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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Comedy Scripts  ›  Late Bloomer Moderators: bert
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Don
Posted: June 28th, 2013, 8:11am Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Late Bloomer by Paul Reynolds (paul27) - Comedy - A middle aged music teacher who plays guitar in a cover band can't sing a lick but thinks he can. After having minor surgery he becomes able to sing like a rock star. He is convinced to try out for a TV reality show looking for singers from everyday people. 105 pages - pdf, format


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Manowar
Posted: June 28th, 2013, 10:25am Report to Moderator
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Hey, Paul. I could only get through the first ten pages and stopped, but please don't take that personally. It's just that when I read a comedy I expect to either laugh out loud or at least be amused. But neither happened for me with this read though I think your script has the potential to achieve both.

A lot of it had to do with introducing so many characters so early and not giving them enough time for a truly comedic situation to evolve (and allow for a situation to evolve that would gain my sympathy for your MC which would make me want to follow his story).

The intro at the airport bar is a great set-up for a belly-laugh, or at least a moment so embarrassing for the main character that the reader cringes with a smile, sympathizing for your MC. But you sort of sabotaged it by 1.) cutting away from the gag to Sam's family, and 2.) not building up the gag enough.

It would be funnier if you made it more of a disaster for Sam. As it now reads, it doesn't seem like the bar crowd is really into the band, and--let's face it--if it's at an airport, not many locals will come out; it will cater to mostly flyers on layovers who just want a drink and might not give a crap about the band so there isn't that much to lose for a bad singer like Sam. IOW, make the stakes higher.

You can keep the airport lounge scene, but I think a wedding would be better--now Sam's band mates will be worried that Sam might not only ruin THEIR night, but he might ruin someone's wedding as well. Comedies also use healthy doses of drama and suspense to make gags work so don't be afraid to have your characters "play it straight" while an otherwise comedic episode is happening to them.

And drag out the moment before he crashes while giving the reader a sign that something bad might happen--suspense. For instance, maybe Sam shouldn't be the lead singer--it would be too difficult for the band to continually hide his vocals and it isn't realistic that they would get gigs if he's truly that bad. Better to make him a guitarist or bassist and every time he tried to add his background vocals, another member of the band steps up in front of him and takes over the mic, or the sound tech (damn near every bar band I know has a sound tech sitting at a sound board unless they're a wedding band) mutes Sam's mic continuously. If you keep up these constant (but quick)  cuts of Sam being prevented from actually singing, you'll create curiosity in the reader and they'll wonder what's going on--is the band jealous of Sam's brilliant vocals, or fearful of his horrendous vocals, or mad at him for some reason and are punishing him or making him look foolish as punishment? As you drag that out for a page, page and a half, tops, you set up the wedding crowd having a great time, really into the music, really into the moment...especially the bride and groom. Everything is running smoothly, things are going great--which means they're ripe for a funny disaster like Sam finally taking over a mic and destroying the song, ruining the song itself, the set, the band's rep, the wedding. Funny reaction shots from the crowd would help bring out the comedy.

That was all just a suggestion obviously, but I really think you need to do something like that in order to bring out the comedy. As I said, you got a good setup for comedy, but as it stands right now,m it doesn't deliver on the comedy. I think by not cutting away so quickly to Sam's family, you automatically delay intro'ing more characters (his family) so that the reader can focus just on the bandmates. It makes your story easier to follow. Also, please cut the instances where you have characters laugh for seemingly no reason--there weren't any lines or scenarios that particularly funny that would lead the characters to laugh, so it seemed hokey and forced, almost like you were trying to give the reader a cue as to when they should laugh. It came off as the "laugh track" of some sitcoms. If the line or scenario is funny on its own, the reader will laugh--you don't need to cue them. It comes off as manipulative. The best times to have characters laugh on screen, for me anyways, is when a character is in an absolutely embarrassing moment (maybe, shall we say, when Sam sings his heart out?) and the people around him laugh for the wrong reasons and embarrass the character, which will induce sympathy from the reader.

Some other things to consider:

Your scene "blocking." You start with an INT of the airport bar (how will an audience member know it's at an airport?), then go EXT just for a sign, then come back INT for the band again. It was a little confusing and a waste of lines. You're better off to start the story off with a master shot of an EXT of the airport and an airport hotel with a name, then an INT of that same hotel leading into the bar. On that note, you write that the bar is in Cinti and has local bands on weekends. How would the audience know this on the screen? Better to start with that master EXT shot, then with the INT, have Cinti in the hotel's name, and you don't need to mention the bit about local bands on weekends--but if you have to, it can be easily expressed with a sign at the entrance of the bar.

Your character descriptions contain elements not needed (because they can't be seen on-screen) like mentioning that Jack writes all the songs. You can't show that on the screen.

Lastly, spell out numbers less than one hundred. Unless you're giving an age, ie, JACK, 35, a stylish singer...etc, then spell out numbers because it looks too strange. And even though grammar rules are very loose in screenplays, you should consider adding commas in your dialogue when a character addresses another character, ie:

"With that, folks, we're..." Without the comma, the sentence was confusing and I had to re-read it.

"Just make sure to make your vocals nice and low, No Voice,..." Without the comma it didn't look like he was addressing a character called "No Voice"... it appeared like he was telling someone to use "no voice."

"I thought you unplugged his microphone, Jack..." "Without the comma, it appears like you're referring to a "microphone jack."

And a few other instances like that I don't recall right now.

Again, this is not any kind of personal assault.  I realize there are more negative than positive comments here, but they are meant to be helpful, not malicious. See what other critters have to say then choose the advice you feel would best serve you. Good luck.
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insider901
Posted: July 1st, 2013, 7:59am Report to Moderator
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Have to agree with Manowar. I think you have a good premise here but the execution is poor and probably can be chalked to learning how to write scripts.

Way too many unfilmables, and you really need read your dialogue outloud. A lot of it just isn't the way we speak. A wise man once said, "bad dialogue is where screenplays go to die."

I read the first 10 pages, and as Manowar pointed out, nothing really jumped out at me as funny.
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PaulReynolds
Posted: July 2nd, 2013, 12:21am Report to Moderator
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Alas this will be the last script I ever post on SS, all I ever seem to see when I look at comments from others on the discussion board of a script posted by any screenwriter is how bad the scripts are and how they are written with too many technical mistakes and too many unfilmables.  Funny thing though is that I recently read through ten Oscar nominated film scripts and ALL of them had unfilmables galore. I guess that means that the screenwriters there were never critiqued for their styles or dialogue by the geniuses who comment at SS. Oh and by the way I have sold two of my scripts so I guess someone out there has a different opinion of funny or not funny.
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crookedowl
Posted: July 2nd, 2013, 1:19am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from PaulReynolds
Alas this will be the last script I ever post on SS, all I ever seem to see when I look at comments from others on the discussion board of a script posted by any screenwriter is how bad the scripts are and how they are written with too many technical mistakes and too many unfilmables.  Funny thing though is that I recently read through ten Oscar nominated film scripts and ALL of them had unfilmables galore. I guess that means that the screenwriters there were never critiqued for their styles or dialogue by the geniuses who comment at SS. Oh and by the way I have sold two of my scripts so I guess someone out there has a different opinion of funny or not funny.


Oscar scripts can break the rules because the writers are that damn good. When someone like Quentin Tarantino turns in a script full of typos, the studio execs don't care because he's already demonstrated his skill in the past. It's obvious he knows what he's doing. But when an amateur screenwriter turns in a script with technical issues and typos, Hollywood readers assume they don't know what they're doing and never read past page 1.

Which is why the folks around here stress the importance of proof reading and correct format. It's not our fault producers don't give you a chance. I think the reviewers around here want to make sure you actually get the chance in the first place... that your writing is technically sound so producers will at least read your whole script. Nobody's here to bash your work or tell you you're a terrible writer. If people didn't want you to improve, you wouldn't get any reviews.

I haven't read your script so you can take this with a grain of salt if you want, but if you want comments on dialogue and story rather than typos and technical issues, you should clean those things up so no one has anything to complain about.

My two cents.

Will
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Eoin
Posted: July 2nd, 2013, 3:01am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from PaulReynolds
Alas this will be the last script I ever post on SS, all I ever seem to see when I look at comments from others on the discussion board of a script posted by any screenwriter is how bad the scripts are and how they are written with too many technical mistakes and too many unfilmables.  Funny thing though is that I recently read through ten Oscar nominated film scripts and ALL of them had unfilmables galore. I guess that means that the screenwriters there were never critiqued for their styles or dialogue by the geniuses who comment at SS. Oh and by the way I have sold two of my scripts so I guess someone out there has a different opinion of funny or not funny.


Looks like somebody just threw their toys out of the pram . . .

Comedy is subjective. You received ONE review, one person's opinion and based on that, you've gone off in a sulk. It takes a thick skin to be a writer. We'd all love to get glowing feedback, but the only way that's going to happen is if we show it to our parents.

The rules that apply to spec writers are not the same for writer/directors. Your script is competing with thousands of other specs, not with people who already have established careers.

If you have such disregard for opinions and feedback, why did you even post in the first place?

Curious to know the names of the scripts you sold and what stage of production they are at.

Kind regards,

Eoin

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NW3
Posted: July 2nd, 2013, 9:22am Report to Moderator
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Paul, take a deep breath and read the review from Manowar again. There is plenty of good advice and if it feels like criticism, he says in the first sentence not to take it personally. Thank him for his time and attention, and perhaps pick up on things where you agree or disagree. I'm sure he won't be hurt as you seem to be.

Quite apart from technical issues, you should be able to see you have a problem; it's a comedy yet Manowar didn't laugh, and neither did insider901, and neither did I (I read the whole script). Yes, everyone has a different opinion of "funny or not funny" but that's a low strike rate. The elements are there for a fun story, but it's lost in the writing, e.g. "Sam's car, an old '67 Mustang Convertible is driving on the road." The coolest car doing the most boring thing! That goes for the whole script, and I can tell you my notes would be pages long. I won't post here unless you can show you appreciate feedback.

You really do need to work on this and SimplyScripts ought to be ideal. If you choose to strop off, nobody here will notice or care, but if you join in and take advice, I and the other geniuses just might be able to help.  

Start by telling us which of the ten Oscar nominated film scripts you recently read you most enjoyed, and we can debate the use or validity of the unfilmables you mention.

Like Eoin I am curious to know about the scripts you have sold. Perhaps it is you who can help us?
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bert
Posted: July 2nd, 2013, 9:44am Report to Moderator
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This...


Quoted from crookedowl
...if you want comments on dialogue and story rather than typos and technical issues, you should clean those things up so no one has anything to complain about...


...and that...


Quoted from Eoin
Comedy is subjective. You received ONE review, one person's opinion and based on that, you've gone off in a sulk.


...but not this...


Quoted from paulreynolds
Oh and by the way I have sold two of my scripts...


Unimpressed -- and a surprisingly common trope delivered by many in response to criticism -- as opposed to, say, a simple, "Thank you."  


Hey, it's my tiny, little IMDb!
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Eoin
Posted: July 2nd, 2013, 10:34am Report to Moderator
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I think writers need to learn how to separate themselves from their script and not take 'negative' comments about their work as a personal attack.

IF personal comments were made, that would be a different manner . . . but that's not the case here.
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the goose
Posted: July 2nd, 2013, 11:35am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from PaulReynolds
Alas this will be the last script I ever post on SS, all I ever seem to see when I look at comments from others on the discussion board of a script posted by any screenwriter is how bad the scripts are and how they are written with too many technical mistakes and too many unfilmables.  Funny thing though is that I recently read through ten Oscar nominated film scripts and ALL of them had unfilmables galore.


I did react a bit like this in the thread for one of my scripts recently, I can see where the writer is coming from - well at least in the part that I've quoted. One of the scripts I often use for reference is 'Chinatown' - it does have unfilmables galore.

However, the lesson I learnt is not to vent these views on your own script as it does look bad.


If this is the guy though he has quite the IMDB...

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0721900/#Writer


Actor trying to write...

"A good script is never rejected because of layout or lack of technical jargon. If people like it, then any experienced film or TV PA or secretary can lay it out in professional manner and add all the technical terms necessary"

-- Ronald Wolfe "Writing Comedy"

"We don't make movies for critics, since they don't pay to see them anyhow."

-- Charles Bronson.
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Dreamscale
Posted: July 2nd, 2013, 2:06pm Report to Moderator
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Another genius will jump in here.

Paul, you have 1 post on SS and that's a complaint about the feedback you received on your submitted script.  Do you think the SS members owe you something?  Do you not understand how SS works...or better yet, why it works?

I also get a kick when peeps quote movies that are 30-40 years old as a model.  Robert Towne had been a working Hollywood writer for 14 years when Chinatown was made.  It didn't matter how he wrote, he had already proved his success, and continued to do so for the next 25 years.

And, finally, as I say over and over, but peeps don't seem to understand, just because someone is a Pro in their field, that doesn't mean they can do no wrong.

Jump in and review some scripts here, Paul.  Give us some of your insight.  Get to know some peeps here.


To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
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insider901
Posted: July 4th, 2013, 7:53am Report to Moderator
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NASH
Oh mom, you really do worry too
much, donít you think the people
that built this thing put it through
all kinds of tests or something.
Hey didnít I even see a commercial on T.V
where they showed a group of orangutangs playing on a set of
these things to prove how strong they were.

Okay Paul, I thought the replies were pretty tame. I cut and pasted the above dialogue. For lack of a better word, it's very beginner like. It's too long, stiff, wooden, and loaded with errors. Both sentences are questions, yet there are no question marks.

As I stated earlier, this premise is very interesting but has to be executed better. Much better.
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