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Ten Million Apples by Michael Joseph Kospiah - Comedy, Dark Comedy, Thriller - A night out in the Big Apple reaches absurdity for a naive twenty-something new to the city when he loses his keys to his apartment and then loses his roommate. He journeys through New York's Upper West Side and Harlem in search of his roommate, but instead gets mixed up in surreal chance encounters with odd strangers, all leading up to an unlikely showdown with a maniacal serial killer who roams the subways. 95 pages - pdf, format
I read about a third of your script, Mike, before I put it down. Two problems, with it, made me stop reading.
First, it dragged. It dragged terribly. It read like something done in real time. We don't need to see every single step that these guys took from when they left their apartment until when they got to the bar. Their conversation didn't tell us anything to move the story along. The thirty pages that I read could easily be cut down to ten pages.
Second, I didn't find this script to be at all funny. The banter between Steve and Jimmy seemed to go on forever and I found no humor in it. It was, essentially, two guys bitching to each other.
The only thing in this script that caught my interest was the first page and what happened with the homeless guy. I was hoping to learn what happened to him. Instead, I get unfocused conversation.
Wish I could've been more helpful with this. While it's easy to explain why action or horror doesn't work, it's not the same with comedies.
I would have to say I completely disagree with dogglebe on nearly every comment he has suggested so far.
I'm on page 50 and so far it has been a fast read as you suggested. I can see where one may think it drags but I am seeing it just as a different structure. Sure, you could cut it down to 10 as not much happens but I personally enjoyed all the banter and the wandering around. And I hope there is more to it as it goes in. I am noticing alot of little things I'd like to see come into play at the end. I am also finding it very easy to visualize the characters, I tend to judge scripts by trying to visualize it as a movie as I go along and so far it's something that would entertain me.
I agree that it is hard to explain why Comedy doesn't work as to me there are some funny lines and to dogglebe there isn't much though. I just hope that some of the things I've noticed are correct and that it does indeed carry some substance later on.
The first act is something that I do need to work on, but I don't really feel that all of the conversation is unfocused. Perhaps I spend too much time on setup during the first act, but everything that is said and just about every character that appears does indeed carry substance later in the script.
But dogglebee's right to a point, I do need to strengthen the first act. I do understand that some producers actually throw out a script if it doesn't catch their interest in the first ten pages, so dogglebee's right on that one.
Dogglebee sounds like he's a decent writer, he seems to be the discussion board darling on this site receiving rave reviews for the Burnout script, so I respect his opinion. Have you had anything optioned, dogglebee? Imdb? The reviews on this site for your script The Burnout seem very encouraging and I would love to read it, but I can't download rtf format on my computer. Anything in pdf?
Sorry my script was so dreadful to read that you couldn't read past page 30...
I hope I don't disappoint with the rest of the script past page 50...tell me what you think...
All of those characters with "generic names" aren't referred to by name so I give them names the reader can associate them by. What would be the point of calling the HUSTLER Jeff if nobody ever calls him Jeff?
I do admit, the first act needs to be tightened. But if you did read up to page 30, it reads exactly as my logline suggests...
A night out in the Big Apple reaches absurdity for a naive twenty-something new to the city when he loses his keys to his apartment and then loses his roommate. He journeys through New York's Upper West Side and Harlem...
The rest of the logline describes page 30 on. But I understand your point about tightening up the first act.
I have not yet been optioned either, but there are a few producers "sitting on" Ten Million Apples, which goes to show that not everybody has the same sense of humor or opinion. My script does aim for a younger demographic (I'm not sure how old you are) but my guess is that you're not age 18-35.
My script has been reviewed by over 40 readers and though the one thing that was consistent was tightening up the first act, I've never had anybody say they just couldn't read anymore past 30.
It's a simple story about a kid who gets locked out of his apartment and retraces his footsteps in search of his roommate. I don't just set up the characters. By "set up" I mean that I use foreshadowing a lot in the first act, and many of the things they talk about or many of the things that happen to Jimmy in particular have an affect later in the story.
Format wise, I have my inciting incident by page 15 and the end of the first act at page 25. Now perhaps, I should have my inciting incident by page 10 and the end of the first act at page 20.
You're obviously a fan of Martin Scorsese because it's sort of After Hours-lite.
My only real note is that you need to work on your range.
Your writing style is very straightforward and pleasant enough. The only problem is that the thriller aspect of the script and comedy aspect have exactly the same weight. Jimmy getting a drink in the bar with Peaches matters just as much as the female cop getting attacked in the subway. It just has to have a little more depth to it for me to care more about Jimmy dying versus him finding a payphone.
And take a breath about getting into a internet squabble with someone you'll never meet. The greatest asset a writer can have is a thick skin.
Yeah, I confess that I am a Scorsese fan, but out of all his movies, I'd have to say that I enjoyed After Hours the least. Now, that's not the reason I wrote this. I actually moved to New York a few years ago and my first night out was very similar to pages 2 through 25...it was terrifying!!!
I always did have After Hours in my head when working on rewrites, but that was only because I didn't want to be derivative of the film in anyway.
I know the over all premise is very similar, and it also takes place in New York, but I really tried writing my own story using a familiar idea that not only was used in After Hours, but in movies like Wizard of Oz, Pee Wees Big Adventure, Harold and Kumar (After Hours even makes a reference to Wizard of Oz in the film).
If there is anything derivative of After Hours in my story (besides setting) please let me know.
I didn't think that Mike was arguing with me--disagreeing, yeah, but that's okay--arguing is something else--and I've had people rip me a new one after I've read their scripts.
In regards to giving minor characters names, it helps people keep track of them. Jeff is easier to remember than Bald Homeless Guy, especially when you refer to more than one homeless guy in your script. It doesn't matter if it's a one-shot cameo, but if you're coming back to them later....
There was a discussion about not finishing a script not too long ago. Some people said that a reader should finish a script before posting a comment. Others said that reading a script that you hated was sheer torture and that you shouldn't have to put yourself through the torture (I'm not saying yours was that bad). Anyway, reading a script should be fun. If it's not, and I have to read the whole, it will only put me off from reading other scripts. Also, why should I read all 140 pages of the mind-numbing 'Blood-spitting Cats,' when I can read ten shorts or another feature from a reader with a good reputation.
I've actually stopped reading scripts after five pages because they were that bad. And I posted why in my review. If Don posted a rule that I had to read every script to the end, I probably would've left the site a long time ago.
Some people like films that others don't. Same goes for books, same goes for scripts, etc. etc.
I've read scripts 10 pages in that I just did not like and did not finish. Others may have enjoyed the script, but I just couldn't get into it.
I've also walked out of movies 20 minutes in that others ended up enjoying.
If you don't like a movie or tv show, don't watch it. Same goes for a screenplay. No offense taken, dogglebe, you were just expressing your opinion, which you have the right to do. And I did admit that my first act needed work.
You sell a movie by the broad strokes and the basic premise is the same. It's not a bad thing. It's been twenty years or so since After Hours was released and the average point of reference for a producer is 3 1/2 years.
I didn't think you were being particularly combative with dogglebe. I just don't think you're doing yourself any favors with the producers "sitting on" and options nonsense. Rule of thumb, never say a word until you have the check. And it has cleared.
Sorry it's taken me a while to get this review up. However, it's here now!
So I enjoyed this but find myself in a strange situation where what kept me reading is also something that stopped me from really getting into the story - that probably doesn't make any sense does it? I'll try to elaborate...
As Tierney_Cat alluded to the script tends to swing from the absurd (I don't mean that in a derogatory way... perhaps fantastical is a better word) to the deadly serious. Whilst this meant I never knew what to expect, which added a certain suspense to the read, I also found it hard to become really involved with and "experience" the events that befall Jimmy. It's an interesting combination that I think could work but, and this is just my personal taste, you might want to tone down some of the fantastical elements (I thinking in particular of the mime).
The other thing that "took me out" of the story were the times you used coincidence. You've gone to a lot of trouble to place various set-ups early in the script and I think that makes it even more jarring when you start relying on chance later on (eg the yuppie falling onto the car infront of Jimmy, Frank finding Jimmy etc). But again, I always b*tch about scripts using coincidence so this is probably just another one of my pet hates.
Dialogue wise, I thought it flowed well and you've got some nice one-liners in there ("Rhetorical question" and "Terrorists" spring to mind). However, I do think you could cut it down quite a lot without losing any humour, information, character expression etc (eg the first scene between Frank and Jimmy on the tube - that's definitely a "flabby" scene).
The action was well written and easy to follow, but again I'd say you could stream line it, substantially in places (eg p45 the taxi ride where Jimmy sees Travis' licence - there's about 50 seconds of action here that you could show in 15).
I think if you tighten up the dialogue and descriptions you could save maybe as much as 15 pages that you can use to strengthen the "serial killer" plot - that is really the backbone of the story and I'd like to see more time spent on it to build the tension.
Jimmy I thought was pretty rounded - he b*tches about people not helping each other but then ignores people in need of help himself (I'm hoping that's not just inconsistency ). I did, however, feel his reactions in a couple of places were a bit unrealistic - calmly leaving Peaches apartment after witnessing someone blowing their brains out, getting on the train after pounding Frank rather than checking on the female cop etc.
The other characters were OK, maybe a little cliched (tough ex-cop turned vigilante, philosophising taxi driver) so you could perhaps thinks of ways to make them more "yours".
There was a clear theme (or at least I read one into it) which is good and the protagonist showed a development arc, so no complaints there.
Other things to mention...
p6 "If by some chance we get separated..." - not terribly subtle . Try something like "If I hook up with Peaches, you'll be finding your own way home..."
p9 I really don't understand the hustle ?????
p19 Why doesn't Jimmy just refill his phone (this could be a cultural thing because I think you mention his "bad credit rating" and I'm not familiar with how prepay phones work in the US)
Overall, though, I was an interesting and enjoyable read. Hope it's not based too closely on your own experiences...
If there's anything in particular you'd like me to comment on just shout.
Bored of shorts? Try a full length feature;
Red Balloons and Rollercoasters (Comedy / Romantic Dramedy)