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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Western Scripts  ›  Brother's Keeper Moderators: bert
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Don
Posted: January 20th, 2019, 11:24am Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Brother's Keeper by John Iannucci - Western - Searching for his outlaw brother for unknown reasons, a Texas ranger runs into an evil land Barron and a widow he develops feelings for. Now, he must decide what is important to him. 115 pages - pdf format

Writer interested in feedback on this work



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-------------
You will miss 100% of the shots you don't take.
- Wayne Gretzky

Revision History (1 edits)
Don  -  February 23rd, 2019, 1:04pm
revised draft
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JohnI
Posted: January 20th, 2019, 1:10pm Report to Moderator
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Hope I get at least a read
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eldave1
Posted: January 20th, 2019, 3:04pm Report to Moderator
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John: I will try to get to more of this mid-week.

Your first page:


Quoted Text
EXT. TOWN OF GARSON PASS, TEXAS - MORNING

A church bell RINGS.

Small isolated Texas town. A church sits at the end of
the only intersection. The livery, blacksmith and other
businesses sit behind the streets.


The opening confused me a bit in terms of time and place. So from the descriptions, it's safe to assume we are in the Old West. So probably it's a dirt road (i.e., vs a paved intersection) and you need to indicate what type of intersection - i.e., certainly not a four-way since a church sits at the end of it. You also don't have to repeat stuff that it's in the header (e.g., TOWN) Also - give us the year. Something like:

EXT. TOWN OF GARSON PASS, TEXAS - MORNING

Small, isolated and dusty. The RINGING of a church bell echoes in the air.

It comes from a a church at the end of T-section where two dirt roads meet.
A livery, blacksmith and other businesses in the distance behind the church.

SUPER: 18XX

Or something like that.

EXT. STREET IN FRONT OF THE CHURCH


Quoted Text
A concerned JAKE FULLER, early forties and impeccably
dressed in black, stares down the street as he rolls a
cigarette. He reeks of coolness and confidence. Charisma
seeps out of his pours.


Might add black cowboy leathers - something like that unless he's wearing a black suit. Tell us what he's starting at.

Frightened townspeople scurry into the church.


Quoted Text
A fearful lady hustles a young girl to the church. The
child stumbles and falls in front of Jake.


I'd CAP LADY and YOUNG GIRL here.


Quoted Text
Terrified, the lady helps the child up while looking at
Jake. He smiles and tips his hat.


Nit picky - but make it more visual. e.g., Keeping an weary eye on Jake, the lady scoops up her child.


Quoted Text
Annoyed and frightened, the lady picks up the child and runs into the church.


Annoyed and frightened don't go together in my mind. And describe it - what does frightened look like. e.g., Trembling, the lady...

COLTEN (O.S.)

Like cattle to the slaughter.


Quoted Text
Annoyed, Jake turns to sees BUTCH COLTEN, thirties,


You're doing too much of the emotions (annoyed, frightened, terrified) rather than what we are seeing. Make it something like. With his jaw clenched, Jake turns...


Quoted Text
scruffy beard and a sinister smile, standing behind him.
The bell stops and the church doors close. Jake’s men put
a beam through the church doors, locking them.
Jake takes off his holstered pair of pearl-handled
pistols and hands them to Colton.


Colton or Colten?

Overall - I think the opening would be more ominous if the innocent people inside the church don't have a clue what's going on. i.e., Get rid of the lady/child outside. Show us all the innocent worshipers inside - Men, women, children - praying without a clue as to what is going on outside. I think that'll add tension.

I know the above is real nitty stuff - use as you desire. Will get to reading the story mid-week.


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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eldave1
Posted: January 20th, 2019, 6:40pm Report to Moderator
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Moving on. Through page 15.


Quoted Text
Whit acknowledges who it is to an annoyed Barry.


Last time I 'll mention it - but you do state your characters emotion (here annoyed) when you should be describing what we're seeing.


Quoted Text
his shoulder)
We clear, Kirby?
From the roof, Kirby aims rifle at Jake who slowly
circles turning Whit away from the church.


You're missing a line space here.

Noticing a lot more Colton vs Colten

The dialogue is real good, dude. It rings authentic. Nice.

Was confused by some of the action sequences but I think it's just because there's so much to keep track of. No suggestions - the lines are fine - it's just a lot to take in.

So far this has a nice vibe to it.


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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JohnI
Posted: January 21st, 2019, 12:57pm Report to Moderator
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Thanks dave
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JohnI
Posted: January 21st, 2019, 1:44pm Report to Moderator
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A couple of the obvious you found I had already corrected, but as usual you’re right on.
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eldave1
Posted: January 21st, 2019, 7:56pm Report to Moderator
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Okay - done:

Dialogue is your strongest suit IMO. Generally excellent with one or two exceptions (noted later). It's authentic and rings true.

MACRO LEVEL OBSERVATIONS

I think I mentioned it earlier, but it bears repeating. Throughout the script there are just tons of instances where you are telling is an emotion rather than describing it. You either need to delete it entirely or describe what we are seeing - not what your characters are feeling. Here's an example that has three instances in just 1/3rd of a page.


Quoted Text
Whit mounts his horse. Sue gets in the wagon
apprehensively and they pull out.

EXT. ROAD TO BIXBY - EVENING

Dusk is falling as Whit and the wagon head down the road.

A wooden post, with a sign that reads “DRAPER FARM”
points to a side road through some trees.

Elated, Sue stands and points to the sign. They turn off.

EXT. DRAPER FARM - EVENING

In disbelief, the group stop as they exit the other side
of the trees.


You can either delete the feelings. e.g.,

Whit mounts his horse. Sue gets in the wagon.

They pull out.

EXT. ROAD TO BIXBY - EVENING

Dusk is falling as Whit and the wagon head down the road.

A wooden post, with a sign that reads “DRAPER FARM”
points to a side road through some trees.

Sue stands and points to the sign. They turn off.

EXT. DRAPER FARM - EVENING

The group stop as they exit the other side
of the trees.

OR

Describe what we are seeing that would illicit these feelings. e.g.,

Whit mounts his horse. Sue hesitates, gives Whit the once over before getting in.

They pull out.

EXT. ROAD TO BIXBY - EVENING

Dusk is falling as Whit and the wagon head down the road.

A wooden post, with a sign that reads “DRAPER FARM”
points to a side road through some trees.

A broad smile on Sue's face as she stands and points to the sign.

They turn off.

EXT. DRAPER FARM - EVENING

Whit shakes his head - something ain't right.

Or whatever. The point being, this is a visual medium. We have to see or hear how your characters are feeling. You can't just tell us. Every line that you have that is akin to an angry Whit, an elated Sue, etc. etc. needs to be re-worked in this regard.

And there are a lot of places where you don't need to tell us the emotion at all because the action or setting already does that - it's implied. e.g. if you have a character looking at a grave site you don't need to say grief stricken. Now - if they're looking at a grave site and smiling - you might want to mention that. Hope this makes sense.

I think you need to find a way to have fewer characters in this story. There are a ton of them and it makes it more confusing then it has to be.  See if you can't move some of the story elements to fewer characters.

A little less kill shots as well. It's over done IMO especially in the the opening sequence.

Go through it again and look for all pedestrian verbs (e.g., looks, walks, leaves, enters, etc) to see if a more active substitute wouldn't add a little pop. Use verbs that pop – Here is an example of both – verbs and emotion. This is an example of what I'm talking about (also hits the emotion theme too).


Quoted Text
Whit leaves the jail. His face and walk show how irate he
is.


So, you got a pissed off Whit here. Don't have him "leave" (pedestrian verb) the jail. Have him storm out. e.g.,

Whit, jaw-clenched, storms out of the jail.


Quoted Text
The leader


When you are using a non-formal name for a character (LEADER) - cap the first letter when referring to them in the script.


Quoted Text
“Swede” Neilsen, sexually taunts SUE DRAPER (33) by the


I’d be a bit more specific on what you mean my sexually taunts. Not sure I’m seeing what you want me to.


Quoted Text
From the first look that Sue is attracted to Whit


Missing a word here somewhere.


Quoted Text
EXT. ROAD TO BIXBY – EVENING

Dusk is falling as Whit and the wagon head down the road.

Already got the time of day in the header. Don’t need to repeat dusk is falling.  Just put DUSK in the header and then have it have meaning. E.h., Whit lowers his  hat to shield his eyes from the glare of the setting sun.


Quoted Text
MAX NEILSEN, early twenties and the illegitimate son of
Swede, approaches with five men. They stop in front of
Whit and Sue.


Not sure you can get away with that unfilmalbe – illegitimate son. That fact has to be established in action or dialogue.


Quoted Text
INT. SWEDE’S RANCH - EVENING

DINING ROOM


You do the above in several places throughout the script. Most would go with:

INT. SWEDE’S RANCH HOUSE/DINING ROOM – EVENING

So you're putting a mini-slug right after the main header. I know you do it purposefully. I really don't think it adds anything and it wastes two lines (the mini-slug and the blank line that follows).


Quoted Text
TRIX McALESTER (4 the madam and Max’s mother, leans on
the bar and looks at Max with disdain


Max’s mother – another unfilmable.


Quoted Text
LATER
Situation is cleaned up, Bobby sits outside the jail.

You’ve changed locations here. We were outside the saloon. Should be:

EXT. TOWN JAIL – LATER


Quoted Text
This theme


ROSCOE
I’ve seen the way you look at her.
The way she looks at you. There’s
only one person you’re foolin’.

Is done a a little too much. I've read it several times in the script. i.e., the I know you like her bit. Trim it back - it gives over cooked.

Note: I would have liked more bonding between Whit and Sue’s boys

The buying land because the railroad’s coming is a kind of a tired plot point. Been done in dozens of Westerns. Think of a more unique reason Swede wants that land.

I did not care of this passage:


Quoted Text
Whit grabs Sue suddenly and kisses her passionately.

Surprised at first, she responds positively then pulls
away slightly. They exchange deep passionate looks.

She pulls him close and kisses him again.
Whit breaks away and heads to the door.

WHIT
Don’t hesitate to use it.

SUE
You don’t have to do this. We can
take the boys and go someplace
else. It’s only land.
Whit leaves. An upset, tearful Sue lashes out.

SUE
It’s not your fight. You can’t do
this to me. I won’t have another
man die on me. I won’t. I won’t.


They've not so much is kissed yet because Whit is reluctant - and the spot he picks is while she clings to life. This should not be a passionate kiss - not in this situation. It needs to be one on the cheek or the caressing of her hair. And Sue's dialogue - I won't have another man die on me - is unearned at this point. He's not her man.  

It struck me that the doctors office such an obvious place for Sue to be – why didn’t they hide her someplace else?. Swede would have figured that out much sooner.

This:


Quoted Text
JAKE
I’m your big brother and I loved
you. With our dad out of control
like that, we were the only family
we had. Then you saved my life. He
would have killed me that night.
I’m sure of that. Anyway, what
else was I suppose to do?
(hesitates)
You know, I followed your whole
career. In a lot ways, I lived the
life I could never have through
yours.


Is way too on the nose. Like you're getting in the entire premise in what exposition laden chunk of dialogue.  Again - for the most part the dialogue was real solid. This wasn't.


Quoted Text
WHIT
And a whole lo more.


lot

The script ends here:


Quoted Text
Sue kisses Whit as her and the boys board the wagon. They
head in the opposite direction.
And you wish you were with him?


Are you missing something - a page or something???

So - overall - dialogue great for the most part. Setting authentic. Some of the story elements are a bit worn. I'd keep working this. It has promise for sure.


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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JohnI
Posted: February 24th, 2019, 1:34pm Report to Moderator
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New updated script has been posted. Revised ending.
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