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No One Lives Forever by Josh Randall & James Braddock - Short, Action - An underappreciated U.S. Marshal picks up a fugitive, unaware that the criminal's henchmen are not far behind. 11 pages - pdf, format
I'll give this one credit for trying to write a complete script with a story and characters with character, even. That's as far as I can go through with the compliments, sorry to say.
The writing is a frickin' mess in almost every way possible.
Slugs are literally terrible and in many cases incorrect. Some don't make any sense. Some have action taking place in them that is impossible. Some are missing times. Some have periods in them. Just really poorly done and it's a serious problem with the script, as it makes it very difficult to keep up with where we are and what's going on.
Lots of attempted direction in the writing, which, again, makes it tough to understand exactly what's supposed to be going on, cause alot of they "attempts" failed and turned out more confusing than anything else.
So, Argus is in his 300's and Ryan is in his 200's? Hmmm...I know...a typo, no big deal, but funny...but you do need to look at how you wrote the ages, as there seems to be something wrong here. There's an umelot or whatever over the "0" in many of the ages.
For me, the writing was really awkward throughout, more so when there was action taking place. Your use of incomplete sentence fragments, lack of subject headers, etc. made this tough for me. You also missed most of the necessary apostrophes, which again, made for an awkward read.
The action just wasn't thought through enough for it to work on the page. Just couldn't visualize much of any of it, once it got going at this airport. In theory, I think it can be engaging enough but it needs to be rewritten in a much clearer, more visual way. Writing better Slugs would sure help and make it easier to follow along.
I like that you kept this bandaged hand thing going throughout, but the payout was weak and not well done...almost anti-climatic. Good idea though for sure.
Finally, you did have a complete story here and I really appreciate that. The execution isn't there, but the effort surely is, so good job on that.
To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
Hello, Josh and James. I've just read your script and here are my thoughts.
For the most part, I thought this was an enjoyable high-octane read although I can't imagine this could be pulled off on a low budget. The script read more like the start of a full-length film than a stand-alone story but I'd consider that a virtue as it left me wanting to know more about Argus and Manes.
The one major problem I had was how Argus and his fellow US Marshals apparently handled Manes with little care. Why, for example, does Argus place Manes in the front passenger seat of his vehicle? I thought it was standard procedure for police officers to seat prisoners in the rear. Likewise, how does Manes run a finger across the plane window? Shouldn't he still be handcuffed? The only way Manes could do this is if he was cuffed with his hands loosely in front, and I can't imagine a team of US Marshals allowing that to happen. Furthermore, how does Manes get out of his seat to attack Jackson? Once again, the only way this could happen is if the US Marshall inexplicably left Manes's hands loosely cuffed in front of his body.
In terms of your action prose, I think it would read better if written in a simple and straightforward manner throughout. For example, you mention the airport hasn't seen this activity in years. Considering this is the first time we've seen the airport, there's no way to quantify that statement. I would simply mention the airport was a beehive of activity and leave it at that. There was an odd formatting issue early in the script where the symbol "Ő" appeared in place of or next to some zeros. Also, there is an unnecessary blank page at the end of the script. Here are the other things I noticed as I read through your script:
Page 1: The phrase "puts in coins into" should be "puts coins into."
Page 2: The phrase "of skull over the face" should be "of a skull over the face." The line "Stand up Manes" should be "Stand up, Manes."
Page 4: The line "Actually I'm the reject" should be "Actually, I'm the reject."
Page 5: If you are referring to a specific weapon, the phrase "45 automatic" should be ".45 ACP" or ".45 Auto."
Page 6: I believe the phrase "clocks into place" should be "locks into place."
Page 7: The phrase "Rollins' brains spits out" should be "Rollins' brains spit out."
Page 8: The phrase "bullet holed heap" should be "bullet-holed heap."
Page 9: The parenthetical "30's" should read "30s."
Page 10: The phrase "half hour or less" should be "half-hour or less" or "half an hour or less."
Page 11: The phrase "cold blooded" should be "cold-blooded."
I hope this response helps you both, and I wish you good luck with your writing.
This one had some decent action at least. But, I just didn't find the story all that compelling and there were too many gaps in logic. No way would a Marshal allow a dangerous fugitive to sit in the passenger seat next to him. Also, all those shots being fired at the plane...a plane is pretty much a rolling gas can, I don't think shooting at it is a good for either side in this story.
Didn't really get the twist at the end where Argus reveals where he got his bandaged hand. Sure, he was in Baton rouge, but so what? How does that play into the story.
Doubt this would qualify as low budget with the planes involved.
Still, at least you kept the action moving pretty much throughout the script, so there is that.
I like that there's a real complete and, relatively speaking, deep story here.
There may be too many characters for the script's own good. I say maybe because while there are a lot of names, it wasn't as convoluted as it could have been but definitely not as simplistic either. Minor characters are shooting at each other - okay. But what are the main guys doing? That's what I'm more interested in. But with a story of this magnitude I was more accepting of the larger number of characters.
The action read a little odd at times and there appeared to be some awkward slugs. For example, when Argus is by the bullet-riddled car, he slips into it but there's no new slug...so technically he's on the outside while on the inside. I mean, I figured it out and all but it does throw the reader off. Oh, this too:
"The rear left tire rolls over a dead woman's wrist." Okay - what'd I miss? Random dead woman in the field?...
It also seemed like not enough care was put into transporting Manes. 4 guys are ramsacking the US Marshals, get aboard a plane (wouldn't they transport a guy like Manes in a more secure plane? Or at least convoy him to a location that has a more secure plane?), totally destroy everything...couldn't completely buy it.
So this wasn't bad. It was interesting and I liked the ending. The meat of the thing could use a brushup.
Good job on finishing the OWC, it fit the challenge for the most part, might be a little over budget, plus there are maybe too many characters in it, and whats with them being 200 and 300 years old, is this a highlander spinoff, and what's with the squiggles above some of the 0's. Still congrats on finishing the challenge.
Well, it definately has the most action out of what I read so far, (which isn't very many yet), but there's plenty and plenty of action. I don't know how much of it can be shot on a shoe-string budget, but I don't think it could be shot as is.
There's a basis of a good story here, but there's too many gaping holes for the logic to play out, which most have been pointed out already. (The lax restraints on Manes. Sitting him in the front seat. Etc.)
Others have brought up your issues with slugs. Me, I don't really mind too much as long as you put a clear picture into my head of what's happening. But I didn't have a clear picture of much of what was happening. I knew there was a lot of action, but had no clue as to how the scene was set up or wasn't aware of any spacing or blocking. Proper slugs probably would have cleared a lot of stuff up.
So, a very good attempt here, but would have benefited a lot more if this were an FWC. (Four week challenge.)
I read this one the other day but didn't comment, so I'm gonna have to forgo the page by page comments and just go to my thoughts.
Too much action! I started skimming, to be honest. It's not that you didn't set up the characters well, set up the story well, etc...it was all just very by-the-numbers, for me.
Most people seem to agree that Hollywood is going downhill due to them being unwilling to make chances, and making the same thing over and over. I guess I would have to accuse this script of bringing nothing new to the action genre. It's a serviceable story with lots of action, but it's nothing that we haven't seen before, and I don't mean in terms of the action/style/dialogue, I mean in terms of the characters. Push these guys a little! What sets your action script aside from every DTV one in the 90s? I don't see it.
Thanks for the fun read and congrats on writing for the OWC!
Well... it's nice you tried out for the OWC. Unfortunately, I think you only fulfilled one criterion here: Action till you drop (more or less literally).
I didn't get why these three people (if they really wanted to free their boss) waited for him to arrive at the airport. Why didn't they just take him out of the car? Is that the reason why the U.S. officer placed him next to himself? :/
Also, for low-budget, you added way to many (flat ) characters and places. I had trouble understanding the story at some points because of that. You should expand it, maybe it'll be better off as a feature.
#1 No One Lives Forever - An underappreciated U.S. Marshal picks up a fugitive, unaware that the criminal's henchmen are not far behind. 11 pages.
Format: Perfect - Pretty Good - Close Enough Notes: pg5 Argus not within earshot during pg2 Keller "three guys" remark; pg8 Manes' remark occurs while Argus is still in the car, 87mph (in reverse, no less) is gonna take quite a distance more than eight or even eighty yards, what dead woman? Cruger WTF he just wait there for to be run over?; pg9 Argus' sudden location change from running over Cruger to the Airport conversation w/ Euing is rather abrupt; pg 10 need to insert a brief scene where Euing gives Argus the hanger key; Why would Argus shoot into Devlin's foot rather than center mass with a shotgun? In fact, you could probably skip the whole entire shotgun bit. There's no material need for it that his pistol can't achieve. Where did Manes go while Argus runs up and whaps Devlin? Hiding? Why didn't Argus just shoot Devlin dead? (Psst! It's an autoloader shotgun. You don't need to "pump a new round in" after you just fired it. ); cryptic ending. Action:H3ll, Yeah! - Good - Eventually - Needs More Breakdown: Tension building pages 1 - 6.5, Action begins mid-6 - 11 = 5.5 pages of action, shy of half.
Budget Considerations: Locations - Police station office, cell & exterior; community airport, jet plane interior, dirt road, airplane hanger, airport interior Props - Card cup dispensing coffee & espresso dispensing machine, (optional) pop machine, multiple temp. tattoos, (optional) goatee, police pistols, holsters, gun belts, cuffs, police radios, assorted badges, small cooler w/ ice and bottled water, Browning sniper rifle w/ scope & tripod, .45 nickel plated pistol, folder w/ documents & photo, 2x Uzi machine guns, Argus' pistol, shattered latex glass, smoker, dead woman arm/dummy, Mossberg 590 police shotgun, Costumes - Deputy uniform, others in street clothes, X# of Marshal jackets, executioner hoods, security guard uniform, Vehicles - Rental car, cars for other marshals @ airport, jet plane, white van to tear up and crash, Twin Otter plane Actors - Argus, Ryan, Keller, Manes, Jackson, Rollins, Cruger, Devlin, Ellis, Pilot (could use other actor), Euing SFX - Sniper scope vision, glass break, bullet riddle strikes, vehicle glass breaks, shot tires, car crashes, tire explosion w/sparks, van crash, Rollins' brains effect & glass splatter, Cruger kill, Devlin's foot shot, Wirework for Ellis' back flip Other - body pads for fight stunt sequences, car mount camera rig, prop weapons-master on set, would probably benefit from a commissioned score.
Budget Guesstimate:At least $10k to $20k. This is really well beyond the scope of cheap and easy + using non-SAG actors + diddling around with Adobe After Effects in post. What I like: This was a pretty good sequence composition. I liked the foul grumbliness of Manes and Argus' ever changing remarks about his injured hand. What I'd change: Delete the pg 10 "media" references, include a transition sequence between backing up over Cruger then being inside the airport with Euing, develop Argus more than the strong and silent type. How I envision this looking: Like a Michael Mann or Paul Greengrass sort of flick. Nothing low budget about it, though. What I'd like to know from the writer: This is part of a larger piece, isn't it?
Kudos for entering the OWC and going for a complete story arc. It didn't work for me, but it's not from a lack of effort. Your slugs are muddy and inconsistent. This really slowed my read, their function is to clarify and facilitate reading pace. I had a hard time following the action, which was anything but low budget. The shots you described in shootouts didn't paint a complete picture for me. No Marshal puts a prisoner in the front seat. Let alone the whole revenge angle, no one would assign that guy to the case... Unless, he wasn't supposed to pick him up, he intercepted the actual Marshal. Cuz Argus is out for some revenge, now THAT would be a cool twist.
Thanks for playing, OWCs are no fun without effort like yours!
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This was pretty decent. The writers have obviously done some character study as there a real sense of who these people are. They feel 3 dimensional, have a backstory, they can be visualised, something that was lacking in other scripts i have read. The dialouge is also crisp and effective and to me gives orientates us to a clear time and place. Kudos.
The action sequence with putting a scope on a sniper rifle, is restrictive budget wise. Don't get so specific. trying to look through an unmounted scope is pretty damn hard with the eye relief, pupil exit and it being so unsteady. Just have the guy look through a rifle scope, include the view through the scope, then back to scene.
Torn up right tire flying off the rim, not impossible to do, but difficult, may look effective, but it wouldn't really happen.
The action sequence of Cruger being 8 yards away and run over with the car, is just all wrong. How it God's name would he be able to shoot that high from eight yards away!? Just wouldn't work. More like 80 yards. He wouldn't be able to get enough elevation at that range unless he was inline or just below the targets head.
Figures are spelled out - 87 - eighty seven etc
All in all not bad - could do with some tightening.