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I think it's good that you posted this, and I hope more will chime in with their own thoughts. But as it is right now, you'll have a hard time getting most to digest it. I could estimate that American Values could from 18 pages to 9 pages or less. The more scripts you read and understand the techniques/formatting, you will develop more in your craft and build your own vehicles to drive your stories in.
But there are rules that can't be broken without good reason. I recommend picking up a screenwriting format and style guide, or just read scripts! There are plenty of great examples here. I'll PM you with a script list of great examples in sound formatting and grammar right here on SS.
-- Right away, your slug should have been EXT. ARIZONA - US/MEXICAN BORDER - DAY. Since it's during the day, I would've already deduced that Arizona is sunny, but maybe a though-out visual implying a sunny day would've worked better than nothing.
-- Breaking up your paragraphs. Even though your first paragraph is cohesive (the only one in the script) you should break up visuals that can be considered a transitioning idea or "a new shot". Also, make sure you fully space between your paragraphs when necessary. There are quite a few of them in the script.
-- It's important to give ages and brief descriptions of your characters. Many use adjective clauses to deliver the visual, but I've seen really good writers use some pretty clever techniques to show it.
-- What kind of official logos? Is it important? If you want the reader to notice something of importance, leave phrases like "we notice" out of the equation, and CAPS or underline what you want us to give our attention to.
-- "Tino’s driver is leaning on the side of the truck smoking." "The patient is riding the bus staring blankly out the window."
Always pick a dominate verb to deliver the sentence in screenwriting. Whenever you use the present participle of a verb, it weakens the sentence and visual. It also adds unnecessary words. In a single verb sentence, keep it bare. When you have multiple verbs, sometimes choose one based on the visual you are going for.
Tino's driver leans on the side of the truck smoking a cigarette. Riding the bus, the patient blankly stares out the window.
-- Watch your punctuation and grammar. Its, see's, periods, commas, etc.
-- There are several awkward sentences throughout. "Tino and his driver drove all night.", "...greets them gang style.","...with a gang sign, takes his backpack..."
-- You've already established there is gang activity going on. Since it's already implied, only show what's important to the story.
-- Insert a notes before excessive wrylies to cut down repetitiveness and make the dialogue read smoother.
NOTE: Dad and Son communicate in sign language.
-- Anytime you have an audible worth attention, CAPS it to draw interest.
-- Page 4 is what a script's page should look like.
-- Page 5. EXT. MORNING. BRIGHT SUNNY This is incorrect.
-- Page 8. So the patient is now a patient detached from being a patient? It's sometimes better to give your characters formal names.
-- "Reaching out, he smacks the pack while looking at the boy with disgust." That's a good visual.
-- Page 16. EXT. DAYTIME. OUTSIDE DADS RV. This is also incorrect because EXT already states they are outside.
-- Page 18. Narrating to himself. I think you were going for voice over. If so, it should look like this:
DAD (V.O.) Jump to your gun!
As far as the story goes, I was thinking all the characters were going to meet up for a horrific event, but due to the incorrect formatting of the script, it was hard for me to wrap my head around everything going on. In screenwriting, clarity is paramount.
Good luck with future scripts or rewrites! I hope my comments didn't come across harsh or pretentious. If you ever need a read on your work, let me know.
Hi Michael, Johnny has already written great points on format ( not my strong point) but I have read your script. You mention the title page that this is a true story, if so it obviously made an impact, but I guess I am interested to know more on why you wrote it.
You spend a lot of time on the gang members but I couldn't really see their relevance to the story. The boy and father signing was interesting. Wasn't sure if one or both had hearing difficulties, nor how the patient knew the boy's name, even though he got it wrong. Maybe I missed that part.
I think it needs a bit more on the father and son, to give the loss more emotional depth.
Great. I know its bass akwards in many ways. Thanks for pointing out how. Things like the slug lines are pretty much a read and read again issue with me. I think Ive pulled most of the sun descriptions out.
This is the first time I ever thought about script writing. Most everything I "learned" is from here on SS. Also the short and staccato-like verbiage is my version of keeping it simple but I guess the visuals are still all in my head.
I wrote it all out in outline and then parsed it to death before moving it around in "script structure". I kinda had an idea it would somehow work as a docu-short with the scenes speeding up and slowing down in length and primarily visual with less dialogue.
The outline started as a book but I have an Uncle loosely tied to the industry and he recommended I go screenplay. Maybe I should go book huh? It reads pretty well that way.
I mentioned before that am a published Mag writer. I normally write historical story, experience and bio but it seems harder with this story for me to separate ideas functionally since they are all part of my psyche now.
One note that strikes me is: "What kind of official logos? Is it important? If you want the reader to notice something of importance, leave phrases like "we notice" out of the equation, and CAPS or underline what you want us to give our attention to."
When pulled from the trunk, Tino's hat reads Sonoran Mexicali Policia and when pulling back through night vision goggles, Martine gets into his US Border Patrol vehicle. I thought that answers that question later in the story and at different time. Can you not have little reveals or does that happen at different times?
To get it out of the way and for no other reason, meaning I'd rather not dwell, I am Dad.
I'll get on some of these suggestions right away.
Aaand where exactly is it here on SS? It doesnt show in unproduced and doesnt come up in a search as of 5 minutes ago.
But thats not where the story ends.... theres twists and turns and a coupla' bends.
Things like the slug lines are pretty much a read and read again issue with me.
Slugs can be as hard as writing a scene. The concept seems so easy, but a slug contains words and shouldn't be treated like a salad bar against prime rib. They're important too. I still have problems with them.
I think Ive pulled most of the sun descriptions out.
I don't think you have to pull it out. Just think of a visual that communicates "sunny". Think about it, it's Arizona, Mexican Border. Make a list of visuals that could translate the idea. Maybe it's a beetle or scorpion creeping across Mexico into the US. It's a solid visual that ties into your story.
Also the short and staccato-like verbiage is my version of keeping it simple but I guess the visuals are still all in my head.
There are various styles and techniques used by writers. Sometimes it works, but did it provide clarity? Did I fully understand that the driver was smoking and not the truck? It's easy to miss it because it's in your head, not ours. Also remember, not punctuating sentences or repetitively using incorrect grammar is not a form of style.
Maybe I should go book huh? It reads pretty well that way.
For a first draft, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, lol jk. Whether your going book or script, passion is what comes first. I've never had anything produced or even offered. I lie, a teen film student wanted to produce a script of mine. It's so funny, I was talking to this kid like I was some bigshot working writer, LOL! I like that. Keep me posted on any new developments. Keep in touch. Toodles! I'm not saying he couldn't make movies. I just don't know because he never started it. My point is, I still write screenplays because I love the craft. It can be just as challenging as writing novels.
I'll check out the official logo bit and see if I can't get a better grip on it. Keep writing!
Ive taken care of most all the recommendations. I started to wonder how I missed some of them and have concluded that its the difference between what is made up and what is real. Not only what is real but what is real to me. Ive got to seperate myself from the story when writing this way (Script).
When re-structuring I gained 2 pages. Woop, Woop. Also, I think the log line needs changed completely. Its a setup for the wrong type of story.
Punctuation and the like are an issue for me now like never before since I can only type with one hand now. Be assured that by the time, if at all, it ends up someplace nice, the punctuation will be correct. I fix a little each time I read it. (3 comma's, Ug.) ^^
Now I have a junk script posted with a semi junk script in the wings.
But thats not where the story ends.... theres twists and turns and a coupla' bends.
Hi Mike - gave some of this a quick read, but I really didn't get too far. It half got me thinking of 'Machete' (R Rodriguez) - and although it won't be to everybody's taste, try reading it and comparing it to yours.
Formatting's been covered by Johnny, but I kinda got lost on what the story was - early on, you want to work on your set-up, to give some indication as to what the story is. There's a bunch of sitting round with these guys talking, but no details as to what the story is likely to be. The doctor/patient interaction on page 4 & 5 could be covered in half a page.
Your set-up is when you begin your character investment; you begin to detail who we like and who we don't and why, and what kinda challenges they might face.
I agree with the points above. I noticed camera directions aka "We" used a lot. No ages for the characters, etc. Big blocks of action/description. Idea is intriguing enough, but format issues, and other mistakes made it kind of hard to read. Good job nonetheless.