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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Drama Scripts  ›  Finals Moderators: bert
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  Author    Finals  (currently 1786 views)
Posted: October 4th, 2014, 8:15pm Report to Moderator

So, what are you writing?

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Finals by Noah Pfister - Drama, Comedy, Teen - As finals draw close to Fredrickson High, nine different students experience the beauty that is studying. Along the way, friendships will be made Finals week is considered a tough time for teenagers, and about nine of them can back me up on it. The question is, how does one deal with the time they are given. We follow the path of four intertwining stories about nine teenagers and the time leading up to their dreaded finals. 115 pages - pdf, format

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Posted: October 5th, 2014, 9:15am Report to Moderator

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Let's start with the logline. You can just say: 9 high-schoolers try to manage their time before their dreaded finals. Short, simple.

Now the script. Starting with a flashfoward (or flashback whatever) is nice if there's something exciting to go along with it. Here we just see students taking their final. Finals are boring for the students, and they're just as boring to watch as an audience. Nothing even happens in that first sequence except some flaccid announcement. You can cut it out completely since Jacob/Chris/Nat reference the finals in the next scene.

And immediately their dialogue could use some work. You say "come on, guys" 3 times on page 3 with tons of on-the-nose dialogue. "We have to do something fun this weekend" or "we're juniors" or "the school just announced when final are" is too direct. Sounds too robotic.

I'll list some things as I read, but I'll try not to be too nitpicky.
For example page 6, a lot of the action lines can be trimmed. Some things can be left up to the actors/director. Especially like "Marrissa gets a confused look on her face." She just said "What?" so of course she'll look confused. You don't need to write it in. It bogs down your script. A lot of lines like "Marrissa takes a deep breath and shakes her head" or "Marrissa looks shocked for a quick second but then switches her look" are essentially filler, and can be trimmed down. And how is she not able to recognize that it's an address on the paper? Remember, short and easy to read is better.

You don't need the "seems" part most of the time. Page 1: "The school seems to be quiet"; Page 8: "It seems to be talking about finals." Just what it is.

Page 9: "If we don’t get at least all B’s by the end of this semester, we won’t be able to get into the same college" and "Believe me, I want nothing more than for us to go to college together. But these grades will not allow it."
Find out some other way to get their motivations clear. They both probably know that information, so don't have them state it so blandly to each other. Remember, the audience is smarter than you think. Be more subtle.

Also, since you have a large cast, describe each character. Even if it's just a sentence, give them some flair so it helps me keep track.

Page 12: You cut ALL the way to the next day, but what I wanted to know is what the kids do THAT day. Half say they are going to study, the other half don't, so what did they do that day?? We're already on the next day is too fast! Just make Marissa and Michael study on that same day.

Page 35: Why is he talking to himself? Also, there is an easy way to intercut two people talking on the phone. Google it for proper formatting.

You gotta proofread. There are tons of tiny errors that you would catch if you read word by word. Also, this is clearly a comedy and not a drama. There's been jokes every scene, but hardly any drama other than "I want to study" "I don't."

And that's where I gotta stop. I'm going to be honest with you. It's amazing that you finished a script, but I don't think there's anything compelling here. Finals suck. Studying sucks. Watching people study for finals sucks. Studying is the most boring part of high school. If you want to write about high school, you should write about all the exciting parts. It's nice that you take from personal experience, but I don't think anyone wants to watch a movie about people studying. You have a little bit of intrigue with the girl/guy romance and the two stupid girls, but really it's weak.

You ever see The Perfect Score? It's about kids who have to take the SAT, but the movie isn't about them studying, it's about them STEALING THE ANSWERS. That's a cool idea. Or maybe Dazed and Confused. It's about their last day in high school, but it's filled with smoking, drinking, partying, and dialogue about life and their futures. That's cool.
A plot based around kids studying is not. Maybe you change it up, but here at page 40 it doesn't seem to be going anywhere. I would scrap the idea and work on something new. Remember: all scripts add to your experience!!

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