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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Drama Scripts  ›  Dishes of Color Moderators: bert
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  Author    Dishes of Color  (currently 214 views)
Don
Posted: September 22nd, 2018, 7:19pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Dishes of Color by Fausto Lucignani - Drama - After learning from an elderly Italian woman the secrets of  Italian cooking, a strong-willed African-American home aide opens a small restaurant in an Italian neighborhood, unaware that the†local Mafia bosses deeply abhor the color of her skin. 107 pages - pdf format

Writer interested in feedback on this work



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Warren
Posted: September 25th, 2018, 12:06am Report to Moderator
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Hi Fausto,

I read the whole script. It has a lot of issues, way too many to make any sort of coherent story.

We have discussed this before, but I love your writing, just the way it is. It has a very Tommy Wiseau feel to it. I know you donít like to hear that, but I've given you quite a few pointers on your scripts and you seem to be making the same mistakes.

I can only assume you have embraced this way of writing.

I will review it from the stand point of what I think is technically wrong with it. But like I said I loved it, but not for the reason you probably wanted me to.

So here we go...

SPOILERS

Have a look at the five character descriptions below; you will quickly see the issue. Mix it up a bit. "good looking" is extremely vague and bland.



Quoted Text
ETTA, a good-looking African-American woman



Quoted Text
JENNY, a
good looking blonde



Quoted Text
MARCELLO, long hair, good-looking



Quoted Text
A good-looking saleswoman in her 40s



Quoted Text
The tenor sax player, a good-looking African-American


This is the first of a hell of a lot of general racist ideas. They practically litter the script. I donít have an issue with that if it has some sort of payoff in the story, but it doesnít. The racistís opinions arenít changed. Etta doesnít win the day, no one learns anything. Itís basically an excuse to be racist for no reason.


Quoted Text
ETTA
Yes, ma'am, I'm a good cook.
ROSA
What you cook?
ETTA
Fried chicken, black beans, corn
bread...dishes like that.


So Joey, seems like heís a major character early on. A story is built around him. Heís the son of Rosa, married to a cheating wife Jenny whose lover he kills. He uses Etta as an alibi and then he vanishes into obscurity? What on earth happened and what does any of it have to do with your story. Itís one of a few subplots that lead nowhere and have no purpose.


Quoted Text
Joey, tall, muscular, in his 60s stands on the kitchen
doorway.


Several times I thought you were being lazy with your information. "woman's infection"? what is that? Why not do a quick google search and find one that fits your purposes. This is so general.


Quoted Text
JENNY
I don't have any guy, the infection
came by itself...a woman's infection.


Many occasions where you change the subject so quickly itís jarring. They are having a conversation and at the end she throws in, letís make love.


Quoted Text
STEVE
You've to decide.
JENNY
I'll talk to him.
STEVE
When, Jenny when?
JENNY
Soon...
STEVE
Swear.
JENNY
I swear...let's make love.


Savagely rapes her? Two things, when is a rape ever not savage? You canít loving rape someone. The other thing is, what do you actually want us to see here?


Quoted Text
He uses his strength to overpower her resistance and
savagely rapes her.


What does this have to do with anything?


Quoted Text

Joey calmly points the pistol at Steve's head and pulls the
trigger.


This was a great line.


Quoted Text
JOEY
(whispering to
himself)
She'll follow you soon. You're going
to fuck in hell.


Almost every conversation in the script is on the nose. Detectives arenít going to talk like this. Instead of them saying absolutely everything they are thinking, make it look like a mob hit in some way. They say so many things that are just obvious to everyone. Your audience doesnít want to be force fed.


Quoted Text
DETECTIVE #1
(to detective #2)
Looks like a Mafia hit.
38.
DETECTIVE #2
He was jogging. No documents.
DETECTIVE #1
He must be from around here.
DETECTIVE #2
Yeah.
DETECTIVE #1
One shot and he died, no suffering.
DETECTIVE #2
His family is waiting for him...what
a fucking life.
DETECTIVE #1
You don't full around with the Mafia,
who knows what he did.
DETECTIVE #2
Let's start working on this.


How would you film this? And why is it relevant?


Quoted Text
As every day, she needs to be at the restaurant early to
receive the delivery from the wholesale food market and for
organizing the daily menu.


Why is this random man giving Etta all this information about a crime boss? Never going to happen.


Quoted Text
A MAN in his 60s looks at her.
41.
MAN
Did the owner do something?
Etta glances at him with sadness in her eyes.
ETTA
I don't know, I just work here, I'm a
waitress.
MAN
He should have paid the PIZZO
(protection money in Italian slang).
ETTA
Why?
MAN
Because it's the law of the bosses
here.
ETTA
...And if he doesn't want to pay?
MAN
(laughing)
Next time the place will be on fire.
ETTA
Who gets the money?
MAN
Who gets the money...who gets the
money...why you want to know?
ETTA
A few night ago, two men came to talk
with the owner, they asked for money.
MAN
They are just soldiers, they don't
keep the money.
ETTA
Who does it?
A long silence. The man stares at her with a cryptic glance.
MAN
In this neighborhood is VITO...VITO
SACARA.
ETTA
Where does he live?
42.
MAN
I don't know...but you can find him
at the Italian Club on 14th street.


Just an example of more exposition. People just donít talk like this.


Quoted Text
ETTA
That don Vito is not as bad as I
thought.
WENDY
What happened?
ETTA
Well, he agreed to reduce the
protection money...now, I pay only
two hundreds a week.
WENDY
Did he ask anything in return?
ETTA
That I don't go to the police...I had
told him I was going to denounce the
rape.
WENDY
Smart...Did you have the impression
he was against blacks?
ETTA
The usual disparaging remarks but
nothing more offensive.
WENDY
To have his okay is good for your
business.
ETTA
I hope, who knows.


Why is it definitely the work of an interior decorator? Does it matter in some way thatís important to the story?


Quoted Text
Definitely, the work of an interior decorator.


What does this have to do with anything?


Quoted Text
VITO
Talk.
MAN #1
SAL wants to know what he has to do
with GENNARO, the Hunchback.
55.
VITO
Whack him., he's a rat. But tell Sal
to be careful, the body must
disappear, capisce?


You keep laying it on thick.


Quoted Text
VITO (CONT'D)
You're a fucking good
businesswoman...I wish you were
white.


Black music?


Quoted Text
VITO
No, he's a musician...he plays black
music.


So jazz is black music. So much of this generally racist stuff.


Quoted Text
ETTA
Your father told me you are a jazz
pianist.


So this is their second date, I think, and Marcello is telling her that her dad orders the killing of many people.


Quoted Text
MARCELLO
My Dad ordered the killing of many
people. If you refuse to pay, first
they burn your place and then they
kill you.


Every relationship you have in this script is under developed.

Etta and Rosa, one minute she hates blacks a few pages later she gives her $200 000.

Etta and Wendy, Wendy is like a prop for Etta to say expositional comments to, she serves no other purpose. Who is she? How does she fit into Ettaís life?

Joey and Jenny, I honestly donít even understand the point of these two.

Etta and Marcello, one minute they donít know each other, and in a few pages they are deeply in love, getting married, sharing a business, heís composing songs for her. All of this comes out of nowhere; you have to develop the relationships so they have meaning and depth.


Quoted Text
MARCELLO
Thank you very much ladies and
gentlemen. Now, I would like to play
a song I composed for a woman very
dear to me. Etta, this is for you.


Why is Marcello dating Etta such a big deal that literally all the crime family bosses need to meet?


Quoted Text
Around a large tables sit Vito Sacara, SANTO PANELLA (70),
SAL CATANIA (50), ERNESTO (Big Ernie) TONELLI (75), FILIPPO
(Judge Phil) MODESTO in his 80s and Marcello.
Vito stares at the group and offer a conciliatory smile.
70.
VITO
Thank you for coming. Today, we have
to discuss a very serious matter, my
son Marcello, how should I say it, is
"infatuated" with a black woman--


Brenda, who's she? My thoughts exactly. You introduce her to tell us she makes salads, why is this important?


Quoted Text
ETTA
BRENDA.
MARCELLO
Who's she?
ETTA
A good friend of mine from home...her
parents are Italian-American, she
came to New York looking for a job.
She is a good cook, for now she's
helping me with salads and other
things.


Why do they love each other, what has happened between them to form this bond?


Quoted Text
MARCELLO
You know that I love you...
ETTA
I love you too but--




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Revision History (1 edits)
Warren  -  September 25th, 2018, 12:22am
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Warren
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Emotionally annihilated? What does that look like visually?


Quoted Text
Marcello remains emotionally annihilated. His eyes shows an
immense pain.


What does an emotional blackout look like?


Quoted Text
For a few seconds, the room falls in an emotional blackout.


A whole conversation about the wedding ring, why? It doesnít progress the story, it supplies no conflict or tension. Like many of your scenes it just exists to exist.


Quoted Text
SALESWOMAN
These are very classic. Do you know
the size?
MARCELLO
Well...no.
SALESWOMAN
Not a problem, we have a laboratory,
we can adapt the ring.
MARCELLO
I'll give you the size...how much
time you need for the adjustment?
SALESWOMAN
About two days.
MARCELLO
Okay, I'll buy it now and I'll come
back tomorrow with the size.


We donít care about the song because we donít care about their relationship, it has to be developed. This whole record deal subplot is another one that has no bearing on the story.


Quoted Text
MARCELLO
Very well, the owners wants to renew
the contract...the people like the
band. Last night, a big record
producer came, we're negotiating an
album, a vinyl. All jazz compositions
from the sixties, with one
exception...
ETTA
Which one?
83.
MARCELLO
The song I've written for you.
Her sweet gaze caresses his eyes.
ETTA
My love...
MARCELLO
The producer loves the song, he said
that it can be a hit.
ETTA
That's great, congratulations. I'm so
happy for you.


Followed by a whole discussion about the record. It serves no purpose.


Quoted Text
RONNIE
Financially, this is how it's going
to work. After we recoup the
recording, printing and other
miscellaneous expenses, you'll will
have ten percent of the sales. Of
course, we're not take anything from
the royalties of your original song.
For that, you'll get money from
ASCAP. Do you have a publishing
company?


The abyss of immense lovemaking? I donít know what Iím seeing, and not sure I want to.


Quoted Text
MARCELLO (CONT'D)
Sweetheart, let's stop talking
business...
He begins to caress her tantalizing breast.
She reacts moaning with pleasure.
They kiss ardently then fall into the abyss of immense
lovemaking.


Another pointless discussion, about the wedding dress this time.


Quoted Text
SALESLADY
I agree. You don't need a ball gown,
I would suggest a column dress style.
It tends to hug the body and show any
and all of your curves. Or you can
try the mermaid silhouette contours
to the body from the chest to the
knee, then flares out to the hem.
ETTA
I'll try the mermaid.
SALESLADY
Good choice, you see, this is a very
sexy look that highlights the curves
of your body. For this reason, you
must be confident and comfortable in
your skin to pull off this dramatic
style.


Is late-late later than late? What does it matter and how would we know this as an audience.


Quoted Text
Etta and Marcello sit around the table having a late-late
supper.


Luigi - Italian, Pedro - Mexican. Does it change the story significantly that he is Mexican?


Quoted Text
Etta stands in front of a group of workers, Otello, Brenda,
four new waiters, LUIGI, (30), EMMA (40), ROBERTO (50),
CALOGERO (30) and one busboy, PEDRO (20). All ItalianAmericans
with the exception of Pedro, who's Mexican.


Another general conversation that doesnít advance the story.


Quoted Text
ETTA (CONT'D)
Any questions?
OTELLO
Do you have in mind who's going to be
the maitre d'?
ETTA
I was thinking of you, but we'll see
how it goes in the first couple of
weeks.
94.
BRENDA
How are you arranging the kitchen. We
need at least two dishwashers.
ETTA
I was thinking about this, I have
called the agency, they will send me
two Dominicans with experience in
volume restaurants.
BRENDA
Are you staying in the kitchen?
ETTA
Of course, but you'll prepare most of
the dishes.
ROBERTO
One busboy is not enough, we need at
least other three. Tables must be
cleaned up fast.
EMMA
How many sitting are we going to
have?
ETTA
No sittings, customers will need to
make a reservation, the street
customers will be accommodated when
we have free tables. They can wait at
the bar.


They say I love you so many times and it never feels real.


Quoted Text
MARCELLO
I love you.
A radiant smile illuminates Etta's wonderful face.
ETTA
(softly)
I love you very much.


This is the entire final scene. so the script just ends. its completely jarring. There is no resolution, no charater arcs. Things happen then the main charaters die. We think? I dont know how you tell the differencce between a burnt black and white person.


Quoted Text
INT. WENDY'S APARTMENT - KITCHEN - DAY
Wendy sits at the table sipping from a large glass of orange
juice.
A small TV is tuned to a New York station. It's news time.
Wendy pays no attention to the ANCHORMAN reading the news.
She appears pensive.
The anchorman continues with his monotonous voice to read a
medley of news when...
ANCHORMAN
BREAKING NEWS, the ill-famed mob boss
Vito Sacara has been found dead in
his car with a single gunshot to his
head. An investigation by the New
York Police and the FBI is underway.
We will keep you informed about any
new development.
Wendy instinctively stares at the TV screen.
Her expression shows astonishment and trepidation.
INSERT - TV SCREEN
ANCHORMAN
We have another BREAKING NEWS,
two charred bodies have been found by
a fisherman in the New Jersey
Meadowlands...RICK BONO reports from
New Jersey.
A panoramic view of the New Jersey Meadowlands.
A NEWS REPORTER (30) stands a few yards away from several
policemen, police cars with flashing lights and two
ambulances.
REPORTER
The bodies have been completely
burned.
(MORE)
106.
From the first investigation it seems
REPORTER (CONT'D)
that the bodies are of an AfricanAmerican
woman and a Caucasian man.
The Medical Examiner will provide
more information after the autopsies
are performed. From the Meadowlands,
RICK BONO reporting.
BACK TO SCENE
Frantically, she calls Etta on her cell phone.
The line is dead.
In hysterical desperation she leans against the wall.
WENDY
(screaming)
NOOO...


The whole thing is passively written. Lots of grammar and spelling issues. I know English isnít your first language, and that is really low on my list of concerns anyway.

The first thing you need is a story. You donít have one, or at least one that makes any sense, or has any characters or relationships to get invested in.

My advice is to really work on your relationships and characters. Make them realistic, make them engaging, give them personality and depth. If we donít care about the characters we will struggle to get invested in the film.

Work on your character descriptions, they are all very generic and quite boring.

Cut all the conversations, or almost all of the conversations that donít move your story forward. An audience isnít going to be happy to pay to watch people have every day conversations about the size of wedding rings, how many dishwashers a restaurant needs, or which wedding dress is the best.

I think you need to address the race issues, give it a point and resolve it. Like I said, at the moment it feels like you are being racist for the sake of it. I know you arenít, but you need to tie it all up.

Long story short, this need a hell of a lot of work.

The good news you donít want to hear is that I loved it for what it was. A movie so bad its good. I laughed a lot. Comedy writerís donít get me to laugh that much. Love it or hate it thatís what I enjoy about your work. I donít read many features, but I stuck with this, I think that says something.

It was a fun read.


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Fausto
Posted: September 25th, 2018, 7:11am Report to Moderator
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Hi Warren
what can I say...I'm speechless! I thank you very, very much for your precious analysis...it's invaluable.
I will adjust the script (too many "good looking etc). Regarding the writing style, this is the way I write and I don't think it can change a lot. Maybe, I should write more comedy stories, all "on the nose"
What do you think? After all, people need a good laugh. Especially nowadays here in the USA...
Again, I thank you very much...you did a great job and I deeply appreciate it.
My best,
Fausto
."
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Fausto
Posted: September 25th, 2018, 8:38am Report to Moderator
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Hi Warren,
I have to add that I have nobody to read the script after it's completed. I cannot "see" the mistakes and correct my own writing...what seems good to me, to a second pair of eyes, it's not. You did a wonderful job by reading the entire script and giving me so many helpful suggestions. Maybe, I should try to write a script in my original language, Italian, and see what happens. The problem is that Simply Scripts has no international members who can read in other languages.
Thanks again.
Fausto
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Fausto
Posted: September 25th, 2018, 8:42am Report to Moderator
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Warren, the premise of the story was to demonstrate the racism of the Italian-American community towards African-Americans. This was my intent.
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Warren
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Not a problem. As I said, I enjoyed it as is and would watch a filmed version.


Just concerning the reply below. I fully understand your intent. My issue is more that as an audience member I would prefer to see some kind of resolution. This may be a personal preference. But Iíd like to see them accept Etta, or for them to pay for their sins in some way. At the moment there is no feeling of closure.



Quoted from Fausto
Warren, the premise of the story was to demonstrate the racism of the Italian-American community towards African-Americans. This was my intent.




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Fausto
Posted: September 26th, 2018, 8:13am Report to Moderator
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Warren, I see your concern...a logical resolution to racism. They way I saw it was the killing by the Mafia of Etta and her boyfriend Marcello. In other words, the Mafia (racism) wins. But, I'll try to make the ending more favorable to Etta (acceptance is a good resolution) After all. these Italian-American are not so bad...
Warren, I really appreciate the time you're spending with my script. Your knowledge is an asset to all the scriptwriters.
Thank you very much.
Fausto
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Don
Posted: October 9th, 2018, 4:04pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Fausto,

I've removed the script.  Let me know if you want me to keep this thread or delete it.

Don



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