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Becoming a Property Tycoon by Alex Sarris - Short, Drama - It is the story of Scott, a homeless person who moves from living in a tin shed to moving across the spectrum and becoming a home owner and a business man (with a twist) in an exclusive suburb overnight. 10 pages - pdf, format
Page 1: "A homeless man Scott" How do we know he's homeless? Cut it IMO.
Not sure if you know this, but when first introducing a character, you need to caps their name.
The first sentence is really awkwardly phrased, I'd change it.
First you say he was sleeping on rags, but then you say a stained blanket? Stick to one, IMO.
"He composes himself and then walks out of the shed through a tin/timber door that he pushed open to reveal a rear lane way." What?? Not sure what you mean by this sentence, reads very awkwardly.
"As he approached near the end of the lane way" Also, not sure if you already know this, but scripts are written in present tense.
"and he investigates them one by one." Take the 'and' away and start a new sentence, IMO.
Three sentences in a row which start with "As he". Change it up a bit.
No need for the extra Fade Ins, and Fade outs in a short.You only need one Fade In at the start and a one Fade Out at the end.
"exclusive suburb" How do we know this?
Page 3: No need for camera directions, unless you're filming this yourself?
"you can see by his rapid eyes movement that he is thinking about his next move." Ditch that, as it's not possible for the audience to even know he's thinking about "his next move". His eyes moving would be enough.
Seems a bit strange saying that to yourself...
"where the river views are." Guessing that's somewhere in Sydney?
"then back at his house as if he is comparing the two." His house?
I'm really confused at the moment. Which house is which? Which one is he in right now?
Page 5: "You can hear the snoring clearly and he seems very comfortable." Try not to mention us, the reader in the script. We, you, our, us is never needed.
"with a close up of his face showing he is clearly enjoying himself." No camera directions needed. Also, explain what his face looks like if he's enjoying himself.
"He reached" Present tense.
Page 6: "(As he gives a wave)" Need a separate line for a parenthetical. Your screenwriting software should probably have it built in.
Give the streets some more recognizable names. 1, 2 and 3 feel lazy.
"(Viewed from behind not to show his face from here on) " I see what you want to do here but that just doesn't look good in a script. There's gotta be a better way of writing that.
Page 7: "Not taking her eyes of Scott as she is delighted at his presence" How do we know she's delighted?
Page 8: "She is overwhelmed by his good looks obvious wealth and is fidgeting and very nervous" This! You really need to cut it, as it's not needed in any way at all. Also, it's impossible for the audience to even know this if they're watching a filmed version.
"(pause)" For a pause in shorts, we use a (beat), which basically means pause.
Okay, Alex. I'm not going to focus on the story here as I think you need to work on your format more.
Is this your first script? Better be! Only joking.
Your writing is very novelistic. You try to back up everything you write by putting a reason right after. This is really not needed in screenplays. You only say what's happening on screen. Nothing else is needed. Because of this, you use a lot of unfilmables, which basically means what it sounds like. Everything you write, just think, Can I actually film this? If I film it, will I know he's homeless? Will I know what he's thinking? Will I know that he's enjoying himself?
You have a lot of unnecessary descriptions. They're really not needed. You overwrite in nearly every sentence, and you can cut down on so much. If you really wanted to, you could make this 5 pages. Let me get you an example. "He opens the door and walks out as he looks down the street at the piles of junk on the verges and then proceeds down the street." Or, "He opens the door, walks down the street." See? I cut more than half the sentence, as everything else isn't needed to tell the story.
You might not want to focus on this point, but really, try not to use "is" or "ing". I saw it a lot in the script, and you didn't even need them. "Scott is standing". How about 'Scott stands"? See, it reads a lot better.
Another thing I noticed was that you didn't break up your sentences properly, mostly because you kept cramming them with too much unnecessary information. It just doesn't read well. "Scott does this and he does this and while he sees this and then this." Easily editable.
You also need to capitalize speaking characters when you introduce them.
If my comments seemed harsh, I apologize, Alex. If you have any more questions, feel free to ask me, or any regular on this site really.
I am glad to hear you like the end, I was playing with the idea of him becoming a millionaire by finding out the painting that he found was worth a fortune. This would then be the fairytale ending (which a lot do) and I thought by him still being poor and sticking it up the rich was more effective and out of the usual. A bit tongue in cheek.
Thanks for your comment and taking the time to read it.
general -Your Action/Description could be trimmed somewhat; but the detail is generally good; building your visuals
mostly minor stuff, but: p1 -Pretty sure the FADE IN should be the first thing on the first page - certainly not AFTER a slug. -you mention the "tin shed/garage" three times in the action/description that follows, but never once the same thing. I think it would be better to call it "deserted tin shed" in your slug then refer to it as "tin shed" or "shed" thereafter in your description (adding necessary detail). -A charcaters first appearance is capitalised (ie "SCOTT") -I think props/costume etc (such as BEANIE) are uppercased, right? -STREET 1 and LADY 1 are a missed opportunity to give your locations and character some, ahem; character
p2 -oh; recycled street visuals from 'Cereal Killer' -Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House need first-letter capitalisation -Scott moves into STREET 1 (where the garbage was), then to the FORESHORE, then back to STREET 1 (now finding waste for removal) to build a house and on p3 the house moves to STREET 2... p6 it is STREET 3; your slugs have become confused
p3 -nearly every block of Action starts with 'He'; try to "mix it up"
p5 -where did he get electricity?
p7 -"Scott smile..." = "Scott smiles..."
p8 -check formatting for parentheticals -bank scenes can be covered with mini slugs -split dialogue from TELLER (ie re-slugged) -capitalise characters on first mention (TELLER, YOUNG LADY)
p9 -"bank que" = "bank queue" -"both hands being his head" = "both hands behind his head" -"Hello William Rodger speaking."="Hello William Rodgers speaking." -“Aimee” the teller - just refer to her by her character name
The payoff for this is not great, but there are some nice things in this script. The reaction to the two different appearances of Scott is better than the bank scene.
I know you were after feedback on this one and I believe this short has had some interest shown in it from some directors in Sydney?
Anyway, I’m going to be honest and not sugarcoat this.
The writing needs a lot of work technically and there numerous problems throughout IMO. As such I found the story a bit difficult to get into, sorry.
Firstly the logline is not great and needs some work.
Fade in is on the right when it should be on the left but this could be your software and no biggie really, just worth mentioning for future reference.
The scene numbers, a serious turn-off for me personally and I found them interrupting with the page numbers at times.
Characters need to be capped on first intro.
Sometimes you write in a past-tense which is very awkward to read and something you need to cut out of your writing.
You’re overwriting at times with superfluous detail that has no importance to the story, keep it short, simple and to the point.
Try to write in the present, cut down all unnecessary “ing” words and “ly” adverbs.
There is no need to fade out in the middle of the script unless it is important to your story which here for me it wasn’t.
Make your slugs more attractive and less vague – “STREET 1” is too lazy IMO. Give the reader as many visuals as possible, if done correctly you could achieve so much visuals in your slug alone.’
EXT. SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE – DAY – You wouldn’t have to go into as much detail in your action now with scene details as we all get an image instantly. Yeah I know not every scene is set at a famous landmark but hopefully you see what I’m saying.
Top of page 2, this is the definition of lazy writing IMO. Isn’t this action literally the same as in “Cereal Killer” I’m pretty sure it is?
It’s okay to have morning, afternoon, dusk and such in your slugs but I would recommend sticking to the basic day and night until you’ve grasped the technical side better.
These are just some of the main things I noticed from your first two pages but if I’m honest, there were other problems such as grammar and awkward phrases/sentences as well as repetitiveness in your action.
Also take time to proofread your script thoroughly, there were quite a few typos which I noticed.
As for the story, it has potential but wasn’t for me I’m afraid, I think the ending was okay but one question that came to mind. If this is a rich suburb in Sydney, wouldn’t the police have been called immediately and ejected Scott, probably thrown him in jail for a few days also probably.
Just let me know if you like me elaborate more on your script and I’ll do it over an e-mail for you?
I really appreciate your honesty as I want to get it right.
The truth is I have a great imagination and are good at visualizing scenes though i lack on the technical side and need to perfect my writing techniques.
I have bought a couple of screenwriting book though they go more into the story and what is required in a good script and mention very little on the writing side of things.
I accept where my downfall lies and are willing to work on it and take criticism from those who have been down the same path before me.
Steve you mention emailing me regarding the comments though i was wondering would it be possible, if you could be so kind as to mark up your comments on a copy of the script and email them back to me. That way it would be clearer and probably make more sense to me. I would really appreciate if you could do this.
You are correct i have had interest in the script though as i feel it may be very filmable and have had 3 people emailing me regarding the script, so no idea at this stage where things will go though i am (slightly) confident.
I also have been indecisive regarding the ending to the story, i have toyed with 2 alternatives and not sure if either one is the way to go ?
These include:- 1. The current ending where he remain poor though realizes he has had one over on the rich and pulled the wool over their eyes. 2. When he leaves the house and realises his pockets are empty he decides to take the painting he found and hung in the house under his arm to sell it. When he gets infront of the bank he sees the same painting hanging inside and upon entering the bank staff realise he has the original ???? 3. No Idea
Any comments or suggestions for the ending would be appreciated ?
Once again thanks for your comments and looking forward to your suggestions.
For me, you overwrite, a lot. Having received the same comments on my scripts, I can't really say much on that. I kept finding myself having to read back on your action paragraphs to try and get an idea of what was actually going on. Eventually I got frustrated and stopped reading.
As I didn't really read far into the story I can't comment on the way you tell your story.
I'll b keeping an eye on this one for more revisions, as your logline interested me from the start.
I'm afraid this had me scratching my head more then it generated laughs. This was mainly down to the overblown, confusing prose and a good idea ill handled. I thought the idea of Scott making an abode from leftover furniture has some potential as I lived in Sydney for a few months and worked in upscale neighbourhoods and boy do they leave a lot of stuff out to be brought to the scrap heap. You really pushed the plausibility levels to the max with the sheer volume of accessories he accrues but I get it was for laughs so that’s ok.
The fact that everyone treats him differently now based on his appearance in that he exudes wealth and status is again an interesting idea but I think a bit more tact and restraint wouldn’t go astray. This is obviously a criticism on superficial people who only want to know your area code, how many cars you have and where do you vacation but I think it’s played too goofy and broad to carry any weight. The bank scenes, again, have potential but for me are just too over the top and ridiculous for them to really hit home and for your point to be expressed effectively. The women's overtly flirtatious reactions to him when he's sporting his new look are overwrought too and a just come off as silly, in my opinion. Again, a bit of restraint would go a long way here.
Story and theme aside the writing needs lots of work. You need to read scripts and see how they should be written in terms of cutting out the excess, only telling us the essentials and looking to write shorter, punchier sentences. A lot of your descriptions are rambling and just flat out poorly written making the read a chore.
Plus, you have some of the longest wrylies in the history of screenwriting. For example:
TELLER (AIMEE) Really (She is overwhelmed by his good looks obvious wealth and is fidgeting and very nervous). Err Err.
-- Everything above that's in brackets should be in the action lines instead.
Overall, I do think you got funny idea here, it’s just let down by poor execution.
Just to advise you I am far from being a screenwriter and have to build up my technical side. This Script is the first i have completed even though i have done some work on a feature.
I really have a great imagination for storytelling though it is my mothers tongue that let's me down. Hee Hee Hee. After comments from people on SS I hope to refine this.
The storyline I feel is enjoyable and the idea behind the story is effective. There may be a few things that are a bit far fetched though did "Rambo" really save the world ? Watch Stallone's speech at the end of Rambo, now that is unbelievable.
I am considering a change to the ending though have not decided yet.
On the story side of things the girls are so overwhelmed at his good look they are virtually falling over each other. This may be a silly though it is a bit of lighthearted fun that I am sure many can relate to this after having made a fool of ourselves in the past over a guy or girl, I don't really have the time to build a relationship for them to get to like him so it has to happen in a flash (Love at first sight).
I really need to edit all the fluff out of the script and make it more crisp and hopefully when i repost the edited version the comments will be more positive.