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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Comedy Scripts  ›  Backstage Pass Moderators: bert
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Don
Posted: June 18th, 2014, 4:44pm Report to Moderator
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Backstage Pass by Gary Howell and Mark Moore (Hawkeye and Irish Eyes) - Comedy - Set in the late '70's, a teenage disc jockey holds a radio contest to find a hot girl as his date to a big rock concert, but the date quickly spirals into chaos as the girl's true nature is revealed. Unfortunately based on a true story. - pdf, format


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hawkeye
Posted: June 18th, 2014, 4:54pm Report to Moderator
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Oh, hey there.  Thanks Don, for posting this, and as always, for all that you and the other moderators here do!

This is comedy based on a series of true events, some of which are obviously embellished just for the hell of it, and some which didn't happen, but I wish had. Or maybe not.  But to find out about the entire story, you'll just have to read the script!

Mark (Irish Eyes) and I finished this in fairly rapid manner and we did a second draft, but I know there are areas that can be worked on.

Incidentally, those of you who read the first 10 pages might notice that the band's name was changed to Zephyr.  I just thought for legal reasons it was best not to name the group or any of the band's members!

Hope you enjoy,
Gary


My web site and scripts can be found here:

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DV44
Posted: June 18th, 2014, 5:56pm Report to Moderator
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About time, guys! Been itching to read this since I read the WIP a month or so ago. Congrats on finally getting it finished. I'll try to look at it before the week is up.

- Dirk
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Posted: June 19th, 2014, 12:25pm Report to Moderator
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Oh my God, there's so many parentheticals in those first 60 pages, I can't bear to read this anymore.  Didn't you guys get the memo?  Didn't you see that thread on the parentheticals?!  What are you two doing?  I'm going to stop reading because of the major over use of it.

LOL Just kidding.  That's not why I stopped reading.  This just wasn't for me.  Of all the true stories that you could choose from, why would you pick this one?  It's not really a fascinating one or an interesting one, or, my favorite, the kind of true story that makes you ask "holy shit, that really happened?"  I understand that it's supposed to be a comedy so maybe this true story won't be as amazing as compared to a drama, but in all honesty, if you had refrained from letting us know that this script was based on true events, I would have thought that you guys came up with these boring pages all on your own.

So I'm not going to blame you for the end result - or I should say the 60 pages that I read.  For whatever reason, you guys thought this was a story you had to tell, so that's cool, but if it's a boring story from the out set, you really need to add some big changes to make it entertaining.  I tackled a true story once, the rise and fall of John Gotti.  I opened it with him shredding his next door neighbor, John Favara, to pieces with a chainsaw because the guy accidentally killed his son in a car accident.  Now, I don't know if that necessarily happened, but out of all the rumors, that was the most gruesome, so I went with that.  The fact is, nobody knows what exactly happened to Favara, but everybody knows that something really bad happened.  His body has been missing since 1980.  Imagine if you saw that for an opener?  Actually, that's as far as I ever really had to go with "embellishing" anything with that script, because everything else was fucking wild and crazy enough to begin with.  I didn't have to change or add anything to make it good.  I just wrote it as it happened.

I guess my point is, that if you're going to do a true story, make sure it's something good.  Now I know I'm comparing a comedy to a mob script, and I don't want to sound redundant, but seriously, if you're going to do a true story - it better be really, really good.  I don't care what the genre is - comedy, mob, horror, whatever.  Just because a script/movie is "based on true events" does not automatically save it from being boring.  Which brings me to your opening scene, 5 pages of straight dialogue.  It was a really slow way to start off.  I started worrying from the beginning.

A lot of scenes go on like this.  This is one of the many factors that can kill a script fast as hell:  the same thing over and over, especially in the first 40 pages.  Repetition.  I was going to stop around this part but I decided to stick it out to see the questionnaire scene with Dawn Rider (awesome fucking name for a character, BTW), Amy and Vanessa.  And this I'm willing to bank on is probably the best scene in the entire script.  The dialogue writes itself.  I was cracking the fuck up.  You have so much going on in this one scene it's ridiculous.  I wish there was more of this from the beginning.  You guys should probably consider bumping this scene up sooner.  Yeah, definitely cut some shit in the beginning to get this into the script quicker.  At 40 pages, this scene feels too late (speaking of pages, IMO you should bump this down to a lean 90)

Unfortunately, after this part, everything started to fall flat for me once again.  I did like how you had Dawn stand up for Amy in the fast food joint, but it felt like, I don't know how to put it...for nothing?  I was thinking, hey, this is different, maybe Amy will change her mind about Dawn being just some stupid, hot bimbo, and maybe Dawn will grow into a 3 dimensional character, but I don't even think a reaction was acknowledged/or noted.  I mean, don't get me wrong, I think Dawn's the best character in the script, she had a lot of good dialogue and moments, but I think you guys aren't handling her fully the right way.

In closing, this was a learning experience, even if I only read the first 60 - which is more than generous considering a lot of people usually bail out earlier than that - and I have gained a lot from this read.  


Steve
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irish eyes
Posted: June 19th, 2014, 10:03pm Report to Moderator
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Hey Steve

Thanks for read and the comments at least you made it to 60
I do appreciate anyone reading anything I wrote., but as it is comedy is subjective. I've wrote many a comedy to which one peep hated then the next peep loved it. As you said it wasn't for you.

Personally I think it's a great story and it all comes together at the end. I would never have got involved if I didn't think we had something and it's anything but boring. and it's pretty fucking crazy as far as a true story goes... but then you would have to read to the end. Maybe we're missing something in the first 60 pages, but i don't believe it's as bad as you make out.

Everyone is totally entitled to their opinion otherwise we wouldn't have posted it... at least you liked the questionairee scene

Thanks again for the review, we will take all notes aboard.

mark


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hawkeye
Posted: June 21st, 2014, 9:58am Report to Moderator
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Steve, just to echo Mark, thanks for the read, and I agree with him as well, not sure I understand exactly what your issue is with the script. Certainly I respect your opinion as you're entitled to think of it what you will.  You say you find it boring because it has a lot of dialogue and doesn't open with something spectacular like your John Gotti story, although it makes me wonder why you hung around for 60 pages for a boring story.  I'm not being flippant or defensive, just curious. Most people who find stories boring don't usually last past the first 5-10 pages.

I guess I would disagree on the premise that comedies and dramas have to work the same way in their set up. I mean, look at the opening for "Superbad", which is essentially the first 3 minutes of Seth and Evan (Jonah Hill and Michael Cera) just talking about which porn site to buy when Seth goes away to college, and then another half minute of them talking to Evan's mom.

I do think there's a lot going on in this story in the first 60 pages, and I would lay a lot of it out here, but I don't want to ruin it for anyone else reading the script.  I can understand that if it wasn't for you -- comedy certainly has a high hit or miss potential.  And there are a lot of different genres of comedies, so one type might appeal to one person but be boring or repugnant to another.  I went to "22 Jump Street" the other night, which I found pretty funny for the most part, but most of the crowd didn't get into it.  When the trailer for "Dumb and Dumber To" played, barely a laugh from the audience.  I have the same reaction to mobster movies -- really not for me and I don't enjoy reading them, as I find them pretty much covering the same ground most of the time and don't have anything new to say.

I do, however, agree that the story can be trimmed a little bit. The next draft will likely trim five to seven pages.  Maybe try to move more stuff up front.

Thanks again for the read.

Gary


My web site and scripts can be found here:

Gary's web site
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Quoted from hawkeye
it makes me wonder why you hung around for 60 pages for a boring story.  I'm not being flippant or defensive, just curious. Most people who find stories boring don't usually last past the first 5-10 pages.


I kept reading as long as I did for 3 reasons:  because I see you guys around here a lot and I know you have been posting here for years.  You guys are cool.  Based on that, I was thinking "maybe this will pick up," and it did, for me, on page 40 (the questionnaire), but then that was it.  The next 20 pages fell flat again for me.  Second reason:  Dawn Rider was a fun character, so I stuck around to see what she would do, but I think she could have been done better.  Third reason:  I have been considering taking a stab at comedy myself and have been trying to look for comedy features on here to read so I could see what works and what doesn't.  Sorry I didn't like 'Backstage Pass', guys.  I wanted to but I just couldn't.

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hawkeye
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Steve, thanks again.  Just want to make sure you know I wasn't attacking you, because I don't want to be seen as one of those whiny posters who thinks their shit doesn't stink (I think we've all seen some of those posters on this site).  I fully recognize that the script could use some reworking in places -- we probably just disagree on where and how much it needs work.  Good luck on your attempt at a comedy script -- hope it pans out for you!

All the best,
Gary


My web site and scripts can be found here:

Gary's web site
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nemo
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Started reading this. I actually quite liked the dialogue and found myself laughing at a few of the lines. (except Beth. That song blows donkey schlong) and the Barry Manilow prank.
There is little in the way of mistakes and the writing is done well. I've gotten through 25 pages, will read the rest later. I really like it so far!

A couple things:
-I would introduce Dale's character better.
- some of the banter gets a little repetitive. Tighten it up.
-pg. 6 -- not a good luck (should be look...couple more typos)
-Some of the women chasing scenes can be slimmed down.
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DV44
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Gary & Mark,

First off, congrats on completing a feature. Anyone who has written a feature length script knows the time and effort it takes to finish one but more so when you're collabrating and having to send the script back & forth. So kudos to you the both of you on that.

This is based on a true story? Really? That's pretty awesome, Gary, one hella of a night you and your buddy went through and you even got the girl at the end. Nice! Is Amy, Mrs. Gary Howell now? More importantly, is Dawn Rider available? lol.  

Before I get to the story I found a couple little errors & nitpicks:

Page. 1 Would it be better to include "by himself" at the end of the sentence "Dale Winger spends every night at home?" in reference to the Journey song.

Page. 5 The mike (mic) goes on.

Page. 6 Not a good luck (look) for someone.

After page 10 I started to focus more on the story so I stopped trying to look for errors but from what I could tell it is written pretty solid.

Onto the story itself,

I was really digging this. It had the Superbad humor, Gary, that you mentioned throughout but part of me couldn't help picturing the movie Dazed & Confused when I was reading it. Maybe because it was set in 1979 had a lot to do with it but the atmosphere you guys created was fun and hip.

Dale & Russell were great and the back and forth banter between them reminded me of my buddies growing up. Nothing like giving your best bud a hard time especially around the ladies. lol.

The scene where Russell is alone with the hot Chastain was funny as hell but saying that I wish you could have expanded the scene just a bit. The scene ends before it really gets started. Maybe show Russell making out with her/him on the bed and she excuses herself to the restroom to change. Russell lies on the bed, strips his clothes to get ready, she comes out in lingerie and that's when Russell notices the picture of Chastain as a guy. Just a thought.

The scene at the disco where Russell is told to "F" off by the hot chick walking by was priceless. Good stuff there.

I get that Simon was okay with Dale & Russell putting on the contest to help with the ratings but part of me wonders why he didn't try to snake one of the tickets himself?

The characters were all great and distingushed themselves from one another. Dale had that Michael Cera vibe going on. Russell kept reminding me of Jack Black. Hot women wandering around, what's not to like.

The one thing I would like to have seen was Dale acknowleding that Amy liked him a little sooner or that she was fed up and decided to go on without Dale. The part where they're all back stage and Amy is still trying to get Dale's attention but he's too focused on Dawn. Maybe if Amy decided "Hey, he doesn't like me so screw him, I'm hanging out with Dawn and the band at the hotel without him." When she leaves it could be at that moment when Dale realizes he does like Amy. Dale could play it off to Russell that he's really looking to get Dawn back when instead it's Amy that he's after. The reason I say this because Amy leaves with the guys and their mission is to get Dawn back, but why? Screw Dawn. Get her back so Dale could find the truth to why she did what she did? I just think the scene could work better if Dale was chasing after Amy at the hotel instead of Dawn. Again, just a thought.

Overall, fantastic story. This was a fun read. Wildly entertaining and crazy that this was a true story. Great job on this one, guys!

- Dirk






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DV44  -  June 23rd, 2014, 6:32pm
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hawkeye
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Nemo:

Thanks, buddy -- I get what you're saying about the banter, and when we go through a third pass at this, we'll work to tighten stuff up like you suggested.  I'll also look at that scene at the disco and see what we can't discard there.  Glad you're liking it so far!

Dirk! Thanks for the read, man!  I'm glad you enjoyed it! We tried for some kind of hybrid between Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Superbad. Not exactly sure the tone we hit, but it doesn't hurt to be compared to "Dazed and Confused" either. I really dig that movie also!

Just to respond to a couple of things you were talking about -- I don't think Simon knows where the tickets came from - Dale keeps that info to himself, so I wonder whether I need to have Dale say that to Simon.  It could be that Simon isn't interested in being a third wheel either.

I like your suggestions about Chastain and about Dale and Amy and whether she might go back to the hotel with the band also, but it might take some reworking of that backstage scene, as the other bandmate wasn't necessarily interested in her, so I'd need to change that somewhat.  I'm just wondering whether that plays into Amy's character, but her arc does change throughout the story, and this could just be another part of that.  I'll check with Mark about that.

I really appreciate you taking the time to check it out and glad it worked for you!

Gary


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StevenClark
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Hey Guys,

Just started on this. Hit page 25 before I stopped. Gotta work.

Anyway, pretty good read so far. Your first ten, though, has a lot of description. I would cut down on some of that. It slows down the read. By page 25 you're going along pretty smoothly, but the first ten is kinda slow. Have you considered the station manager calling Dale that first night he's on the air instead of the next day? That would get your story rolling along faster. You could always intro Dales parents later.

Still, I feel something's missing here. Maybe it's a general feeling of exactly who Russel and Dale are. It's hard to explain. I guess it's just that I don't really like either of these guys too much, and I think I should. At least Dale. He has no redeeming qualities yet other than that he's a dumbass when it comes to women.

Dales dancing like a crossbreed chicken/octopus was funny as hell!

Will get back with some more notes later.

Steve


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Posted: June 26th, 2014, 11:18am Report to Moderator
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Hey Nemo

Thanks for the read, glad you liked it.

Mark


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StevenClark
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Mark & Gary,

Lemme try and get this in before the voices on my laptop start speaking to me again.

First, congratulations on getting a feature done! I know how hard it is, especially to collaborate.

I liked your story a lot. It kinda had a Superbad, American Pie feeling to it. Especially Dale's dad. He reminded me a lot of Eugene Levy in AP, and that's a good thing.

The read was fast. Like, before I knew it it was over. Another good thing, but I didn't want it to end. I gotta say, I had a lot of fun following these two clowns through their adventures.

Dale's arc seemed forced a little. He never outgrew his delusional ways until the very end when he finally realized Amy was the girl for him. Is that a bad thing? I really can't say that it is. Who am I to say that this should be that way, and so on. I think it worked as it is. Was it abrupt that he saw the error of his ways in, like, the last five pages? Yep. But, again, I think it worked. And why wouldn't it work on screen?

I enjoyed what Russel and Dale went through. A lot of it was cliché as hell, but it was fun.

The only issues iha d with the comedy itself is that you had chances to take it further and didn't. Like the scene with Dawn's dad and the dogs. One of those dogs could've ripped Dale up, or the dog whistle could've been something a little more outlandish. Maybe an air horn? Bad example, I know, but that's what came to mind. And it wouldn't take much to expand these scene by a few lines just to add some extra hilarity to it. Don't get me wrong, it IS funny! But could you make it funnier? Sure, I think so.

Another high point for me was the burger joint where they got accused of being racist, then almost got mugged.  Actually, Booger's Burgers turned into Hot Diggety Burgers at some point. Was that just me or a mistake there.

But yes, the hilarity was definitely there.

Aren't Dale and Russel a little young to be DJ's at a rock station? Not a major issue, but might need a teeny clarification. I can see Dawn with her quick wit mentioning something like that.

Another thing I feel you can do to make this better is to try and trim some pages off in way of trimming down your action lines. Try trimming three down to two, and four down to three. As I mentioned earlier, this happens a lot in the first ten and slows things down a tad before it gets going. I think if you put that into practice throughout, and cut down some unnecessary exposition it would help the read immensely.

I also think Russel is the best character here in that he's a stupid ass right from the start and stays one to the end. Dale is just the loveable loser who takes forever to see the error of his ways, but finally wins in the end, and I always like to see that.

Overally, we've seen this type of thing before, but, damn, I thought it was a fun ride!

Steve


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hawkeye
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Quoted from StevenClark


The read was fast. Like, before I knew it it was over. Another good thing, but I didn't want it to end. I gotta say, I had a lot of fun following these two clowns through their adventures.


Thanks for the read, Steve! Glad you enjoyed it!


Quoted from StevenClark


Dale's arc seemed forced a little. He never outgrew his delusional ways until the very end when he finally realized Amy was the girl for him. Is that a bad thing? I really can't say that it is. Who am I to say that this should be that way, and so on. I think it worked as it is. Was it abrupt that he saw the error of his ways in, like, the last five pages? Yep. But, again, I think it worked. And why wouldn't it work on screen?


This is something I've fretted over since we finished this. I liked Dirk's suggestion about Amy going with Dawn to the party and Dale realizing then that it is Amy that he really likes, and goes to the party to retrieve her -- and not Dawn.  I think it makes a lot of sense to do it that way.



Quoted from StevenClark

The only issues iha d with the comedy itself is that you had chances to take it further and didn't. Like the scene with Dawn's dad and the dogs. One of those dogs could've ripped Dale up, or the dog whistle could've been something a little more outlandish. Maybe an air horn? Bad example, I know, but that's what came to mind. And it wouldn't take much to expand these scene by a few lines just to add some extra hilarity to it. Don't get me wrong, it IS funny! But could you make it funnier? Sure, I think so.


Yeah, I hear you -- someone else that looked at this suggested perhaps that we add a little more physical humor. We need to give that some consideration.


Quoted from StevenClark

Another high point for me was the burger joint where they got accused of being racist, then almost got mugged.  Actually, Booger's Burgers turned into Hot Diggety Burgers at some point. Was that just me or a mistake there.


Yeah, that's a mistake on our part -- good catch. We had too many "boo" sounding names throughout the script, so we were changing the name of the Burger joint to "Hot Diggety Burgers" but probably didn't catch it everywhere.



Quoted from StevenClark

Aren't Dale and Russel a little young to be DJ's at a rock station? Not a major issue, but might need a teeny clarification. I can see Dawn with her quick wit mentioning something like that.


Actually, I started working for one radio station when I was 16, and this all took place when I was 19.  Pretty common to have young DJ's in small towns back then.


Quoted from StevenClark


Another thing I feel you can do to make this better is to try and trim some pages off in way of trimming down your action lines. Try trimming three down to two, and four down to three. As I mentioned earlier, this happens a lot in the first ten and slows things down a tad before it gets going. I think if you put that into practice throughout, and cut down some unnecessary exposition it would help the read immensely.


Yep. We definitely need to trim down these first ten -- that's pretty consistently what we've heard from everyone, so we'll definitely be doing that.


Quoted from StevenClark

I also think Russel is the best character here in that he's a stupid ass right from the start and stays one to the end. Dale is just the loveable loser who takes forever to see the error of his ways, but finally wins in the end, and I always like to see that.

Overally, we've seen this type of thing before, but, damn, I thought it was a fun ride!



Russell was fun to write -- he almost writes himself.  Going to try to pump Dale up a bit give him a little more of an extended arc.

Glad you enjoyed it, Steve and thanks for the great comments!

Gary


My web site and scripts can be found here:

Gary's web site
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