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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Thriller Scripts  ›  Choices Moderators: bert
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  Author    Choices  (currently 1524 views)
Posted: November 3rd, 2010, 7:40pm Report to Moderator

So, what are you writing?

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Choices by Martin Cox (Chelsea) - Thriller - When a vicious gang boss beats and blackmails a top actress into hosting his sex and drugs parties, she sees no way out. But when he gets too close to her family, she makes a choice that not only brings him down but reveals her own dark secrets.  113 pages - pdf, format

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Posted: November 4th, 2010, 8:33am Report to Moderator
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The script gets off to a nice start, although

Quoted Text

Xavier roughly shoves him down and places his gun against
his head. Both Steve and the cab driver scream.

Xavier squeezes the trigger.

It is assumed that the gun went off. Stevie as a witness might be one thing; the cab driver's days are on borrowed time. But 'then smashes the gun into Paulie�s head.' At first, I thought, score one point for extra brutality. They hated this guy. turns out Xavier only pistol whipped Paulie. Empty gun? Jammed up? I have to know.

You make another error here:

Quoted Text

Jonny shoots Ryan in the head. The two enter the club.

It took me a few minutes to understand that you mean another THUG is alongside Jonny. The way this reads, though, is that Ryan was only wounded and went into the club with Jonny.

But this whole scene feels wrong.

How about Jonny asking Ryan to go inside with him and Thug, l or pulling the gun and forcing Ryan in? After all, wouldn't shooting him outside could be seen by witnesses outside. As it is, I'm not sure why Paulie gives the order that no witnesses are left behind. Under the circumstances, they can wait for Xavier and Steve to come out of Fort Apache and kill them and there are no witnesses. Perhaps it would make more sense if it happened like that, and Nick or Ryan is taking out trash, sees the alleyway shooting,and then kill or attempt to kill the two brothers. It makes more sense to me. After all, who tipped Paulie that Xavier and Stevie were already there? Someone loyal to Paulie. Someone in the club. Furthermore, there's no telling how many people are in there. And, if Paulie owns the place, that calls into question of Fort Apache being a 'clean' venue or not. Even if it was clean, there might be a few associates of his in there, maybe connected. So, aside from killing Xavier and Stevie (which he fails to do-they die later) he kills employees and customers. Gunfire will also cause property damage.

See where I'm getting at? Why go through the hassle?

At first I was surprised that Nick called Xavier "boss". But I was okay with it since he would feel betrayed by Paulie. However---that said, why would he trust Xavier? He only met Xavier once- that very evening. We get to some months later, and I'm confused. Wouldn't Paulie know by now Nick survived and/or would still be around? Wouldn't Paulie know that he had a cop's son killed which could result in extra heat on him? Wouldn't he know that Xavier is plotting a mob takeover?

As the story progresses, I find myself more interested in the mob struggle than I do with A list star Anita (if she's so A list, that makes another implausible note in the story, also, she has enough money to hire Xavier to scare Cookie. and she fears Xavier? I was willing to tolerate the Anita angle until halfway into the script where I get loads of forced exposition and OTN dialog between Anita and Collette.

While I was pleased to find out Nick's true function, it also became more clear that he had more control over Xavier. Xavier tends to get high on his own supply, and is a loose cannon to be sure. But after awhile, the Anita-Nick-Xavier connection wears out. The entire Paulie problem seems to take second fiddle. I'm still not sure who killed the cops and why. (If anything, it brings more heat down)

Overall, it's not a horrible script. with some work, it has some promise. But I tell you. Unless Nick and Antita have a fling, or that he does want to get rid of Xavier and the Anita situation is just an excuse to do so, it makes no sense whatsoever.


THE MAN (p110) is still Nick. Just say it's Nick.

Some formatting issues (p38,69, 75 for example)

Don't italic or bold italic in dialog.

STERN becomes INSPECTOR STERN on occasion.

Spell out the word okay. Okay?


"I know you want to work for Mo Fuzz. And Mo Fuzz wants you to. But first, I'm going to need to you do something for me... on spec." - Mo Fuzz, Tapeheads, 1988
my scripts on ss :
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Posted: November 6th, 2010, 7:57am Report to Moderator

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Hi Darren.

Thank you so much for taking the time and trouble to wade through my script. I really do appreciate your patience and comments.

I'll always welcome criticism as that's the only way I'm going to improve, and one day I'll be up there with the best of 'em.

Anyway, back to the script. Thanks for your comment on the opening.

When Xavier 'squeezes' the trigger he doesn't 'pull it'. A subtle difference I know and maybe I should have been clearer. But I was also trying to show that at this stage Xavier isn't the ruthless killer he turns into.

When Jonny shoots Ryan, he has left Paulie's car with another heavy and it was THEY who entered the club. Once again I guess I need to be clearer.

With the club massacre scene I was trying to show the mentality of Paulie and people like him. He had been embarrassed on his own turf and was now out for revenge. Nobody ever stands in the way of these guys and by executing everyone in the place he sends out a huge warning to others. "Don't f**k with Paulie!"

Paulie knew that Xavier and Stevie were headed for the sleaze joint because Xavier made him give the cabbie the address.

These types of guys run different levels of establishments for different classes of clientele. This was a sleaze joint which would be patronized by lowlifes, and would be run by minor soldiers like Ryan and Nick who really don't matter much in the bigger picture.

With regards to police activity and interest, I rationalized that they would ask the same question as you..."why would Paulie trash his own place?" and the fact that Stern blames Xavier for Stevie's death (who was shot by Jonny in the club) I considered the heat would be deflected from Paulie.  but I can see your point.

Nick was told by Xavier to call him "boss" during their first meeting, when Nick addressed him as "Sir".

Of course Paulie knew Xavier was around when one of his lieutenants was killed outside the club and another was dispatched by Nick with the message that "we've taken over this shit hole, we're gonna take all his business and then we're coming for him". But psychopaths think they are invincible and often react too slowly to situations.

Nick is the original 'flim-flam man'. He'll go where the power shifts, hence Anita's line to Mae,  "...keep an eye on Nick. He turned once he can turn again"

Anita's fear of Xavier is not only on a physical level, but more so that her own dark secret will be discovered.

I've been accused before of using ONT dialog and I'll go back and correct that. Thanks for the tip.

It was Nick who killed Stern and Reynolds, and the last scene is his call to Anita to confirm everything.

So, once again I thank you so much for your comments and I hope you can see where I was coming from. I realize I need to be more specific, look at the dialog and change a number of things....but I still can't quite believe I missed the Detective Stern thing. Shoot!!!

Very best regards.


My Scripts:

Hail The Cabbie. Appx. 9 pages A taxi ride to the absolute terminus.

Pink is the New Black.10 pages. Homophobes beware!

The Bullet Train. 5 pages. Economy equals retribution.

Pillow Talk. 4 pages. It's hard to bear sometimes.

The perfect Ending. 8 pages. Amy's present is her past.

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Posted: November 6th, 2010, 4:24pm Report to Moderator

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Okay.  I read the whole thing.  It's obvious a lot of work went into this, so I'm hesitant to be too hard on you.  If I boiled my entire critique down to one word it would be:  FOCUS.

These gangsters seem to have a lot of things going at once, which makes them sort of busy, I guess, but I never really develop a very clear sense of what their overriding desires are.  

On a structure note, you chose to start with Xavier's murder in prison.  This is tough because now the entire movie is in flashback and I never have to wonder what will end up happening to the guy.

You avoid a lot of pitfalls that I see in other amateur scripts on this site.  "Come late, leave early?'  No problem.  Always moves along at a pretty good clip.  A couple of times you over-describe things that come out later in dialogue, or that don't matter, but it's not over-bearing.  

You have no problem creating despicable antagonists.  Pretty much all the bad guys are horrendous, violent, and hateful.  Fine.  They deserve what they have coming.  The problem is I pretty much feel the same way about the good guys.  Anita especially.  She flips pretty easily and actually seems to enjoy getting into Xavier's bohemian party scene.  

How about Collette and Ricky.  From the first time she sees him, she wants to go out with him.  Connives, and lies to make it happen.  Then when she finally shows up at his house for the big date she blows him off?  Throws me off.  

Collette is at the party with Frankie getting so bombed she passes out, but somehow her Mother, who is the hostess, never notices?  Even when her kid is about to get raped upstairs?

Okay, like by line these were my thoughts:

Title Page:  CHOICES should be in caps.  Plus, I'm not crazy about the title.  Can you think of a movie ever produced that this would "not" fit.  They're all about choices.

Cops die in a hail of bullets.  I like this.  Quick.  Surprising.  In fact it went by so quick I almost missed it.  I can't believe I'm saying this, but this is a spot where you could actually use some gratuitous capitalization to really call attention to it.

Shitting out a sharpened tooth brush is really really gross.  But that's just my opinion.

I agree with the above about the O.K.'S.  Drove me bananas throughout.  Although, surprisingly, your number formatting was spot on.  

I giggled at, "ruggedly handsome."  This is a really cliche way to describe a character.  In one of their Southpark scripts, Terrence and Phillip are described as, "ruggedly handsome."

When Collette sees Ricky for the first time is where I started to take notice of the clunkiness and stilted quality of the dialogue.  This didn't get any better throughout.  

Collette:  Who's that?

Waiter:  Some actor.

Would be better, and sound / read more naturally in my opinion.

Anita:  Phillip has already brought the car around.
Anita:  The car's here.

The poker scene is kind of a mess.  I've played about 100,000 hands and I wonder if you've played at all.  There is no "seeing" in poker.  Strictly amateur.  In poker, you raise, call, or fold.  That's it.  No seeing.  The whole checkbook thing I found laughable considering the guy trying to write a check is a big time mobster who actually runs the club.  He'd never try it.  It wouldn't even occur to him.  Plus, in most games you can't add money to the pot that's not already on the table.  

Blocks Her.  Should be blocks her.

On nothing.  Should be Oh, nothing.

Numerous examples of this throughout.  

More's and cont'ds are cliche, and old-fashioned.  Go to the preferences screen and turn them off.

I was confused in the cab.  I thought he said his destination was Fort Apache.  (the Bronx, NY.)  But the club is also called Fort Apache?  That was my assumption.  Anyway, it's really confusing here.

Hands Rose a note and she passes out.  Laughs again from me.  Must be some fucking note huh?  What did it say?  "Great scene you just did.  By the way your husband is dead.  Have a nice day."

Guy changes into doctors clothes really fast.  Tighter if we just see him walking out of the supply closet or something.  But listening for snoring is ridiculous unless the guy has some kind of sleep disorder or something.  What's that called?  Oh yeah, narcolepsy.

While we're here, Nick's allegiance seems to switch pretty fast here.  He WAS working for the other owner of the club but as soon as Xavier shows down Quad aces he's on board with the new regime.  No waiting.  No loyalty.  Just goes with it.  

Your Britishness shows through in a couple of spots and the hospital is one of them.  When Nick pulls up to pick up his boss, he'd be coming from the left and driving on the left.  When he rolls down his window to talk, he'd be talking away from the people on the curb.  

Claydon is "pissed, fucking pisssed."  This is a piece of dialogue you can do without.  What he says should make his mood pretty evident.  The execs are all assholes.  This is not bad dramatically, but I can't believe it.  These guys pride themselves on being able to schmooze stars and get their way.  If somebody is having trouble on set they'd be the first ones there with doctors, and prescriptions, and a shoulder to cry on and all that shit.  They don't treat them like Korean factory workers.  "I don't care if her husband just died, just get her back to work!"  

I can't believe a noted mobster would stand up at a boxing match, (a fixed boxing match) and take a bow.  They'd be across town claiming they didn't know anything about it.

Page 38.  Dialogue formatted as action for some reason.

So Frankie basically frames his own brother for possession, then the next time we see the guy he's still trying to find him a job?  Better if he just kicks his sorry ass to the curb.
Example of over description:  MAID, Asian (50's) Black and white uniform.  Simply, the MAID is fine.  They'll never costume it or cast it the way you write it so why bother?  She's just the maid.  Let the producer figure it out.  Same with all the cops ages.  Cop 30's, cop 40's.  Who cares?  Cop is enough.

Page 56.  Ricky would call her cell phone, not the house phone.

One hand good, one hand bad.  I liked this part.  

Kind of hard to make a horse WIN a race.  You can make him lose, or make the other guys lose, but you can't really force him to win.  I've tried.

This is where I started to think about my FOCUS argument.  Geez, are these guys ever busy, fixing boxing matches, fixing horse races, taking murder for hire assignments, planting car bombs, extortion, drug dealing, running bohemian parties, man oh man.  When do they sleep?  Better if you pare it down to their one or two specialties.

Page 81.  Who is Sophia????

Starts to sound like a mash-up of every familiar mafia crime boss character I've ever seen.  Sometimes he's Tony Montegna from Scarface, then he's Tony Soprano, then he's Michael Corleone, then then then.  

Page 90.  He tells his brother he has a date with Collette.  The problem is I already know he has a date with her, so start this scene a little later after the exposition.

Page 90.  I laughed again.  Floor counter?  Do elevators still have floor counters? They're pretty rare here.

"I can't be found here!"  says Collette.  Okay, so she's gone back to his apartment but they find this corpse with it's throat slashed and blood all over and this tragic occurence.  What is Collette worried about?  Herself.  For no reason, since she hasn't done anything wrong.  She doesn't care about Ricky or his mental trauma.  No.  Just get me out of here.  She even makes him call her a cab before he calls 911.  What a bitch.  Makes me hate her, and their aren't many people to root for here already.

Page 101.  So Collette is all upset and what does her oh-so-loving-mother suggest?  Drugs.  "Here honey, let me give you some drugs.  I love you so much!"  Holy crap, is anybody in this movie worthy of my esteem?

After Ricky's arrest he gets in the car with Anita...with a gun.  Wouldn't have gotten in the place with it, and certainly wouldn't have gotten out with it.

Wow!  Shot three times in the chest AND stomped on but...survives!  Hurrah.  

More lines for Sophia, and I don't know who this is.  Somebody named YING had some lines earlier too, I forgot to mention.  Looks like you changed some names at some point but missed a few.  

Anyway, that's about it.  All in all a good effort.  Much better than 90% of what I read on these boards but still with some major, (but fixable) flaws.  

Your comments welcome on:  GOD GETS FIRED.  Comedy, 89 pages.  Humans are such a failure that God loses his job.  Worse, his ex-wife is appointed to oversee Earth’s destruction.  Luckily, God has a plan…but it’s not about saving us.  It’s about winning her back.
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Posted: November 7th, 2010, 5:08am Report to Moderator

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Hey Conwall.

Thank you for the read. As I said to Darren I'm so honored to think that someone has not only read my script but actually commented upon it.

I am grateful for your positive comments but more so for your advice and critique. It's obvious I still have a ways to go.

One question. How the hell did you know I'm a Brit? Is my writing that transparent? Shoot, I hope not.

Anyhow, you're right, I did put a lot of effort into this, researching things such as poker, (good spot, no I don't gamble) on the net where a number of sites talked about "I'll see you...". Maybe I misunderstood and need to revisit the poker scene.

Again, research led me to believe that lifers secret their shivs in their rectum to avoid detection, 'chemists' nowadays are so adept at drugging horses they can cause a mount to virtually stop in the last furlong and people such as Don King have been taking plaudits publicly for years. But there is so much contradiction on the net, it's difficult to filter out the real facts.

Yup, have to admit I did change the names, but holy s**t I read, re-read and scoured this script a hundred times and still missed typo's etc. Can't quite believe it.

The Collette/Ricky situation is meant to symbolize the way that all the characters manipulate either the situation and/or each other. Another revisit required.

In fact you've pointed out a major number of areas that need attention. Thank you for that, all taken on board.

You have motivated me to get back to the script and improve it, so many thanks for that and I have to agree the title "CHOICES" is pretty generic, apologies for that.

I'll return the compliment by reading A SINGLE BOUND. Please bear with me on that one.

Very best regards.


My Scripts:

Hail The Cabbie. Appx. 9 pages A taxi ride to the absolute terminus.

Pink is the New Black.10 pages. Homophobes beware!

The Bullet Train. 5 pages. Economy equals retribution.

Pillow Talk. 4 pages. It's hard to bear sometimes.

The perfect Ending. 8 pages. Amy's present is her past.

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