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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Drama Scripts  ›  Blackwater Moderators: bert
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  Author    Blackwater  (currently 899 views)
Don
Posted: October 25th, 2019, 3:02pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Blackwater by Matt Sanders - Drama, Series - A small Louisiana community struggles to leave the past behind when a recovered vehicle rises from the swamps, and threatens to reveal dark secrets that test the bonds of blood. 49 pages - pdf format

Writer interested in feedback on this work



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Mattlj25
Posted: October 30th, 2019, 11:04pm Report to Moderator
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Really eager to hear any thoughts from this pilot. We made it to the finals with this one at Sundance’s Episodic Storylabs, but never made it in.
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StevenClark
Posted: October 31st, 2019, 12:47am Report to Moderator
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Cast Your Fate To The Wind

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Hey Matt,

This is really good, I can see why it did so well at the lab. Shame it didn't go further. The writing is clean and crisp, took me about twenty minutes to read. Flew by. You guys obviously are good writers.

Judd and Sam strike me as rambunctious. Perhaps a little too rambunctious. I had an issue with them finding the bodies in the truck and proceeding to putting the bones in trash bags. It all seemed a little too causal of them. Meaning unrealistic. If that had been me, the wimp that I am, I'd have been heading for the hills. Now, I get their nature and all, but this particular part seems like it could have been something they might have to sleep on, then come back later on after giving it some serious thought. Christ, they were more scared at Roland's house.

The scene at the bar with Eli and Randall and the toilet paper was pure GOLD. Gold, I tell ya. What a great piece of writing. I loved it.

Enjoyed how you interspersed Carol and the boys at the end. That worked well, too.

Overall, again, really good. I enjoyed reading this -- for the first ten pages I was a little worried but it picked up.

Are there more episodes? Would love to read more of this. Great job.

Steve


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Mattlj25
Posted: October 31st, 2019, 1:28pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Steve,

Thanks so much for the read, I'm happy to hear you enjoyed it!  

In reference to Sam and Judd being nonchalant around the truck, you make a pretty good point. We were hoping to convey the idea that the boys had been around/known about the truck and bones for a while, and the reader is dropping in on their decision to remove them from the swamp. Having that relaxed feeling in contrast to the fear at Rolands does seem odd, I agree.

We were initially worried the bar scene was too long, so thanks for letting me know you enjoyed it!

The other episodes are outlined in the series bible, but no other episodes were written. We've been talking recently about starting on episode 2 however, just to keep the story alive. It's just so hard to leave it behind.

I'll be sure to let you know if we do!
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StevenClark
Posted: October 31st, 2019, 1:50pm Report to Moderator
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Cast Your Fate To The Wind

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Good to know.  Start, if you haven’t already, looking into production companies to pitch this to. They’re easy to find if you have IMDbPro. All it takes is one person who likes it. Among thousands, perhaps! Haha

Anyway, the feeling of dread with the truck is definitely not there and feels kind of out of place in regards to the rest of the story because, as of now, that doesn’t even come up again.  I’m sure it would down the road, however. If it does, great. If not, I’d consider dropping it. Regardless, it’s a very good start. And yes, do let me know if you write more.

Steve


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Mattlj25
Posted: December 28th, 2019, 2:15am Report to Moderator
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Working on a few ideas for a new draft. Any new reviews would be super helpful.
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PrussianMosby
Posted: December 28th, 2019, 6:19pm Report to Moderator
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Hey you,

have some notes here. I hope it's decipherable ;-)

The opening sequence works fine.

Then the "everyday scene", right after the title card, imo needs to move along quicker. The cereal topic may be okay to show their relationship, how they talk and behave toward each other and it of course eventually serves the purpose to get Judd back to his home, but, imo cut every possible word from the dialogues. It's not a strong/ overly entertaining scene so get out of it as quick as possible and only use it for the necessary beats.

@ f.i. you also may want to leave out all the covert advertising. Since I believe that you aim at an audience that wants some sophisticated content… -- the point is --they know… The audience you write for knows that you establish their family situation at this point and they sure will also realize you so early went the route of contacting Kelloggs and Nestle-

In a sense you serve them a topic which is a noticeable placeholder of similar stuff from the blockbuster world – like say, them discussing which lemonade tastes better, Coke or Pepsi. So, perhaps just cut the trademarks and the talky talk and let him leave for the milk ;-)

p9 cut 'a beat'

p10 the flashback is where the drama sits and our identification with the protagonist is completed.
Be aware that this is the strongest moment you got and you may want to reach it a little earlier by cutting some of what I mentioned above (1-2 minutes).

Yeah, it's really nit-picky but to me they should be back in the swamp by no later than p10_- so to say, closing your exposition with the overall adventure characteristic of your story.

P12 "Isn’t that what they do in the movies?"
Oh, this is some dangerous fourth wall breaking. Don't do this. It doesn't fit your content the slightest. It's actually what cheap b-flicks do which have no control over plot and well-crafted storytelling and just vomit stuff onto the screen.

The plot is actually quite fine but you just need to let loose and cut the talking that breaks the intriguing plot from progressing.

Ohh, page 13 truly pulls this down…
Complete tonal shift…

Look, some comedic moments are needed and fine but I can't identify with that over-the-top cool-dick-talk/"bones are funny" if you want me to get back into seriousness a second after.

Maybe take one moment like him playing with the bone of the finger, but don't stay in this territory. It also makes them unlikeable if they play with dead body parts.

Rather let one of them go off the rails with the bones ONCE and immediately let the other boy speak up that it's not right to act like that with a human corpse.

The Abner John scenario added some nice drama and mystery.

At 18/19 you're not strong on screen there. Let them do something while they discuss what just happened. You only show two people talking for minutes.

P20 INT:
CAP ELI
RANDALL

Otherwise, I can say, it looks quite tidy and clean on the page.

The Eli scene is very absurd but it felt a much better attempt at humor as everything before. Very remarkable.

p26 definitely it's getting better. I first time read several pages without stopping and making notes,,, I actually somehow even get a little Twin Peaks vibe - getting to know the world and their quirky people within, relationships, mystery.

I also like the dramatic back-story and the questions you raise here and there. You eventually win a lot of trust in the story at this point.

p27 I'll + empty line

p33 Haha, nice save the cat moment

Stuff's getting truly self-aware and entertaining-

p38 MORNING. ; "on Judd’s face. He gets up from the swing" unclear character perspective ; …in his hands period

p40 end page break with full sentence

p47 begin climbing – don't use begin or start or finish. It always reads passive and pulls us out of the story.

p 48 "I think was wrong" – no typo at this emotional place


All right.

It's pretty easy to sum it up what I feel: From p20 I'd agree with every decision and how it all goes. Intriguing stuff. There's nothing to complain at all and you may see from my notes that I actually started to read there and just pointed out some minor typos things.

I even think the whole plotline from start to finish is ready as is. It's one of the very few exceptions of the scripts I read here when I wouldn't suggest a rewrite.

Then to say it clearly: if we wouldn't be on Simplyscripts here I would have laid it down at the bone/dick humor that lasted till the back-home scene. You lost my trust there that you are able to go deep and under the surface and create the world in the way you later did.

In a sense, I miss the whole self-awareness and confidence that you later display so convincingly, easy and smooth- natural. The later humor, mystery, characters, drama, everything felt organic-

In summary, some of the stuff I noted above is not working in your favor by now. Those are risky moves: the easy-going about finding body parts, the blockbuster moment of talking trademarks, the self-ironic weak nod toward what happens in the 'movies'.

Just get some balance in there. Better- just move forward. Cut the stylistic crap as much as possible and rather guide us as quickly into the mysterious charm of your damn intriguing bayou world and their citizens. As said I'm not talking about a rewrite. As far as I think to know your format, you would still have 2-3 pages to cut while clocking in fine at a 45 something. Compressing the content would, I believe, completely improve the first half and accelerate the whole plot and story experience.

But that's just my opinion.

All in all, this is all right and imo ready for the markets. With such an attempt, you definitely should get some serious response and recognition when pitching it to several people once. Otherwise, they ought to search for a new job. So, pitch it.

Good luck you both. Feel confident with your achievement. A pleasant read-

Alex



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Mattlj25
Posted: January 2nd, 2020, 9:45pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Alex,

Thank you for these detailed notes! You brought up some points that I also wasn't fond of... Still not sure why the "dick" finger bone scene made it through our previous edits lol. But, you also brought up suggestions that I hadn't seen as issues before, so I thank you for that.

I'm happy you liked the story as a whole! Definitely shifting our focus away from a full rewrite in favor of those minor "fine tooth" edits.
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Mattlj25
Posted: July 16th, 2020, 11:14pm Report to Moderator
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Any other reviews here? Happy to read any other work as well. Working on the second episode outline so it would help to hear another perspective on the pilot.
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