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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Screenwriting Discussion    Screenwriting Class  ›  Script Club Feb/2020 Moderators: George Willson
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Grandma Bear
Posted: February 5th, 2020, 9:23pm Report to Moderator
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Okay, let's do this!

This is a little bit like a book club where we are given a script to read and then we discuss the story, characters and everything else we can think of.

What inspired me to do this Script Club again was reading a Blacklist script titled #IHeartMurder. Why? Sony Pictures picked this one up for six figures. Carson called it impressive. I just had to read it, so I did. I will tell you that it kept my attention throughout. A page turner in other words. Despite it being 120 pages, it read VERY fast and I basically read it in one sitting. It's a lot of dialogue and like I said, a page turner, so the reading is easy.

What really made me want to discuss this script is that I've read many scripts from some of our own members that write just as well and know how to plot and pace a script. So, why did this one sell for a bunch of money and our scripts do not? Especially since this one has a very unlikable lead character and an ending that is sort of cold and limp at the same time. How did the writer pull this off? That's what we will try to find out.

You have until Friday next week to read it. Should be super easy, and then we will start to dissect it. If you have already read it, that's great too. Maybe just skim over it again before we start.

Here's a link to the script.
I Heart Murder

I will lock the thread until 2/14 then we'll start the discussion.  

PS: The first couple of pages are gory, but after that, there's really none more of that.

I Heart Murder by Tom O’Donnell
A true-crime podcaster tries to solve a gruesome cold case, putting her in the killer’s crosshairs.



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Grandma Bear
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Okay, let's start the discussion.

Instead of giving reviews, I would like for all participants to discuss the script. Rather than just find out if we like or dislike this script, let's try to figure out why it sold and our scripts do not. We'll dissect it bit by bit. Hopefully.  

Let's start with the read itself since that's what I assume is what keeps the all important reader reading or putting it down.

For me, it was a clean and fast read. A page turner even though I can't say I loved the story. What did you think? Pages flew by? It was a drag to get through? The writing style? Anything else you can think of about the writing and the read itself. We'll move on to characters and story later.


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StevenClark
Posted: February 14th, 2020, 10:19am Report to Moderator
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Good to see this up and ready. I read I Heart Murder shortly after it was posted, so what follows are my initial musings directly after reading. Looking forward to joining the discussion.

So, I started reading this the night you posted the script. The writer, Tom O’Donnell, is on IMDB with a few credits to his name. So, when you ask how he got this thing sold it might be safe to assume he has some connections, or maybe not. But they always help. It makes it that much easier when you have a champion for your work. That said…
The script so far is good. Why? First of all, one thing I notice in almost every pro script I read is how sparse and clearly everything is written. Good writers can make you see exactly what they want you to see using as bare a description as possible. And if you have that “mind’s eye” thing then you can see it too. But, somehow when I read pro scripts I feel more at ease because I know I’m in good hands. Kinda like… well, let’s not get into that here.
So far, the opening catches you right off the bat. The murder. Immediately you are drawn into the world of Ana, and you like her. She’s quirky and fearless, and it shows in her speech and actions. She has dimensions, not just a talking head.
Same goes for her sidekick, Seth. He’s his own character, his own kind of laid back nerd-type. I like him too. The writer has done a great job of detailing these two, making each of them unique in their own ways.
The ending felt a tad rushed. Everything happened so quickly, though it was easy to process. I guess I just didn’t know what I was expecting really. I’m fine with how it all tied together and ended, but we’ve seen this kind of reversal before -- it’s a tad contrived. It didn’t just flat out hit you over the head. Pretty standard far as I’m concerned. Nothing that made me sit up from my seat and say WOW!
You could easily see that Ana actually driving at the end would come into play. That was a call back.
Impressive? Not totally. Good, yes.
Which begs the question – does it need to be impressive? Probably not. This was good, and written in a style that you could easily follow along with. The writing itself, I mean. Like I said, writing style is very key. Story, of course. Story is THE one thing you must have down, and must be good. So, this story was good. But the writing is what elevated it.
So, yes, I can see how it would get picked up. Honestly, I’m sure there’s thousands of scripts out there as good as this. So, why was this picked up and do we know how? Was it seen on The Blacklist, was it given a boost by Carson’s review, or did this writer just get lucky?
Anyway, that’s my initial take.
*** And I would also like to mention again the clarity of the writing. I think it’s huge. A friend of mine who used to read for screenwriting contests said that’s one thing he and other writers would look for – readability. Again, a good, compelling story. But can the writing get you through the story easily?


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MarkItZero
Posted: February 14th, 2020, 11:06am Report to Moderator
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Okay, gonna limit this to the writing and the read.


Thought writing was very good. Visual. Easy to scan through the pages.

Doesn't waste time over-describing unimportant stuff:


Quoted Text
EXT. CHARLESTON AIRPORT - DAY

A SMALL JET lands on the runway of a tiny airport.

SUPER: CHARLESTON, WEST VIRGINIA


But when you need to set a certain mood and build the tension...


Quoted Text
The patchy front yard is littered with junk: an old washerdryer,
a rusted out lawnmower, a pile of cinder blocks and
more. A faded Confederate flag and a Nazi flag flutter side
by side on the side on a flagpole.

Flies buzz around a flayed deer that hangs on a tree. Clearly
dead awhile. It reeks and maggots continuously boil out of
its eye sockets. Nearby a hunting knife, encrusted with fur
and dried blood, is jammed into a tree stump.


I liked the occasional sarcastic descriptions...


Quoted Text
Ana and Seth enter their motel room: acrylic bedspreads,
nicotine-stained wallpaper, Abstract Expressionist water
damage on the ceiling.



Quoted Text
Ronnie tosses her a 10-year-old Nokia flip phone. Ana
inspects it. It sucks.


And I thought it handled the social media posts fine.


As for the read, the pages flew by for me. Don't know how else to say it other than it read like a pro script. Not gonna lie, some of the exposition stuff early on with her giving so much info through the podcast dragged a bit. And little things like that long ad for mattresses. But once it got going, I lost track of time and everything and was gone into the read.

Maybe dialogue is a separate discussion, but the snappy exchanges between Ana and Seth helped keep it lively too. Some genuinely entertaining quips, especially once they got to Virginia.


That rug really tied the room together.
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James McClung
Posted: February 14th, 2020, 11:07am Report to Moderator
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I haven't finished, but I'm close. Aiming to finish tonight, if not early tomorrow. I'll hold off on thoughts for now other than to say, while I don't necessarily care for it, I can understand why it'd be picked up.


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StevenClark
Posted: February 14th, 2020, 11:44am Report to Moderator
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I think the read itself was great. It didn't over indulge in unnecessary exposition, and only provided more when the scene called for it, like James mentioned. Overall, it was very readable and I think that is very key. Huge, I think.

I don't recall, at any point, being uninterested in what was going on. It's a thriller/whodunnit type story, so the last thing you want is to be bored. The writer did a great job at not boring us.


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Grandma Bear
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I agree that the writing made this an easy read and I don't ever recall having to re-read anything just to know what exactly was going on.

To be honest, I was at first, on the very first page kind of bored with the whole torture set-up- It felt like I had seen this a million times before and had it not been for one tiny detail at the bottom of that page, Ana's VO that simply said Why?, I would probably not have read on. Why does this matter? I think we have all read that you need something to make the reader want to turn the page and tiny detail did it for me. Immediately, I wanted to know about the person who was telling us this. Something to think about.

Steve, I could be wrong, but I don't think Carson reviewed this until after the script landed on the Blacklist and the deal with Sony had already been done. Probably did help to know some people in the biz already though.


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StevenClark
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Not for nothing, the whole podcast angle, I think, gives this story a more contemporary angle, and I think that helps as well. How many times did we see Ana posting to social media and the like? Many.

So, writing, yes, but also peripherally, the subject matter and being able to to convey that. And to hear it towards a certain audience. What age group is something like this aimed at? 18-35? It’s certainly R rated, but could easily be made pg-13.


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StevenClark
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Why?

At the bottom of page 1.

Top of page 2 starts off with the figure and a gas can.

Bottom page 2 ends with Ana talking about the bruising on the girl’s head.

Top page 3 begins with the baton, THWIP AND THUNK.

Page 3 and four do likewise. So right off the bat the writer has given us every reason not to put this script down, and I’m quite SURE this was a conscious effort. Definitely something for us to bear in mind regarding our own scripts.


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MarkItZero
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Quoted from Grandma Bear
I agree that the writing made this an easy read and I don't ever recall having to re-read anything just to know what exactly was going on.

To be honest, I was at first, on the very first page kind of bored with the whole torture set-up- It felt like I had seen this a million times before and had it not been for one tiny detail at the bottom of that page, Ana's VO that simply said Why?, I would probably not have read on. Why does this matter? I think we have all read that you need something to make the reader want to turn the page and tiny detail did it for me. Immediately, I wanted to know about the person who was telling us this. Something to think about.

Steve, I could be wrong, but I don't think Carson reviewed this until after the script landed on the Blacklist and the deal with Sony had already been done. Probably did help to know some people in the biz already though.


Yeah, the first page I was kind of settling in for that same old victim gets killed in the opening but then "Why?" turns it all about and we realize it's someone observing this scene or describing it for us so it takes it in a new direction.


That rug really tied the room together.
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MarkItZero
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Quoted from StevenClark
The writer, Tom O’Donnell, is on IMDB with a few credits to his name.


Apparently, he's a novelist and writes for animated TV shows too. The rights to his newest book got bought by New Line:

The novel follows a group of adventurers who exist in a fantasy world. During the day they embark on quests and battle evil wizards and when they get home from their busy day of slaying, they unwind by engaging in a role-playing aptly titled game “Homerooms and Hall Passes” where they assume the identities of average eighth-graders. All is fun and games until an ancient curse sends the young adventurers into a world of mundane suburbia. While there, they must band together to survive their toughest adventure yet: middle school.

That's a fun concept!


That rug really tied the room together.
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StevenClark
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It’s weird. If you look up I Heart Murder on IMDb it gives you the writer TIM O’Donnell, not Tom, so I’m a little confused. Tim has a whole plethora of credits, more than Tom, I think. But anyway...


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MarkItZero
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I guess there's a lot of O'Donnell's. This is his personal website...


That rug really tied the room together.

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mmmarnie
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The writing was easy enough to read, but I mostly struggled through Act I. Took a while for it to get moving for me. And I did find myseld stopping many times throughout when I found things to be a bit on the hard to believe side...or when things happened way too conveniently.


  
“If someone is trying to bring you down, it just means you are above them."
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Geezis
Posted: February 14th, 2020, 4:36pm Report to Moderator
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Read through it this evening and it is very well written.
I thought the pacing was good and it kept me reading, although it did seem very familiar to me in many places.
I haven't read many scripts but I've seen many movies and there were times reading it when I thought I saw similarities in some of the films I've already watched.
I suppose that is the nature of these types of thrillers though, familiarity with the story and genre but relying on character to give it a slight slant.


If at first you don't succeed........bribe someone.
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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
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Thanks for the deets, Libby!


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LC
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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
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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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LC
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Marnie, Loyal was a terrific read.



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Scar Tissue Films
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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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StevenClark
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Interesting stuff. This is the first time I’m 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. It’s 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 doesn’t 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
Dora’s flesh is half melted off now, blackened and bubbling.

ANA (V.O.)
But it won’t be one forever. We
will catch the person who did this.
Because I won’t 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 I’m
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
Posted: February 15th, 2020, 12:28pm Report to Moderator
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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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MarkItZero
Posted: February 15th, 2020, 12:46pm Report to Moderator
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Seems like most people didn't think much of this script. This is great cuz for once I won't be that cynical person craping on everything. Instead, I will be defending this masterpiece from all the evil meanie faces picking it apart!

Okay, fine, maybe not a masterpiece. But above average!

In terms of the writing, it is pretty basic. But I'll take visual, clear, concise any day. I guess it could be considered the bare minimum for professional description writing. I'd be happy with that.

Final verdict for me: The writing is not the reason this script sold for tons of money. It was professional quality, good enough not to hinder the read, but probably did not "wow" the reader. Other factors are afoot.

Oh, and thanks all for those links on writing. Good stuff. More to learn!


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StevenClark
Posted: February 15th, 2020, 1:27pm Report to Moderator
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The more I think about it, the more Rick’s point sounds true - geared towards a certain demographic. Tough female characters are all the rage. For now. Factor that in with the podcast angle, social media, throw it together with a good old fashioned murder mystery...

Think about it. Is this script as good or better with say, Seth as the lead? I don’t think so. I think, to pull that off, you might have to have more of a back story for Seth.

Sorry. Back to the writing.


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Grandma Bear
Posted: February 15th, 2020, 2:47pm Report to Moderator
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Looks like so far, we can all agree, that the simple and basic writing works even if barely at high school level. That's fine with me. Gives me hope since I only have a nineth grade education and in a non English speaking country to boot, lol. Maybe there's still hope. It does explain though why I couldn't get through A Killing On Carnival Row.

Looks like we can also agree that the writer skillfully planted cliffhangers at the bottom of every page. Especially in the beginning.

Dave liked that the most memorable scene is right at the beginning. That particular scene did not work for me at all and almost made me quit util I hit Why? at the bottom. IMHO, it was a scene I've seen so many times before and I also felt the dog mask was unnecessary. Even after I finished the script, I felt the dog mask did not fit.

Keeping it with the times and giving it a modern feel seems to also be important.

So,

clean easy reading to make early readers flip pages.

Cliffhangers at the bottom of the pages for the same reason.

A scene that grabs you right off the bat.

Keep it contemporary unless you're writing a period piece.

Tomorrow, we'll move on to the characters.


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James McClung
Posted: February 15th, 2020, 7:17pm Report to Moderator
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Finished.

Discussion seems to be way more structured than I expected. I guess I'm late to the party if we're already changing the subject tomorrow.


Quoted Text
I will lock the thread until 2/14 then we'll start the discussion.


Okay, okay. I am late to the party.

Anyway, I'll be brief as far as the read. It was quite smooth and compelling in the sense that each scene more or less ended with a prompt to the next. I'm lazy, so I'll usually read a script in 10-20 page sections, with amateur scripts tipped very much towards the 10-page end of the spectrum. This one was mostly 20 pages or more at a time, so that's good. Didn't care for some of the asides and showing off, but none of that got in the way of the read.

I wouldn't say the writing is leagues better than scripts I've read by members here though, even though the writer is clearly experienced. I'm talking about scripts by folks who are super disciplined, committed, and have been writing for a long time. I've been here (at SS) 15 years now and can tell you said folks are not as rare as one might think. In fact, I've seen many come and go during my time. Not to say I can pick up any given amateur script and find the same quality of writing, but surely non-produced writers aren't the peons some think they are just given the fact that they're not produced.

What made this one sell and others not? Basic shit. It's a simple plot with a well-established goal that's consistently driving the story. The main character is well developed, driven, and proactive, whether you like them or not. There's some world building in there with the WV setting, the fish-out-of-water adventure, and the podcast minutia. And there's some trendy shit to give it a boost as well; i.e. podcasts, true crime, strong female character, etc.

Ultimately, it's professional, easy to follow, and has its target demographic in mind. Very synced up with the current content out there these days. Wouldn't be surprised if I saw this (or something like it) on Netflix down the line.

And yet I wasn't that impressed. Admittedly, I've always been something of a grumpy pants. In my old age, sometimes more, sometimes less (yeah, I know I'm not that old; fuck you ). Will save some of that curmudgeonry as we delve into the details a little more. I'm also sometimes a liar; earlier, I said I'd be brief .


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Grandma Bear
Posted: February 15th, 2020, 11:15pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from James McClung
Finished.

Discussion seems to be way more structured than I expected. I guess I'm late to the party if we're already changing the subject tomorrow.

I was personally really interested in this script and I really wanted to try to dissect it and why it caught the interest it did. I looked at some of the old SC discussions and sometimes it turned into more of a script review thing rather than a serious discussion.

Super happy your taking part though. Great comments!  


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stevie
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Dave, I’ve only read the first few pages so far but your review of what you have read - and the ideas you got from it - are damned concise!  


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eldave1
Posted: February 15th, 2020, 11:32pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from stevie
Dave, I’ve only read the first few pages so far but your review of what you have read - and the ideas you got from it - are damned concise!  


Thanks,  mate


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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Colkurtz8
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I pretty much concur with what others have said here. Yep, the opening scene is as standard as they come, (gratuitous masturbation aside) the story beats are familiar, it moves along at a pace, its focused, sharp, the goals are set out early. I'm not as down on it as some folks are though, it’s a perfectly serviceable little thriller, well written and it kept me reading. It achieves what it set out to do.


Some pithy notes as I read:

I thought people would criticise the opening long VO but it seems to have hooked people in instead. I would defend it on the basis of context, she is a podcaster so her voice is her currency,. It’s a pretty talky script in general but as I said, its focused and rarely spirals off in tangents. I don’t mind that if its entertaining/interesting/humorous but for this type of script its best to stay on course.

I loved her transition to an advertisement after such grave, heavy material. Funny and true to anyone who listens to podcasts.

Ana’s crassness is comic and OTT. Reminds of Jeff Bridges in The Fisher King. I liked her unabashed, naked ambition and snobbery. It stayed consistent throughout, I admired that.

I was little put off that we enter proceedings after the podcast is already established and winning awards. It seems like a shortcut but I guess we don’t have the screen time to enter at the ground level. Also, I questioned how popular this podcast would get. As cold as this sounds, it’s just your run-of-the-mill murder...but then again, look at Serial so, what do I know? Presumably this is where the idea of the script came from. How viral that podcast became.

The certainty that’s its one of three subjects is so obviously a red herring. Anyone who has ever seen a movie will see that coming.

While I enjoyed Ana’s character sometimes her “attitude” is a little overkill, intentionally provocative and abrasive.

The all-evidence-points-to-Ronnie-Burnett is too heavy handed, again obviously a red herring.
Ana’s naivety on page 56 goes against her savvy-ness up to this point. As if they will just extract a recorded confession from Ronnie Burnett and solve the case no problem.

Ronnie’s house is way over the top. Reminds me unfavourably of Out of the Furnace. Porno playing idly the background? Really? Too much.

Good opposing rapport between Ana and Seth. One brave, the other chicken.

A slow burn in away, it’s not really until page 88 that we actually see a murder (other than the opening scene) and some forward movement on the case. Still, the writer sprinkles enough breadcrumbs throughout to keep us interested.

Bit silly to go to Ronnie’s house after Lynette’s murder and that Seth would agree to it.

Pretty obvious Ronnie’s video confession was coerced. Would Joe, acop, really fall for that?

Do the twists come a little too thick and fast at the end? I mean Tony is pure left of field. A bit too random. Also, the Cody intervention was predictable.

The masturbating seems a bit incongruous at the end given Tony’s reasons for killing. He talks of trash, pill poppers and fornication as sins yet wanks in front of his kills. Huh?
Anna escapes too easily.

Interesting ending. Has Ana really changed? It doesn’t seem so.  It’s curiously melancholic and gives one (a little) food for thought.

I liked it overall. Its pa pretty standard mystery thriller what gives it the edge is the podcast milieu that feels fresh and modern even if podcasts have been around for awhile now. Has there been another film like this? I liked the Ana character despite her callousness. She’s driven, tough and most important, genuinely witty.


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Colkurtz8
Posted: February 16th, 2020, 12:51am Report to Moderator
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Most importantly, my answer to Pia's original question as to why it sold:

I think its the podcasting factor. That is the main reason why it separates itself from the pack. Its a modern, topical, relatively fresh angle, even if podcasts have been around for awhile now. You take that way and it really is just another thriller we have seen many times before.

A secondary factor would be Ana. Strong female lead is important in today's marketplace of course but to the script's credit, it's pretty bold in her characterisation. She's an unapologetic opportunist throughout, not a nice person and the writer follows through with that. It doesn't hold her up as someone to be admired, it depicts her behaviour and lets you decide. She is challenged numerous times (mostly by Seth and the locals) for her exploitive nature, pays the price in a way but is also rewarded her for her endeavour i.e. she solves the case. It straddles that fine line very well I feel. I mean, she only really takes stock of her choices when Seth gets injured. Which I thought was effectively called back to in the closing scene.

Easier said than done I know but add good prose, witty dialogue and a generic (relatively decent) constructed plot, and you have a marketable script.


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Scar Tissue Films
Posted: February 16th, 2020, 5:55am Report to Moderator
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In terms of characters:

In general.

I can't say I liked any of them, and I can't say any of them interested me in the slightest. The only time I experienced any kind of emotion during the reading was when we met Dora's mother. That was the only scene that had any power at all, for me.


I think the person missing the most from the story was Dora. We never got to know her as a human, even after death, and that fact negated any interest at all for me in finding her killer.

I think back to Twin peaks, where the whole first season was essentially the same story, but that was genuinely gripping. We got to find out about Laura Palmer as it went along, and got to know her and the many facets of her personality and she became a mystery as much as who the killer was.

Here, I never found a reason why I should care about who killed Dora.

The killer and his motivation were particularly weak and underwhelming.

The positive aspects of the characters: Ana has a very clear goal and motivation. Her obsessive interest in murder is very relevant to modern society.

She has a special skill: An obsessive drive.
And a fatal moral flaw: She is not concerned enough with how others are affected by her obsessive actions.


The character's personality directly affects the story and everyone around her, and is also directly tied into the theme, which is overtly stated on Page 14, Blake Synder style.

That central unity of character, story and theme is almost always missing from pre-pro stuff, resulting in a much more meandering and incoherent experience.

This is essentially at the root of why this is a professional script. There's nothing in it that reaches above the mundane, but it is professionally structured. You can clearly see which textbooks he's read and he's used that knowledge to fashion a cohesive story.

Ana's character creates plot, that plot reveals the theme, the theme becomes the central conflict, the central conflict proves the theme and the theme has permanent consequences for the characters.

IE: The central character is obsessive (Character), her obsession leads her to getting actively involved in a murder investigation (character=plot) that investigation then creates the central theme (which is stated Blake Synder style, Theme Revealed, on page 14) by asking how far is it acceptable to push an obsession when other people will suffer, that central theme then plays out as Plot as they all start fighting and people start getting hurt, and it's how the film ends...with her friend broken by her obsession (the theme leads to conflict/plot and that creates a change in character/character circumstance).  

It's crafted properly. That is the only significant difference between this an amateur stuff...but it is a significant difference.

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Geezis
Posted: February 16th, 2020, 7:41am Report to Moderator
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I'll pop in my tuppence worth on the characters as I might not get the chance later.

Ana I thought was a narcissistic bully. Other might read her as focused and driven but I didn't like the way she completely dismisses anyone around her. From Seth, who is relentlessly bullied into doing her will to the point his relationship is in danger to the undergraduate she shouts down when at the panel. She is obsessed with social media and craves to be 'internet famous'. At the end of the script I was wondering if she shouldn't have been charged with being indirectly complicit with the murders of Ronnie and Joe considering the way she accused and hounded them with her podcast.

Seth - weak and in no way a counterpart to Ana, just a foil for her bullying.
Joe - the angry one, seems to suffer from permarage for some unknown reason.
Cody - the loner, unable to interact with society.
Ronnie - the criminal, just to make it look like it was he was the murderer.

All these men to me are stereotypes and not one of them at any time had me thinking could he have done it, it was obvious there was a twist coming so I knew none of them were guilty.

The other characters that flitted in and out of the story were underwritten and under utilised. Even the eventual reveal, while surprising, gave no real indication for the reason for the murders by Tony, no backstory, no rationale, no explanation for a rubber dog mask.

I enjoyed the story, but the characters left me cold and uncaring for them


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Colkurtz8
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That's a good call about the absence of Dora, Rick. She really is a non-entity even though the impetus of the story revolves around her.


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eldave1
Posted: February 16th, 2020, 11:12am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Colkurtz8
That's a good call about the absence of Dora, Rick. She really is a non-entity even though the impetus of the story revolves around her.


1) Add my agreement here.

2) Part of the putting the big bang scene up front. Required for hooking interest. Not natural for the story. This was a story about Ana - Dora was just the hook.


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StevenClark
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I’d have to check again, but at any point did Ana redeem herself in the wake of everything. I remember her visiting Seth in the hospital and feeling some remorse, but Seth was the one who pushed her on.

Quickly - I liked Ana’s character in spite of her pushiness. She was tough, motivated and had flaws in regards to not being able to drive. I know that came later in the story and might be just a thing working to set the end up. However, at some point, I actually kind of fell for Ana.   I like tough women.


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Colkurtz8
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Yeah, the only time Ana exhibits any kind of self reflection (bar the very end) is when Seth gets injured. However, you know she's glad Seth demands she continues, and, more importanlty, as the audience we hope for that too. Otherwise, there is no story, or at least, no conclusion.

That's what works so well about Ana's place within the narrative. The push/pull of even though we don't like her and question her approach we have to get behind her to a degree since we want to know who killed Dora. She seems to be only one who'll get to the bottom of it primarily because of said questionable approach.


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MarkItZero
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@Geezis

Good point on the male characters being poorly realized. Ronnie at least has a unique, identifiable voice. Joe was generic angry guy for no apparent reason… by far the weakest of all for me. Seth is not much better as generic weak guy… at the very least its tailored towards his dynamic with Ana.

I think you could improve Seth if he looked up to Ana more, maybe some attraction there too. The scene where Ana shows up at Seth’s apartment, could hint Seth’s girlfriend is jealous/concerned because Ana is really the center of his life. He’s naïve, reveres her at first, but as he’s dragged along and coerced throughout, he’s forced to confront what she’s really about.


@Rick

Very interesting point about Dora. We have those first scenes that Dave and Pia responded well to… Ana is envisioning the killing take place, trying to understand it, it’s sort of intimate. But then that’s really the last we hear about who Dora is for the entire script until the mother scene.

If Ana could have a moment or two where she reminisces on some detail of Dora's life. Or, maybe she listens to snippets of old podcast episodes, played in VO during moments of contemplation. Tiny insights into Dora, while keeping the podcast angle going. Although, there probably aren't that many moments of quiet contemplation in the script.

Thanks for summing up the theme and everything else so well. My brain is slow and does not pay attention to any of that as I'm watching/reading. Nor would I even understand it without that book you told me about!!

Okay, I'm writing my defense of this beautiful, masterful, slightly above average film lol. It's coming soon...


That rug really tied the room together.

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Colkurtz8
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Quoted from Scar Tissue Films


Ana's character creates plot, that plot reveals the theme, the theme becomes the central conflict, the central conflict proves the theme and the theme has permanent consequences for the characters.

IE: The central character is obsessive (Character), her obsession leads her to getting actively involved in a murder investigation (character=plot) that investigation then creates the central theme (which is stated Blake Synder style, Theme Revealed, on page 14) by asking how far is it acceptable to push an obsession when other people will suffer, that central theme then plays out as Plot as they all start fighting and people start getting hurt, and it's how the film ends...with her friend broken by her obsession (the theme leads to conflict/plot and that creates a change in character/character circumstance).  

It's crafted properly. That is the only significant difference between this an amateur stuff...but it is a significant difference.


Very well articulated and summed up...but I'm not so sure Ana really changes all that much by the end. Yes, as noted, there is that bittersweet tinged final scene when she calls Seth, it gives us, and Ana, pause for thought but for her, it's only fleeting I feel. She appears to be on the up career-wise and if her amoral gumption got her this far, I can see her continuing in that vein going forward.

In this way, albeit not as cynical, it reminded me of Nightcrawler in which Jake Gyllenhaal's character crosses the ethical line more than once. These transgressions increase in severity as the film progresses because they're achieving results. In the end he's got his own burgeoning fleet of vans on the road. He's going from strength to strength, he's a success.


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Scar Tissue Films
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It's not her that changes so much, the change is effected on poor, sad-sack, Seth. It's changed the circumstances of the characters, rather than the inner selves of the characters.

It's consistent with everything else because it's about how her obsession damages others.

From her point of view, despite feeling bad for Seth, she probably thinks it was all worth it.

It's up to the audience whether they think it is.
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MarkItZero
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I thought the strong main character and strong emotional core sets this script apart from the average studio genre film.

Ana’s Character

She’s inquisitive, driven, brash, sarcastic, unapologetic, has poor manners in general, in denial, reckless, dismissive, etc.

Not the deepest, most complex character ever. But we have some personality traits so that's a good start. I found her to be entirely engaging. At times, I even felt bad for her. And I absolutely cared what happened to her.

I’d compare her somewhat to Charlize Theron’s character in Young Adult. They’re both “unlikable” characters with strong drive. And they're both constantly challenged on the absurdity inherent in that insane drive.

In Young Adult, the main character returns to her home town to seduce a married man she hasn't talked to since high school. The obstacles seem insurmountable, she’s constantly challenged on the absurdity of the whole thing, yet her resolve is steadfast, even comical at times.

Here we have a young girl traveling to backwoods West Virginia, to a town where everyone despises her, while someone is trying to scare/kill her, to solve a case everyone wants buried.. and she can't even drive a car.

She's reduced to begging/cajoling her partner to drive her around to solve a murder.

You have to feel for these people on some level... at least I do.

Getting back to Ana, she's also genuinely funny, imo.


Quoted Text
RENTAL CAR AGENT
Alrighty Ms. Cohen. Just need to
see your drivers license.

ANA
Welp, you called my bluff. Seth?



Quoted Text
SETH
(choking)
Jesus it smells like somebody died
in here.

ANA
Oh my god, how great would that be
for the podcast?



Quoted Text
SETH
Jesus. My neck.

Ana yells from the bathroom.

ANA
(O.S.)
What’s wrong? Did somebody murder
you, Seth?


Nothing, not even a smile??

Furthermore, going back to the theme of obsession, and how far you're willing to go at the expense of others...

It’s one thing to state the theme, have a flaw, and hit all the story beats. Not that that's easy, I wish I could do it! But to execute it at a high level where there’s a real sense of emotional turmoil... that's rarer.

Ana's constantly attacked throughout the film, first physically, then emotionally.

Death threats, creepy bums, drunk college kids, dead possums...

Then, more importantly, Ronnie forcing her at gunpoint to say out loud the things she’s been trying to ignore/avoid the whole movie.

Followed by the great scene with Dora's mother, where the grieving woman accuses Ana of killing her daughter over and over again. Leaving Ana shaken for the first time.

Culminating in Seth's injury where she can no longer hide from the damage she's caused others.

When you have a relatively fast-paced genre film, sometimes there's no characterization at all. Even if there is, there's never really that sense of inner conflict... events happen... maybe there's a realization at the end... but they're not really put through the ringer, emotionally.

I don’t think a female lead, or podcasts, or tweets, are the reason this sold. That's the starting point. Studios want those things. And there are a million amateur writers like us writing them.

The question is why did this particular trendy, female lead script sell?

For me, it's because it has an engaging, fully-realized main character and a strong emotional spine.


That rug really tied the room together.
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Scar Tissue Films
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Yes, ultimately you are correct, Mark.

They bought it because they really liked it, like you did.


This was, in their opinion, one of the better scripts that they came across, that fit their purposes.
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mmmarnie
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I also wasn't a fan of Ana. Just thought she was a jerk. I lost complete interest in her when she dissed her award...gave it to Seth, not cus he also deserved it, but because she didn't want it. Bitch. Lol.

As for the other characters...to me the townspeople were the most interesting. Definitely had a Twin Peaks kinda vibe, except we didn't learn much about Dora as a person...in Twin Peaks, Laura Palmer was a well-rounded character, even though she was dead. I think making us care about Dora is important...and making us understand why Ana chose this particular murder to focus on. Why this one? Why Dora?

I did like what happened with Cory. He's the only character I gave a shit about.


  
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Colkurtz8
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Quoted from mmmarnie
I also wasn't a fan of Ana. Just thought she was a jerk. I lost complete interest in her when she dissed her award...gave it to Seth, not cus he also deserved it, but because she didn't want it. Bitch. Lol.


Haha, really? Out of all the dislikeable things Ana does or says I found this one of her more admirable moments. It showed her ambition and how she's has set her sights on bigger things. Love her or hate her, this drive and diligence is borne out during the script.



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Scar Tissue Films
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Quoted from mmmarnie
I also wasn't a fan of Ana. Just thought she was a jerk. I lost complete interest in her when she dissed her award...gave it to Seth, not cus he also deserved it, but because she didn't want it. Bitch. Lol.

As for the other characters...to me the townspeople were the most interesting. Definitely had a Twin Peaks kinda vibe, except we didn't learn much about Dora as a person...in Twin Peaks, Laura Palmer was a well-rounded character, even though she was dead. I think making us care about Dora is important...and making us understand why Ana chose this particular murder to focus on. Why this one? Why Dora?

I did like what happened with Cory. He's the only character I gave a shit about.


Agreed. It seems very odd that she's willing to risk so much for a case that has nothing to do with her. Why this one? What's the connection? Normally it would be a relative or a friend, or something similar had happened to her...maybe she'd escaped the same killer.

Without anything at all, it makes it hard to believe Ana is anything other than a plot device....the writer needed an obsessive woman for the story, so he wrote one. There was no point at which I thought she was making realistic, human choices.
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MarkItZero
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Good points regarding a prior history. One thing that I hated was that dead cat story when she goes on the date. It could be a friend/sister who died in a suspicious fire... and she never found out what really happened and it's haunted her.

But there's also obsession just for the sake of it, for the "high". Like in Zodiac Killer, a cartoonist with no connection to the murders loses his family over his obsession with solving the case.

I may be reading into things, but I feel the author is trying to have us doubt whether Ana really does even care about this particular case at all. Is it all about the chase, or worse yet, greed/hubris. People in the town certainly think she doesn't care. She's a parasite taking advantage of a tragedy.

Ana shrugs off all these claims for the longest time. Confident she's doing the right thing. Until, finally, she's confronted with a horribly injured Seth in the hospital.

That's where things honestly get a bit confusing for me, in terms of theme. They have this exchange...


Quoted Text
ANA
No. You were right all along. I
can’t let anyone else get hurt. I
can’t be re--

SETH
You are responsible! And for once,
you are going to fucking listen to
me.

Ana wipes the tears away from her eyes.

ANA
OK, Seth. OK. I’m listening.

SETH
You’re going to finish what you
started. You’re going to make this
matter.


So she does kind of have a realization? But then she goes on with the case anyways. Ending with her being unable to resist the draw of a new case. Then calling poor Seth, who ignores her.

I guess in the end, nothing that happens the entire movie ever really changes her mind. For her, there is no limit to what one should do to find the truth. That's all that matters.


That rug really tied the room together.
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Geezis
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Reading that quote from the script made me think, rightly or wrongly, of the exchange between Dr Rumack and Ted Striker from Airplane!

"The last thing he said to me, "Doc," he said, "some time when the crew is up against it, and the breaks are beating the boys, tell them to get out there and give it all they got and win just one for the Zipper. I don't know where I'll be then, Doc," he said, "but I won't smell too good, that's for sure".

I felt it was a tad contrived considering what Ana had put Seth through. Either that or he just grew a set of berries and wanted her out of his sight/company/life.


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StevenClark
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I think ratings are the only thing that matters to her. In the middle of everything she keeps calling the Netflix guy. There’s no doubt she wants to get to the bottom of all this because bigger things lie ahead for her.

True there was no compelling backstory to propel her forward in all this. She’s already fully formed pretty much when we meet her. But that leads me to believe, as this is open ended, is the writer waiting to give us more in part 2?


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Grandma Bear
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I'm with Marnie about the characters. I really really disliked Ana. There wasn't anything about her that I liked and that's kind of why I wanted to do this SC. Why would a studio buy a script with such an unlikable character that doesn't even seem to change at all or even realize what a total bitch she is? How does the studio figure it will go over with an audience? Especially with such a cold ending. I agree that in a way it's very similar to Nightcrawler and that one did well, so who knows. Having said that, I don't want them to change the ending either because they'll probably screw that up as well.

I too cared about Cory and I was more interested in the people that lived in town.


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Colkurtz8
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Quoted from Grandma Bear
Why would a studio buy a script with such an unlikable character that doesn't even seem to change at all or even realize what a total bitch she is? How does the studio figure it will go over with an audience?


That is true. Its surprising a studio would buy a script with an unlikeable lead but I'm glad they did. It shows, if anything, that they are willing to take a risk.

I do feel Ana possesses self awareness though and knows she is riling people up. I think this is what drives her to an extent, getting up in people's grill like that. Couple it with her unwavering quest to get ahead and she ends up just not giving a shit what people think of her. As a result, she appears to lack self awareness.


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Colkurtz8
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Sorry, I don't mean to derail the thread but just on a side note since we are talking about unlikeable protagonists (I'm sure this has been discussed many times before, I know I've banged on about it more than once) but what are people's opinions on the necessity of having a likeable protagonist, or more broadly speaking, a "hero"?

Putting commercial concerns aside, is this a requirement for you?



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Geezis
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I don't mind a lead character being unlikeable as long as there is an attempt at least to change or grow.
Ana for me was far too self absorbed and even in the moments she appeared to soften she quickly reverted to form.

Examples I'm thinking of are Edward Norton's character in American History X. A despicable man but looking for forgiveness and redemption.


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MarkItZero
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Quoted from Colkurtz8
Sorry, I don't mean to derail the thread but just on a side note since we are talking about unlikeable protagonists (I'm sure this has been discussed many times before, I know I've banged on about it more than once) but what are people's opinions on the necessity of having a likeable protagonist, or more broadly speaking, a "hero"?

Putting commercial concerns aside, is this a requirement for you?


Are you asking if it's necessary for our enjoyment of a film or whether we'd ever write an unlikable one?


That rug really tied the room together.
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Scar Tissue Films
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It depends what you mean by unlikeable.

There are people who are morally unpleasant, but are still compelling. The Nightcrawler example above is a good example. The difference there was that it was a lot of fun watching his rise into the heart of real power and there was something very primal about that naked ambition. It's that Archetypal Luciferian aspect, that pursuit of power and ambition that's thrilling, even if it's wrong. I think, from what I remember, it was also a very dog-eat dog world he was in, so there was a certain empathy the character was able to garner. He was more ruthless than all the other ruthless people.

So, although I suppose he was "unlikeable", I liked that character a lot.

Nothing here about the character or what she was trying to achieve was compelling for me. I didn't care about the non-entity Dora Bishop, I definitely didn't care about the popularity of her Podcast.

She didn't come across as compellingly ruthless, it was more like she was an entitled brat who ultimately just wanted Social Media likes. Like someone else said, she's a Narcissist. She's not obsessed with the Truth, she's not even obsessed with Power, she's obsessed with herself.

If she had anything at all about her, either that she'd survived a similar attack from the same killer, or she was really broke and miserable and desperate for recognition and money, or both, she'd be more compelling imo.

As it is, nothing worked for me here. The fact she was an arse meant any thriller aspect failed, because that relies on you being worried she'll fail, and the whodunnit aspect was undercut by the fact we never spent any time with anyone who, ultimately, mattered to the story.
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PrussianMosby
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Hey, quick input.

Read the first act a few days ago and I think it's a very good concept.

I think the "pull" here is the characterization of the protagonist as being an absolute nihilist, an egocentric I-person of our times. Feels like current state.

So, I actually think the script is topically strong and up to date from a message-art point of view.

Valuable at least for sure.

I didn't enjoy it nevertheless, so I stopped reading. That said, I've been interested to see her fail since she just felt as someone I know, someone from the media, someone from the here and now, all around, from anywhere...  

So, for an educational movie it might be fine, even quite okay for a young audience - but not for me personally. For an older person it just reads like a social documentary... and I had my movies of this kind as you yourself.

Well, I however read the last pages and was suprised that she seems to survive the script.

With regards to how I see the script re: above, this is a very good choice imo. It strengthens the message and plays with the idea, that at one place in time, nihilism, I dislike that word, so, say ultra-self-centrism, could be winning. And then we'd have heavy bread and circuses again... which again makes it a valuable attempt - to me at least.

It's kind of a "the experiment" and therelike type of movie for the new generation I guess. It has some weight in my eyes.



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MarkItZero
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Quoted from Grandma Bear
Why would a studio buy a script with such an unlikable character that doesn't even seem to change at all or even realize what a total bitch she is? How does the studio figure it will go over with an audience? Especially with such a cold ending.


I wish I knew! I personally don't have a problem with her not changing. She was challenged to change many, many times throughout the script... in efficient ways that fit organically into the mystery she was solving. I found one such challenge quite poignant. Considering this is a relatively fast-paced studio film, the script was well above average in that regard.

My best guess as to why it would work for the intended audience....

I Heart Murder starts off right away with things that young people will respond to integrated into the story. Podcasts, tweets, young female lead. The main character is extremely driven, self-assured, and isn't afraid of anyone. Perhaps things they aspire to be.

Once they go on the road, there's comedy. Fish out of water stuff and I guess sort of buddy comedy stuff. IMO, there are many funny exchanges, and it has good energy overall, despite the fact not much is happening plot-wise. Ana's manic energy and inappropriate enthusiasm play well with Seth's timid pessimism.

Once the plot really gets underway, then you have your average detective/thriller going on. They get suspects, clues, all that stuff. You probably know this genre way better than I do. It had the "pull" of a pro script for me, so I assume it was done to a professional level. Young people respond to this genre well.

Then the terrible ending happens, and it'll be over.

The 19-year old who just finished watching will think it was "lit", tweet about it, then forget about it completely.


That rug really tied the room together.

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James McClung
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Quoted from Colkurtz8
Sorry, I don't mean to derail the thread but just on a side note since we are talking about unlikeable protagonists (I'm sure this has been discussed many times before, I know I've banged on about it more than once) but what are people's opinions on the necessity of having a likeable protagonist, or more broadly speaking, a "hero"?

Putting commercial concerns aside, is this a requirement for you?


Not a requirement at all. The whole concept of a "hero" actually kinda irks me. Of course, a likable protagonist generally speaking is great, but I think it's more important that they be interesting. Sometimes an unlikeable protagonist is much more compelling.

An exception for me is if a character's annoying. That was almost the case here. I say almost because Ana's character didn't hurt the overall experience of reading the script. I thought she was a douchebag, though, for multiple reasons.

I did think she was well written though. Her decisions consistently drive the story. I also thought she was pretty realistic (for this type of person) and got the sense that she had a life beyond the plot. I had to wonder from time to time if she didn't have some hidden baggage that made her behave the way she does. I never really believed she was in this for justice or "the truth" as she says; seemed much more like her investigation was filling some sort of void or making up for a personal failing of some kind.

Also an interesting showcase of how shitty and toxic social media can be and what it does to some people. I feel like I've seen people like Ana online before (on Facebook, YouTube, etc). It does keep many people chasing that dopamine rush via constant posting, likes, etc. I wonder if that's something along the lines of what the writer was going for. I feel reasonably confident that the way Ana comes off is intentional, especially with the fallout with Seth on the final page.


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Grandma Bear
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Okay, I think we've got an idea of why the readers kept turning the pages. A very important part in order to get eyes on our scripts in the first place.

Characters were fairly weak except for the lead who seems to have been an almost 50/50 like dislike. It still got sold. Maybe Universal thought that can be worked out before production starts? I have no idea how that works.

So, what about the story itself? IMHO, the whodunnit part is very generic and nothing new. It's always someone you didn't suspect. (can't remember his name right now, lol) This was a weak part for me and as I've mentioned earlier, the whole dog mask masturbation part didn't seem to go with his real motives.

One thing I did like though was that Ana's actions led that couple, that can't remember the name of right now, to take action into their own hands and thus killing the wrong person. That is something Ana should really have felt bad about, IMO.

So, I think when you really think about it, this story isn't really about who killed Dora, see I remembered her name. It's really about what lengths Ana is willing to go in order to get her show to be the biggest and herself famous. I guess that's why the story works. As a whodunnit, it's weak. I just wished I had liked her better or that she had shown at lleast a little bit of guilt or remorse for her actions.


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Colkurtz8
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Quoted from Geezis
I don't mind a lead character being unlikeable as long as there is an attempt at least to change or grow. Ana for me was far too self absorbed and even in the moments she appeared to soften she quickly reverted to form.

Examples I'm thinking of are Edward Norton's character in American History X. A despicable man but looking for forgiveness and redemption.


While I agree that witnessing a character change during a film can be emotionally satisfying, I'm not adverse to it by any means, I do push back against the idea that its a must. The words "always", "must", "have to" should be antithetical to art. Nothing should be assumed or expected. That kind of thinking results in the kind of derivative mainstream cinema we've seen for many years now. Its why I tend to rail against the rigidity of screenwriting rules that so many are only too happy to glom on to.

For every American History X there is an American Psycho.  


Quoted from MarkItZero
Are you asking if it's necessary for our enjoyment of a film or whether we'd ever write an unlikable one?


The former. Do you believe it's necessary? I guess that will answer the latter part of your question.


Quoted from Scar Tissue Films
It depends what you mean by unlikeable.

There are people who are morally unpleasant, but are still compelling. The Nightcrawler example above is a good example. The difference there was that it was a lot of fun watching his rise into the heart of real power and there was something very primal about that naked ambition. It's that Archetypal Luciferian aspect, that pursuit of power and ambition that's thrilling, even if it's wrong. I think, from what I remember, it was also a very dog-eat dog world he was in, so there was a certain empathy the character was able to garner. He was more ruthless than all the other ruthless people.

So, although I suppose he was "unlikeable", I liked that character a lot.

Nothing here about the character or what she was trying to achieve was compelling for me. I didn't care about the non-entity Dora Bishop, I definitely didn't care about the popularity of her Podcast.

She didn't come across as compellingly ruthless, it was more like she was an entitled brat who ultimately just wanted Social Media likes. Like someone else said, she's a Narcissist. She's not obsessed with the Truth, she's not even obsessed with Power, she's obsessed with herself.

If she had anything at all about her, either that she'd survived a similar attack from the same killer, or she was really broke and miserable and desperate for recognition and money, or both, she'd be more compelling imo.

As it is, nothing worked for me here. The fact she was an arse meant any thriller aspect failed, because that relies on you being worried she'll fail, and the whodunnit aspect was undercut by the fact we never spent any time with anyone who, ultimately, mattered to the story.


I totally agree with your response insofar that unlikeable characters can be compelling. That trumps likeability in my opinion. Compelling doesn't discriminate between likeable or unlikeable. It can be generated by both sides.

I do think she has more in common with Nightcrawler than you give her credit for but we'll agree to disagree on that. I detected some of the same compelling attributes I felt when watching Nightcrawler which was why I referenced it. Different films for sure but there is a kinship between them. They come from a similar place


Quoted from James McClung
Not a requirement at all. The whole concept of a "hero" actually kinda irks me. Of course, a likable protagonist generally speaking is great, but I think it's more important that they be interesting. Sometimes an unlikeable protagonist is much more compelling.

An exception for me is if a character's annoying.


I concur with this completely. Although an annoying character can work too if they have some other quality i.e. comedic. There are a lot of great annoying characters in cinema.


Quoted from James McClung
That was almost the case here. I say almost because Ana's character didn't hurt the overall experience of reading the script. I thought she was a douchebag, though, for multiple reasons.

I did think she was well written though. Her decisions consistently drive the story. I also thought she was pretty realistic (for this type of person) and got the sense that she had a life beyond the plot. I had to wonder from time to time if she didn't have some hidden baggage that made her behave the way she does. I never really believed she was in this for justice or "the truth" as she says; seemed much more like her investigation was filling some sort of void or making up for a personal failing of some kind.

Also an interesting showcase of how shitty and toxic social media can be and what it does to some people. I feel like I've seen people like Ana online before (on Facebook, YouTube, etc). It does keep many people chasing that dopamine rush via constant posting, likes, etc. I wonder if that's something along the lines of what the writer was going for. I feel reasonably confident that the way Ana comes off is intentional, especially with the fallout with Seth on the final page.


Yeah, big time.

I think another character trait that's more important than likeability/sympathetic is relatability, or at least understanding where they're coming from even if you don't agree with their decisions. Not a requirement of course but if you can recognize that person, see a correlation with someone in your life, or even parts of yourself, you will stay with them to see how things turn out. If we're honest with ourselves, we can see ourselves in all types of characters; good, bad and those in between.


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Scar Tissue Films
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Quoted from Grandma Bear
Okay, I think we've got an idea of why the readers kept turning the pages. A very important part in order to get eyes on our scripts in the first place.

Characters were fairly weak except for the lead who seems to have been an almost 50/50 like dislike. It still got sold. Maybe Universal thought that can be worked out before production starts? I have no idea how that works.

So, what about the story itself? IMHO, the whodunnit part is very generic and nothing new. It's always someone you didn't suspect. (can't remember his name right now, lol) This was a weak part for me and as I've mentioned earlier, the whole dog mask masturbation part didn't seem to go with his real motives.

One thing I did like though was that Ana's actions led that couple, that can't remember the name of right now, to take action into their own hands and thus killing the wrong person. That is something Ana should really have felt bad about, IMO.

So, I think when you really think about it, this story isn't really about who killed Dora, see I remembered her name. It's really about what lengths Ana is willing to go in order to get her show to be the biggest and herself famous. I guess that's why the story works. As a whodunnit, it's weak. I just wished I had liked her better or that she had shown at lleast a little bit of guilt or remorse for her actions.


I thought some aspects of the story were potentially interesting, but as I said above, they worked against each other, rather than supporting each other, for me.

I agree, the "Fans" are probably the most interesting thing in the story, yet they are in it so little that the revelation has no power. It's the same with the Cop/Killer reveal. The story wastes forever on someone who you can tell isn't the killer from the first second he's introduced and spends no time on the people who ultimately matter.

It'd be far more effective if the Cop was present throughout, was very helpful, established a strong relationship with Ana..and then there was the reveal.

From a writer's point of view, the script was so obviously crafted from certain formulas that you could see all the cogs. Audiences won't be as aware as that, so that's a very specific criticism.
However, it barely attempted to rise above the formulaic.

These are the Twenty-Two building blocks from Truby's Anatomy of a Story:

Act 1
Opening Image
Ghost & Context
Problem/Need
Inciting Incident/Catalyst
Overall Desire (start low)
Ally/Allies
Opponent/Mystery
Opponent/Ally
1st Reversal & Decision: changed desire & motive


Act 2
Plan
Opponent�s Plan & 1st Counter Attack
Drive
Attack by Ally
Apparent Defeat
2nd Reversal & Decision: obsessive drive, changed desire & motive
Audience revelation about opponent-ally
3rd Reversal & Decision


Act 3
Gate, Gauntlet, Visit to Death
Battle
Self-Revelation/Thematic Revelation
Moral Decision
New Equilibrium


You can see how closely they were followed...with the two twists being predicted entirely by the formula: Attack by allies (The Fans) and The reveal about the Opponent Ally (The Cop). The story is completely "By the Book".

On a technical level, for those that didn't feel the characters, what's missing from the script is Step Two: Ghost/Context.

That's the backstory that haunts each character, and is usually seeped right through the story.
It's not an arbitrary thing. It's essentially human psychology. A person's Past creates their Present, their Present creates their future. In order to change their future they must revisit and re-frame their past, thereby changing who they are in the Present and thereby affecting change on their Future. That's key to human experience and its absence gives the whole a script a very hollow feeling. The only people with any 'ghost' are Cody, Dora's Mum, and the criminal guy (Randolph?)....everyone else is a blank slate.

Overall, the story isn't bad. I think it just needs selling a lot better.  The first one hundred pages could do with a lot more balance between the people who don't really matter and those that do. It's not really an effective twist if some minor character comes out of the blue, you don't get that sense of betrayal or shock.
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Colkurtz8
Posted: February 18th, 2020, 1:45pm Report to Moderator
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Oh, Jesus, those " Twenty-Two building blocks from Truby's Anatomy of a Story" is the most depressing thing I've read this week...and I'm halfway through reading The Completed Stories of Franz Kafka.



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StevenClark
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It was written well enough, the story was just good enough and just relatable enough to be able to market into a tight little bundle, and the writer has the connections. They saw a budget that could be workable and make some money in return. They got this all figured out.


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mmmarnie
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I felt way too many things were unbelievable, unanswered and some way too convenient.

First, can a podcast about one random murder really become that popular, that fast? To the point where there are bootleg keychains being sold? I don't know...seemed kinda out there to me. And are you really allowed to publicly slander people like she does? And in the diner...she walks in and everyone recognizes her? Mostly old people? In this hick town with poor cell reception old folks are computer savvy and watch podcasts?

Second...that drunk person running into her. Cheap jump scare. And when she recognizes Cody in a parking lot, someone I assume she's only ever seen a photo of, who happens to be there at the exact time she is. There are a few more conveniences that struck me throughout.

I just didn't buy the story. We have no idea why Ana chose this particular murder out of thousands. We know nothing about Dora. And I found the whole extreme popularity of a pretty new podcast to be unbelievable. Maybe if it was an established podcast and she gained notoriety for helping to solve a case in the past...and if someone in that town had requested she take a look at Dora's case...to me that would be more believable.


  
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Quoted from Scar Tissue Films



These are the Twenty-Two building blocks from Truby's Anatomy of a Story:

Act 1
Opening Image
Ghost & Context
Problem/Need
Inciting Incident/Catalyst
Overall Desire (start low)
Ally/Allies
Opponent/Mystery
Opponent/Ally
1st Reversal & Decision: changed desire & motive


Act 2
Plan
Opponent�s Plan & 1st Counter Attack
Drive
Attack by Ally
Apparent Defeat
2nd Reversal & Decision: obsessive drive, changed desire & motive
Audience revelation about opponent-ally
3rd Reversal & Decision


Act 3
Gate, Gauntlet, Visit to Death
Battle
Self-Revelation/Thematic Revelation
Moral Decision
New Equilibrium



I read Truby after I wrote my first 2 features. When I dissected them I found that I had naturally followed this formula, without even knowing it. I think many writers do. IMO, it's just a common way to tell a story.



  
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Colkurtz8
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Quoted from mmmarnie

First, can a podcast about one random murder really become that popular, that fast? To the point where there are bootleg keychains being sold? I don't know...seemed kinda out there to me. And are you really allowed to publicly slander people like she does? And in the diner...she walks in and everyone recognizes her? Mostly old people? In this hick town with poor cell reception old folks are computer savvy and watch podcasts?


It is certainly heightened for dramatic effect but I assumed the podcast, it's subject matter and popularity was inspired by the Serial podcast.

Yeah, her open accusations of the 3 suspects was overdone and implausible. It also meant that it definitely wasn't any of them. The red herring-ness was laid on way too thick.

I didn't question Ana being infamous in the town because the podcast, being as popular as it was, had put the town 'on the map" so to speak. If they weren't the podcasting type before, they certainly are now. Every week, someone was elected to go to the local library, download it via their 56kbit/s dial up connection then file share the shit out of it!


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mmmarnie
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Quoted from Colkurtz8

Every week, someone was elected to go to the local library, download it via their 56kbit/s dial up connection then file share the shit out of it!


     that's a funny visual and something that would have pulled me in more rather than just Ana, Ana, Ana...


  
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Colkurtz8
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Quoted from mmmarnie


     that's a funny visual and something that would have pulled me in more rather than just Ana, Ana, Ana...


Surely worthy of a deleted scene on the bonus DVD


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Scar Tissue Films
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Quoted from mmmarnie


I read Truby after I wrote my first 2 features. When I dissected them I found that I had naturally followed this formula, without even knowing it. I think many writers do. IMO, it's just a common way to tell a story.



It is a common way to tell a story, but I could tell he was following specific formulas, it was really obvious throughout.

It's specific down to the nitty gritty: Like defining the hero's moral weakness, then having a moment where that moral weakness hurts someone else..in this story it's Ana's disregard for others that hurts Seth.

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James McClung
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Quoted from Colkurtz8
I concur with this completely. Although an annoying character can work too if they have some other quality i.e. comedic. There are a lot of great annoying characters in cinema.


I should've been a bit more careful here. In a comedic context, an annoying character could work great if coupled with a "straight" type or as a supporting character. Not always (the film Due Date comes to mind), but often. I don't know about an annoying protagonist, though, especially outside of comedy. Unfortunately, I'm at a loss of an example right now that isn't blatantly bottom of the barrel, e.g. Vin Diesel in XXX.

One example that kinda worked recently was Adam Sandler's character in Uncut Gems. But again, he didn't annoy me to the point where I didn't enjoy the film (more so, he annoyed the other characters and I got to watch the chaos). His character did undercut the tension for me, though, especially the ending, because I thought the character was such a lowlife.

Ana might actually be similar to the Adam Sandler character in a sense. In the beginning of both works, there isn't so much of a plot until the characters begin to deliberately imperil themselves and others out of self-interest, which is frankly compelling in its own way. Sandler's character, I found much more compelling though. He seemed to be a lot more fully realized in his badness and had something of a purer, darker vice. Social media obsession tends to be more embarrassing than anything.



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James McClung  -  February 18th, 2020, 3:44pm
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Colkurtz8
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Uncut Gems is a good example actually.

Yeah, the social media obsession is altogether more frivolous but when it's revolving around a murder it suddenly becomes serious, even if the whodunnit elements of the script are it's weakest component.


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MarkItZero
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Bit under the weather (no, not hungover!), so I'll just jump on to what others have said real quick. Overall, I thought the story was decent until the final reveals...


Quoted from Grandma Bear


One thing I did like though was that Ana's actions led that couple, that can't remember the name of right now, to take action into their own hands and thus killing the wrong person. That is something Ana should really have felt bad about, IMO.




Quoted from Scar Tissue Films

I agree, the "Fans" are probably the most interesting thing in the story, yet they are in it so little that the revelation has no power.


Agreed all around. Loved the idea of it, but there's so much missed potential.

It makes Ana fully culpable. Not only has her podcast destroyed the peace and quiet of this town, its actually causing murders. The podcast body count is now on par with the murder she's trying to solve.

Yet, I didn't feel much. The fans are in like two scenes, so maybe it was lack of overall screen time, or lack of significant reaction from Ana... all I know is it was a pretty big letdown for me.


Quoted from Scar Tissue Films

It'd be far more effective if the Cop was present throughout, was very helpful, established a strong relationship with Ana..and then there was the reveal.



Agree!


That rug really tied the room together.
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MarkItZero
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Quoted from Colkurtz8


The former. Do you believe it's necessary? I guess that will answer the latter part of your question.



Not necessary at all. Just has to be a compelling character for me to enjoy it. But I would probably never want to write one as a main character. I find the tried and true (flawed) heroic character way more fun to write.


That rug really tied the room together.
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Colkurtz8
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Quoted from MarkItZero


Not necessary at all. Just has to be a compelling character for me to enjoy it. But I would probably never want to write one as a main character. I find the tried and true (flawed) heroic character way more fun to write.


Fair enough


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StevenClark
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I may ramble incohesively…

The story wasn't anything to jump up and down about. It was pretty generic, didn't thrill me to the point where I had to turn the next page. Once I got involved I was like, yeah, I wanna know who did it, sure. However...

It was a well rounded story in that it had Ana, sort of your anti-hero. Like her or not, her curiosity drove the story. There was a clear goal - find the killer. Stakes - possible death, disappointing her legions of podcast fans. The real killer was found. The end. All wrapped up neatly in a bow. Perhaps too neat, but everything was taken care of. And it was kind of, sort of, a fun ride at times. Once in W. Virginia it got more interesting as your cast of possible murderers were maybe the most well drawn characters in the story.

Actually, now that I think more on it, I'm not quite sure what made this story sell for six figures. It wasn't great, nor impressive. Not a snore fest, mind you, but not great.

Say what you will, but this read like the writer knew exactly what he wanted to do here, I'll give him that much. How many of us have tried to write something and freaking slaved over it, trying to get every little detail right? Tie everything up and not leave any loose ends. This story looks like it was well thought out, and was certainly well executed.

For as much as it may appeal to some of the younger crowd, it's not really all that edgy. It's not a modern day Psycho or anything that monumental. I'll tell you one thing, I bet the trailer is going to look really good on this.


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MarkItZero
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A few more fever-induced ramblings...


Quoted from Grandma Bear

So, I think when you really think about it, this story isn't really about who killed Dora, see I remembered her name. It's really about what lengths Ana is willing to go in order to get her show to be the biggest and herself famous. I guess that's why the story works. As a whodunnit, it's weak.


I think you've really nailed the fundamental problem with what the writer is trying to do. He's using a story form that's ultimately about the search for truth... to tell a story about the perversion of that ideal.

The only good thing about the lame dying cat backstory is it presents a search for truth in its purest form. A child trying to find out what happened to her pet... not for fame or re-tweets or podcast memberships... but to discover what really happened.

By the end of this film, we're forced to accept (along with Seth) that any ideal Ana had towards truth-finding has been entirely corrupted.

But along the way, why should we care about this case when the main character has no real personal attachment and seems more concerned with tweets trending?

I guess you do have to have a strong ghost as Rick mentioned. At the initial podcast recording, Ana can re-tell the emotional story of how her sister died in a fire and she's reminded of it every time she thinks about Dora.

That way, we feel more initial sympathy. This case has personal significance. You could even have the crazed fan have a similar background, which is what sets off her sick obsession.

BUT... here's my idea... at the very end when Ana is trying to survive the crazed fans, she can break down and admit she made up the whole sister dying thing. It was all to drum up more support for her podcast. Crazy fan goes completely berserk at this admission, opening up an escape.

How's that sound? Completely absurd?

Okay, back to bed. Hope I don't have CORONAVIRUS!!!


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Geezis
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I'm more of a thought that as Ana was very quick to point the finger at the three suspects and send them to trial by social media, as a punishment of sorts she should have been subjected to the same scrutiny by another rival podcast.
Give her an appreciation of the angst and eventual murders of two of the people she chose to put on show.
An eye for an eye in olde religious terms.


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Quoted from Geezis
I'm more of a thought that as Ana was very quick to point the finger at the three suspects and send them to trial by social media, as a punishment of sorts she should have been subjected to the same scrutiny by another rival podcast.
Give her an appreciation of the angst and eventual murders of two of the people she chose to put on show.
An eye for an eye in olde religious terms.

Good idea.

Okay, so I think we learned a couple of things here. The number one take away for me was something that I new already, but probably had come to not worry so much about anymore, cliff hangers! Have them often and near the end of the page to keep the reader reading. Clean sparse writing where every word matters and paints clear visuals with as few words as possible. If you can do that, then you're one step ahead already. Imo, you all could have written this script. So, let's do it. Let's go write something the reader can't put down.

Thanks for taking part everyone!  



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Quoted from Grandma Bear

Good idea.

Okay, so I think we learned a couple of things here. The number one take away for me was something that I new already, but probably had come to not worry so much about anymore, cliff hangers! Have them often and near the end of the page to keep the reader reading. Clean sparse writing where every word matters and paints clear visuals with as few words as possible. If you can do that, then you're one step ahead already. Imo, you all could have written this script. So, let's do it. Let's go write something the reader can't put down.

Thanks for taking part everyone!  



Thanks for getting this started, Pia.

I never even would have known those cliffhangers were there until you pointed out the one on page 1. Then similar ones on 2, 3 and 4 and what have you. Smart tactic that I'm sure was done intentionally.

That, and I think it's so important, in any genre in fact, to have conflict and suspense regarding your characters. We certainly saw a lot of conflict with Ana and Seth -- her being so pushy to get to the truth, him not wanting to get the shit kicked out of him. Which, of course happened. And there were amounts of conflict, to one degree or another, with pretty much everyone Ana came into contact with. Hell, even the lady answering phones at the police station didn't like Ana.

Definitely something for all of us to keep in mind going forward.


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mmmarnie
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Quoted from Grandma Bear


Thanks for taking part everyone!  



This was a great exercise. Thanks, Pia!!



  
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MarkItZero
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Thank you for running this, Pia.


That rug really tied the room together.
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