that way, and if i’m right, you dont get rid of them, you know they are part of you
P37 another tiem movement i assume with fade out fade in
P42 - i like this, very memento, twisty, yet simple.


My scripts  HERE

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Inner Journey - Page Awards Finalist - Bluecat semi final
Grieving Spell - winner - London Film Awards.  Third - Honolulu
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kingcooky555
Posted: May 10th, 2012, 5:22pm Report to Moderator
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Finished reading. I enjoyed how you put all the stories together - Tarantino/Pulp Fiction style. Even your logline reads very similar to Pulp Fiction (as per IMDB).

I had lots of notes in the beginning about so many character introductions, and the main character killed by page 15. But after reading it straight through, I now know what that paper Chris picks up in the first ten pages. I thought it was just some random action.

However, I still found a lot of unnecessary chit chat between the characters. It's even more important in your script as you repeat certain scenes more than once, and these scenes have cuttable chit/chat dialogue.

For example, on page 25:
Chris: You ok?
David: Yeah.
Chris: Take it easy next time, all right?
DAvid: Will do.

In this exchange you can cut out "You,ok?" and "Yeah". The second exchange kind of mirrors the first exchange. So cut one and keep the other. No need to repeat the same thing. It's even more apparent in this script because you repeat certain scenes later down the line, and this superflous chit chat slows down your narrative and dialogue flow.

Also, there's a bunch of unnecessary action. For example, on page 81:
Abby and Kasey get out of the car.
Kasey walks to the diner.
Abby walks towards Jason.
Kasey turns back, stands by Abby.

Four lines could be condensed to "Abby and Kasey exit the car. They walk towards Jason." I don't see any reason why you'd split a simple action into four action lines. It's stuff like this you have to watch out for in this kind of narrative you're trying to write.

Notes from my read. I've cut a lot because the story became clear as I read to the end:

pg 14 - Change the diner name or David's name. Too closely related to each other. Also, the diner is quite an important place in the script. Try to find a more memorable name for it. How about "Happy Days"? It's a 50's theme and kind of ironic with what goes on in and around that diner.

pg 42 Matthew's monologue: You have an extra space between "put... out"

pg 70 keans should be leans?

I'm a Tarantino fan so I like what you're doing here. Also, this story looks low budget so you might get some indie prods. interested in this, as there's always somebody looking for the next Pulp Fiction. Good luck.
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darrentomalin
Posted: May 11th, 2012, 10:35am Report to Moderator
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I had to force myself to read a christmas script as I am not a big fan of seasonal stories (No i'm not a grinch) but the logline certainly isn't Ho Ho Ho!  
I love out of synch scripts as the payoff at the end as the stories interconnect and twist together throughout is a great reward for those who can get their head around non linear.  The only problem that comes with non-linear is sometimes you have to go back and re-read a section to fully understand it and this takes you out of the story. However,  you pulled it off really well!
I made some notes but most of them are just little technical and trimming observations that have already been said above as this is the last but one of the 7wc for me to read.

It's funny, people say that we should swrite realistic dialogue, but in my experience people DO say "Hi, How are you" "You ok?" "yeah" "Thanks" but when we put them in, people say that it's unnecessary chit-chat lol!
I can see why you put them in and what you are doing here, these people are all dealing with serious issues, when their minds are so filled with plots, murder, hit men, poverty and family problems, that they haven't got the processing power to come up with witty one liners and engaging dialogue.

I felt something for all of the characters and understood their direction as the stories unfolded.  It was like Magnolia if firected by QT for me though of course, no one can replciate his dialogue though we keep trying lol!

There are some lines that can be cut but overall I never felt bogged down and always had asense that a line was in there for a reason.  The story(s) flowed for me and they wove together very nicely.
An ambitious script but I think you pulled it off!

I knew straight away when the first SUPER came up that we were going to be looking at a few different shorts taht made one whole so didn't even make any structure notes.  I knew they'd come together later on.  It is quite depressing though but any emotional response is a good one.

Good job.


http://darrentomalin.webs.com/index.htm

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Grandma Bear
Posted: May 11th, 2012, 10:50am Report to Moderator
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When I said a lot of the dialogue was idle chatter, I hardly meant the script needed witty one liners...  


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Mr. Blonde
Posted: May 11th, 2012, 1:31pm Report to Moderator
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I'm going to do this quick and simple for now because I'm about ready to stab somebody.

I want to thank Reef Dreamer, Kingcooky555 and Darrenjames for their reviews and insight.

This is just a placeholder for now because I just came back after a couple days of busy writing and was going to reply to all at once. The second I finished the review, my laptop shut itself down and I lost the file.

I will re-do it and give the reviews the attention they deserve, but not this second because I'm frustrated as hell right now.


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Reef Dreamer
Posted: May 11th, 2012, 3:58pm Report to Moderator
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Sean,

carrying on.

I thought this was a decent inter woven script but if it lacked anything it was a spine. The cord that connects the parts with a deeper meaning. I appreciate there is a theme of desperation, almost what you would do for the love of others etc, people in desperate situations.

If you recall Memento, we follow the pro tag and hope him to achieve. I feel that one story should be drip feed throughout to bind the parts and we see how they all affect it.

maybe the bitter sweet death of randall with a later realisation that he in some way did save his child - would need a readjustment


i think you achieve a lot. well done.

Carrying on p42

P42 not wholly sure why sasha is asking him whether he’s cool about killing
P42 Matthews history lesson - seems a bit odd
P46 maybe its me, or thte fact i am reading this the next day, but i’m trying to remeber who jason was, arh now i remeber the sant claus from outside
P48 jason killing a clerk for money??
P49 sasha responding about jason - seesm unlikely she would make an opinion to Matthew
P53 another time variations i assume
and another Super
And i’m trying to remember who randall was/is, scrolling back he is the thief caught at the beginning. Could he he more memorable?
P57 was scene with randall and barrett overly long?
P57 - quite like the two cars alongside each other
Dave’s and David - the names wre getting mixed up with me, maybe change one
P61 at this stage i have a real feel for the film Crash, almost more than memento
P66 nice bite to the randall scene
P67 why wouldnt he say no it wasnt him - he didnt touch the gun, right?

P70 at this point, ilike the story, i like the dynamics but i wonder who i’m following rooting for. I just wondered whether this affect the viewer

P75 love the lottery ticket
P75 still not sure he would tell a bounty hnter waht hes done
P79 detail is a bit on the nose about the orphanage

Also one point - the scenes are well played out but clealry seperated so we are forced to remember what went on - makes it a bit harder to connect
P81 how would you know it is a 1990 Chrysler ? are we just saying dated?
P85 really nice touch the man who shot a woman who framed the father gives the moneya cross BUT the way is too on the nose. Why not “a present from sanata”, thats realsies later. with the chessy was that sanat moment
P86 v nice touch - jason road to damacus moment BUT why is he sanat ? is he just waiting? but why have a can?
Bitter sweet, dark and with mied emotions -

decent work



My scripts  HERE

The Elevator Most Belonging To Alice - Semi Final Bluecat, Runner Up Nashville
Inner Journey - Page Awards Finalist - Bluecat semi final
Grieving Spell - winner - London Film Awards.  Third - Honolulu
Ultimate Weapon - Fresh Voices - second place
IMDb link... http://www.imdb.com/name/nm7062725/?ref_=tt_ov_wr
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nawazm11
Posted: May 16th, 2012, 6:04am Report to Moderator
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Hey, Sean. This is up next.

I skimmed through the comments, so I apologize if I repeat something.

Okay, to tell you the truth, somewhere near the end, I got lost on which character was which. I'm pretty sure it's only me, though? But this isn't a problem, as there would be  no confusion on screen. It's not that I had no clue what was going on, it's just it was a lot of characters to digest. I understood 90% of the story (I think ).

I am a major fan of these types of movies, I just love it how everything comes together. Not Pulp Fiction style like everybody is mentioning, but Alejandro González Iñárritu style. His first three movies Amores Perros, 21 Grams and Babel, were really well made. Kudos go to Guillermo Arriaga who wrote all three of them, and on youtube, you can see his interviews where he talks about how he structured the story if you're interested.

Anyway, I think you've done a great job bringing everything together. The characters were obviously well thought out and cutting them would make major plot holes in the story. A great thing about this story was that everything was wrapped up, and no characters were left without a story. When Randall commits suicide, that really got me, so great job on that.

I think you've nailed the low budget here, as this could be easily filmed on no more than 2 million. Not including the cars and the end, you only have, I think 2 locations? Many producers will be interested in this. But because of this, the story was a little bland for me, it just needed some spice. Sure, people were shot, but it just wasn't enough for me. That's not bad in anyway, even good because it makes the story low budget.

People seemed to think that there was too much dialogue. I agree, but I don't think it was bad. With this type of story, I think it really needs it, as it follows the life of people. Don't cut IMO.

Overall, I think you did a good job here. My main problem would be the confusion and blandness but that's just my reading and taste. I heard you wrote this several times but your computer kept having a bitch each time?

Page 1: Chris Dejesus? Strange last name.

Page 3: “Was I unclear? look” Not sure if it exists, at least I can't do it.

Page 6: "DAVE’S" is the name of the diner? Or is that just what the characters call the place?

"The diner is empty except for an aged woman in a green and red apron, MAGGIE DEJESUS (62), behind the counter and a MOTHER and DAUGHTER sitting in a booth by the window." Had to read that a few times.

"Maggie is writing in a little flipbook." Could easily eliminate the "ing" and "is" in that sentence.

Page 8: "Bald" Hmm... Guess it should be relevant later on.

Page 10: Guessing Dave was the name of his dead father?

You should make the speeding car a little clearer IMO.

Page 11: "He slams on the brakes, watches as the car slows. He looks back at the diner." Watches his own car slow? Or watches the Diner?

Page 12: A “touché” look? Is that even possible!

Page 13: "(Didn’t expect that)" Cut it IMO.

Page 21: How big is the present, again?

Page 22: He was awfully calm about killing someone...

Page 36: "Without me, you were just a little pussywhipped bitch."

Perfect. hahahah

Page 57: A missing comma in the first sentence of the Alliance slug.

Page 59: Knick knacks doesn't seem very specific.

Page 65: Man, did I lose track of the characters. I thought Jason was Randall cause of the santa outfit.

Page 72: He knew her name? If she had a name tag on, it should be mentioned.

Page 77: Joseph?? Who's Joseph???

Page 99: Think you mean Heather?


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