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First off, I have decided that 200 posts is just about as big as a thread ought to get.
Any new posts on here and I’ll go back and delete some of the chatter -- keep it at a nice, round 200 -- at least, until “Newton’s Cradle” catches up -- then I might let it build up again.
DDP: There is an earlier discussion buried in this thread (you are forgiven for missing it haha) about the whole Angel/Angle thing. The first draft, quite literally, had dozens of these typos. And spell check doesn’t catch them.
I will never again use a character named Angel.
George pointed out the "find and replace" function -- but he also pointed out that in a script, replacing "angle" with "angel" might create a whole new batch of problems.
And thank you, Pia. **blushes** I am probably as surprised as anybody to reach 200 posts. Just you wait until I finally get the time to put out some new stuff. You guys ain’t seen nothing yet.
I hope you won't hold it against me if I haven't read all 14 pages of comments. I'm bound to re-iterate what others have said, I'm sure.
We'll start with the good.
Great characters. Greg and Mary El especially. I love how Greg was such a teenager in many ways. I was expecting him to deliver a sarcastic "yes, mom!" to Mary El whenever she ordered him around. But he redeems himself and steps into character by the end, I think.
Gaskins was another character I could just see, hear and almost smell in my head. And generally everyone had very distinct dialogue so you knew exactly who was talking, even without reading their names.
I liked the mystery of Angel, especially in the beginning. There was a sinister nature to her, yet you sorta wanted her to be helped. That was a nice dichotomy.
I've already professed my affinity towards your style of writing, I think and this one is no different. You have a very distinct voice and it agrees with me.
However while the story is good, it's not great, IMO. You have spooky setting and a great premise, but I actually feel there are a few cop-outs in the story where you go for unadulterated action instead of feeding the creepy atmosphere. Especially towards the end. The fight-scene between the bear and Ty really took away from the story, I think. I found the whole thing a bit ridiculous, a teddybear coming to life. It was all very Child's Play and not very scary.
But I'm not a huge fan of the Poltergeist clown either.
And I think the story went from mildly unnerving to climatic stand-off between the good and the bad guys a bit too fast. I'd like to see the family be affected in a much more dramatic way before we flush the antagonist into the open. You could use Mary El's loss of her child in a much greater extent than you have, I think. Have her be obsessed with Angel, and draw away from Ty and Greg. You could do a lot with the theme of disintegration of the family, and how Mary El copes (or doesn't cope).
I really liked Yoder's death though. What a terrible way to go. Great stuff.
I did think it was odd how Greg didn't mention the fact that the windmill had just toppled over and crushed their only way out of there to Mary El. Or that that didn't concern them that much.
At first I thought the cutting out the eyes of the pictures was a typical horror cliché, but you made it work, when we discover why. that was a good pay-off.
I did find the entire "We're having a baby" ending a tad predictable. It was a bit to cute and convenient for me. I would rather have Mary El learn how to cope with the loss of her child instead of handing her a new one.
But all in all, I liked it. It was a well-crafted story that went by pretty fast.
"The Flux capacitor. It's what makes time travel possible."
I actually feel there are a few cop-outs in the story…especially towards the end.
I have to agree that it does shift gears in the third act. I like it, but it does muddle things a bit.
Nearly everyone who has expressed an interest in this script (they come and go -- sigh -- it's all part of the game) has mentioned how it moves from horror to an almost-action-type conclusion. The next draft, whenever it comes, will likely have something a little quieter, in terms of both story and budget, to bring things to a close.
You could use Mary El's loss of her child in a much greater extent than you have, I think.
Yeah. Still struggling with that aspect. It's tougher for a guy, I think. In the next draft, Angel will be related to Mary El, not Greg. Somebody recommended that switch to help firm up Mary El's motives, and it seems so obvious I wonder how I missed it before. We’ll see how that works out.
I did think it was odd how Greg didn't mention the fact that the windmill had just toppled over and crushed their only way out of there…
Dang. If you were to read through this thread, you would likely be surprised at how many people latched onto that odd little aspect of the story.
I was using "screenplay logic", and I still think it is sound. That is, we already know what happened, so why waste pages having Greg and Mary El rehash the event?
I did respond to those comments by inserting a blink-and-you-miss-it scene with Mary El gazing out a window at the wreckage, establishing that she is aware of all this, but perhaps that still is not enough.
I did find the entire "We're having a baby" ending a tad predictable...cute and convenient.
I agree with all of that statement, but I still feel that the tone of this story demands that kind of closure from a commercial (Aaggh! There’s that word!!) aspect. I think it's what "most" people would want to happen. I know it is a bit corny, but will try to make it less so.
Thanks again, D.M., for some things to think about. I will be getting you some payback as time permits.
It's funny at the same time as I was confounded by Greg's failing to mention the windmill to Mary El, I completely understood why you didn't do it, for the exact reason stated above.
I understand the argument, but I think a viewer would have suspend disbelief to some extent concernning characters in the current version of the scene. You're right - you shouldn't waste time in having Greg barge in and go "honey, you'll never guess what happened!". What you could do, though, is cut in time. A nice little fade out and show some hours, days, whatever duration of time you want has passed and the issue has been discussed while we weren't there. But I think you kinda need to explain to the audience why the event is trivialized by the characters in the scene. I doubt an audience will accept 'screenplay logic'.
But I'm sure someone has mentioned this already, so I won't drill you any more about it.
"The Flux capacitor. It's what makes time travel possible."
I've been meaning to read this script for awhile, mainly due to the extremely positive feedback/number of views.
First off, the positives:
You're one hell of a writer. Have you tried writing something other than screenplays, because I think you'd really do well with that. (Not to imply you're not a good screenwriter) Your descriptions are great, and I was really able to conjure up a mental image while making my way through this script. And the best part about your descriptions was that they weren't TOO bogged down in wordy, convoluted passages.
Your characters. Great set of characters. Moreso the primary than secondary characters. (But I'll get to that later). I really felt like I knew Gary, Mary El, & Ty. I liked Mary El the best, but at times I thought she was a bit naive as to what was going on around her.
Your pacing was also a strong suit here. I never really felt all that bored, or that you lingered on something for too long.
That being said, I have my critiques:
I wasn't too thrilled with the story. It seemed like something I had seen before. Something to the equivalent of The Amityville Horror. A family is terrorized in a house by ghosts, and as we go on we find out a backstory about the family that used to live there or some shady deed from the past. Then comes the old man who knows all about what's going on (The Shining) to explain all the details. I will give you credit, however, that I didn't see the twist coming with Yoder being the bad guy at the end.
As I said before, I loved your characters, but some of them really seemed like horror movie stereotypes; the old man who knows all, the wise native american (by the way, where did she go?), the sheriff. Perhaps they seem like stereotypes because there's no way around writing them, but I felt like I had seen it all before.
A couple other things:
Why would they be so keen on letting Yoder (a man that they barely know) immediately see Angel? - p.48
I think you should explain Mary El's loss of a daughter earlier than you did. It's hard to understand why she's giving Angel such lee-way and going to such great lengths to protect her.
And finally, why would the ghosts attack the family? For example, the bear attacks Ty. If the ghosts only attack evil (the blood, greed, etc thing), why would they want to hurt the family, or care if the family lives in the house?
All in all, a good read with some amazing writing, but like I said, the story really fell flat for me. I never felt like the characters were in any real danger (ex. the duel between Ty & the bear- I knew the bear was going in that machine).
But who knows, maybe I would just need to see it all in film form. I read it's possible it could go into production. Good luck.
I do not intend to knock your comparisons to Amityville or Shining. The "family in a dangerous house" scenario is not exactly fresh, but you gotta admit that it ages well. And those other guys didn’t exactly invent the scenario, either.
I think it is like horror movie comfort food -- like meatloaf. Everybody knows what to expect, but everybody makes it a little differently, so there is still room for a few surprises. I am actually flattered when Shining comparisons arise. King is my man, and I always smile when his name comes up while discussing my work.
A few specifics.
Quoted from dresseme
Mary El…I thought she was a bit naive as to what was going on around her…it's hard to understand why she's giving Angel such lee-way…
I think you are right about her naiveté. Sometimes she is smart, but I do not make her always smart, do I? Man, her character has been a real struggle. I had Ty "right" within minutes -- for the most part -- but Mary El continues to emerge, even now.
I suspect she will change again.
Quoted from dresseme
Why would the ghosts attack the family?
Why, indeed? Fixing ghost questions is job one with the new draft. Someone else off the boards pointed out to me that I need to set some ground-rules for these spirits and build up from there. Good advice, that.
But your question above negates your next question below.
Quoted from dresseme
I never felt like the characters were in any real danger…
That’s just it. They weren’t. Not really. See? But they did torment Ty -- who hated Angel.
But it is not your fault that slipped past you. That’s my fault.
For these types of stories, pointing out flaws in the logic -- or lapses in clarity -- are more helpful than just about anything else.
The time for a new draft is drawing near. Thanks again for your thoughts.
I'm glad that you're going to lay out some ground rules; I don't think ghost films do that very often. And quite frankly, I usually get a little upset with the negative portrayal of ghosts. That they're all out to hurt/scare us. And for this story it seemed all the more upsetting because it was a bunch of kids who accidently died in a fire. (And that isn't explained until the end, so you're left wondering).
And I never thought that about Ty (that makes sense). You should definitely make that more apparent.
I am pleased with myself to actually have finished this. I finished it today. This is one crossoff from my list.
I enjoyed the atmosphere. For some odd reason, I thought of Kubrik directing this but its prob becuase of the Shining. Your descriptions are very well done. I enjoyed those scenes that led the reader outside the farm house.
Mary el seemed as the only adult here. Greg seemed more as a child (saying brat and getting scared) until the ending where he saves Mary el's life. Ty was a bothersome child.
Here some things I found quite bothersome:
The two caretakers in the house Hudah and the other female that I cannot recall the name right now are found playing cards and then their hightailing out there. This sounds weird to me. What about showing that their are afraid when they are spotted by Mary el?
The scene where Mary el jumps into bed with Greg and is poked, wouldn't Mary el ask about why ty is sleeping their bed?
The scene where Ty needs to handle the bear problem is funny. But I think if you delete the scene that shows Ty entering his room with the gun, and continue on greg and Mary el sleeping calmly until they hear the gunshot, that this would work much better. I think hearing it is better than wathcing it visually and cuts down space.
On pg. 92, where you Gashin scream help to Yoder who pushed him inside that grinder should be deleted. Yonder is not going to help him.
I think also it would be good to write flashback in the headings to help the reader distinguish between the present and past.
Other than that, I found the tale very entertaining. Hope these comments help.
I am pleased with myself to actually have finished this…one crossoff from my list.
Geez, Gabe. You make it sound like a trip to the dentist or something I know you didn’t mean it that way, though haha. And thank you for your thoughts. While taking everything on board for consideration, I do wanna' respond to a couple of specific things.
That was his arc, Gabe -- how his character changed during the course of the story. Send me a PM if you do not know what I mean by the term "arc". It could be a little stronger, though, and I will try to do that.
But I think if you delete the scene that shows Ty entering his room with the gun, and continue on greg and Mary el sleeping calmly until they hear the gunshot, that this would work much better. I think hearing it is better than wathcing it visually and cuts down space.
Here is one where I think you might just be right. I might scribble out this scene just as you’ve described and see how it works.
Thank you again, Gabe. I really appreciate your taking the time to gander at a feature-length story.
Bert, I really, really, really wanted to read all 200 comments, but Jesus... that's a lot.
Yeah, its kind of outta hand -- but for every new post I take away an old one -- cleaning out the chatter and leaving it at a nice, round 200.
By the time you read this, I will have chopped it back down.
All those posts are not required reading, of course -- I mean, they are for me -- and they are a tool for the author during rewrites. Imagine having all that feedback when you start another draft. It's priceless.
Considering that you really don't need a full review, because I probably won't say anything that hasn't been said before. So I'll make this short and simple:
I usually don't like Supernatural type films..but I have to say that I loved it. The atmosphere you created fits perfectly. I enjoyed reading this and this persuaded me to read ANY script that you write. Great job
What am I working on?!? Splatter - Revisions Bad Hare - Writing