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  Author    Honey Mustard  (currently 2643 views)
Don
Posted: March 28th, 2020, 7:12pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Honey Mustard by Michael J. Kospiah - Horror - After being stiffed, an unhinged waitress, hellbent on revenge, torments the customer who didn't tip her and his surprisingly resourceful family.  

"Don't Breathe" meets "Joker".  93 pages

One Pager

Feature version of the short Honey Mustard.

Writer interested in feedback on this work



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Revision History (11 edits; 1 reasons shown)
Don  -  May 24th, 2020, 11:01pm
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Sham
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Hey Michael!

This is damn good.

So I didn't really take notes along the way, but here are some blanket thoughts:

The concept works for me. It's so simple, so relevant, and I think something practically anyone can relate to. I've never worked in food service, but I don't need to in order to relate to some of the themes here: as a customer, I've had that discussion of what to tip before, so that's where I'm able to sit back as a viewer and find myself engaged in the story.

The characters work for me. Stella is strong and sort of commands your attention, despite having such little dialogue for a lead character. Buford is also well-developed. You really feel for him in the employment office scene, and you start to like him in the scene where he talks to his son about being a good person.

S P O I L E R S

Which is why your twist really knocked me on my ass.

I was JUST talking to you about a good twist being hard to do, and you've done it. You kept our focus on Stella and her mental decline and did it so effectively, so of COURSE we're putting the pieces together that she's finally gone batshit looney tunes and is the villain of the story. WRONG.

And then the twists keep coming, each one upping the ante. Yet, even though it goes balls to the wall towards the end, you've somehow never strayed into territory that feels cartoonish or too over-the-top. We've already identified with these people and connected with them, and you've successfully kept that human element the whole way through, so regardless of what crazy thing happens, we're along for the ride.

I think the script loses some steam around page 75. I'm wondering if you can somehow fill in a few more scenes with Buford and his family, as they're interesting enough and command our focus.

I also had a small issue with Stella seeing Oscar's "ghost" for the first act, but then it just kind of fizzles out and doesn't go anywhere. I honestly thought it would end with Stella killing Buford and on-and-off seeing Oscar's face instead of his; maybe Buford pleading "Remember you still have a heart in that little body..." before she really drives his death home.

I can't remember; is there any mention of there being missing girls in the area? If I missed it, that's my fault. If not, there probably should be.

I really enjoyed yellow being a recurring element in the story. I love the way it represents both hope (a new day) and deceit; perfectly reflecting the story.

I think that's all I've got. This is fast-paced, hardcore, and damn fun. I can see this one getting picked up easily. And if it does, I just hope the marketing is smart enough not to reveal too much.

Great job! I think this is going to do well for you.

Chris


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spesh2k
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Hey Chris,

Thanks for checking this out before it even hit the SS boards, really glad you enjoyed it. Your notes really helped confirm some issues I thought needed addressing for future drafts.


Quoted Text
The concept works for me. It's so simple, so relevant, and I think something practically anyone can relate to. I've never worked in food service, but I don't need to in order to relate to some of the themes here: as a customer, I've had that discussion of what to tip before, so that's where I'm able to sit back as a viewer and find myself engaged in the story.


I've worked in food service, waiting tables and bar tending, for probably close to 15 years of my life. And it sucks. The camaraderie among fellow employees and connecting with friendly regulars are two of the only positive takeaways I see (along with quick, "easy" cash). But it sucks working with assholes, which the Stella character kinda does. I've seen firsthand the sexual harassment in the restaurant industry that kinda goes under the radar a lot, even in these hashtag me-too days. And, though I myself, am not a woman, I've worked with people I didn't like so I was able to find a way to connect with the main character in that sense while using my observations on how women are often treated in this environment. But, of course, the biggest complaint in this field of work is whenever we receive a bad tip or no tip from an asshole customer. And, even if you've never worked in the restaurant industry, I'm sure everyone's at least been to a restaurant and discussed the tip situation. Receiving no tip is by far the biggest insult to a server who makes a living off tips. Sometimes, the service is bad and it is warranted. But, with years of experience as a server, a lot the times the bad service is due to just having an off day... often times, just having a bad day in general... which we all have. So, next time you go out to eat and the server seems frazzled and kinda sucks, maybe think that they could just be having a bad day. A tip and a smile just might turn that around. But, at the other end of the spectrum, I understand that a bad-tipping customer who's been rude the whole time might ALSO be having a really bad day. So, that's what I wanted to do here. I wanted to take two very flawed characters from different walks of life having really, really bad days, and have them collide at the peak of their bad (in this instance, psychotic) moods.

Also, the title and theme were inspired by a situation I had while working at a Ruby Tuesdays years ago. I was having a bad day, forgot to give some punk kid, who was with a bunch of punk friends, his honey mustard with his kid's menu chicken fingers. Instead of asking for it again, he just let it go. But, instead of putting a tip on the credit card receipt, he just wrote "honey mustard"... which REALLY got my blood boiling. I wanted to find out who this kid was and beat the living shit out of him. But my kind boss at the time suggested that maybe he was just having a bad day. Of course, I just thought he was some punk college kid who didn't have money in the first place (what kind of adult orders off the kid's menu at night?) and was looking for an excuse not to tip. Nevertheless, I do understand that I didn't bring him his precious honey mustard.


Quoted Text
The characters work for me. Stella is strong and sort of commands your attention, despite having such little dialogue for a lead character. Buford is also well-developed. You really feel for him in the employment office scene, and you start to like him in the scene where he talks to his son about being a good person.


My main goal was to create an iconic indie horror movie character for the 21st century. I wanted to make a character we can at least empathize with for a chunk of the story... and who has it worse than a minority woman in America today? Even though she's losing her shit, we kinda feel for her... the subtle racism, the sexual harassment, the physical and mental abuse she endured while with her cop husband. I just wanted to keep the empathy going for a little bit, just enough to maybe understand why she's going off the rails... then completely get behind her after certain 2nd-act plot turns that I won't mention directly.

As for the little dialogue, she does get shot in the mouth, literally, so I'm sure she'd have some speech issues. But, even before that, she didn't have too much dialogue. I just wanted to capture her mental decline throughout her horrific, traumatic day even before going in for her restaurant shift. And I thought the best way to show the decline was to, well, SHOW it rather than have her talk a whole bunch. A lot of facial and eye acting for this role. I actually wrote this with Sasha Lane from "American Honey" and "Daniel Isn't Real". She's such an awesome actor and I see a real bad-ass in her that I think would really carry the film.

As for Buford, there's definitely a lot to relate to with him. Actually something I'm going through for the past couple months, being involuntarily unemployed (this pandemic only made matters worse). Though I don't have a criminal record like the Buford character preventing me from getting jobs. But I've seen friends endure some hardships with money being the main issue, friends with children and spouses. Especially with a family, it can be rough. But I always find it touching to see a loyal wife (or husband) and kid show support for one another during rough times, sticking together.


Quoted Text
Which is why your twist really knocked me on my ass.


Sweet. A little misdirection can go a long way. One horror film I saw that I was really, really impressed with was "Better Watch Out". They make you think it's gonna one type of horror film but then take you into an entirely different - and awesomely satisfying - direction. And that's what I kinda wanted to do here. I wanted to make it look like this was going to be a home invasion film and then keep changing gears as the story progressed, all while keeping the tone consistent. By the way, I highly recommend "Better Watch Out", especially if you're an indie horror fan like me.


Quoted Text
And then the twists keep coming, each one upping the ante. Yet, even though it goes balls to the wall towards the end, you've somehow never strayed into territory that feels cartoonish or too over-the-top. We've already identified with these people and connected with them, and you've successfully kept that human element the whole way through, so regardless of what crazy thing happens, we're along for the ride.


Yeah, I think things got a little crazy, perhaps a little far-fetched, but hopefully the characters kept things grounded.


Quoted Text
I think the script loses some steam around page 75. I'm wondering if you can somehow fill in a few more scenes with Buford and his family, as they're interesting enough and command our focus.


That was my biggest concern once finishing this draft. I feel like from 75-84, it's a little anti-climactic, having blown several loads (pardon the perverse phrasing) before that. It's like a cocaine ride for that 2nd act, going into the third and, from 75-84 feels like the come-down period. Definitely something I feel needs to be addressed more than anything else in the story. And I'll definitely find a way to keep up the frenetic energy. Maybe having some resolve with Buford and his son - maybe Buford seeing his son turn into him and being disappointed... or something like that. I really think it's the last 10-15 pages that need the most work. Which is why I posted the script on here, get people's thoughts and help confirm my own suspicions while also hearing new ones I didn't even think of.


Quoted Text
I also had a small issue with Stella seeing Oscar's "ghost" for the first act, but then it just kind of fizzles out and doesn't go anywhere. I honestly thought it would end with Stella killing Buford and on-and-off seeing Oscar's face instead of his; maybe Buford pleading "Remember you still have a heart in that little body..." before she really drives his death home.


Yes, even though we discussed this off-site, I'll mention it again. You did suggest having the ghost appear later in the script and play a part in contributing to her overall arc. I won't mention specific suggestions you made here, but thanks for helping out with that.


Quoted Text
I can't remember; is there any mention of there being missing girls in the area? If I missed it, that's my fault. If not, there probably should be.


We also discussed this privately. I thought the mere mention of missing girls would immediately draw attention to the Blumpkin family as not being who we thought they were. Though, and we discussed this, I think I have that part figured out. Thanks again with your help on resolving that issue pretty quickly.


Quoted Text
I really enjoyed yellow being a recurring element in the story. I love the way it represents both hope (a new day) and deceit; perfectly reflecting the story.


Like we discussed already, just the mention of color can really dictate what the reader sees in their minds, right down to the overall look of the film, not just the specific color of certain objects.


Quoted Text
This is fast-paced, hardcore, and damn fun. I can see this one getting picked up easily. And if it does, I just hope the marketing is smart enough not to reveal too much.

Great job! I think this is going to do well for you.


Thanks again, man. I feel really good about this one. Just need to work out some kinks and get it to where I want it to be.

-- Michael


MY FEATURE FILMS:

THE SUICIDE THEORY (79% Rotten Tomato Score, Available on Amazon Prime, Itunes, Google Play, Youtube, etc) - https://youtu.be/5eaXXOKJvtg

RAGE (coming late 2020/early 2021) - https://vimeo.com/402447622

Check out my latest horror script, HONEY MUSTARD - https://www.simplyscripts.net/cgi-bin/Blah/Blah.pl?b-horror/m-1585433547/
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StevenClark
Posted: March 29th, 2020, 11:09pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Mike,

Nice! Fast-paced, easy read. I enjoyed the story, and liked the twisty-turny way it played out. Always other layers to your work and, basing this off the audience you're aiming for, I think you hit this one on the head.

Your ending, epilogue, I guess, worked out real nice for me in NYC. How it comes back in a circle, only now you get a sneaky sense of Stella's arc, yet with a little wink and a nod to her past. I'd like to think her killing days are done, but you never know.

Your use of tongue-in-cheek character names was amusing -- Dick Hardley, Blumpkin.

The third act didn't let up, you kept the gore, the suspense pretty much revved up throughout. That said, you also did so very clearly, highlighting little details like the gravel crunching under Buford's feet as he ran to get his gun. I heard it, dude. I did. Earlier, I loved the X-Ray shot you used. I don't think I've seen that before in a screenplay, but I certainly won't forget it.

This is much, much different than the short script Honey Mustard I read a while back, as memory serves. You took this a whole different way, I think.

Anyway, overall, I thought it worked great for what it is intended to be: a gory, funny, tense thriller. Nice job, dude.

Curious about where/who you're going to market this to. What's your game plan with this?

Steve


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spesh2k
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Hey Steven,

Thanks for checking this out, man, hope it kept you busy for at least an hour during this craziness, especially in the NYC area. I've been climbing the walls pretty much.


Quoted Text
Your use of tongue-in-cheek character names was amusing -- Dick Hardley, Blumpkin.


Ha! Glad you caught that. Had a few filmmaker/screenwriting peers read it so far, outside of SS and you're the first one to mention that. I was soooo tempted to address it in the script. But I thought it would be funnier not to acknowledge it at all, especially when the story's completely void of dick and fart jokes. Guess I was kinda trolling. Plus, I thought the names rolled off the tongue pretty well for the characters.


Quoted Text
The third act didn't let up, you kept the gore, the suspense pretty much revved up throughout. That said, you also did so very clearly, highlighting little details like the gravel crunching under Buford's feet as he ran to get his gun. I heard it, dude. I did. Earlier, I loved the X-Ray shot you used. I don't think I've seen that before in a screenplay, but I certainly won't forget it.


Thanks man. Still think the 3rd act, in particular the last 15 pages (which is like 90 percent of the 3rd act), needs to be addressed the most. Not going to give it a complete overhaul, but definitely gonna change some things, keep the tension simmering a little better rather than have just a quiet, dialogue driven scene precede the ending at the NYC diner. Mostly going to go through the end of act 2 and act 3. I'm pretty happy with everything before that. Though I'm sure I'll make some alterations in the rewriting process.
As for the X-ray shot, I've seen it before but named differently - I was reading the script for Dusk Til Dawn and they call it the "Superman Shot".


Quoted Text
This is much, much different than the short script Honey Mustard I read a while back, as memory serves. You took this a whole different way, I think.


Well, there's actual backstory here. And an actual story, period. I pretty much just expanded on the few scenes from that short version, built the characters better and set up the misdirection better.


Quoted Text
Anyway, overall, I thought it worked great for what it is intended to be: a gory, funny, tense thriller. Nice job, dude.

Curious about where/who you're going to market this to. What's your game plan with this?


Thanks man, that's exactly what I wanted this to be. As for the game plan, for now I'm focusing on rewrites and getting it where I want it (specifically the 3rd act). I do have some things in mind, pretty much just doing research on lit managers, production companies, etc that have produced slasher films, blood back-road horror films, etc. I have some minor connections to Dark Sky and Glass Eye Pix (Larry Fessenden's company), but that's only through people I know. My feature script, "They Never Left" is in development with some actors and producers with associations with those horror companies.

Especially with the lead character being a bad-ass woman of color, not only being the final girl, but also being the Jason Voorhies character (so we're lead to believe for a portion of the script), I really think there's a market for this. Horror ALWAYS sells. Especially if it's fun and has some cleverness to it. I wrote this with actor Sasha Lane in mind - she's awesome and would murder this role. Such a bad ass.

But yeah, getting slightly ahead of myself. There is a plan but the first priority is getting the script in tip-top shape.

Thanks again for reading, Steven! Stay healthy... and sane!

-- Michael







MY FEATURE FILMS:

THE SUICIDE THEORY (79% Rotten Tomato Score, Available on Amazon Prime, Itunes, Google Play, Youtube, etc) - https://youtu.be/5eaXXOKJvtg

RAGE (coming late 2020/early 2021) - https://vimeo.com/402447622

Check out my latest horror script, HONEY MUSTARD - https://www.simplyscripts.net/cgi-bin/Blah/Blah.pl?b-horror/m-1585433547/
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kev
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Hi Michael,

This logline was a natural magnet for me as I love good grisly B-movie fare. I was just planning on checking out a couple of pages, but this ended up roping me in for the full ride. Itís a lot of fun, and you know how to effectively subvert expectations.

Simple premises like this are always tricky, and it takes a good writer to be able to expand it over 80 pages without feeling like itís being stretched thin. I never felt that this one was doing that, it starts with a bang and never lets up until the final scene.

I scanned the other comments so I knew a twist was coming, but it was still executed very well. I think it would have been even more effective if I hadnít seen Donít Breathe and Villains recently. However, the captive coming up for a heroic chainsaw moment was definitely a script highlight for me.

I donít really have any criticisms to add, just wanted to let you know I had a really fun time reading this one. I can easily picture a hyper stylized version of this on the screen, something visually akin to The Guest. I hope it finds its way there. Good luck!


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spesh2k
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Hey Kev,

Thanks for reading, glad you enjoyed it. Still some kinks to work out, specifically with the 3rd act. Just wanna clean it up a bit, change a few things, get it closer to 90 pages.


Quoted Text
Simple premises like this are always tricky, and it takes a good writer to be able to expand it over 80 pages without feeling like itís being stretched thin. I never felt that this one was doing that, it starts with a bang and never lets up until the final scene.


Yeah, pretty much had the basic premise in a 7-page script I wrote under the same title. But I felt like there was a lot to work with there, plenty of room to expand on the characters and build off of them. I pretty much used the characters to build the plot.


Quoted Text
I scanned the other comments so I knew a twist was coming, but it was still executed very well. I think it would have been even more effective if I hadnít seen Donít Breathe and Villains recently. However, the captive coming up for a heroic chainsaw moment was definitely a script highlight for me.


Ah, loved "Don't Breathe"! Haven't heard of "Villains" but I'll look into it. Lord knows I need plenty of entertainment during these times. Glad you enjoyed the chainsaw moment!


Quoted Text
I can easily picture a hyper stylized version of this on the screen, something visually akin to The Guest.


Nice, I really enjoyed "The Guest", one of my favorite movies during the 2010's. Especially the style of it, the choice of music, everything about it. Might use that as part of my pitch, where you find movies similar to it. Been having a hard time finding films to compare it to as a selling point. Maybe "The Guest" meets "Devil's Rejects" meets... "Kill Bill"? I dunno.

Anyway, thanks again for reading, Kev, always appreciated.

-- Michael


MY FEATURE FILMS:

THE SUICIDE THEORY (79% Rotten Tomato Score, Available on Amazon Prime, Itunes, Google Play, Youtube, etc) - https://youtu.be/5eaXXOKJvtg

RAGE (coming late 2020/early 2021) - https://vimeo.com/402447622

Check out my latest horror script, HONEY MUSTARD - https://www.simplyscripts.net/cgi-bin/Blah/Blah.pl?b-horror/m-1585433547/
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spesh2k
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New draft was just updated. Also, a one pager at the top of the thread, too. Thanks to everyone so far for your notes (on both SS and outside of SS). It really helped out a bunch in getting a draft out there that I'm proud of.


MY FEATURE FILMS:

THE SUICIDE THEORY (79% Rotten Tomato Score, Available on Amazon Prime, Itunes, Google Play, Youtube, etc) - https://youtu.be/5eaXXOKJvtg

RAGE (coming late 2020/early 2021) - https://vimeo.com/402447622

Check out my latest horror script, HONEY MUSTARD - https://www.simplyscripts.net/cgi-bin/Blah/Blah.pl?b-horror/m-1585433547/
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Grandma Bear
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I was going to finish your script today. I'm on page 45 of the draft you sent. Where do the changes start?


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spesh2k
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Hey Pia... I'd say right around page 45 the changes begin, so I'd suggest switching over to the new one.

I didn't make too many changes in the first 45... there's a line I added early in the script that has a call back later in the script -- so that scene later in the script might not read quite as powerful...

But yeah, I think you're right about at the point where I started rewriting stuff.

EDIT: I also changed one other scene... I have a postal worker stuffing mail into mailboxes when we see Oscar crawling out of Stella's house behind him. I changed it to a grieving mother stapling "Missing" pamphlets (her missing daughter) to telephone poles and stuffing them in mailboxes. She sees Oscar, gets scared and drops the pamphlets -- the pamphlets then blow away in the wind.

I've made other changes outside of that in the first 45, but it was just mainly cleaning up and fine-tuning the actual writing and smoothing out dialogue.


MY FEATURE FILMS:

THE SUICIDE THEORY (79% Rotten Tomato Score, Available on Amazon Prime, Itunes, Google Play, Youtube, etc) - https://youtu.be/5eaXXOKJvtg

RAGE (coming late 2020/early 2021) - https://vimeo.com/402447622

Check out my latest horror script, HONEY MUSTARD - https://www.simplyscripts.net/cgi-bin/Blah/Blah.pl?b-horror/m-1585433547/

Revision History (2 edits; 1 reasons shown)
spesh2k  -  April 4th, 2020, 4:23pm
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Grandma Bear
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Okay, the last page I read was 43 where Buford says, you're supposed to be dead. In the new draft, that happens at page 51. I hope you haven't added to much to the first half...  


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spesh2k
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The story's essentially the same. Just adjusted some of the writing... I drew out the 2nd scene a little longer to draw more suspense, when Oscar grabs her foot when she's leaving.

I also polished the writing a bit, switched up some dialogue.

When Matilda and Stella are in the car (3rd scene), I extend their dialogue just a little bit. Not so much the dialogue, but I break some dialogue blocks apart and spread them out to capture the beats I wanted. And I added a line where Matilda tells Stella, "You're a fighter. Remember that".

So, yeah, even though it extends the length, it's generally the same plot, no striking changes.


MY FEATURE FILMS:

THE SUICIDE THEORY (79% Rotten Tomato Score, Available on Amazon Prime, Itunes, Google Play, Youtube, etc) - https://youtu.be/5eaXXOKJvtg

RAGE (coming late 2020/early 2021) - https://vimeo.com/402447622

Check out my latest horror script, HONEY MUSTARD - https://www.simplyscripts.net/cgi-bin/Blah/Blah.pl?b-horror/m-1585433547/
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spesh2k
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And the scene with the mailman was lengthened a little bit because I changed it to a grieving mother posting Missing signs of her daughter, putting them in mailboxes.


MY FEATURE FILMS:

THE SUICIDE THEORY (79% Rotten Tomato Score, Available on Amazon Prime, Itunes, Google Play, Youtube, etc) - https://youtu.be/5eaXXOKJvtg

RAGE (coming late 2020/early 2021) - https://vimeo.com/402447622

Check out my latest horror script, HONEY MUSTARD - https://www.simplyscripts.net/cgi-bin/Blah/Blah.pl?b-horror/m-1585433547/
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Grandma Bear
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Finished. I read the first draft up through page 43 and then continued with the new draft on page 51 since that's where it seemed to continue on. Some of my comments might not be relevant any more due to your re-write, but here goes.

I'm going to assume that you want me to be honest with my comments. I always am, at least I'd like to think so.

Overall, I think you've done well. Especially for an early draft. I do feel however that there are parts that are underdeveloped. I will try to offer some suggestions. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. There's no need to go through my comments and answer every bit of thought I had while reading.

As others have said, the story is simple enough. It is. I feel however that you have put quite a few issues/themes in the story. Tipping or not. Domestic abuse. Homosexuality. Human trafficking. Dysfunctional families. Unemployment. Drunk driving. A few more, but I can't think of them right now. Those are all great, but at least a few of them need to be addressed a little deeper IMHO.

Take Stella's domestic abuse for example. I get it. He beats her and she's had enough, BUT, that does not go well with their wedding photo where she does not look happy. In fact, I think you described her as sad in that photo. My first thought there was, why on earth would she marry him then? It would've worked better, for me at least, if she was happy and full of hope at the wedding and then everything turned to shit after that. I also would've liked to see her a lot more distressed after she killed Oscar. Like really lost as to what she would do next.

After Matilda picks her up in the car, there was a missed opportunity to develop their relationship some more. Perhaps they could mention something like their future together once she gets a divorce or something. Gives us a better glimpse into Stella's and Oscar's relationship, but also Stella's with Matilda.

Then we move on to the diner where Buford treats her badly. Very clever set-up misleading us to what's coming around mid-point. You are great at this type of twists, btw.

Buford was a pretty good set-up as well. I felt sorry for him when trying to get a job. One thing I didn't get however was this zoned out rage he apparently slips into every now and then. Is that really needed? If so, I want to know more about it. What causes this? How long has he suffered from it? Maybe it would work better if he's just a nice guy to start out with, but unemployment and no money to provide for his family slowly turns into the sex trafficking. Going from innocent to escalating madness.

Gertrude. Not sure how to feel about her. She can't be very smart to go along with all this. Either she's stupid or just as batshit crazy as her husband. Also, wouldn't she have noticed these zoned out rage issues at some other point in their marriage? She's not as strong a character as I think she could be. IMO, you just need to define her character better.

Newton is also weak IMO. I know you want him to be, but you can still develop his character more.

None of the cops really standout. Perhaps you can do something more with Hardley? I know there's already a connection with Matilda being his daughter, but what if Buford was also a long time friend. That way Hardley will refuse to believe that he could do anything wrong. Maybe they went to school together and occasionally they go fishing and have a few beers together.

The mid-point twist was a GREAT WTF!!!

When Stella comes by Buford's house to kill him, I wished there had been some stronger confrontation between them and not just bullets being exchanged.

The action stuff is handled well in the third act. Not much to say there.

So, good job, but needs a re-write to be a little stronger emotionally and I have no doubt you can handle that.

The following are just thoughts going through my head as I read. If they seem terse or negative that was not my intention. Just thoughts passing through.

Good luck with this.


Page 1.     Stella! My granddaughter's name.

Less than half a page in and I'm already hating Oscar.

Page 2.     Now I really hate him.

Page 3.     Cascading? Just how big was that bowl of honey mustard? Perhaps a different verb would work better. Nitpicking, I know.  

Page 4.     Licking blood-tinged honey mustard seems an unnecessary step. Especially now in these virus days. Thinking as a woman here, I think the last thing I would want in my body after his behavior would be any of his body fluids. Maybe if she spits it out on him?

Page 6.     Would be fitting to have some sort of comment after Matilda suggests they call the police. At least some kind of facial expression since Oscar was the police.

Page 8.     Greta? A new person or did you mean Gertrude?

Page 15.   Almost seems a little much taunting from her co-workers, IMO.

Page 16.   Stella gets aggressive with Buford, I understand why, but it makes me wonder why she puts up with the crap from Donnie and Bo. Seems like she would be able to handle easy jerks like that. No?

Page 22.   Good little nugget there about the sheriff and Matilda. That's the kind of stuff that keeps people reading on to see how that fits in.

Shouldn't the sheriff be calling in for back-up and his gun drawn by now?

Page 24.   OMG! My granddaughter's name is Stella Rey...

Page 25.   "Men are afraid women will laugh at them. Women are afraid men will kill them." Margaret Atwater.

Page 28.   A lot of gravel crunching going on...

Page 31.   Can't help but wondering why no one heard the gunshot. Never mind. That is answered on the next page, lol.

Page 34.   Considering that Buford has been shot, I would imagine Gertrude being a little more alarmed.

Page 36.   Wondering why there are so many mentionings of that CRUNCHING GRAVEL and THE RUSTY PICK-UP TRUCK. What's so important about it?

Page 39.   I'd skip Gertrude's, Are you okay? line. Weird question since it's obvious he's been hit again.

Page 43.   You're supposed to be dead! Great nugget of plot thickener.

Page 53.   New draft. Clever turn of events there.

Page 58.   I have to say that I was a little disappointed with the dungeon room. IMHO, it has become a bit of cliche. Maybe not to others though.

Page 60.   Where did Newton go?

Page 62.   What did Hardley and Matilda argue about? Must have been something really bad for him to say he never wanted to see her again. Maybe just expand on that with a few carefully chosen words, so it doesn't feel like we're being hit over the head.

Page 63.   RUSTY PICK-UP TRAFFIC?

Page 64.   It might add to the visuals if we see the Dixon County Sheriff.

Page 67.   Would add some extra drama if Sheriff Hardley and Buford are good friends from way back and he doesn't believe Deputy Roy.

Page 68.   Again, could add some drama if Newton is really upset or angry or something. I feel there should be conflict between them. Maybe later, he will confront his mother. How could you go along with this??? Or such.

Page 72.   This family is fucked up.  

Page 73.   A broken vacuum cleaner? Not sure I think that's a great analogy. Unless of course you intended for Gertrude to be totally void of feelings and a bit stupid too.

Page 77.   Is that what came by to ask me...

Page 80.   A little predictable with Stella ambushing Buford. Maybe have him come down while she is trying to pick the cuffs. Talk a little bit about what he's going to do to her and she's working the cuffs behind her back. Add more tension to the scene.

Page 81.   Maybe Newton should be doing something here. Some sort of reaction at least to the gunshot. Some curiosity about the cops. Peeking out the window at them or something.

Page 85.   What now? A Pulp Fiction nod?  





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spesh2k
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Hey Pia! Great stuff here! This is why I love when you read my stuff.


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As others have said, the story is simple enough. It is. I feel however that you have put quite a few issues/themes in the story. Tipping or not. Domestic abuse. Homosexuality. Human trafficking. Dysfunctional families. Unemployment. Drunk driving. A few more, but I can't think of them right now. Those are all great, but at least a few of them need to be addressed a little deeper IMHO.


Yes, I agree. There's some things in there that don't really have a payoff IMO. Although not every little thing needs to come full circle, much of it is to just add to the depravity, throw more stuff in there to chip away at Stella's sanity.


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Take Stella's domestic abuse for example. I get it. He beats her and she's had enough, BUT, that does not go well with their wedding photo where she does not look happy. In fact, I think you described her as sad in that photo. My first thought there was, why on earth would she marry him then? It would've worked better, for me at least, if she was happy and full of hope at the wedding and then everything turned to shit after that. I also would've liked to see her a lot more distressed after she killed Oscar. Like really lost as to what she would do next.


Usually I'll give each character, mostly the main characters, their own little backstories. And though I might not address some of the information directly, I do it with hopes of it somehow contributing to the characters makeup, hoping it shows through naturally.

With Stella being unhappy in the wedding photo, my thinking was she married the guy because it just seemed like something she was supposed to do. As many in the homosexual community, a lot of people grow up hiding their sexuality. And it's painful for them, acting like they're not who they really are. So her being unhappy with Oscar in the wedding photo has more to do with her hiding her sexuality, not being the person she really is. But being what she's supposed to be, especially in a seemingly conservative area where she lives. Also, he's a little older than her and met her when she was young and naive -- she's 25 here, so she probably met Oscar while in her teens. Daddy issues maybe? I don't know, perhaps. But she's been pretty much under his thumb in what's been a controlling marriage. And that's what I wanted to get across.


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After Matilda picks her up in the car, there was a missed opportunity to develop their relationship some more. Perhaps they could mention something like their future together once she gets a divorce or something. Gives us a better glimpse into Stella's and Oscar's relationship, but also Stella's with Matilda.


Yes! I agree. And I feel like it can be done with a single line. Now, I did rewrite that scene a little more to make it a little more tender and feeling. But having Matilda say something like, "We just run away together. Some place where he couldn't find us". Or something to that effect.


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Then we move on to the diner where Buford treats her badly. Very clever set-up misleading us to what's coming around mid-point. You are great at this type of twists, btw.


Thanks! I love twists when they come early on. I don't know if you've seen a horror flick called "Better Watch Out", but it had a brilliant twist at the end of the 1st act that steered the film into a completely different direction that I thought was impressive. You go from thinking it's a home invasion film and it becomes something else.


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Buford was a pretty good set-up as well. I felt sorry for him when trying to get a job. One thing I didn't get however was this zoned out rage he apparently slips into every now and then. Is that really needed? If so, I want to know more about it. What causes this? How long has he suffered from it? Maybe it would work better if he's just a nice guy to start out with, but unemployment and no money to provide for his family slowly turns into the sex trafficking. Going from innocent to escalating madness.


I didn't want to be too in your face with it, but he did have a criminal past (briefly pointed out when his resume is being looked over). I'm a firm believer that someone doesn't just become evil after years of depravity and struggle... I believe they always had that evil in them. Maybe not always, but childhood often influences what becomes their true nature. Adversity will expose this nature. Plenty of people deal with similar circumstances and prevail, revealing that they are strong. And good people. Buford is not. I just didn't want to get into his whole childhood and break the pacing too much. I personally thought the arc was strong enough, even if the first half of his arc was deceptive.


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Gertrude. Not sure how to feel about her. She can't be very smart to go along with all this. Either she's stupid or just as batshit crazy as her husband. Also, wouldn't she have noticed these zoned out rage issues at some other point in their marriage? She's not as strong a character as I think she could be. IMO, you just need to define her character better.


I don't know about not being very smart. I'm thinking more devoted. You'd think Bonnie would be smarter than be with a guy like Clyde, right? She was smart enough to rob banks and evade capture for a decent amount of time. But there was just something about Clyde that made her stick around and do evil shit... love perhaps?


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Newton is also weak IMO. I know you want him to be, but you can still develop his character more.


Didn't really wanna do a character piece on everybody, but I see what you're saying. Part of this is due to him being absent for much of the script (in the basement). I was kinda using him as a device to show just how influential Buford is to his family -- his son is a product of him, which Buford doesn't like. But I agree, I can add a few things here. Still, I don't want this to be a sprawling character epic. Maybe I'm exaggerating there... I just want to keep it at around an hour and a half. My last movie "Rage" is 2 hours and 23 minutes long and I'm trying to cut it back down to slasher movie length.


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None of the cops really standout. Perhaps you can do something more with Hardley? I know there's already a connection with Matilda being his daughter, but what if Buford was also a long time friend. That way Hardley will refuse to believe that he could do anything wrong. Maybe they went to school together and occasionally they go fishing and have a few beers together.


This is an interesting idea worth exploring. Again, something I think can be addressed with a line or two.


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The mid-point twist was a GREAT WTF!!!


Yay!


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When Stella comes by Buford's house to kill him, I wished there had been some stronger confrontation between them and not just bullets being exchanged.


Yeah, I kinda wanted to save that for later in the script.


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So, good job, but needs a re-write to be a little stronger emotionally and I have no doubt you can handle that.


Thanks, Pia! I'm really, really proud of the 2nd draft and I feel even better about where the 3rd draft is gonna go. I'm not too far off, but there's definitely stuff I need to add to give it more of an emotional punch. This REALLY, REALLY HELPS. And I can't thank you enough. This is probably the best I've felt about a script in a long, long time -- not to dismiss my new movie coming out, it turned out pretty great, I'm not shitting on it at all. But this feels a little different.



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Page 1.     Stella! My granddaughter's name.


I apologize lol. Although she ends up kicking ass, so maybe it's not too bad of a thing.


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Less than half a page in and I'm already hating Oscar.


Cool, mission accomplished.


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Page 2.     Now I really hate him.


Sweet.


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Page 4.     Licking blood-tinged honey mustard seems an unnecessary step. Especially now in these virus days. Thinking as a woman here, I think the last thing I would want in my body after his behavior would be any of his body fluids. Maybe if she spits it out on him?


I was kinda doing a horror movie thing to punctuate the scene in a wink-wink, popcorn slasher kinda way. And I was really trying to deceive the audience into believing she could kill everybody.


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Page 6.     Would be fitting to have some sort of comment after Matilda suggests they call the police. At least some kind of facial expression since Oscar was the police.


Addressed this in rewrites.


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Page 8.     Greta? A new person or did you mean Gertrude?


This too lol.


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Page 15.   Almost seems a little much taunting from her co-workers, IMO.


Perhaps. It was even worse before I had a 1st draft ready. My goal was to not have the audience hate Stella so much leading up to the twist that they had trouble adjusting to rooting for her once the twist is actually revealed. I kind of wanted the audience to hate these characters as not care too much that Stella might have killed them.


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Page 16.   Stella gets aggressive with Buford, I understand why, but it makes me wonder why she puts up with the crap from Donnie and Bo. Seems like she would be able to handle easy jerks like that. No?


She gets aggressive with Buford after everything else builds up. I wanted them to chip away at her sanity -- she's holding back and holding back until she can't hold back anymore.


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Shouldn't the sheriff be calling in for back-up and his gun drawn by now?


Yeah, addressed this in rewrites, too.


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Page 24.   OMG! My granddaughter's name is Stella Rey...


Uh-oh! Don't sue me for defamation!


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Page 28.   A lot of gravel crunching going on...

Page 36.   Wondering why there are so many mentionings of that CRUNCHING GRAVEL and THE RUSTY PICK-UP TRUCK. What's so important about it?


Yeah, just a product of 1st draft writing. I went back and smoothed over a lot of the writing, including the gravel crunching.


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Page 39.   I'd skip Gertrude's, Are you okay? line. Weird question since it's obvious he's been hit again.


Addressed that, too in the 2nd draft rewrite.


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Page 62.   What did Hardley and Matilda argue about? Must have been something really bad for him to say he never wanted to see her again. Maybe just expand on that with a few carefully chosen words, so it doesn't feel like we're being hit over the head.


I didn't wanna be too in your face about it, but they argued about her coming out as a lesbian. I try suggesting that that's what it was about -- Hardley talking about how he just doesn't understand it, talking about guys kissing guys, girls kissing girls. But this is definitely something I can be a little more clear about with just another subtle line.


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Page 63.   RUSTY PICK-UP TRAFFIC?


Fuck. Missed that. Thanks!


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Page 72.   This family is fucked up.  


As a massive horror nut, I always wanted to see a crossover of like Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers running into the family from Texas Chainsaw Massacre -- like a fucked up crossover version of the old Universal monster flicks. So, Stella was my Jason and the Blumpkins were the Sawyer family from Texas Chainsaw. Though I took it down a notch, obviously.


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Page 73.   A broken vacuum cleaner? Not sure I think that's a great analogy. Unless of course you intended for Gertrude to be totally void of feelings and a bit stupid too.


I wanted to show how cold she was -- and she's talking down to her child, too. She's trying to say it in a way she would understand, which probably shows that Newton ain't too bright, maybe.


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Page 77.   Is that what came by to ask me...


Fuck again! Thanks for pointing that out!


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Page 80.   A little predictable with Stella ambushing Buford. Maybe have him come down while she is trying to pick the cuffs. Talk a little bit about what he's going to do to her and she's working the cuffs behind her back. Add more tension to the scene.


Maybe. Him saying what he'll do to her doesn't make sense since he doesn't plan on killing her now -- he's selling her, which kinda makes her bullet proof at this point -- that is until she escapes.

Thanks again, Pia! Definitely using this as a go-to while I work on the 3rd draft. Excellent, excellent stuff, exactly what I needed.

-- Michael


MY FEATURE FILMS:

THE SUICIDE THEORY (79% Rotten Tomato Score, Available on Amazon Prime, Itunes, Google Play, Youtube, etc) - https://youtu.be/5eaXXOKJvtg

RAGE (coming late 2020/early 2021) - https://vimeo.com/402447622

Check out my latest horror script, HONEY MUSTARD - https://www.simplyscripts.net/cgi-bin/Blah/Blah.pl?b-horror/m-1585433547/
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