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Safe in the Knowledge by Ian Stanley (roger dodger) - Drama - A genius safecracker tries to work his way into a rickety old safe, he comes to find, however, that it is stubbornly resistant to his efforts. Alongside the ghost/memory of his former mentor, he realises that in order to crack the safe he must first crack his own mind! - pdf, format
This is my second script read. At first, it seemed a bit awkward- quite naturally, because of the intentional chaotic cuts. However, as it proceeded, and the jigsaw puzzle cam together, the story- even the parts I didn't like before- bound itself together wonderfully. I saw the end coming some time before I read it, but the sunrise and the light made it much better than a simple line. The climax was great. The drama was quite excellent in many points. I do have a few points for improvement, but even without them this was a great read.
1)Intro. The beginning was not only chaotic, which was intentional, but it was confusing, awkward. Later it was pieced together, but the beginning had something missing. I think adding an intro, a small segment before the topsy-turvey screening begins, would help. Perhaps John speaking, talking about the eventual mental implications ("No safe is as powerful as the human mind..." only better), or a self description- perhaps mirroring the GA meeting speech, which adds some interest. In my opinion, having an opening scene which is introductory and somewhat disconnected with the rest of the plot would help.
2)Minor character development. By way of the plot, you described the main characters well, particularly (of course) John. However, characters- mainly Max and Charlie- who were more on the sidelines got less attention. I suggest adding mannerisms; that is, adding activities or habits that they preform independantly of the plot which is part of their personality. For example, Max might smoke cigars, or Charlie might play chess; you could intertwine these mannerisms into the story to create more depth of character. When we see max in the doorway, before he tells John about the deal brokered with Cath, perhaps we see nothing but a dark figure-holding a cigar. It adds a kind of color to the story and the character. Or Charlie could keep talking in terms of chess, using words like sacrifice, stalemate or check and mate. This makes the characters memorable beyond their words.
3)Insignificant details. This is the most minor of the points, but it might add the finishing polish. Often, in screenwriting, it is a good idea to, now and then, add a brief, insignificant detail that a character asks or notices. For example, one of the characters asks another what the date is, or what time is it; a character makes a slight grammatical mistake and is corrected; a person trips for a moment and then just continues walking; all these are insignificant anjd take no more than one second, but they add a little life to the script. The fact is that in the real world, random things happen. You walk down the street, you stumble into a person. You ride a bus, a person asks if he may sit beside you; things like that. They are small, forgettable details, but in a movie they add realism. So a few of these can't hurt.
Apart from those three relatively minor points, I really like this script. Good dialogue, good plot, good premise, good drama, good style. And it just flows so well about halfway through it is a very quick and streamlined read, a real pleasure. Scripts like these can often fall into cliches and annoying twists, but this one doesn't; it takes the good cliches and dumps the bad.
Wow… First off, thanks for choosing to read my screenplay (twice) and, secondly, thanks for taking the time to write such a considered and helpful review.
You've brought up some very valid points that, you can be assured, I'll definitely be thinking about when I sit down to do some more work on this.
This particular script was written for a Screenwriting Course I attended, the final project being to produce a first draft screenplay of no more than 24 pages (or 24 minutes, if you will, which we were advised was the maximum length for an Academy Short). Normally I would never, by choice, use transitions such as 'CUT TO' unless for a specific reason, however, this particular format was imposed by the Course Lecturer in this instance. If I remove these transitions it will give me some space to work changes in, hopefully without going over the 24 pages…
You are right, it is the little details that add so much realism to films/screenplays and flesh out the character's therein. The rather tight page-count meant that a lot of material had to fall by the wayside and the secondary character's were somewhat neglected…
Thanks again, Magius, for your feedback. It's much appreciated and a real boost for me as I sit down to start on my second short script (needed for a second course).
I'm very glad that you enjoyed the script and that you found it a worthwhile read.