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The L Equation by Anthony Cawood - Short, Romantic Comedy, Drama - A talented mathematician slaves over an equation that could change the face of humanity, as his dedicated assistant struggles to tell him exactly how she feels. 9 pages - pdf, format
Hey Anthony - There are two spelling mistakes and a missing word in the logline. That's bad dude, if I wasn't familiar with your previous work I would have taken this for a newbie and may not even have read any further. The logline and title are the first thing we read so take your time with it, don't rush it as an after thought!
The script itself is fine if a little predictable. I had to read it a couple of times to realise he was trying to get the program to match him up with Anna but he ignores the result anyway so I didn't see the point.
As a scientist his character would be more inclined to believe the data and results we've seen so far. He should think he has no chance with Anna, only for her to them prove him and the algorithm wrong maybe.
Another possible angle is for him to be completely oblivious to Anna as she thinks. In desperation she types in her name, then his name and for it to say 'MATCHED' for the penny to drop with him.
I hope that helps.
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People love to get comments that praise, so accept them. The others? Yours to keep or toss.
I understand the gist here. Our nerd is working on an algorithm to predict successful matches of men and women. Think E-harmony. It works for everyone except the one crucial to him--ironic. So, he tosses the algorithm to get the woman he desires.
I think you can take this idea and make it work better. For one, I didn't get the scene with the woman and mum. Is that supposed to say she likes the nerd as much as the nerd likes her? Or is there something else there?
The dialogue needs cleaning. It's a bit longish and on the nose. Take a look. Also, the tension between these two could be ratcheted up. When she arrives, she makes sure she looks good, alluring. When he interacts, he tries like hell to be charming. Give us some sexual tension.
You might get more play out of this one if the algorithm works in real time for other couples. Not the classics who have already matched but people who are looking to match. The irony heightens if the nerd can match everyone but himself and the woman he wants. The pain deepens also. At least, until he realizes that it's only probability...not infalliability.
Or if he discovers that he's classified her as something she isn't. And only discovers a data mistake at the end. Or double cross the audience and have even the data fix fail. Lots of ways to get more audience buy in. Give it a thought.
Cannot believe the typos in the logline, rookie error, DOH - will see if I can get that fixed.
What I was going for was that he's created a program that can 100% accurately predict compatability... but he realises through the course of working on it that maybe it working perfectly doesn't make it the right thing to do. So cold hard science versus emotions and nature... he sacrifices his work for a chance with Anna.
You both make some good points though so will be looking to revise in next draft.
I like the way this develops. That is, we don't know right away what he's working on and keep reading to find out. Your writing makes this easy. The dialgue seems fine to me, including the understated scene with Mum. A necessary scene, in my view.
Criticism? The ending. I had a "huh?" moment with it, maybe because it came on too quickly.
Just went back for a second read. The ending is fine. My fault -- usually I read "problem areas" twice before commenting. I didn't do that this time. My attention must've wandered without my being aware of it. I'll go back and edit my earlier comment. No, wait. Then your comment won't make sense.
Not a big fan of the first scene. The attractive woman walks in with no purpose other than to tell the guy he's a genius -- we've seen a lot of useless female characters hovering soulfully around the men they support, over the years. Gotta be a more interesting way to frame this discovery -- which I'm assuming based on the first scene is some sort of scientific proof for love? I don't read loglines -- and a more interesting dynamic to frame our two leads, here.
The second scene is entirely exposition of her unrequited love. This can be established in the first scene, guaranteed (even with the script as is). I'd cut this scene if there's not more to it.
On 5, Brendan says he's "almost there." I know this is soft sci-fi (math-fi?), but I don't think math proofs are an "almost there" kinda thing, y'know? Not a quantifiable task with a project-able ending time.
I very much like the basic premise of a mathematician frustratedly trying to prove the emotion that he's subjectively aware of. I don't think the execution is working at the moment. There's very little conflict, and there's very little character. There's not much of a hint of personality for either of these people, really, except that they're the sort of unattractive characters that get played by very attractive actors. The key element of the story is Brendan's obsession -- a mathematician who believes in proofs but doesn't trust himself. Anna, too, doesn't trust herself -- essentially, she doesn't trust that she is deserving of reciprocated love. But these traits don't really drive the story. Rather, they're just sort of incidental, because we know where the story's going and it never deviates from that track.
In order for romantic stories like this to work, the key weaknesses of characters need to push them apart as well as bringing them together -- drama is different people in the same space with different objectives, or whatever, so Brendan and Anna's divergent approaches to the same goal would ideally result in different objectives scene to scene, and thereby nearly push them apart forever before bringing them together. Maybe it's cute the first time Brendan ignores Anna because he's engrossed in his work, but the second time, once she's decided she has to tell him, it's suddenly way more painful for her to be ignored, and she storms out just when we think they're finally gonna get together. Y'know? I won't go through a list of cliches, but it's that sort of dramatic moves that this script is currently missing.
I do think that part of this stems from them just not being very dimensional characters. Almost all of the dialogue is essentially expositional, and it's hard to fall in love with characters (in a rom-com way, I mean) when that's the case. These are people with pretty amazing jobs, and they must be pretty interesting people. It'd be nice to see 'em breathe a bit, hear what they're like.
By the way, I liked the un-ironic, sincere approach to romance, here. That's needed sometimes.
Heretic / Tony - many thanks for the reads and the feedback much appreciated.
Heretic - think you have some really valid points re conflict and it being a little too straightforward, torn on this a bit because I also think that the conflict in romantic drama's is also often overdone (you mention cliches)... there's a balance to be found and not sure I've found it yet.
I don't intend for them to be played by attractive actors, but will leave that to whoever picks up the scripts up (fingers crossed)
Tony - thanks glad it worked for you.
I am seriously considering re-writing this with a gender swap for the protags too,
Read the script and it's a nice idea. It just needs some work to make it special. Not quite sure how you will accomplish that at the moment. It's written well with some nice subtext that keeps the viewer guessing.
I was expecting a twist at the end that never came and I did feel a little let down by that. I think that could be what is missing. Maybe he destroys all of his work only to discover that she really doesn't love him.