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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Screenwriting Discussion    Screenwriting Class  ›  Script Club Feb/2020 Moderators: George Willson
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LC
Posted: February 14th, 2020, 4:53pm Report to Moderator
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I couldn't open the link provided by James above, but as far as I can see the writer is Thomas O'donnell IV on IMDb, alternate names Tom O'Donnell.

https://www.imdb.com/news/ni62459202/

FYI: Carson's review:
29 January, 2020
http://scriptshadow.net/screenplay-review-i-heart-murder/

Carry on...  


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StevenClark
Posted: February 14th, 2020, 4:54pm Report to Moderator
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Thanks for the deets, Libby!


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LC
Posted: February 14th, 2020, 5:32pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from StevenClark
Thanks for the deets, Libby!

You're welcome, Steve.

Jeepers, where would the film industry be without the rape and torture and murder of women. Even streaming series today, hubby and I joke about the opening scenes with women's bodies washing up on shorelines, discovered in caves, forests, on ice, underwater, etc. Very rarely it deviates with a young man's body being discovered or a disappearance.

Will read this and catch up later.



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mmmarnie
Posted: February 14th, 2020, 6:01pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from LC

You're welcome, Steve.

Jeepers, where would the film industry be without the rape and torture and murder of women.



Personally, I prefer killing and torturing men. That was how my story , "Loyal", from this last OWC, was supposed to end. The dog was supposed to turn on the ex-husband, mauling him to shreds...but I ran out of time. LOL. Over the course of my writing "career", I've killed men in many ways. Several have even lost their man parts. I find it therapeutic.

Thanks for the review link, Libby.



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ďIf someone is trying to bring you down, it just means you are above them."
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LC
Posted: February 14th, 2020, 6:11pm Report to Moderator
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Marnie, Loyal was a terrific read.



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Scar Tissue Films
Posted: February 14th, 2020, 6:18pm Report to Moderator
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In terms of the read, I found it deathly dull, uninspired and boring. Everything about it was boring for me. The first 75 minutes were torture, and the script only got briefly interesting in one scene around page 100. Then it fell off a cliff.

The characters, including the "Strong Female Character" and "Very Weak Man" were tedious, un-likeable and uninteresting in the extreme. I found the central plot hackneyed. I even found the log-line and the title dull.

I know we're supposed to stick to the "read" but it's hard to discuss how it reads without discussing what you're reading!

The Pros:

Like all pro scripts, it's laser focused on the central story. It doesn't meander around trying to find itself like pre-pro scripts.
It's built around its central theme giving it a unity that pre-pro scripts tend to lack.
It's got a consistent tone.
It's contemporary and cheap to film.
It ticks current marketing boxes with the Strong Female Lead.
It has a strong, recognisable genre and doesn't try to reinvent the wheel. It sticks to tried and tested, marketable genres.
It takes a very old story trope...the serial killer contacting the radio DJ...and makes it a podcast to appeal to young people. That is the standard Hollywood trick. The same genres, and the same stories with a slightly fresh twist.
It's mainstream, and inoffensive. It doesn't try and tax its viewers. There's a difficult question at the centre of the story, about the nature of our obsession with murder and what price we're willing other people to pay for our own obsessions...but the story never goes hard into those and doesn't seek to challenge its readers/viewers.


It's a difficult script to discuss, really, because for me, it was a failure. It lacked the suspense or ingenuity to make it a thriller, and it failed to make me interested in who committed the killing to make it an interesting whodunnit.  

It's the sort of film I'd flick over after ten minutes. It's neither fast paced enough to be simple fun, nor deep or involved enough to be interesting. It comes across as the standard 5/10 on IMDB story that gets played in the dead hours on TV.

That being said, it's still recognisably a pro script, even though it's not at a high level of quality, for all the reasons I stated.  It's standard studio fare. It follows standard protocols of marketing and genre, shows respect for professional budgeting by not trying to over extend itself, tries to make itself appeal to the young (especially women) with the title and the podcast angle etc. Mostly the things that pre-pros don't do, or actively rebel against.
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Grandma Bear
Posted: February 14th, 2020, 6:39pm Report to Moderator
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I agree with a lot of what Rick said, but I want to keep the discussion about the writing and the read for now. As mentioned before, what I really want to figure out with this SC is why a script that is so far from great has sold. If this guy can do it, why not us?

And I agree with Steve that I bet the "cliffhangers" at the end of the pages are probably deliberate and not just by accident.

Marnie, we should write Two Psychos the feature together. Lots and lots of men die horribly in that one...  


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Scar Tissue Films
Posted: February 14th, 2020, 7:59pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Grandma Bear
I agree with a lot of what Rick said, but I want to keep the discussion about the writing and the read for now. As mentioned before, what I really want to figure out with this SC is why a script that is so far from great has sold. If this guy can do it, why not us?

And I agree with Steve that I bet the "cliffhangers" at the end of the pages are probably deliberate and not just by accident.

Marnie, we should write Two Psychos the feature together. Lots and lots of men die horribly in that one...  



Focusing purely on the writing...I'd say it's pretty basic. Every line in it is basic. Almost to the point you could copy and paste it from other scripts. There isn't anyone on here that can't write words in a line as well, or better than what's here, imho. At times it's almost childish, but I think that's sort of the point: It's a story for teenage girls, I think.

Putting a positive spin on it, I'd say the lesson is to write to the level of your intended audience/demographic.
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StevenClark
Posted: February 14th, 2020, 10:57pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Scar Tissue Films



Focusing purely on the writing...I'd say it's pretty basic. Every line in it is basic. Almost to the point you could copy and paste it from other scripts. There isn't anyone on here that can't write words in a line as well, or better than what's here, imho. At times it's almost childish, but I think that's sort of the point: It's a story for teenage girls, I think.

Putting a positive spin on it, I'd say the lesson is to write to the level of your intended audience/demographic.


I agree to a point. It is basic. Very much so, and that's what I liked about it. It was clear and to the point. Very readable. I've been on a reading binge of late, and a lot of pro scripts I've seen are laid out in a basic form such as this. Oh sure, there are differences in the prose, but the main thing is that the action and the story was clear.

This might just be the way this guy writes screenplays, but you raise a decent point in that he may be writing to his audience. Personally, I don't know what or how a teenage girl likes her reading material to be presented, so I'm a bit out of the loop on that.

*** How did he get it sold?
That's a good question and I have a question about that.

Are we basing this on the fact that this guy probably has several contacts and an agent, i.e., the inside track? If so, then it seems pretty easy how it got sold.

Or are we basing this on the script itself, and just the script? Basically, what are we doing wrong that Tom O'Donnell did right?

I mean, jeez, Carson called it impressive! Like I said, I thought it was good, but not impressive.


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StevenClark
Posted: February 14th, 2020, 11:08pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Grandma Bear
And I agree with Steve that I bet the "cliffhangers" at the end of the pages are probably deliberate and not just by accident.


For arguments sake, let's say we're just basing how it got sold on the quality of the script alone. That quote above is part of the answer.

Just like the "why" at the bottom of page 1, pages 2, 3 and 4 have the same kind of thing going on. Kind of. So right there, right out of the freakin gate, the writer made us want to read past the first page. Or the first few pages.

Getting a "professional" reader, or a "gatekeeper," to want to read past the first few pages is huge.


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Scar Tissue Films
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Quoted from StevenClark


I agree to a point. It is basic. Very much so, and that's what I liked about it. It was clear and to the point. Very readable. I've been on a reading binge of late, and a lot of pro scripts I've seen are laid out in a basic form such as this. Oh sure, there are differences in the prose, but the main thing is that the action and the story was clear.

This might just be the way this guy writes screenplays, but you raise a decent point in that he may be writing to his audience. Personally, I don't know what or how a teenage girl likes her reading material to be presented, so I'm a bit out of the loop on that.

*** How did he get it sold?
That's a good question and I have a question about that.

Are we basing this on the fact that this guy probably has several contacts and an agent, i.e., the inside track? If so, then it seems pretty easy how it got sold.

Or are we basing this on the script itself, and just the script? Basically, what are we doing wrong that Tom O'Donnell did right?

I mean, jeez, Carson called it impressive! Like I said, I thought it was good, but not impressive.


Like you say, you sell a script by:

1. Having access.
2. Writing a story fit for the Corporate purpose of the people you're trying to sell to. That means there's a certain standard of the script and it meets commercial requirements.

Scripts sell because the Studios think they have commercial potential and can deliver a return on investment, and this script, based on their Market Research fits with their Corporate vision..that vision in this case probably being to market stereotypically male orientated films like thrillers to young women.

And when we say scripts sell....almost no spec scripts at all sell, anymore. You've as much chance as winning the lottery, statistically.

Anyway, Pia wants to stick to the writing angle for now.

https://www.writingasasecondcareer.com/fast-read/


If you want to make a fast read, you write basic English.

It's all about the Flesch-Kincaid scale.

The Flesch-Kincaid index estimates the level of education needed to read a piece of writing.

The lower you go (or rather the higher in terms of readability), the larger the number of people can understand it. If you write high level stuff that requires high education and high IQ to read and understand...only the top percentage of people can understand it. If you write below high school level, like this, then a wide group of people can understand it.

In short, you need to pretend you are emotionally retarded and brain damaged to write for Hollywood. Or be emotionally retarded and brain damaged.


Other ways of making a read fast:

https://strandmag.com/top-ten-tips-for-writing-a-page-turner/

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Scar Tissue Films  -  February 15th, 2020, 7:29am
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StevenClark
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Interesting stuff. This is the first time Iím hearing about the Flesch-Kincaid index.

But I totally agree on studios only want projects they view as commercially viable. Anything that can almost guarantee a return, and then some, on investment. It appears that this script ticked all of their boxes.


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LC
Posted: February 15th, 2020, 8:40am Report to Moderator
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Otherwise known as the James Patterson formula:
https://blogs.wsj.com/speakeas.....oks-sell-like-crazy/
Bookshots:
https://bookshots.com/

I picked one up in the library the other day and just couldn't do it.

Onto one of the master's of suspense instead: Patricia Highsmith: Deep Water 1957- more my style:
https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2180339/
Bringing Adrian Lyne out of retirement too - hope it's good.

Sorry, keep going off on tangents...

Anyway, I'm only on page thirty-two of this screenplay cause I keep getting interruptions... but I'm not convinced this fits the pigeonhole of basic and nothing else to distinguish the writing... It's easily digestible for sure, once we got past that god-awful opening... I nearly gave up right then and there.

Seth drives the winding mountain roads -- beautiful, green
woods dotted with abandoned, burned-out houses and occasional
pockets of post-industrial squalor: slag heaps, rusting
mining equipment, disused train tracks, covered in kudzu
.

That's nice writing, it's economical but paints the picture visually and well imho.

Once we got out of Dodge and on the road things started really picking up.

At its heart this is a whodunnit murder mystery, throw in the backdrop of the popularity of podcasting, and the obsession with social media, an edgy female character not at all daunted by threatening messages originating from a homicidal maniac - brave or maybe stupid, we shall see... and I'm starting to care about where things end up at least. I'm not convinced I'd want to see it but I'll get back to you on that.

Technically there are orphans and typos and several hiccups with the writing in general - i.e., not writing out numbers longhand etc., but I find myself ignoring that bally-hoo for the most part cause I feel, so far, that I'm being led by a capable story teller.

I'm being led as if watching each scene of this movie, without too many obstacles:

A bell on the door jingles as Ana and Seth enter the front
office of the motel. Itís deserted. Seth grins.
SETH
Hey, check it out.
On the counter is a small spinning rack of bootleg I HEART
MURDER keychains. Ana frowns and starts to manually jingle
the bell on the door. She doesnít stop until an elderly man,
MR. MULLINS, emerges from a back room, blinking.


Great. Seamless. I can picture everything.

Then this:

MR. MULLINS
Sorry, just catching my forty
winks. Four in the afternoon but
the hospitality industry demands
strange hours of a man
. How can I
help you fine folks?


That bit in bold was just way too contrived for me. Presumably Mr Mullins has been in this business for quite some time. Does he trot this line out to everyone? It just sounded to me as if the writer liked the turn of phrase.

Anyway, like I said, we'll see if I last the distance to the final act.


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eldave1
Posted: February 15th, 2020, 12:21pm Report to Moderator
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Read 30 pages - enough for now.

The question being, why it got sold? Just my opinion, but I think there are at least three reasons.

1. The most riveting scene was moved to the front of the script.

For my own personal taste, I like stories that build - get to know the characters before they are facing obstacles, get comfortable with the lay of the land, etc. However, those do not result in scripts where a reader has the patience to get past ten pages and ergo - on to page 11 - and ergo - sold. Script readers/producers want the money shot up front.  Sure it kind of twists the natural arcs of stories - but - gruesome sells and gruesome in the opening scene even more so.

Our writer made a strategic decision to open with this horrifying murder of a helpless woman with all of its gory and sinister details.  As much as any of us would like to say - ewwww - we're hooked - once we see this woman bound to that chair - no way we are going to stop reading until we know what happens to her.  That gets an automatic read to page 5. We land here:


Quoted Text
Doraís flesh is half melted off now, blackened and bubbling.

ANA (V.O.)
But it wonít be one forever. We
will catch the person who did this.
Because I wonít quit...


Okay - so now we got to know who dunnit - right? We invested five pages of our time in this - got to find out who that dog mask wearing psycho is.  This is pretty strategic as the writer now has a little room to breathe. He can get his exposition/meat and bones out now because we will still have that searing imagery in our mind and the desire to know who dunnit. Regardless of genre - i.e., this doesn't have to be a murder - the writer gave us a concrete goal  to anchor our interest as we read on regardless of whether or not each page inches us towards that goal. Thw writer here could have gone to an opera and we'd still have that who dunnit anchor in our brain as we read on. I think I am going to revisit every script I wrote and see if there is something I can put in the back of readers mind (i.e., the anchor) to buy the patience needed to let the story unfold. In this case - the writer is going to tell me a story about Ana - I keep reading because I want to know who killed Dora (the anchor).

2. At least one character with killer dialogue.

Ana's dialogue is stellar, IMO. Gems like these:


Quoted Text
ANA
Hey. Quasi-famous? I got recognized
at the gym this week. I think Iím
at least semi-famous.



Quoted Text
ANA
Getting an award for best podcast
is like winning a beauty contest in
the burn ward.


Keep us interested and helps us forgive some of the just horrible, on the nose exposition dialogue of other characters (e.g., in this script - Seth). Ana's was the only dialogue that worth a shit - but it was golden. It help disguise the weaknesses in other characters dialogue.

3. Modernity

Many of us are old (er). We would have chosen a more antique platform for Ana (radio, television, newspaper, etc). Podcasts - modern. Perfect.

Being in my 60s, this is one of the hardest challenges for me. I like to write Rom/Coms as an example - but - got a 60 year old brain so it is a challenge to write ones that are socially relevant/modern.  Can't tell you how may scripts I've read in the past year where the protag doesn't have a smart  phone - i.e., For present day scripts, we need to look at every thing we write in terms of dialogue, devices, environment and ask ourselves as it really contemporary? Other than the idiotic reference to Ladies Home Journal - this writer excelled here.


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts

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mmmarnie
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Just a thought...but maybe the script was purchased with an up and coming actress in mind? I know I used to get very specific requests off Inktip for a sp that featured a female lead of a certain age.


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