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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Thriller Scripts  ›  Point and Shoot Moderators: bert
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  Author    Point and Shoot  (currently 743 views)
Don
Posted: July 23rd, 2021, 9:17am Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Point And Shoot by Steven Clark - Thriller - When a shutterbug lands her dream internship with a wealthy entrepreneur, she finds herself caught between the police and a crazed killer when the boss’s wife is brutally murdered.  103 pages

Production: MOW feature, 9 acts - pdf format

Writer interested in feedback on this work



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eldave1
Posted: July 23rd, 2021, 7:00pm Report to Moderator
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Steve - first 20


Great title!

Page one- nice opening scene – an attention grabber. You may consider not having the car driving down the road towards her (have the dude waiting for her there).  Kind of odd if that he was the killer he would have drive away in the first place. But – a nit – cool opening.

Pages 2-4 didn’t work for me. The dialogue was too expositional – they are sharing information with each other that they already know – that makes it a bit inorganic. They are basically exchanging background information on high school. College, podcasts – etc.
If you need to get this information out – have it with someone who doesn’t know their background. An employer interviewing them for example.

Here:

SHERIFF PAUL JOHNSON (4, looks every bit the veteran of the force that he is, peers through binoculars down the embankment.

[quote]UNDERSHERIFF MELANIE TAYLOR (3, climbs the ridge, dusts
off, removes her gloves.

SHERIFF JOHNSON
Anything?

Taylor shakes her head.

TAYLOR
No body, if that’s what you mean.


You use Johnson’s title in his Dialogue blocks (SHERIIFF JOHNSON) – but not Taylor’s. I’m guessing that is because UNDERSHERIFF gets a little clunky to use over and over – so how bout just making her DEPUTY TAYLOR?

This:

TAYLOR
I’m thinking they ran her off the road. Somehow - somehow - she climbed back up. When they saw she wasn’t dead. Bang. Finished the job.


Was an odd conclusion for me. Why wouldn’t she just assume that they killed her then just pushed the car off the road?

The dream and the green phone thing – to me, so far, is a distraction from the thread of the story – I know you must be setting them up to be an important plot point somewhere – but for now, they are causing a bit of a drag.

Pg 17

TAYLOR
There was blood on the guard rail. From that we made a positive ID.


How did they get the DNA to match too???? i.e., they would need DNA from the scene - and - DNA from the wife.

Also – two nights is an incredibly quick turnaround for that (DNA match).

But a larger question is this – if you’re going to have the cops there already – why set up the mystery of whose car it is in the first place (i.e, the burnt plates, no VIN, etc.)?

Pg 19

ALICIA
With the cops there and everything. I just... don’t get the best feeling about this.

I think you need to have more concern on Alicia’s part then when they first see the cops.

I dig the premise of this - mysterious death at one's new employ - that's good stuff.


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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SteveClark
Posted: July 23rd, 2021, 8:34pm Report to Moderator
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Ya know, I was reading back earlier and noted, to my dismay, that pages 2-4 need to be worked much better! Lol. That’s an easy call, but a good one. So obvious I don’t know why I didn’t do it earlier.

But — the story picks up through the first act and keeps going. I think you’d like the rest of you choose to read. Thanks!


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SteveClark
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And to note ...

This is styled after your typical Lifetime thriller, hence the one minute cold open, which a lot of them seem to have. It’s my first stab at this type of script.

I beated down a thriller I watched, scene-by-scene: tension here, exposition there, more tension, jump scare, etc. So, hopefully, that is what you get.

It’s already been turned down by one prodco with the note “it’s too much crime drama.” So, we’ll see what a few others say, if they say anything at all.

My takeaway so far seems to be is that they (prodcos), for this particular type of script, don’t like to see much explanation at all in regards to things like forensics, or anything technical, or the inner workings of a killer’s rationale. They’d rather a one page explanation of why the killed did what he did — why can’t it be me who gets the girl!? — as opposed to a proper explanation like he had mother issues, was tormented as a child, etc.

In other words, keep it simple stupid.

And that’s not to say I’m knocking it, or these types of stories. It goes for rom coms and Christmas stories, too. Actually, I find the process fascinating and challenging.

And writing in a 9 act structure is interesting too. Each act out is designed to have a mini cliffhanger, to kind of get you to not change the channel after the commercial break. By doing that, it’s helped streamline my writing a little, and almost forced me to keep the story moving. By working in ten page increments, save for the first act which is usually 22-25 pages, it’s kinda like — well, I have to show this, this and this, and don’t forget that! I find it helps (forces) you to keep the story moving forward. Actually, I think it would be beneficial when I’m writing scripts that don’t follow this particular format.

Also, the MOW format should not go over 105 pages, or below 103. Pretty rigid. Most first acts play out to be around 18 minutes, which is well below 25 pages. The reason is the filmmakers
Like to have a bunch of things they can use, or toss, when filming.



Revision History (2 edits; 1 reasons shown)
SteveClark  -  July 24th, 2021, 8:07am
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Grandma Bear
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Do you have anyone in particular for production of this script? I know of a guy here in FL who's always looking for good Lifetime scripts because that is all he makes. I just never had that type of script as I like darker weirder fare...  


.
SS, is still free...
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eldave1
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Steve - hard for me to review in terms of a Lifetime format or their expectations since I am not familiar with them. So, now having finished the script - I'll just give you my comments and you can ignore what doesn't fit the Lifetime framework.

The pacing was very good for the most part -  it is a very quick read. There were other things I liked as well - but I am only going to focus on my concerns/issues - just assume there is a bunch of stuff I am not mentioning that I liked.

THE REASON TO STAY - THE REASON TO HIRE

Right around page 26 I thought there just isn't enough reason for Jesse to stay - thought it strained credulity and that you needed to develop a better reason. At page 26, she’s had the job for a single day. AND – that job turned out to be a makeshift waitress rather than a photographer – AND she discovers that her boss is a potential wife killer and that Chad is a creep. AND - she no longer gets to work with her best friend.  Who stays on the job under those circumstances???? It can't just be to complete an internship - she can do that at the nursery or a ton of other places. I dunno, there needs to be more of a justification here, IMO.

There needs to be some kind of promise to Jesse from Sanderson – something that is too hard to turn down. e.g., you complete your XX-day internship here and I will (insert something important that Jesse needs). Just making shit up - but let's say Jesse's parents are bankrupt and they are going to lose the house they love - Sanderson offers Jesse a contract - do the internship for 90 days and he will buy that house for her parents.

Flipping it - I had the same problem with Sanderson's need for Jesse in particular. I didn't buy the logic on all the staff leaving in two days because of the missing wife thing (people have bills to pay) or ever understand why Jesse was the sole and proper solution to his problem. It didn't make sense to me.

Another example of this is on page 45 – now she’s a part-time Property Manager. I’m just not buying this – he uses her as a photographer then a waitress then a property manager – I mean these are not her skill sets. AND again – why would she do it? Her passion is photography.

Long-winded way of saying -

The reason Jesse must stay with Sanderson is not compelling to me.

The reason that Sanderson views Jesses as the only one that can solve his problem is not clear to me.


Quoted Text
CHAD
You killed her for the insurance
money. Or better yet, you had
someone do it for you ‘cause you’d
never get your hands dirty, would
you?


Threw me for a loop. Insurance money???? There was never any mention of that. Do you mean estate money?

Rick’s threatening call to Jesse on the podcast was a little illogical for me. Why would he want that threat to be publicly recorded?? Why not just call her on the phone.


Quoted Text
This plot point:

INSERT: PROGRAM
FOCUS GENIE: Reduce Blur - Sharpen Images – Incredible Results!

BACK TO
Jesse gazes at the software like it’s a revelation.


Was way too convenient for me and strained logic a bit. First – wouldn’t a police force have this ability?? They have to look at images all the time. And even if they don't have the technology in-house, they have a murder, they have grainy images of a suspect and they do nothing to try and enhance those images? Also, Jesse is a photo expert. She wouldn’t be aware of this type of software from the get-go?  People I know in this field - even the ones with degrees - know about every piece of photo enhancing software on the market.

Yes, you explain it here:


Quoted Text
ALICIA
This is a pro-level program, Jess.
You think the sheriff has something
like this?
JESSE
They’re not funded by Sanderson
Shore.


But I didn't buy it. Cause they are funded by property taxes. They can go to other jurisdictions for free (like the FBI crime lab). The explanation makes them sound like keystone cops a bit.
Is not believable IMO.

There are many scenes regarding this green phone and how she is haunted by it - I kept asking myself - how come she never just replaced the green phone - trashed it?  It's giving her nightmares. She cringes whenever she sees it. A new phone would cost $19. There is a lot of script space dedicated to this green phone - For me, it wasn;t worth the payoff by the time I got to the end.

Why would Taylor wear that green bracelet like an advertisement after Jesse reported to the Sheriff that it was part of the scheme? This was another too convenient plot point for me.

Anyway - fast-paced for sure.  Well written for sure. I just think there are some logic gaps - it that is because it has to be that way for the Lifetime framework - okay. But thought you should see the notes anyway.

See what other readers think - I could be all wet here.

Best of luck.



My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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SteveClark
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Dave!

Thanks for reading! As this is my first attempt at a MOW thriller, I'll try to answer as best I can. Still a lot I don't know, but I think I may be close.


Quoted from eldave1
Steve - hard for me to review in terms of a Lifetime format or their expectations since I am not familiar with them. So, now having finished the script - I'll just give you my comments and you can ignore what doesn't fit the Lifetime framework.

The pacing was very good for the most part -  it is a very quick read. There were other things I liked as well - but I am only going to focus on my concerns/issues - just assume there is a bunch of stuff I am not mentioning that I liked.

THE REASON TO STAY - THE REASON TO HIRE

Right around page 26 I thought there just isn't enough reason for Jesse to stay - thought it strained credulity and that you needed to develop a better reason. At page 26, she’s had the job for a single day. AND – that job turned out to be a makeshift waitress rather than a photographer – AND she discovers that her boss is a potential wife killer and that Chad is a creep. AND - she no longer gets to work with her best friend.  Who stays on the job under those circumstances???? It can't just be to complete an internship - she can do that at the nursery or a ton of other places. I dunno, there needs to be more of a justification here, IMO.

I agree that Jesse needs a more compelling reason to stay on. I, half-heartedly, tried to make it more of an honor thing with her, which would also go a lot to her characterization, but I believe you're right -- it needs more. Something we can see and feel.Good call.

There needs to be some kind of promise to Jesse from Sanderson – something that is too hard to turn down. e.g., you complete your XX-day internship here and I will (insert something important that Jesse needs). Just making shit up - but let's say Jesse's parents are bankrupt and they are going to lose the house they love - Sanderson offers Jesse a contract - do the internship for 90 days and he will buy that house for her parents.

Flipping it - I had the same problem with Sanderson's need for Jesse in particular. I didn't buy the logic on all the staff leaving in two days because of the missing wife thing (people have bills to pay) or ever understand why Jesse was the sole and proper solution to his problem. It didn't make sense to me.

I didn't think the staff leaving was that bad of an idea. I didn't mean to imply that everyone left, but just enough to make things a hassle for Sanderson. But, as always, there must be a way to convey that a little better. Make his need more pressing.

Another example of this is on page 45 – now she’s a part-time Property Manager. I’m just not buying this – he uses her as a photographer then a waitress then a property manager – I mean these are not her skill sets. AND again – why would she do it? Her passion is photography.

Right, but I still wanted to show that her picture take was still part of the gig. Maybe I didn't explain that enough.

Long-winded way of saying -

The reason Jesse must stay with Sanderson is not compelling to me.

The reason that Sanderson views Jesses as the only one that can solve his problem is not clear to me.

I suppose he feels no one else is beating down his door to come work for him, with everything going on and all. Will revisit those areas.

Threw me for a loop. Insurance money???? There was never any mention of that. Do you mean estate money?

True. Will change to estate money.

Rick’s threatening call to Jesse on the podcast was a little illogical for me. Why would he want that threat to be publicly recorded?? Why not just call her on the phone.

I didn't see it as much fun if he'd called her personally. I wanted to give him a little Max Cady --he's watching, he knows when she's on the air, and makes a threat that doesn't really constitute a threat except to the person he made it to.

Was way too convenient for me and strained logic a bit. First – wouldn’t a police force have this ability?? They have to look at images all the time. And even if they don't have the technology in-house, they have a murder, they have grainy images of a suspect and they do nothing to try and enhance those images? Also, Jesse is a photo expert. She wouldn’t be aware of this type of software from the get-go?  People I know in this field - even the ones with degrees - know about every piece of photo enhancing software on the market.

Yes, you explain it here:



But I didn't buy it. Cause they are funded by property taxes. They can go to other jurisdictions for free (like the FBI crime lab). The explanation makes them sound like keystone cops a bit.
Is not believable IMO.

Good point. I thought of that as I was writing. I just need to show Jesse is ahead of them a little bit. That her imminent danger is known only to her, and when the cops find out, it may be too late.

There are many scenes regarding this green phone and how she is haunted by it - I kept asking myself - how come she never just replaced the green phone - trashed it?  It's giving her nightmares. She cringes whenever she sees it. A new phone would cost $19. There is a lot of script space dedicated to this green phone - For me, it wasn;t worth the payoff by the time I got to the end.

I like the green phone -- notice my font color??   But seriously, I thought it was a little thing I could add to give it a little more depth, something other than this crazy situation for her to overcome. So we see she's grown.

Why would Taylor wear that green bracelet like an advertisement after Jesse reported to the Sheriff that it was part of the scheme? This was another too convenient plot point for me.

At the end it was Taylor's idea to wear the bracelet and put it on Rick's wrist to pin this on him. Was that not clear?

Anyway - fast-paced for sure.  Well written for sure. I just think there are some logic gaps - it that is because it has to be that way for the Lifetime framework - okay. But thought you should see the notes anyway.

See what other readers think - I could be all wet here.

You're not all wet. You're very dry. There are things that are different when writing a script like this, but in the end it all comes down to story. A logic gap is a logic gap no matter what. Thanks again!!

Best of luck.





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eldave1
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My pleasure, Steve.

I do think you got the bones here and are 80% there. I did have a thought that got lost in my handwritten notes.

Jesse could be given more photo-related tasks rather than stuff like waitressing, project manager. Example -  years ago my Mom hire a student photographer to take pictures of all of her valuables and create a catalogue of them for estate/insurance purposes. Sanderson could have her do something like that - and - then she could get intrigued with the stuff she takes pics of - maybe even find some clues there.

Hope that makes sense


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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SteveClark
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Quoted from eldave1
My pleasure, Steve.

I do think you got the bones here and are 80% there. I did have a thought that got lost in my handwritten notes.

Jesse could be given more photo-related tasks rather than stuff like waitressing, project manager. Example -  years ago my Mom hire a student photographer to take pictures of all of her valuables and create a catalogue of them for estate/insurance purposes. Sanderson could have her do something like that - and - then she could get intrigued with the stuff she takes pics of - maybe even find some clues there.

Hope that makes sense


Yes, all good suggestions!

Still, I really like the waitressing at the beginning. Sort of a flip-flop they didn't see coming, and a quick reversal right out of the gate to echo things definitely will not be as they seem. Otherwise, helpful as always! Thanks!


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eldave1
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My pleasure - hope you get so more reads


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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K, read this last week, Steve.  But wanted you to know you have a review coming from me when I sit down and get a couple moments of free time... -A


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Yo, Dude. Just wanted to let you know that this script has been added to my list. Look for a review soon.


WITCH HUNT - horror, 77 pgs

THE 1997 TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE - horror, 82 pgs

HERE COMES THE BOGEYMAN - horror, 24 pgs
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SteveClark
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Thanks, Andrea and Zack! Look forward to your thoughts, as always!


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_ghostwriters
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Ahoy Steven,

Sorry for the late ass review it has been a crazy hell two weeks.

My 2 cents? Why only 2 cents? That's been the going rate for personal opinions for many years. Isn't the inflation taken into consideration to raise prices? or is there an inflation of personal opinion that keeps the price down? Or is it because of "The Economy"? People want cheap laughter and cheap advice?

Before I read this I took a quick glance at the 9 act structure...so I'm in uncharted waters, but it looks like you hit all the plot points... and It definitely feels more like a cable movie than a feature to me.

You have a unique outlook, this doesn't feel cookie-cutter, that is very good. LOVE the title. LOVE . IT. The very beginning of opening is when readers intuitively get a sense of 'is this gonna be good or bad'. Has to be super-tight. It reads fast and lean in the beginning which kept me going at a good clip. However -- it also gave me a feel that I'm having to digest a lot at one time because you take me so many places. Especially the surreal bits with the “lime green” phone.  I'll get to this in a moment. But first --.

The super: two weeks later, yet when Taylor and Sheriff Johnson inform Sanderson and Chad about Helen... Chad states this: Wait. This happened almost two nights ago and you’re only telling us now? So shouldn’t the super read two days instead?

When I think of crime drama I think the CSI series, Miami, New Orleans, you name it. The bits about the DNA. I can see that producer thinking it feels more like a crime drama, but personally It didn't feel like one to me. Nor probs with the quick DNA turnaround. An FBI lab can get the results in less than 24hours. However, I think it needs a bit tweaking, though.  

Here is an unasked-for brain fart thought. How inebriated with the DNA are you? Taylor and Johnson are there to give them an update on Helen, and have follow-up questions. K, were this me - I'd consider dropping the DNA bit, and re-work those few lines. Maybe they've already identified it as Helen's car, and go from there. Don't know if this suggestion would throw your following scene outta whack, but just a thought.

Oh, just a teeny weeny tiny suggestion: The internship. Dave makes a point. And if you're gonna head in that direction( giving Jess a stronger reason to stay)I'd definitely make it an offer she can't refuse. Like drowning in student debt, and he offers to pay it off, too.  

However, I don't entirely agree with her needing a stronger reason. Just as long as it's plausible. That's just my own subjective take.

Alicia; This is a pro-level program, Jess. You think the sheriff has something like this?
Jesse; They’re not funded by Sanderson Shore.
  

I'm thinking you don't need this. Secondly, If the idea here is to keep Jesse ahead of the authorities at every possible turn. K, you've been doing that so far...and this scene is further evidence of it -  don't overcook the egg. or goose. Or whatever the phrase is.

But if you decide to keep that dialog, I'd definitely tweak Jesse's line for sure.

Oooh, the box of camera equipment that Sanderson gave her -- I'm thinking why couldn't that had been a birthday present from her parents in the beginning.

Just a side note: I wanted a bit more backstory on Jesse's fear of that phone. I read those scenes twice. Still not sure I understand it. Yea, I get it, keep it simple...but I thought I'd mention it. That aside, I thought you made good use of the phone - especially when Jesse finally picks it up to thwart the killer, predictable, but good. That said, I'm not sure it delivers the knockout punch I believe you were aiming for. My dollar minus 98c.

Page 26: this line of dialogue. JESSE But not you? I think you mean Sanderson.

I had mixed feelings about that waitress bit, but I see where you're coming from. So... fair enough.

Yea, I know Chad had his issues and all, but him just walking into the police station to confess... A guilty conscious got the better of him I suppose. You see, this is what rings(forgive me) a bit weak for me. I favor getting more creative here.

Um, I figured out who the killer was earlier on.  A valiant effort throwing suspicion on Sanderson but I dismissed him quickly, Chad too. And Rick,  I just couldn't take him seriously.

Methinks your character work is good and I "got" Jesse entirely.

Alicia -- I liked her, my concern was her overshadowing Jesse. Didn't happen, but I thought I'd mention it.

When Rick calls into the podcast. I was thinking maybe have him use a digitally altered voice instead. Not to get too far into the weeds here, but Johnson and Taylor would surely recognize his voice if they had heard it. And Jesse - she's heard his voice before -- I'm thinking could she not recognize it. Just sayin'.  That aside,  I thought the scene was fine, as you've written it, but I would have opted for something else. For example:

EXT. PARK - DAY

Jesse exhales, pauses. Cramped. Goes hands to knees. Collects her breath. She resumes her jog through a secluded part of the park.

A rustling. A branch snaps. She holds up. Nervous. Scans the area. Is someone following her? A beat.  

She picks up the pace. And then, suddenly -- someone plummets into her like a train, tackles her out of frame! Her scream is immediately muffled. She’s held down by a MALE FIGURE, he wears a mask, his gloved-hand over her mouth, Then he threatens her, blah, blah, blah...


Don't use that. It's just a crap idea off the top of my head. What I'm asking is, can you think of something else to give these scenes extra voltage? I say this because the only real hiccup for me...

In order for a thriller to function optimally, there has to be a real sense of danger. Not because you didn’t have any suspense -- it was there. No doubt, a few thrills, but I just never felt Jesses' life was in any real danger until near the end when the phone plays a huge part.  Not even the scene where she was being followed. Now if the driver of that car had tried to run her off the road, or into a ditch.  

I do not discount the fact that it's still geared towards cable tv/ Hallmark...I assume. 'k, I've seen enough of those shows to realize in the grand scheme of things maybe the suspense and thrills you have is enough that it works as is.

Okay, all I can think of at the moment. Overall, I like this. I liked Jess a lot. She strikes me as a person of integrity and honor. Like I said, it's well written, and the structure is fine. The pacing is very nice, and the story intriguing. But still...me just think you could optimize things a little more.  Even if it's just punching up one of the aforementioned scenes.

As are all these comments. If they help some, great. If they don't, chuck em. They are offered as "food for thought." It's your screenplay, you will know what works with your intention and vision and what doesn't. You might have a reason for the choices I'm questioning-- I don't pretend to know. Only offering my middle-of-the-road screenwriter opinion: Not yet pro, but not a newbie, either.  Forgive the grammer errors - I wrote this on the fly. Best regards.


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EXT. PARK - DAY

Jesse exhales, pauses. Cramped. Goes hands to knees. Collects her breath. She resumes her jog through a secluded part of the park.

A rustling. A branch snaps. She holds up. Nervous. Scans the area. Is someone following her? A beat.  

She picks up the pace. And then, suddenly -- someone plummets into her like a train, tackles her out of frame! Her scream is immediately muffled. She’s held down by a MALE FIGURE, he wears a mask, his gloved-hand over her mouth, Then he threatens her, blah, blah, blah.

Andrea — I’ll get to your comments soon. Just thought I’d mention that every movie of this type has a girl jogging in a park!


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LC
Posted: August 20th, 2021, 6:01pm Report to Moderator
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So Steve, transpose that type of scene to her dark room then, or equivalent, cause...

Your opening murder scene is strong. Need a bit more of that threatening foreboding vibe where Jesse is concerned, imho.

I have a few notes coming soon too.

Funnily enough one of them is a duplicate of Andrea's other suggestion re the photographic equipment as a gift from her parents.

Anyway, more later.


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SteveClark
Posted: August 21st, 2021, 6:22am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from LC
So Steve, transpose that type of scene to her dark room then, or equivalent, cause...

Your opening murder scene is strong. Need a bit more of that threatening foreboding vibe where Jesse is concerned, imho.

I have a few notes coming soon too.

Funnily enough one of them is a duplicate of Andrea's other suggestion re the photographic equipment as a gift from her parents.

Anyway, more later.


Excellent point, Libby! Look forward to your thoughts.


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SteveClark
Posted: August 27th, 2021, 9:55pm Report to Moderator
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Andrea,

Thanks for bearing with me for so long. So much going on, work and what not, life stuff, and just sheer procrastination on my part. My apologies. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts!



Quoted from _ghostwriters
Ahoy Steven,

The super: two weeks later, yet when Taylor and Sheriff Johnson inform Sanderson and Chad about Helen... Chad states this: Wait. This happened almost two nights ago and you’re only telling us now? So shouldn’t the super read two days instead?

Nice catch. Thanks!

Here is an unasked-for brain fart thought. How inebriated with the DNA are you? Taylor and Johnson are there to give them an update on Helen, and have follow-up questions. K, were this me - I'd consider dropping the DNA bit, and re-work those few lines. Maybe they've already identified it as Helen's car, and go from there. Don't know if this suggestion would throw your following scene outta whack, but just a thought.

Yeah, another good one. I mean really, why can't they just get the vin number anyways? I was consumed with spreading this out. I guess this was just me building the suspense. I didn't want the police to know right off the bat who it was. I wanted to drag it out a little, and keep the reader reading, so to speak. I think it works, but maybe I'm wrong. Anyway, it was my goal to write little mysteries within the mysteries.

Oh, just a teeny weeny tiny suggestion: The internship. Dave makes a point. And if you're gonna head in that direction( giving Jess a stronger reason to stay)I'd definitely make it an offer she can't refuse. Like drowning in student debt, and he offers to pay it off, too.  

Will think about that, too. Writing this, I remember it was a sticking point for me, but one that I let slide. Even in the writing I was struggling to give Jesse that rock solid reason to stay the course when any sane person would have hit the road

However, I don't entirely agree with her needing a stronger reason. Just as long as it's plausible. That's just my own subjective take.
.
Alicia; This is a pro-level program, Jess. You think the sheriff has something like this?
Jesse; They’re not funded by Sanderson Shore.
  

I'm thinking you don't need this. Secondly, If the idea here is to keep Jesse ahead of the authorities at every possible turn. K, you've been doing that so far...and this scene is further evidence of it -  don't overcook the egg. or goose. Or whatever the phrase is.

Will revisit. I love the "they're not funded by Sanderson Shore" line, though!

But if you decide to keep that dialog, I'd definitely tweak Jesse's line for sure.

Oooh, the box of camera equipment that Sanderson gave her -- I'm thinking why couldn't that had been a birthday present from her parents in the beginning.

Good point. I think it was done more to further the relationship between Sanderson and Jesse. Kind of him showing her that he really really wants her to stay on, and to prove it, here's a few thousand in camera equipment. My reasoning anyway. And, in a sense, a way for him to almost guilt her into staying on.

Just a side note: I wanted a bit more backstory on Jesse's fear of that phone. I read those scenes twice. Still not sure I understand it. Yea, I get it, keep it simple...but I thought I'd mention it. That aside, I thought you made good use of the phone - especially when Jesse finally picks it up to thwart the killer, predictable, but good. That said, I'm not sure it delivers the knockout punch I believe you were aiming for. My dollar minus 98c.

Did I not explain her fear of the phone? I'll have to go back again.

Page 26: this line of dialogue. JESSE But not you? I think you mean Sanderson.

Thanks

I had mixed feelings about that waitress bit, but I see where you're coming from. So... fair enough.

I really like the waitress bit. Sort of give em a turn around right off the bat, throw them the old bait and switch. Plus, the story really starts there if you think about it. Alicia and the convo between Rick and Chad, which was a good moment for some tension.

Yea, I know Chad had his issues and all, but him just walking into the police station to confess... A guilty conscious got the better of him I suppose. You see, this is what rings(forgive me) a bit weak for me. I favor getting more creative here.

I can see how you may think that way. I'm leaning towards leaving it in, but will give it a long look and see if I can't touch it up.

Um, I figured out who the killer was earlier on.  A valiant effort throwing suspicion on Sanderson but I dismissed him quickly, Chad too. And Rick,  I just couldn't take him seriously.

I like Rick.   Curious to see if anyone else guessed the killer. I tried to throw shade all around, but... Side note: I struggled with making Taylor the killer only because I knew the sheriff would be the one to gun her down, and I didn't know how that would sit with the type of people I'm trying to market this to. Could be a bit touchy, or off-putting.

Methinks your character work is good and I "got" Jesse entirely.

Thanks. It could always be better.

Alicia -- I liked her, my concern was her overshadowing Jesse. Didn't happen, but I thought I'd mention it.

That's why I got rid of Alicia early on, and kind of let her call things from the sidelines. I was very aware of that.

When Rick calls into the podcast. I was thinking maybe have him use a digitally altered voice instead. Not to get too far into the weeds here, but Johnson and Taylor would surely recognize his voice if they had heard it. And Jesse - she's heard his voice before -- I'm thinking could she not recognize it. Just sayin'.  That aside,  I thought the scene was fine, as you've written it, but I would have opted for something else. For example:

EXT. PARK - DAY

Jesse exhales, pauses. Cramped. Goes hands to knees. Collects her breath. She resumes her jog through a secluded part of the park.

A rustling. A branch snaps. She holds up. Nervous. Scans the area. Is someone following her? A beat.  

She picks up the pace. And then, suddenly -- someone plummets into her like a train, tackles her out of frame! Her scream is immediately muffled. She’s held down by a MALE FIGURE, he wears a mask, his gloved-hand over her mouth, Then he threatens her, blah, blah, blah...


I know I responded about your jogging scene, but this doesn't sound half bad at all. Still, it remains true, all of these movies seem to have the protag doing some sort of exercise, and it's usually jogging.   That said, I like the altered voice touch because law enforcement are aware of who he is already.

Don't use that. It's just a crap idea off the top of my head. What I'm asking is, can you think of something else to give these scenes extra voltage? I say this because the only real hiccup for me...

In order for a thriller to function optimally, there has to be a real sense of danger. Not because you didn’t have any suspense -- it was there. No doubt, a few thrills, but I just never felt Jesses' life was in any real danger until near the end when the phone plays a huge part.  Not even the scene where she was being followed. Now if the driver of that car had tried to run her off the road, or into a ditch.  

Again, another thing I was very aware of. Making sure there were thrills and suspense. Things could always be taken up a notch or two...

I do not discount the fact that it's still geared towards cable tv/ Hallmark...I assume. 'k, I've seen enough of those shows to realize in the grand scheme of things maybe the suspense and thrills you have is enough that it works as is.

Like I said, always a spot or two to shift to a higher gear without making it too intense.

Okay, all I can think of at the moment. Overall, I like this. I liked Jess a lot. She strikes me as a person of integrity and honor. Like I said, it's well written, and the structure is fine. The pacing is very nice, and the story intriguing. But still...me just think you could optimize things a little more.  Even if it's just punching up one of the aforementioned scenes.

Agreed. Optimizing is the key word here.

As are all these comments. If they help some, great. If they don't, chuck em. They are offered as "food for thought." It's your screenplay, you will know what works with your intention and vision and what doesn't. You might have a reason for the choices I'm questioning-- I don't pretend to know. Only offering my middle-of-the-road screenwriter opinion: Not yet pro, but not a newbie, either.  Forgive the grammer errors - I wrote this on the fly. Best regards.

Your comments are important to me, and much appreciated.




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_ghostwriters
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Ahoy Steve

Urk, need caffeine. Sooooo... I went back and re-read those scenes -  Ah, ok. I'll stipulate - you did explain her fear.


Quoted Text
My reasoning anyway. And, in a sense, a way for him to almost guilt her into staying on.


Ahhh... gotcha.

Never occurred to me.


Quoted Text
So Steve, transpose that type of scene to her dark room then, or equivalent, cause...

Your opening murder scene is strong. Need a bit more of that threatening foreboding vibe where Jesse is concerned, imho.


Btw -- ditto to Libby. I agree 10000%. You did it right outta the gate with Helen.

Anywho - I'm glad some good came from my notes.


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LC
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Steve, long time coming, apologies for the delay.

First off, love the character name - well I would, wouldn't I? Made me sit up and take notice.  

Your opening scene is terrific - has great shock value and gravitas and is very well written.

You already have notes on the expositional opening scene between Jesse and Alicia, so I won't labor the point, plus I'm assuming this will be edited/changed up in the next draft?

Notes as I read, but also out of chronological order:

Considering you obviously want to keep the rotary phone as a major device, symbolic of Jesse's fears /overcoming them, but then it also coming in handy as a weapon - I think you need more back story to justify it. We need to feel more of her fear and have it clarified as to why?

https://www.simplyscripts.net/cgi-bin/Blah/Blah.pl?b-workinprogress/m-1622821502/s-new/

The ' puzzle' cake, indicating Jesse's cleverness definitely needs to be more elaborate imho. You get away with its simplicity by Jesse addressing the topic with Mom by saying -Your clues are getting easier and easier to figure out. but I think you need something cannier here.

Maybe ditch the cake altogether - or have her find something inside the cake - and maybe not straight away? Perhaps it leads to a graduation present of a different type - maybe the detective work towards the end can come from photographic software or some high-tech gadget the parents gift her. Or even the parents surprising her by converting a room in the house into a darkroom for her...instead of Sanderson loading her up with equipment. ? Yep, I had the same thought as Andrea.

A darkroom could be a terrific setpiece imho.
The photographic element of your story should be brought into focus and used more imho. (Sorry about the pun) It's a great device but underutilised.

It's just a bit too easy and doesn't indicate Jesse's special talents for sniffing things out and ingenuity.
Perhaps more creepiness can come from the Podcast too? You have a bit of that towards the finish, but it has potential to be amped up more perhaps?

Everything falls into place a bit too conveniently with the girls being offered work from a very important man.

Why would Chad (a) listen to their Podcast and (b) hire these particular girls?
Sanderson could hire anyone, why them?

Typo p.16
They trod past the girls
with no acknowledgement.

Typo p.
who quickly let’s her go

The officers turn to go. Chad grabs Taylor by the arm.

Before I realised Taylor's pivotal role in the story, I was going to suggest she stand up for herself more. My instinctive reaction to the Sheriff coming to her defense was that it appeared she wasn't capable of looking after herself. I'm on the fence now as to whether she should strongarm him herself...for obvious (non spoiler) reasons.

I'd up the ante in the scene where both girls are enlisted as waitresses.

This: -

RICK
You gotta be more sure than that,
padre. If I’m gonna move on this,
then you have to know for sure.
You...


It didn't come across to me as threatening enough in line with Alicia's reaction. For starters they're 'speaking' , not even in the midst of an argument or raised voices, so isn't it a stretch how physically intimidated Alicia is to begin with? I'll concede Chad grabbing her (he appears to do this a lot with the women) is more threatening, so I get that but if Alicia actually heard something tangible...more apparently incriminating/threatening perhaps?.

ALICIA
Don’t know. Don’t care.

She's scared.
I'd make the threat more palpable. Have it actually sound like plotting to kill or come after someone. I don't think it does at the moment.

JESSE
You didn’t catch the whole
conversation. They could’ve been
talking about anything.


Exactly.

Why does Jesse see this as the ultimate opportunity? Just cause he's a rich guy?
Maybe Jesse needs to have no other choice other than this job offer, (also Andrea's observation but I'm not copying her) otherwise why is she so determined to ignore all the creepy things surrounding Sanderson and his associates.

If Jesse's drawn to excitement and adrenaline, maybe we need to see this more? Perhaps in the opening scene with her and Alicia, instead of them reminiscing Jesse does something adventurous to capture the perfect photo - perhaps the girls are diving off a landmark in their hometown (is it Summer?) show Jesse's love of danger and thrills in an effort to get the perfect shot and composition... and Alicia hanging back as the more cautious of the two.

SPOILER:



What is (Taylor) doing roaming the scene of the crime in broad daylight just when Jesse's out there doing her recce and photographs? Seems at odds with being a smart cop. This is one section I suggest strongly that you set at night.

Have Jesse maybe have left something (a piece of equipment?) when she was out there earlier in the day perhaps. It would also add some suspense. At least make it dusk, although she’s likely have a flash on her camera so would still get a clear shot – or, if the culprit is hard to see that too might add suspense e.g. who is this person she's caught on camera?

It might add suspense for Taylor too in being detected ( a slowly revealed image) ala Kevin Costner in No Way Out. ?? That could act as a ticking clock to reveal the culprit.

And along those lines Taylor would surely then want to make that (evidence) disappear, not knowing Jesse has a copy, and then that final scene has more motivation for her being a target and Taylor coming after her.

The camera, Jesse's talent as photographer, and investigation, has to feature more imho.
Play with it more...

Speaking of: the scene where Taylor comes to Jesse's house to ask her what she knows of Sanderson – what is the purpose of that scene, except to be slightly intimidating? Be better maybe if she needs something definitively. Or did I miss something here...?

Jesse says: I think I'm a suspect. Why?

I don’t really get Rick and Chad. Are they planning on murdering Sanderson cause he decides when Chad gets his inheritance?
Along those lines, why does Chad go to the cops and confess?

Why does Rick want to kill Jesse? If it's because she has the evidence I never got the bits of the puzzle that relate to both of them?  They seem like red-herrings, but then Rick actually wants to kill Jesse?

Rick's comment: She's already scared of me. And then this:
She stops. Something catches her eye. She crosses onto the
lawn, bends down and picks something up.
It’s an empty milk bottle.


Surely at the Luncheonette Rick should be slurping a Chocolate malted, or something. ? And then the actual container be deliberately discarded on the lawn.

I love that you've given him a distinctive trademark btw, apart from the typical beer or whisky swilling badguy. V.Nice.

Jesse lays back on a blanket. Exhausted.
Okay, you know I can't possibly let that one go. Lies back....
On the dar figure’s wrist – typo

SHERIFF JOHNSON
Whoa, whoa. Hold on, Columbo. First
of all, we’re gonna need this
computer.


Very nice line, nice humour.

...Darlene, comes in from the patio deck ( could she perhaps be looking at lightning on the horizon, or dark clouds?) It'd be good for symbolism and as foreboding for the following scene, and it'd tie in with the reason their flight's been bumped.

Like falling glass. Breaking glass, perhaps?

The figure lowers it’s hood. Typo.

Again, I just do not get why Rick wants Jesse dead.

The Sheriff finds the bracelet in the drawer? You surely need to make Taylor smarter than this. Honestly this just feels a bit too convenient a plot point to catch the bad guy, or in this case, woman.

Jesse, sitting in her car with the door open.
(New slug)?

SANDERSON
Because I’m good in a room, Jesse.
Because I can still get investors
to drop their money like it was on
fire. It’s all I have left. There’s
other properties to look at. I
just... I need someone to help me
right now.
(pretty ruthless statement to make even if she is an Ex-wife.

An striking image of the dusty hand protruding from the dirt. (typo)

She looks down, trying not to avoid eye contact. (trying not to?)

Is there a significance to them being in the office for two and a half hours before the Will is finally read?

TAYLOR
I grew up in Paradise Valley. Just
like my parents before me, and
their parents... It truly is a
magical place. It’s left quite an
impression on me.
JESSE
Enough to kill for?

TAYLOR
The Green Team preserved that land
for as long they could. We really
tried. But all good things come to
an end, right?


If the the whole motive for murder is so Taylor can get her hands on Helen's money shouldn't Taylor be saying something to Jesse like: 'you're the only thing standing in the way now' (to us being able to keep Paradise Valley pristine and away from the corporate bulldozers)...or something like that.

I mentioned No Way Out. Ever see Blowout? (John Travolta/Brian de Palma). JT's character is a sound effects guy who witnesses a murder. Of course audio of Nancy Allen screaming plays a major part in the film  ; very effectively too.

The reason I mention it is just as Blowout (nearly forgot about Blow-up) plays with sound, your story plays with photography and images, dark and light, capturing a killer on film.

https://twentyfourframes.wordp.....-as-main-characters/

https://www.digitalcameraworld.com/features/25-top-films-about-fictional-photographers

You've got great bones with this, (but it does read a little thriller-light to me) and I think you have great opportunities to take it up a few notches. If there's more focus on the photographic element it would be a more intriguing, suspenseful and gripping watch. Jmho.

Hope some of this helps with draft 2.

P.S. Feel free to not having to address every point I've made.


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SteveClark
Posted: September 28th, 2021, 12:46pm Report to Moderator
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Thanks for giving this a go, Libby. Some really good points raised. Please feel free to hit me up anytime for a read!


Quoted from LC
Steve, long time coming, apologies for the delay.

First off, love the character name - well I would, wouldn't I? Made me sit up and take notice.  

Your opening scene is terrific - has great shock value and gravitas and is very well written.

You already have notes on the expositional opening scene between Jesse and Alicia, so I won't labor the point, plus I'm assuming this will be edited/changed up in the next draft?

Working on it as we speak!

Notes as I read, but also out of chronological order:

Considering you obviously want to keep the rotary phone as a major device, symbolic of Jesse's fears /overcoming them, but then it also coming in handy as a weapon - I think you need more back story to justify it. We need to feel more of her fear and have it clarified as to why?
Will look into it.

https://www.simplyscripts.net/cgi-bin/Blah/Blah.pl?b-workinprogress/m-1622821502/s-new/

The ' puzzle' cake, indicating Jesse's cleverness definitely needs to be more elaborate imho. You get away with its simplicity by Jesse addressing the topic with Mom by saying -Your clues are getting easier and easier to figure out. but I think you need something cannier here.

I'm on that too. I never cared that much for it from the beginning. Would like to take it a touch darker/more tension, then have it end up being, you know, just from the mother, but the reader doesn't know that yet.

Maybe ditch the cake altogether - or have her find something inside the cake - and maybe not straight away? Perhaps it leads to a graduation present of a different type - maybe the detective work towards the end can come from photographic software or some high-tech gadget the parents gift her. Or even the parents surprising her by converting a room in the house into a darkroom for her...instead of Sanderson loading her up with equipment. ? Yep, I had the same thought as Andrea.

A darkroom could be a terrific setpiece imho.
The photographic element of your story should be brought into focus and used more imho. (Sorry about the pun) It's a great device but underutilised.

Considered that, but with everything digital these days what's the purpose of a dark room really, unless she was kind of a throwback photographer, and I don't think I want to go there.

It's just a bit too easy and doesn't indicate Jesse's special talents for sniffing things out and ingenuity.
Perhaps more creepiness can come from the Podcast too? You have a bit of that towards the finish, but it has potential to be amped up more perhaps?

Everything falls into place a bit too conveniently with the girls being offered work from a very important man.

Why would Chad (a) listen to their Podcast and (b) hire these particular girls?
Sanderson could hire anyone, why them?

I understand.

Typo p.16
They trod past the girls
with no acknowledgement.

Typo p.
who quickly let’s her go

The officers turn to go. Chad grabs Taylor by the arm.

Before I realised Taylor's pivotal role in the story, I was going to suggest she stand up for herself more. My instinctive reaction to the Sheriff coming to her defense was that it appeared she wasn't capable of looking after herself. I'm on the fence now as to whether she should strongarm him herself...for obvious (non spoiler) reasons.

I'd up the ante in the scene where both girls are enlisted as waitresses.

This: -

RICK
You gotta be more sure than that,
padre. If I’m gonna move on this,
then you have to know for sure.
You...


It didn't come across to me as threatening enough in line with Alicia's reaction. For starters they're 'speaking' , not even in the midst of an argument or raised voices, so isn't it a stretch how physically intimidated Alicia is to begin with? I'll concede Chad grabbing her (he appears to do this a lot with the women) is more threatening, so I get that but if Alicia actually heard something tangible...more apparently incriminating/threatening perhaps?.

ALICIA
Don’t know. Don’t care.

She's scared.
I'd make the threat more palpable. Have it actually sound like plotting to kill or come after someone. I don't think it does at the moment.

JESSE
You didn’t catch the whole
conversation. They could’ve been
talking about anything.


Exactly.

I'll look over that scene.

Why does Jesse see this as the ultimate opportunity? Just cause he's a rich guy?
Maybe Jesse needs to have no other choice other than this job offer, (also Andrea's observation but I'm not copying her) otherwise why is she so determined to ignore all the creepy things surrounding Sanderson and his associates.

If Jesse's drawn to excitement and adrenaline, maybe we need to see this more? Perhaps in the opening scene with her and Alicia, instead of them reminiscing Jesse does something adventurous to capture the perfect photo - perhaps the girls are diving off a landmark in their hometown (is it Summer?) show Jesse's love of danger and thrills in an effort to get the perfect shot and composition... and Alicia hanging back as the more cautious of the two.

That's another sticking point -- Why? Why is Jesse so stuck on staying? Feel it needs to be her character, her integrity and her word. If she gave her word, she needs to stick by it. I could emphasize this throughout as well.

SPOILER:

What is (Taylor) doing roaming the scene of the crime in broad daylight just when Jesse's out there doing her recce and photographs? Seems at odds with being a smart cop. This is one section I suggest strongly that you set at night.

Have Jesse maybe have left something (a piece of equipment?) when she was out there earlier in the day perhaps. It would also add some suspense. At least make it dusk, although she’s likely have a flash on her camera so would still get a clear shot – or, if the culprit is hard to see that too might add suspense e.g. who is this person she's caught on camera?

It might add suspense for Taylor too in being detected ( a slowly revealed image) ala Kevin Costner in No Way Out. ?? That could act as a ticking clock to reveal the culprit.

Now why you gotta tease me with such a great idea like that for??? No Way Out is a perfect example, and that scene of the image being revealed is an edge-of-your-seater for sure.

And along those lines Taylor would surely then want to make that (evidence) disappear, not knowing Jesse has a copy, and then that final scene has more motivation for her being a target and Taylor coming after her.

The camera, Jesse's talent as photographer, and investigation, has to feature more imho.
Play with it more...

Hmm. I don't think they like the character to be like a gumshoe. They like their female lead smart, but seem to shy away from those finding-all-the-clues types.  

Speaking of: the scene where Taylor comes to Jesse's house to ask her what she knows of Sanderson – what is the purpose of that scene, except to be slightly intimidating? Be better maybe if she needs something definitively. Or did I miss something here...?

Going to look back on that. Don't forget Taylor was also looking for someone to pin this on, anything to throw suspicion off her and onto someone else.

Jesse says: I think I'm a suspect. Why?

Because of how close her and Sanderson are getting, maybe their in cahoots. Sanderson is a suspect, after all.

I don’t really get Rick and Chad. Are they planning on murdering Sanderson cause he decides when Chad gets his inheritance?
Along those lines, why does Chad go to the cops and confess?

Gotta read back. From what I recall, it was Chad's guilt getting the better of him that he was planning on having Sanderson bumped off.

Why does Rick want to kill Jesse? If it's because she has the evidence I never got the bits of the puzzle that relate to both of them?  They seem like red-herrings, but then Rick actually wants to kill Jesse?

Rick was sent by Taylor to kill Jesse, with Taylor knowing this so she could show up and set up Rick for the murder. Then off Jesse in the process and make it seem like Rick did it.

Rick's comment: She's already scared of me. And then this:
She stops. Something catches her eye. She crosses onto the
lawn, bends down and picks something up.
It’s an empty milk bottle.


Surely at the Luncheonette Rick should be slurping a Chocolate malted, or something. ? And then the actual container be deliberately discarded on the lawn.

I love that you've given him a distinctive trademark btw, apart from the typical beer or whisky swilling badguy. V.Nice.

Jesse lays back on a blanket. Exhausted.
Okay, you know I can't possibly let that one go. Lies back....
On the dar figure’s wrist – typo

SHERIFF JOHNSON
Whoa, whoa. Hold on, Columbo. First
of all, we’re gonna need this
computer.


Very nice line, nice humour.

...Darlene, comes in from the patio deck ( could she perhaps be looking at lightning on the horizon, or dark clouds?) It'd be good for symbolism and as foreboding for the following scene, and it'd tie in with the reason their flight's been bumped.

Like falling glass. Breaking glass, perhaps?

The figure lowers it’s hood. Typo.

Again, I just do not get why Rick wants Jesse dead.

The Sheriff finds the bracelet in the drawer? You surely need to make Taylor smarter than this. Honestly this just feels a bit too convenient a plot point to catch the bad guy, or in this case, woman.

Understood.

Jesse, sitting in her car with the door open.
(New slug)?

SANDERSON
Because I’m good in a room, Jesse.
Because I can still get investors
to drop their money like it was on
fire. It’s all I have left. There’s
other properties to look at. I
just... I need someone to help me
right now.
(pretty ruthless statement to make even if she is an Ex-wife.

An striking image of the dusty hand protruding from the dirt. (typo)

She looks down, trying not to avoid eye contact. (trying not to?)

Is there a significance to them being in the office for two and a half hours before the Will is finally read?

I figured to have them waiting that long together would be a good way for Chad to eventually snap. Two guys who don't care for each other to be in a room together that long.

TAYLOR
I grew up in Paradise Valley. Just
like my parents before me, and
their parents... It truly is a
magical place. It’s left quite an
impression on me.
JESSE
Enough to kill for?

TAYLOR
The Green Team preserved that land
for as long they could. We really
tried. But all good things come to
an end, right?


If the the whole motive for murder is so Taylor can get her hands on Helen's money shouldn't Taylor be saying something to Jesse like: 'you're the only thing standing in the way now' (to us being able to keep Paradise Valley pristine and away from the corporate bulldozers)...or something like that.

I mentioned No Way Out. Ever see Blowout? (John Travolta/Brian de Palma). JT's character is a sound effects guy who witnesses a murder. Of course audio of Nancy Allen screaming plays a major part in the film  ; very effectively too.

The reason I mention it is just as Blowout (nearly forgot about Blow-up) plays with sound, your story plays with photography and images, dark and light, capturing a killer on film.

https://twentyfourframes.wordp.....-as-main-characters/

https://www.digitalcameraworld.com/features/25-top-films-about-fictional-photographers

You've got great bones with this, (but it does read a little thriller-light to me) and I think you have great opportunities to take it up a few notches. If there's more focus on the photographic element it would be a more intriguing, suspenseful and gripping watch. Jmho.

Hope some of this helps with draft 2.

P.S. Feel free to not having to address every point I've made.






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