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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Thriller Scripts  ›  Open Your Mind Moderators: bert
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  Author    Open Your Mind  (currently 5489 views)
Don
Posted: January 31st, 2011, 8:34pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Open Your Mind by Martin Lancaster - Thriller - In a world where cranial surgery is the new heroin of a deteriorating nation, a hardened ex-con fights for his sanity and his life against the cartel boss who opened his mind in a bid to control him. 97 pages - pdf, format


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RayW
Posted: February 2nd, 2011, 2:34am Report to Moderator
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Howdy, Martin

Knock that super-sized title back to 12pt courier

Remove your phone number from your title page to make it more difficult for the psycho pervs to find you.
You email is good enough in the 21st century.

ALICIA and LUKE need ages.

Gonna be kinda hard to slip a big fat @ss camera underneath pimply Luke's pillow to see his fingers coil around a small plastic device.

Regulator?
Like the scuba diving thingie?

Kinky, but okay, I guess.

Alright... I don't think that's a regulator, is it?

All 97 pages this descriptive?
You're gonna get hammered on the same novelistic stuff that I've been.
Folks are gonna ask you to rip out about... 20% of this. At least.

Delete the commas from your slug lines.

RICK's got an age. Whaddup with poor ol' ALICIA and LUKE?

Did Rick just crack an egg in the frying pan THEN sit down to read the paper?
Either Rick or you have never made eggs.

Delete that entire "On a good day... " line. That's an unfilmable.

Also, on your mini-slugs you don't really need to include that they are INT. BATHROOMS and KITCHEN.

You're calling RICK BRANNON by his last name throughout? But SARAH by her first name?
Okay.
Seems funny.

Bacon takes a while to cook. He have that already done before starting the eggs?
Go back and have him drop crackling strips of bacon on a hot plate/griddle/skillet - THEN he can sit down and enjoy his cup of joe and the paper.
THAT'll work jusssss fiiiiine.

Alright, that's enough of that.
See what kinda nit-picky things readers will be hammering you for?

Go back.
Redo.
Resubmit.



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Martin
Posted: February 2nd, 2011, 5:34am Report to Moderator
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Hi Ray, thanks for cracking this open and taking a look.

Please don't take offense at this but feedback like this is one of the reasons I stopped posting stuff here.

Truth be told, I haven't touched this script in a couple of years (it was reposted here at Don's request). My writing style has adapted and streamlined somewhat since then but I still stand by the formatting of this one, unfilmables and all. I'm well aware of the many different opinions on formatting a script, and the prescriptivist stance many people have on this matter. My formatting hasn't been a problem for the producers I've spoken to about the script, nor was it mentioned negatively in any of the coverage I received.

No offence to the format junkies but I'm more interested in feedback on the story itself, especially since I did a couple of pretty fundamental rewrites to address notes from producers, and I think the story suffered somewhat in the process.

So, feel free to tear apart the story and characters, but forgive me if I take the prescriptivist format advice with a fist of salt.

Thanks!
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mcornetto
Posted: February 2nd, 2011, 6:01am Report to Moderator
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Don't worry Martin, most people here might talk some about format but there's very few format Nazi's left here lately.   Ray's confused by conflicting criticism and therefore seems cynical.  He'll get over it.

Congrats on being the first featured script.    
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RayW
Posted: February 2nd, 2011, 9:35am Report to Moderator
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Howdy, Martin

Please don't take offense at this but feedback like this is one of the reasons I stopped posting stuff here.
I'm not offended at all.
However, I am disappointed you stopped posting because of it, though, long before I fell off the turnip truck.
http://www.simplyscripts.net/cgi-bin/Blah/Blah.pl?v-search/p-user/by-requiem/
Last post - Date Posted: September 25th, 2008, 2:54pm

Please don't turn away.
There's some sort of industry spec script standardization to be achieved and it looks like those conventions haven't changed much since I've been indoctrinated with the same (offensive) dogma two years after you last posted.
Don't know what that means other than it must be something.
Wind hasn't changed direction.

SS remains largely a spec script populated arena.
I've read lots of corroborating evidence elsewhere on the web that supports spec style is quite different than what I previously misread into a lot of online shooting scripts and "pro" scripts.
Disastrous results when posted here.
Now, once you're "in" the format flood gates are wide open.
Pretty much anything goes once your get your street cred.

My writing style has adapted and streamlined somewhat since then but I still stand by the formatting of this one, unfilmables and all.
Brave position.
How are you able to get away with unfilmables and other format transgressions?
I guessing you already have a working relationship with several producers, then?

My formatting hasn't been a problem for the producers I've spoken to about the script, nor was it mentioned negatively in any of the coverage I received.
Now I see you already have a working relationship with several producers.
Super duper.
Wish I had known that and how going into this.
That changes everything.
Format's largely out the window in your case.
Just stick to content and construct.

No offence to the format junkies but I'm more interested in feedback on the story itself, especially since I did a couple of pretty fundamental rewrites to address notes from producers, and I think the story suffered somewhat in the process.
Truth be told - up to a certain limitations, of course, I'd much prefer to do it your way, as well.
The format junkies (can I use the label "nazis" to a guy in/from Germany?) grate mightily.
Harping on the slugs and maybe with the name and age nit-pickies I can see, but the story's fundamental content and construct are what I'm after as well.

So, feel free to tear apart the story and characters, but forgive me if I take the prescriptivist format advice with a fist of salt.
I gots irons in the fire.
Will get back to that in a couple weeks.
And I'd take with less than a pich of salt since you've already got an "in" in the biz.
Cool beans.
Forgiveness not required.

Michael -
Don't worry Martin, most people here might talk some about format but there's very few format Nazi's left here lately.  
Ah, ha ha ha!
Is it April Fool's day already?

- There is writing that is too wordy, and there is writing that is too sparse. Your writing is too sparse. Which woman does what? Which one is the young one? Hard to follow if you don't answer those questions.
- You also have a lot of CONTINUED'S on the top and bottoms of pages. I'd get rid of them. Every screenplay is continued on the next page.
- if you plan on filming this yourself then fine, but if not, i'd get rid of all those camera angles.
- One thing that really bothered me was the opening montage (I forgot to mention this earlier).  The images that you show us are fast going and active, almost extreme.


Talk "some" about format?
There's lots of it.
Shall I go back and find the recent comments where the readers state they quit at page X because of format issues?

Ray's confused by conflicting criticism and therefore seems cynical.  He'll get over it.
Product of my environment. Bounces off me and sticks on you.
Not really confused any more.
People like to state opinion as fact.
Fact - "Ray, your writing is too novelistic. Cut it down some."
Fact - "Ray, your writing is too sparse. Color it up some."
Yeah.
Those are increasingly becoming subjective opinions (stated as fact) that I'm growing increasingly less influenced by.
So, maybe I'm pretty much already over it.

Which means when I state STORY things like "You don't crack eggs in a skillet and then sit down to a cup of coffee and the paper, instead drop in your bacon - THEN - sit down" that I'm probably not too full of baloney.
Or since Martin's in Frankfurt, shall I say "full of bologna"?





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Trojan
Posted: February 2nd, 2011, 9:52am Report to Moderator
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Just read through the first few pages of this after seeing Ray's comments. Formatting and everything here is fine. I'll come back to this story when I get a bit more time and read the whole thing. It starts off pretty well and it's clear you know how to write.

Ray, c'mon man, what are you talking about here? Pretty much every point you made here is incorrect, IMO. You chastise Martin twice for not including the ages of Luke and Alicia, but it is written there plain as day on the first page. Mid-twenties.

How is this too descriptive? How is it novelistic? It has short paragraphs telling us what is happening and moves at a good pace. This is how a screenplay is supposed to look. Go read a novel and then come back and read this. Not similar at all.

It's fine to have INT. in the slugs for the bathroom and kitchen. It's perfectly acceptable to have commas in the slugs also. Where are you getting your information from? I certainly wouldn't recommed Martin chop out 20% of his descriptions here, not sure why you are suggesting this.

When it comes to unfilmables, there's no actual screenwriting rule that says you can't include them. If they serve a purpose they can actually save you space. So the example here of 'On a good day she looks beautiful. Today is not a good day' actually works well. You'll actually see professional screenwriting teachers give advice about writing character descriptions, and it'll include writing unfilmables. You might write something that we can't see on camera but it will tell the actor exactly what the character is like, beyond simply what they look like and what they are wearing.

Getting off topic here, not trying to have a go at you Ray, but you really should make sure you know what you're talking about before dishing out the advice. Especially to a writer who clearly is more experienced than yourself.

Cheers,
Tim.
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Mr.Z
Posted: February 2nd, 2011, 10:04am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from RayW
How are you able to get away with unfilmables and other format transgressions? I guessing you already have a working relationship with several producers, then?


Many of the so called "transgressions" are not such. That's why the pros use them. And you don't have to be a working pro to be able to use them too; that's a myth.

The script that got me a manager had bold sluglines, plenty of unfilmables, swearing in the action lines, "we hear" (on the first page, no less), a "zoom in" camera direction (on the first page, no less) and many other "format violations".

I'm a completely unkown writer with no connections that lives in a third world country. If that doesn't prove that these "rules" are bogus, I don't know what will.



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CindyLKeller
Posted: February 2nd, 2011, 11:46am Report to Moderator
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Hey Martin,

I just finished reading this in one sitting. It was a quick read for me. I love your writing.   Your words just seemed to flow from you, onto the screen so easily.  

I have to disagree with Ray about the On a good day, she's beautiful. This isn't a good day.

In fact, I wrote down that line to comment on because I thought it was so neat.
I think it's better than writing something like: She's a beauty, but she's ill, and looks bad. Ya know?  

Your dialogue is top notch as always, too. I guess that's why I've always been a fan of your work.

I only found one typo. It was on page 68 in Alicia's dialogue.

The poster is pretty creepy, too.
I think you did a knock out job. One of the best movies I've ever read on paper.

Cindy



Award winning screenwriter
Available screenplays
TINA DARLING - 114 page Comedy
ONLY OSCAR KNOWS - 99 page Horror
A SONG IN MY HEART - 94 page Drama
HALLOWEEN GAMES - 105 page Drama
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RayW
Posted: February 2nd, 2011, 11:51am Report to Moderator
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Tim -

Getting off topic here, not trying to have a go at you Ray, but you really should make sure you know what you're talking about before dishing out the advice. Especially to a writer who clearly is more experienced than yourself.

Got no truck with you and desire to maintain that status.
I appreciate the headzup, Tim.
Making generalizations such as "Pretty much every point you made here is incorrect, IMO" keys in exactly at how subjective, person to person, a lot of what writers get beaned with here.

D@mn near most of these things I regurgitate are just that: regurgitations.
I learned these things from you guys.
I didn't bring them with me.
Product of this environment. Hi!

You're point that my points aren't necessarily correct, in your quite valid opinion, are positively reinforced by what Matias states "I'm a completely unkown writer with no connections that lives in a third world country. If that doesn't prove that these "rules" are bogus, I don't know what will."

I drank that kool-aid and survived.
I'm a sheep in wolves clothing.

You two are supporting my natural bias.

Yet, these "rules" are perpetuated with fervent zeal around here - and I... kinda.. see them elsewhere.

Here's the deal - I'm a big boy. Beat on me all you want. I can take it. So I don't mind.
In fact I ENJOY pointing out a culture's double standards.

This is one of them.

You're going to tell me that writing "early twenties" is fine for ALICIA, LUKE and RICK BRANNON then write "25" for SARAH is A-okay, squared away? - that's an incongruity that some fickle AD will "begin to develop a negative bias towards--"
Whatever.
Shut up.

What's a small plastic regulator?
I'm a pretty smart guy with a vocabulary larger than most with a mind to go hunting for what I don't know, and I've a wild imagination to boot, but I don't think scuba equipment under the pillow is generally regarded as some sort of sexual enhancement device.
So, what's Martin communicating to the reader?
This community preaches, nay - it chants "Clarity! Clarity! Clarity! By the light of the fiery cross, write with clarity!" (it helps if you effect a semi-zombie-like state when you read that.)

"He clicks the regulator button again and again and again and again and again... "
That's A-Okay?
Not... too much... too.. much... too much... rep-rep-repitition? As the thunder crashes?
Ring any bells?

"She coughs and wretches over the bowl" wouldn't be consolidated two lines up?
What happened to Holy line conservation?
Buffet style review?

Blah blah blah...

As I relied back to Martin, personally - I can read this stuff just fine.
I agree with Matias' statement - "the rules" are largely bogus.
I can read most any of the dense stuff just fine.
I don't honestly get why the dense stuff bothers people?
I don't get why unfilmables bother people.
Slugs? Whoopteedoo!
Do I know where and what I'm looking at? Then it's all okay.
Put commas, double dashes, quotations, fifteen words in them, emoticons and make 'em DAY, NIGHT, NOON, TEA TIME, SOMEWHERE IN THE GREAT BEYOND! - it just really doesn't matter.
Do I know where and what I'm looking at?
Yes!
Then it's - O. K.

Pia's not only smart but experienced at writing and she's being "challenged" by her co-producers over issues that seem questionable to her and ridiculous me.
For the life in me I wish some of our other actual directors here, like Rick, AJR and Breanne, would chime in more frequently that "HEY! FRUITCAKES! CHILL! Directors don't care. We got it already. The producers are clueless but I can film this fine."


So, which is it?
Subjectively some spec rules apply but others don't - or - they do apply and some consistency needs to be maintained, because in the two years of Martin's absence the same stuff that ran him off is still being taught to the congregation.
I'm just meaner and stupider than he is and haven't gone running off just yet.


Matias -
You and Tim are chanting me back to the liberal side of the aisle from where I departed to sit with the conservatives.



Could I film it. Yes? No? Pass? Fail?



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Martin
Posted: February 2nd, 2011, 12:20pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Cindy,

Thanks for the feedback. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Did the story work for you or were there any points of confusion? I ask because I did some pretty fundamental rewrites to address producer notes and it got to the point where I couldn't see the wood for the trees. After all that they ultimately passed and this script has been gathering virtual dust ever since.

Trojan, Matias, I appreciate the support in this age-old debate.

Ray, I didn't mean to dismiss your points out of hand. You have some valid criticisms regarding clarity.

I can see how the regulator introduction is a bit confusing even though it's described as a "small plastic device" - maybe that's not clear enough that it's completely unrelated to the breathing apparatus of the same name - in earlier drafts it was introduced later with a more detailed description. It's easily fixed.

Gotta disagree with this one though:

"He clicks the regulator button again and again and again"

To me, this implies a rhythmn building up to a climax that a director and/or editor can easily translate onscreen. More so than if I wrote "He clicks it repeatedly"

But anyway, before I left I started a thread about this very subject. It grew so big it spawned a sequel. So before this thread gets derailed with a formatting discussion, maybe you should take it here:

http://www.simplyscripts.net/cgi-bin/Blah/Blah.pl?b-screenwrite/m-1211906819/s-0/
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Grandma Bear
Posted: February 2nd, 2011, 12:22pm Report to Moderator
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This is a fantastic script that I read several years ago. I still remember it pretty clearly. I can't say that about a whole lot of scripts.

Too bad Martin doesn't come around here more often these days, but understand his reason...  A lot of people have left for the same reason. A lot of people that I miss.

As far as format goes I have made comments in regards to that too on scripts. Mostly I try to help people that seem new to screenwriting. Sometimes however it does seem to me that a writer who I know can write really well tries to emulate a style of scripts that have recently sold and in the process loses his own voice. When that happens, I will comment on that because it then seems forced.

Currently I don't give a damn about format. When my partners read Finders Keepers we talked about story, characters and dialogue. Not my crummy grammar or typos.

Anyway, another favorite of mine that Martin wrote is The Great Brain Robbery. It's absolutely hilarious. Especially if you know the characters.  Ahhhh, the good ole days!    


.
SS, is still free...
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RayW
Posted: February 2nd, 2011, 2:08pm Report to Moderator
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LOL!

Martin -
Just saw your brief on the SS front page. Didn't know it was there.

"Writer Bio: Martin Lancaster is a full-time writer and narrative designer for video games. He’s recently completed work on the story for Crysis 2 together with sci-fi author Richard Morgan. The game is due for release on March 22nd and will be available on PC, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.

His screenplays have been translated into several short films and a television pilot, and he recently embarked on his first short film project as producer/director: an adaptation of the short story ‘Berenice’ by Edgar Allan Poe. He lives in Frankfurt, Germany with his girlfriend and a chili plant named Dante. You can view some of Martin’s work on his website at MartinLancaster.Com"


Down to chuckling now.
Um... yeah.
Different rules for you.
Unless you wanna promote the liberal Matias&Tim approach, in which case the SS Samurai need to ease off on their routine format disembowelments.

I didn't mean to dismiss your points out of hand. You have some valid criticisms regarding clarity.
Eh... one or two.

To me, this implies a rhythmn building up to a climax that a director and/or editor can easily translate onscreen. More so than if I wrote "He clicks it repeatedly"
Yup. Got it the first go round.
Like I said, my bias is towards including all sorts of detail which I've had my knuckles rapped repeatedly over.
Consider it being bi-lingual, albeit poorly: I naturally write with the detail that you've included. I've (inadequately, it appears) learned how to beat down the format etiquette.
Spec Screenplay for nubes - you'd be recommended to forgo that repetition.
As a producer/director it's fine either way. Doesn't matter when you're behind the camera.
You know you're going to spend four hours of time to shoot a half-hour's worth of action and edit it down to a twenty seconds.
Big rubber WHATEVER stamp.
It'll turn out fine.

See.
Different rules.

Pia -
Currently I don't give a damn about format. When my partners read Finders Keepers we talked about story, characters and dialogue. Not my crummy grammar or typos.
Hoooraaay!

Did you guys figure out some character and dialog solutions?
I'm guessing the story elements have largely been ironed out.





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mcornetto
Posted: February 2nd, 2011, 3:42pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from RayW


Michael -
Don't worry Martin, most people here might talk some about format but there's very few format Nazi's left here lately.  
Ah, ha ha ha!
Is it April Fool's day already?

- There is writing that is too wordy, and there is writing that is too sparse. Your writing is too sparse. Which woman does what? Which one is the young one? Hard to follow if you don't answer those questions.
- You also have a lot of CONTINUED'S on the top and bottoms of pages. I'd get rid of them. Every screenplay is continued on the next page.
- if you plan on filming this yourself then fine, but if not, i'd get rid of all those camera angles.
- One thing that really bothered me was the opening montage (I forgot to mention this earlier).  The images that you show us are fast going and active, almost extreme.


Talk "some" about format?
There's lots of it.
Shall I go back and find the recent comments where the readers state they quit at page X because of format issues?

Ray's confused by conflicting criticism and therefore seems cynical.  He'll get over it.
Product of my environment. Bounces off me and sticks on you.
Not really confused any more.
People like to state opinion as fact.
Fact - "Ray, your writing is too novelistic. Cut it down some."
Fact - "Ray, your writing is too sparse. Color it up some."
Yeah.
Those are increasingly becoming subjective opinions (stated as fact) that I'm growing increasingly less influenced by.
So, maybe I'm pretty much already over it.

Which means when I state STORY things like "You don't crack eggs in a skillet and then sit down to a cup of coffee and the paper, instead drop in your bacon - THEN - sit down" that I'm probably not too full of baloney.
Or since Martin's in Frankfurt, shall I say "full of bologna"?




Ray,

You haven't been around here long enough or screenwriting long enough to see a real format Nazi.  And I'm the first to say that all comments on a thread are subjective.  There is no one answer but there is one truth - this isn't your thread so stop hijacking it.  
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Breanne Mattson
Posted: February 2nd, 2011, 5:50pm Report to Moderator
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I read this when it was originally posted. Like Pia, I never forgot it. I’ve liked Martin’s descriptions as long as I’ve known him. I’ve always felt Martin was one of the most talented writers around here.

And Martin, it’s nice to “see” you again.


Breanne


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CindyLKeller
Posted: February 3rd, 2011, 9:31am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Martin
Hey Cindy,

Thanks for the feedback. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Did the story work for you or were there any points of confusion? I ask because I did some pretty fundamental rewrites to address producer notes and it got to the point where I couldn't see the wood for the trees. After all that they ultimately passed and this script has been gathering virtual dust ever since.


Well, now that you ask, I did wonder WHY they would begin to use different drugs at the end. I mean I know WHY (to include the highs of different drugs) but I don't think you actually need it in your story. You could always have mention to the Japanese that they are thinking about including different drugs IF they decide to invest.

I mean, they did do this to control people, and it seems that's pretty much what they did by zapping them with pain if they didn't do what they wanted, and always making them come back for a refill (because they were junkies)...

... They could always get people who weren't addicted to heroin, and make them be addicted by opening their mind   like with the last girl.

It's your story, but if it were mine, I don't think I'd start using the different drugs on people. Not in part one, anyway. I think it's creepy enough.



Award winning screenwriter
Available screenplays
TINA DARLING - 114 page Comedy
ONLY OSCAR KNOWS - 99 page Horror
A SONG IN MY HEART - 94 page Drama
HALLOWEEN GAMES - 105 page Drama

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