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Deep in the Bone by Richard D. Kinsella (Scar Tissue Films) - Thriller - When only a bone marrow transplant can save his dying son and the only compatible donor is the son of a violent drug lord, a Doctor realises he will have to break the law,and every one of his morals, in a deadly race against time to try and save him. 93 pages - pdf, format
Wow. Interesting and action packed opener that's vastly different from the original. A very good choice imh. Launch into some action and then backtrack into introducing your main characters/protag and his dilemma etc.
The inclusion of the Albanian Mafia - sex-trade etc. makes for an interesting and original story.
I'm up to page 40 and it's zipping by. I'll come back with more feedback later. Just one added thing - I like the original title better...
However, I would like to throw something out there for you on the title front. Have you considered the phrase 'blood is thicker than water' as a title? Or a play on it at least. Thematically it would be good as it basically means family comes first no matter what. Plus it sort of fits with the bone marrow stuff so it would work in two ways. Like I said, I'm just throwing it out there.
Will finish reading this tonight, but I'll put the review up tomorrow as it's getting quite late. Up to page 45 and liking it so far.
There are, in my opinion, excellent moments (the prostitute gazing up at the light, then the awful light in the operating room) and the writing is admirably energetic.
There is much visual excitement as Alex fumbles to draw bone marrow from Defrim and later on the chase scene would be entertaining if filmed. Also, the chunks of dialogue would seem much more lively onscreen.
For me, Alex is not as interesting as the other characters; he's in such a stressed out state (understandable but, for me, one dimensional). Although I understand that it might be necessary to flatten out his character to make him carry out his mission.
On the other hand, I think the ending is excellent, from Alex in the police car to the final scene, the hope and dread for life and for death are wonderfully precise and all the more deadly for the veneer of calm and civility and that makes the story memorable.
You should mention where he is stabbed,that way we can visualise he still alive and able to be subdued later.
He stabs him quickly in
his chest, killing him instantly.
Although possible, I think somebody dying instantly from one stab wound would be hard to swallow. I think he should die slower, unless Bashkim cuts his throat afterwards.
Bull grabs one of the girl, drags her over to a couch.
I was going to ignore it, but this is the third or fourth time in 4 pages. You're missing the plurals. Girl should be girls.
Harsh lights beam down on a team of medical staff working
on a patient lying face down on the operating table.
Watch out for stuff like this mate, I find myself doing it all the time too. Here int he UK we tend to say down quite a lot. He sits down, rather than he sits... lights beam down, rather than lights beam onto.
Using it here, makes your action line messy. Not only is it unnecessary but you've actually used it twice in one sentence.
Colleagues pass in the background, wishing him well with a
pat on his back.
Be careful of these too. When you say 'a pat on his back', it would read much better if you wrote 'a pat on the back'. We are already talking about him, so it could only be 'his' back. Sorry mate, little things bug me.
INT. HOSPITAL CORRIDOR - NIGHT
Alex’s footsteps reverberate around the lonely corridor, he
turns right into...
INT. LABORATORY - CONTINUOUS
Clicks the light.
Sorry mate, me again. You mention that he walks into a laboratory yet it is in the slug. With a little thought you could make this transition far smoother to read.
Alex, he’s in safe hands. We’ll
take it from here.
He didn't tell the nurse his name. If he knew her already, then he wouldn't have needed to do all of that shouting.
I've just remembered the original to this now, and I like the fact you put some action in at the beginning. It's keeping me interested anyway... if it was just the medical stuff, well that isn't really my thing and I would get bored quickly.
Also in regards to your first 10, everything moves along nicely. The hook is there and it has all the makings of a good script.
He reaches for his
phone by his bed, dials.
It's that 'his' thing again. Who else's phone would he reach for and who else's bed would he be in if in his own bedroom at home? Not a nitpick, I honestly believe it makes us better writers when we understand these things and clean them up.
Doctor Simpson turns the bedside light on, reaches awkwardly
for the phone in a sleepy daze.
The above is written correctly. No mention that it his bedside light, nor that it is his phone.
Never mind threaten you, I’ll beat
the living shit out of you if you
don’t give me access to those
Actions speak louder than words. I think some type of physical reaction would be better here... maybe he pins his friend to the wall, or shoves him really hard.... then backs down. That would show how serious he is and hint at what's (hopefully) to come. When people talk, it's usually bullshit, IME. And this for me, takes something away from his character.
I’m sorry, Philip. I have to save
him. I’ll try anything. Do you
I also feel this dialogue is too much. The actor should be able to convey this with body language and a simple apology. Then Simpson, indignant, turns to leave, Alex is defeated, all is lost... and suddenly Simpson has a change of heart. This is a pivotal point in the story, milk it for dramatic effect. Try to keep as much of it as you can in the action. People will get it.
It’s exceptionally unlikely, but
it’s possible. As you know, HLA’s,
Human Leukocyte antigens, are
proteins found throughout the body.
You’re looking for someone who
matches the results in your son’s
Again, I feel there is too much dialogue here. The viewer gets it, we don't need it explained again. I imagine Alex, especially, wouldn't need to hear it and would be looking at his friend rather strangely about now, maybe even looking around to see who else is in the room with them.
For what? I doubt you’ll find
Sorry about this one mate, but I'm pointing out this dialogue because it's too much and I also feel that it would serve better if it was said in different context. All Dr Simpson has to say here is: For what?
That's it. Then he walks away. For what? Says it all. He's done nothing. This never happened. I feel that works better.
Alex rubs his face in sheer exasperation...
I feel this scene could be milked a little more. Maybe have him fall asleep too, and the result flash up after a a computer crash and switch back on, then bam, there he is. The match. Something like that.
Doctor Philip enters carrying some coffee.
The scene running through page 21-22, where Alex leaves the hospital, I think needs to be managed better. He has too much dialogue where he says relatively normal things. It would be better, I feel, to have him preoccupied and suddenly leave without even touching his coffee. Don't forget the urgency. If my son was about to die and there was a time limit involved and I had a way of saving him... I'd just go.
He may be late forties to early fifties, but he’s still in
This is a nitpick... but is it all that surprising these days? 40 is the new 30. Most of the people I know are holding out quite well. Just describe him without sounding surprised, IMHO.
I like the way you handled the Albanians getting into Alex's car. The phone thing was clever.
You know what this reminds me of? It just hit me. Robin Cook. A medical thriller. He used to be part of my easy-reading circle of authors. I haven't read one in over 15 years, mind.... but I find myself settling into this easily, just like I would after the first 100 pages of a Cook novel. Your first act ends at page 23 and I find myself well and truly settled into act 2 already. Nicely done.
OK, for me this is the first plot hole. Alex hasn't even asked the Albanians if they would save his son yet. He went there with a lie. Why not ask straight out once he was caught out? Explain his desperation, that he just needs some fluid, would be prepared to pay. Instead he's giving 100k to a hobo of a PI for some guns to go in shooting. I was kinda enjoying the slow burn. I feel it is a little too early for guns. Alex is a middle class man that's never likely laid eyes on a gun, let alone capable of taking out some Albanian gangsters.
She’s talk, olive
Well I'm glad that this didn't go into the all guns blazing direction, but I still feel there is something of a plot hole if Alex hasn't even tried asking for permission yet before going the clandestine route.
Alex grabs him, drags him inside, pushes the front door
closed with his foot.
Would Alex really be able to do that? In real life, trying to drag someone will be met with instant resistance. Bashkim is a powerful guy by all accounts and Alex... isn't.
Alex hurls the flower vase at Bashkim, who bats it away. Then
he grans the whole table, smashes it down towards Bashkim’s
Defrim? Defrim? It’s OK. Come out.
I won’t hurt you.
Not permanently, anyway.
I think the final line of dialogue is unnecessary here. It adds a creepy element, when that isn't what this is about.
Some old picka has seen us. The
Cops will be on there way.
POLICE OFFICER WILLIAMS
Dispatch, we have a Grey Ford Sedan
leaving the scene, back window
blown out. Registration number DG14
HRJ. I am pursuing. Requesting back
So far the script has been UK... but this cop sounds very American. He should also use a phonetic alphabet to read the number plate.
The major road towards the hospital runs parallel to Alex’s
position, but its twenty feet down a steep embarkment
EXT. LONDON ROAD - CONTINUOUS
Alex watches the streets drift by. Small things stand out.
The things you normally take for granted.
Love the above. So true.
OK, I now see why you don't have him ask him. However I feel that he should. The final twist isn't needed, but that's just me. I suppose it works.
I like this story a lot. A twist on the kidnapped family member thing. It zips along, maybe a little too quickly, there is a lot of white space that lengthens the page count a little. With some work this could be really good and very easy to make. Well done.
So finished this last night, have to say I did quite enjoy it. However, you could make it way better, though it's a first draft so I'm guessing you know that, as the rest of us probably know with ours.
My main recommendation would be to move the ticking clock forward for James' condition. At the moment it's not until page 38 where you mention he has two days maximum. I read a review on scriptshadow recently, and he says that usually with a first draft something that should come earlier ends up being later on, but with subsequent rewrites it will end up getting brought forward. I feel you should start with James already in the hospital with his condition deteriorating from the start.
You could still have Alex in surgery, coming out of a 15 hour surgery or something, and when he comes out there's a nurse waiting for him to tell him James has gotten worse. Also, you could give him 24 hours instead of two days, then he's really up against it. Plus you could add in about his tiredness having been up all night doing surgery, really put him under pressure.
Another thing to maybe consider is how you had it planned originally, that it's the actual crime boss he needs to get the bone marrow from instead of his son. Whilst I understand it's showing the lengths he's willing to go for his own son, it's a lot harder to sympathise with as he's harming a seemingly innocent kid. We would have no problems whatsoever if Bashkim is put through a painful ordeal though.
If you did this, it could still end the same way, as I think the twist/unexpected ending was particularly strong. Something I hadn't seen before anyway, so credit for pulling something out of the bag there.
In regards to the end, I'm glad Alex didn't get a happy ending. I lost a bit of sympathy with him because he 'operated' on the kid, but I lost all sympathy with him when he ran the woman over on page 80. In fact, I would say I stopped caring altogether. It could just be me, but when someone crosses a certain line I can no longer back them and no longer care about their plight.
To be fair, I kept reading because the whole car chase scene was written really well, and I had to see how it played out. You deserve credit for that.
There are a few times where you name a character, but then use a different name when it comes to dialogue. For example, on page 65 you introduce Catherine, the neighbour, but when she speaks it comes under NEIGHBOUR. It's also the same with the bouncers who then become security guards early on, and Defrim's mother who becomes Megi.
Now I wanted to bring up the amount of 'orphans' in the script. I think it comes down to personal preference with these, but I try to avoid them wherever I can. You have a lot of them in there, and certainly most of those could of been avoided. If you had, then it wouldn't have ended up with one sentence on the final page, which made me want to cry.
I think most of my other notes are bits that you would probably clean up in a rewrite anyway, so I'll leave it there for now.
If you have any questions in regards to things I haven't brought up, or something specific you wish to know, just ask and I'll answer.
This was a fast enjoyable read. Heading out in a jiffy so I don't have time to leave detailed notes, but quickly:
What I dislike about most of these kind of thrillers: It usually stops when the action stops. You don't get to know what happens after, the goal has been accomplished, is that really all? I think there could be a lot to gain from seeing what James's reaction to all of these events is. I'm not sure how easy it would be to fit it into the story, but I believe it could add something interesting to the story and answer some questions a lot of readers/viewers will have on their mind. Show us the repercussions on both sides.
P75: I'm not sold that they'd instantly take him into theatre like that. They give James Dobutamine only on page 85. Shouldn't they have given him an injection on the ward, see if the seizure stops and then take him into theatre?
P81+: The nurse seems to be doing the anesthetist's job. You also already referenced a nurse earlier on. Is it the same character? Doesn't seem too likely for the same nurse to be a theater nurse aswell.
As stated above, I also vouch for Bone Deep. Thought it was a much better title.
Good luck with future drafts, this script has definite potential.
I wasn't going to make comments as I read but at this point below, I started to:
Why does Bashkim knock on his own front door - is this a security thing?
I also wondered at the slugs for what is essentially the BASHKIM HOUSE - just calling them Suburban House??
At page 86/87 - I have to say that the Doc's answer seems a little premature :
'It's touch and go, but I think he'll make it'
And the actual bone marrow procedure seemed a little fast - I would imagine in reality some testing of that marrow would take place before it was injected? Mind you we're working with suspension of disbelief here aren't we and it's a thriller and life and death so, I don't know... perhaps a transition in time would help from when that procedure starts with the Doc, to where all the cops are waiting outside for Alex.
The 'look after him for me' makes up for that I suppose. I just didn't imagine he got enough bone marrow from Defrim either?? But, that's probably cause everything I've ever read or seen on that procedure previously led me to believe it was quite complicated and time consuming.
Three Police Officers move down the corridor towards him. Serious men with serious weaponry. They have all the props, bullet proof vests, headsets, black boots and big guns.
Really nice description above. The arrest is also really nice in SLOW MOTION. Good choice there.
I love this:
Alex watches the streets drift by. Small things stand out. The things you normally take for granted. Kids with their mothers. The street vendors.
I'd personally say:
in the passenger (seat) or: on the passenger side
And, I noticed an Ale typo for Alex - on one page - sorry, don't know exactly what page that was on, but a Ctrl F will find it for you - I attempted to go back to see where but as you can imagine there are a fair few 'Alex's' in there.
Dustin pointed out a few typos I noticed so I didn't put my microscope on for those - hey, it's a first draft there are bound to be a few, no big deal - it was seven weeks.
And, I loved this:
Most people would have accepted it, given up.They’d have mistaken their cowardice for dignity.
Lines like those I've highlighted above, given that this is an otherwise straight action script/flick, take this to another level by adding some emotional depth imh. Great stuff.
I'd edit this one below, quite a bit.
BASHKIM I’m glad you understand. I have to kill you. I don’t have a choice. You came after me. You came after my family. I can’t just kill you either. I need to restore respect. 90.I need to make you scream. I’m going to have to torture you to death.
It's just not necessary imh - his explaining the whole thing. I'd edit some of it at the very least but then that's jmo.
ditto with this:
Alex nods. He understands.
'He understands' is not necessary on the end of this.
Neither do I think this is necessary:
BASHKIM I’ve done a lot of bad things in my life, Alex, may Allah forgive me...
I'd just launch in with:
'You know what the funny thing with all this is... ' and the next lines.
The final line/twist just killed me btw. (metaphorically speaking).
I'm not too sure I'd like that ending if I was actually watching this, but I reckon that's the idea - the ultimate sacrifice he makes for his son and the irony of it. Still, I wouldn't trust that guy Bashkim as far as I could throw him. He could have just made that up
As for the final line: We leave them enjoying the final moments, before the screams begin.
- the 'before the screams begin' jarred a little with me - kinda redundant - would be interested to see how others respond to that. Doesn't really matter cause it wouldn't be seen but just inferred and the FADE OUT would actually occur before the screenplay line so...
Oh, and I just want to add, I think you handled the action sequences really well. High praise there.
Sure there are probably things you could fix but for a first draft this is terrific and, Rick, I reckon you should be really thrilled to have achieved this in such a short amount of time. I know I would be.
Hey Rick, there was some good stuff here. The work done on the first ten pages shows and the final half flies by. Here were my notes as I went.
Pg. 2 “Ferret cleaves Kang’s head from his shoulders with a sword.” I’d introduce the sword before the cleaving. Draw it out a bit. Once we see Ferret take a sword off the wall, we’ll be anxious to see what he does with it.
Pg. 4 The prostitute and the light could be a nice moment, and it’s a decent transition, but the whole first scene has this blustery, bull-dozing energy. I’d prefer to not let it settle and make the cut at “The Albanians bound into the room.”
Nice opening, though. You set up some ruthless characters to watch out for.
Pg. 5 “Whatever it is he’s working on, he’s running out of ideas.” Your visual sold that well enough. No need for the aside IMO.
Pg. 6 I like the hint of something going on between Marjorie and Alex. It suggests a relationship that won’t have to be on the nose to exist. It also makes sense for Alex too. When you’re a busy man, you get it where you can. (though this was pretty much set aside)
“Alex, walks effortlessly up the stairs. His toned physique testament to the fact he practices what he preaches.” Not a fan of this line. One: many people walk effortlessly up stairs. Two: mentioning his toned physique causes me to picture him with his shirt off. Three: I’ve seen him neither practicing, nor preaching anything.
Pg. 11 “They said it was the music you listen to.” Like that line
Pg. 15 “Simpson sips his whiskey.” He’s drinking on the job in front of his patient’s father? I know their friends, but still. Alex seems like a basket case at times, I'm surprised he wouldn't mention the drinking.
All this medical talk and staring into microscopes is starting to lose steam. You could probably condense this a bit into one relatively fluid sequence. For instance, at one point Alex talks with the Dr, then visits his son, then talks to the Dr, then visits his son. Try to get everything done the first go round.
Pg. 17 You should mention the phone was ringing.
Pg. 18 If I were Dr. Simpson here, I’d want some type of assurance that Alex wouldn’t do something violent, especially with the way he’s acting. Simpson should need some expectation that Alex would be discreet, it’s his a** too.
Pg. 19 I think you need a BEGIN MONATAGE or SERIES OF SHOTS on this page.
Pg. 21 Alex telling James it’s gonna get worse sounds off. I’d ditch that and stick with the morphine bit.
“That’s to be expected. You take after your father.” Was he just taking a pot shot at Alex?
Pg. 23 “It’s answered by a gruff voiced Albanian.” What did he say?
“A beautiful brunette with an Eastern European face” I’d just call her a beautiful East European brunette (or something similar). Don’t make me wonder what nationality her legs are.
Pg. 24 I have to wonder whether Alex has considered asking honestly and hoping for compassion. If not, why? Having him manipulate this situation right off, rather than being a straight shooter about it, loses some of my respect.
Pg. 26 Ferret, Snout and Bull. I’m digging the names and the way you’ve shaped the characters around those names. Helps me keep them straight in my head. (I felt like they were underutilized overall, though)
Pg. 27 Marjorie gives up that address way too quickly.
Pg. 30 You added a new slug that’s the same location you are already in. “EXT. COUNTRY ROAD – CONTINUOUS”
Pg. 31 “A picture of his dead wife with a much younger James.” Just say wife and trust us to remember. Unless she’s dead in the picture.
Pg. 33 Is it really wise for Alex to get someone else to follow this kid. Why doesn’t he just do it himself? Also, if there’s anyone Alex should be lying to, it’s the Private Detective. The guy already threatened to call the cops.
Pg. 35 “It’s Larry, the Private Detective.” I don’t think you’re giving me enough credit here. The guy was offscreen for about ten seconds.
Pg. 37 This should be another montage here. Though it’d be a lot simpler to just have him sip coffee and look at his watch.
“…DEFRIM DEMECHI. He’s a little older…” A little older than what? I’m just now realizing you never gave me his age.
Pg. 39 Alex seems to be going one step too far every time. Why not just try for a hasty and clumsy abduction?
Pg. 41 Larry speaks twice in a row. Should all be under one character heading, or broken up with an action description.
Pg. 43 Now that the deal’s going down, it appears that Larry telegraphed, ahead of time, exactly what would go wrong and what would happen. That seems a little odd.
Pg. 45 “JAMES: Before, I felt like I was dying. Now, I’m dying in pain.”…”Alex smiles.” What!? Why?
Pg. 47 “the house of Bashkim’s former lover” The audience can’t see that.
Pg. 49 “there are no prying eyes from behind twitching curtains.” The only time you should tell us what isn’t, is when we’d be surprised at its absence. For example: ‘He runs into the bathroom. There are no toilets.’
“ALEX: Hey kid, is your mother in?” I thought he was here for the kid? Why didn’t he just grab him at the door?
I like the tension here with Bashkim coming back to the house. You should have the mom answer the door though. That way Alex HAS to deal with her.
Pg. 65 Catherine didn’t hear the gunshots earlier?
Pg. 66 “BASHKIM: Some old picka has seen us. The Cops will be on there way.” First off, that’s not Bashkim speaking and it should be ‘they’re’, but most importantly, these guys haven’t done anything wrong, here. They could actually shoot Alex and legitimately call it self-defense.
I will say it’s been nonstop for the past thirty pages and that’s pretty impressive. The writing needs a touching up but the gist of this extended sequence works well. And it’s constantly escalating too. That’s exactly what you want with this type of thing.
You might want to consider removing a lot of the slugs during the chase. I’m totally skipping over them anyway.
Pg. 77 I don’t think the cops would try a pit maneuver on someone who’s been shooting out the window. No one would get too close. Realistically, they’d lay down spikes and if that failed they’d wait for the car to run out of gas.
Pg. 80 “her body crashes into the windscreen” Hey now, you don’t normally see that. Though, I think we’ve got another protagonist crossing into the “can’t get behind them” zone. However, if he fails, there can at least be poetic justice.
Pg. 81 James is convulsing and seems like he could die at any moment. Could bone marrow really save him fast enough?
Pg. 91 “BASHKIM: I’d have let you do it, if you just asked me.” Mm-hmm. As someone who had that idea in the beginning, that line’s just frustrating.
This is a pretty good first draft, particularly the last half. I like the idea of the movie being a tense slow burn for half of it, then non-stop action for the last half. Everything from Alex knocking on the door on page 49 to him arriving at the hospital pretty much works. Yeah there’s some writing and logic issues strewn about, but the basic structure of that sequence works. I’ve only got two basic problems…
One, having Alex not just ask and Bashkim later reveal that he would’ve done it if Alex had, didn’t work for me. It’s not a rewarding experience to get to the end of a movie and realize that, if you had been the protagonist, doing the first thing that popped into your head, the movie would’ve ended an hour ago. Alex should be doing everything possible to not break the law or his own moral code. By caving in so quickly, not only did he make things harder than they had to be, he made me not care for him.
Two, the first half treads water IMO. We spend a lot of time with Larry, but it doesn’t really pay off. Alex could easily stalk this kid on his own. All that talk and the only thing Larry really does that’s of any significance is throw Alex a gun. And what exactly did Alex plan to do with $50,000 worth of guns? Was he gonna hire some people to help him?
It kinda blows up your ending, but I’m gonna make my suggestions anyway…
Alex does go to Bashkim and asks him straight-up for help. Bashkim’s willing to help, but for a price. Alex offers money. Bashkim doesn’t need money, but because Alex is a surgeon, he’s in a unique position to help.
In the opening sequence we saw Bashkim and his men kicking ass and taking names, but it was never really followed up on what any of that was about. What if Bashkim is moving in on new territory and eliminating a rival gang? He’s got his sights set on that gang’s leader, who just so happens to be going to the hospital soon for basic surgery. So the deal is, if Alex can find his way into that operating room and kill the rival gang leader so that it looks like an accident, Bashkim will give him the bone marrow.
Now Alex has something interesting to do for the first half of the movie. He’s got to manipulate his way into the operating room even though he wasn’t the original surgeon scheduled, he’s got to figure out how to kill the guy but make it look like an accident and he’s got to figure out whether his conscience will even allow him to do it.
At the end of all that, something goes wrong. Maybe Alex can’t go through with it. Maybe he does it, but falls under police suspicion. Maybe Bashkim is just a prick. Whatever happens, Bashkim reneges on the deal and says, “Yeah, your kid’s gonna die. Sorry.”
Now it’s time for Alex to roll up on that house with a gun and medical supplies and we can except it because he’s exhausted every other option. Like I said, it kinda blows up your ending, but the twist didn’t really do it for me in the first place so…
Really nice first draft, though. Lots of room to work with it. Good luck with whatever direction you go.
Starts well. I particularly like 'ox stuffed into a tracksuit'.
I'm not fond of all these ellipses though. I'm partial to the odd one myself, but I think if you dumped half of them near the start it'd go faster. Or maybe not.
Maybe they don't, and it is a film, but wouldn't Albanians speak Albanian to each other? Or at least more halting and more error ridden English. Just a thought.
Normally I'd mataphorically kick your arse for the camera stuff. Or at least suggest losing it. But I know you're handy with them so... enough said.
There's a few little errors here and there. I would point them out but hopefully the others who reviewed this have done. As I can't be bothered. I suspect you already know and are gonna rewrite this at some point so I'll keep to the story.
The doctor stuff up to page 18 takes a little too long to get where it's going, in my humble. It reads fast, but it feels we've seen this stuff before. From 18 onwards it gets more complicated so I get you need the space there to get your plot going. At this point I'm wondering how these two worlds are going to combine. But I'm wondering in a good way. This is interesting.
I think you jump to your link too quick. I was expecting to have to wait a little while to find out. Even if it was just another scene or two with other complications in Alex's life or some other aspect with a woman or the like. It would make him a bit more intriguing. Or some snags or disasters with the Albanians. As it is I think it gets there too fast and you're missing out on some possible drama.
I'd say you also need to point out the age of Defrim. You say he's young, which is too vague for plot purposes.
The print out at the bottom of page 33 was taken from him earlier. He'd have had to get another one for this to work.
I got up to about page 40. I'll come back to it later.
There is a lot of good stuff in this. It needs polishing and tidying but most of it works well. I get the feeling you were short on time and the polishing will get done. Pretty damn good.
Was able to blast through this one. Good job on that. The pacing, for the most part, is really nice. I like what you did with the opening. A vast improvement from the original and think It sets up the tone quite well.
That's another thing I enjoyed about this - the gritty tone you have going. I think it fluttered a bit but the rewrite will help that.
Overall, I think you have a strong skeleton/broads strokes here for a nice little thriller. Which I would think is the hardest part.
The story on the whole did feel a bit lite. Needs a little beefing up. But it feels like the real necessary elements that need to be there are there. Nice on that.
I also really like the eventual parellels that come between Alex and Bashkim. The torturer/murder/Dad. The Doctor/surgeon/Dad. And then flipping the script on that. To me, this is your central root/theme. I'd really play this up/milk it. Sure, It's a familiar theme but it's an interesting one. Just my opinion.
The biggest problem I think I had was with Alex. His character was hard to get a grasp on for me. I didn't fully buy into his arc. I liked his arc - it just didn't feel fully authentic. And a bit wobbly.
I think because there was no real set-up in terms of his potential to really take major risks. This is just an idea but it would be interesting to see Alex introduced in surgery and some kind of shit hits the fan. The surgery goes down hill and he has take make a drastic, risky decision. Against eveyone elses wishes. Something interesting that would reveal Alex's "deep' hidden nature and give us something to revert back too when shit gets crazy. It may also work as a kind of foreshadow or set-up for the later surgery with Bashkim's son.
The intro to Alex just feels a bit flat and felt I never got a good sense of who was or what he was capable of. Maybe. Maybe not.
This might also help with the idea that Alex kind of assumes about Bashkim and just dives head first into his world and goes the gun route so quickly. As it stands, I agree with others that it doesn't makes sense that he acts so rash right out of the gate. Why wouldn't he take a more practical first step?
I'm not sure about the ending. I love the idea of it. But it doesn'y quite work as is. That's just a feeling and opinion at the moment. I think if you beef everything up a bit and expoit some of your themes and ideas it could be quite effective. The idea is super cool.
As a first draft, I think this is really effective, Especially, in the broad strokes/ideas. Maybe a few passes on the dialogue. Some I thought was quite good other bits were a bit OTN. But an effective, enjoyble first draft/read.
Nice job. Hope some of this was helpful. If not. Ignore it. Look forward to reading any rewrites.
P.S. I like "Deep in the Bone" better. That's just me. It strikes up some dark visuals. "Bone Deep" sounds like something a porn director migh shout at Ron Jeremy. IMO.
Rick, you can't see me, but I'm applauding! Congratulations a really great job! I can easily recommend this one to anyone who happens to read this.
I don't really have anything to complain about. Some minor tweaks and check those typos, but other than that, I think this was great! Why not rewrite it just a little more then when it's perfect, send it in to ScriptShadow...unless someone contacts you about the script first!
Page 2. Lots of ... To me, this slows the pace of the reading, which can be good in some cases, but when writing action, it doesn't help in giving us the frantic sense of what this first scene should feel like. I want to feel the action, the punches. I want to smell the adrenaline and sweat, if you know what I mean. The way it's written currently, it reads like a pleasant walk in the park.
Some typos and such. No biggie, you'll catch them on your next read through.
Page 4. Nice transition to the operating theater.
The doc empties what bloody contents? In the needle or in the hip? Why would you inject blood into a hip? I'm not a doctor, just wondering.
Page 8. James puts up a good argument.
Page 10. Much improved and believable hospital scene.
Page 14. We see this all the time in TV shows and movies, but I wonder how many doctors actually keep booze in their offices at the hospital in real life. I personally can't even imagine it. I'd think you'd be let go immediately if someone found out. Too big of a liability to have a doctor who drinks at work.
Page 15. Since Alex is so desperate, it seems odd that he would dismiss the donor drive idea. I imagine him grasping at every last straw. Even a donor drive...
Page 17. "Doctor Simpson?" Don't think Dr. Simpson would answer the phone with a question.
Page 18. Alex keeps referring to James as my son all the time. It makes it almost sound selfish. Like it's all about how important this is to Alex, not James. I would suggest Alex calls him James instead of "my son". Know what I mean?
Page 19. I know you probably feel like we the audience need to be brought up to speed on what HLA and stuff is, but don't give that exposition by having Dr. Simpson telling Dr. Alex about it. It seems really weird for him to inform another doctor about this. Have him explain to someone else. Ideally, someone not in the medical field. I think you can re-word that dialogue. Make it sound like they know what they're doing, but still give us an idea.
Also, IMHO, Dr. Simpson should also refer to James with James. Not, Your son. He knows him well too and the two doctors call each other by first name. Your son sounds like a stranger.
Page 25. Seems to me that Alex would insist on being with James during surgery. Especially since he's so ill. Maybe have the surgery take place after Alex gets back?
Page 30. Enjoyed the scene in Alex' car with the Albanian thugs. Nothing really bad happened, but it was still menacing. Great job with Bull giving the neck massage!
Page 37. Why couldn't Alex have his phone on while he sits in his car?
Page 38. Time clock is set.
Page 44. Good going on making the situation worse for Alex.
Page 47. Baskim's former lover? How does the audience know this?
She's probably tall, but maybe she talks too.
Page 50. IMHO, Alex should've tried to talk to the mother first. Appeal to her motherly instincts before he uses force.
Page 60. Lots of tense action. Great!
Page 65. Tears flow from both the victim...and Alex?
Page 70. Damn! You've done well here.
Page 80. Nice visuals when the woman gets hit.
Not sure how to feel about that particular event though. It's okay to risk your own life to save another, but it's not okay to harm innocent people in the process. I would skip that hit if I were you, unless it comes into play later.
A well-developed first act weaves in action and emotional drama to a satisfying level.
Here are my notes for the first 23 pages. I write them as I read the script, in the hopes you can better understand what one reader thinks as they absorb your tale. I hope this helps a bit.
I like the long steadicam shot through the alleys, into this grimy underworld, and culminating with a fight and a beheading in a brothel. Usually, I’m not a fan of camera directions or the use of “we” to suggest them. However, in this instance, I think it establishes this world effectively. It’s definitely a change of scenery from what I remember in the original 10 pages. I actually envisioned that whole multiple page scene as one very long Alfonso Cuaron / Robert Altman-like camera movement. I also like the powerful scene transition into a totally different world of the Doctor – our hero. That was an exciting way to kick off the movie.
I like the doctor’s introduction. I’m glad you drastically altered this idea from the 10 page version. I think it was a great idea to show him at work in the operating room, and then with his experimental compounds. I’m also glad there was no expository dialogue. Instead we are told the story through compelling visuals. Good job establishing the hero and the baddies quickly.
I guess his son’s name is James. Sorry. That was sarcasm. But yeah. I think you mention his name too much – 4 times in a row on the same page. Maybe you could mix it up with “son” and only refer to him once as James. Just a small criticism, really.
The mention of James’ illness felt awkward. I wonder if you could show James name on a report in the earlier experiment scene - so we already know he’s sick once we here his name in dialogue. Maybe you could even add a name tag, at the hospital scene, labelled Alex Grant. So if a slide or something says James Grant we know it’s a family member. This would be another way to show us the backstory and lead us with suggestions instead. Then once they talk over dinner the conversation can feel more natural. Once he mentions his future we already know he’s sick – and, if not, we NOW suspect it.
I like how James confronts his dad about not wanting to talk on the subject of his illness. If you do something along the lines of my suggestion you could alter this dialogue to something like: “You never do, dad. You just wanna avoid the truth. But… I wanna see the world before I die.”
I wonder if James could be more outwardly expressive in the kitchen. Maybe he punches a cupboard? Or throws his glass into the sink – shattering it. The emotion and exertion leads him to pass out. I guess I’d just like to see this moment embellished more. This is an important scene. His illness drives the movie. I’d consider taking a little more time with this scene and make it more impactful.
I really liked Alex’s dialogue in the hospital, specifically: “I’ve been here before.” It suggests that his wife died from similar circumstances or an illness of another kind. If so, this man’s story is pretty heartbreaking. I also loved his quip about loud music. It broke the tension nicely.
Page 13 has another case of repeating a name over and over. Consider some variation there. I’d also excise the following portion of dialogue (p.15) for redundancy and the on-the-nose effect it has: “I’m a doctor, and I’ve let my wife and kid die.” I understand this from the good development earlier. I prefer the more subtle suggestions, as I pointed out earlier. Maybe it’s a matter of taste? I’m sure you just want to make sure this information lands. For me, it did - without this awkward dialogue. I would also delete the following dialogue from the doctor: “” Maybe he can just pour him another glass of whiskey after he apologizes instead. You can hold on that image of the whisky glass – suggesting to us that Alex could turn to the bottle and surrender to the plight… But he’s our hero - he’d rather risk everything and make sure his son gets a donor. That image would transition to Alex at James’ bedside. The good dialogue that follows tells us his decision. He’s not going to waste any time feeling sorry for himself and drinking his sorrow into submission.
I love how this turns into a man fighting for his son’s life with illegal research. All we need is a more obvious ticking clock here. What if the doctor says James has “X” amount of days until it’s too late? This would add some more obvious urgency.
The doctor’s dialogue is a little too obvious when he mentions HLAs and such. I know you want to tell us, but it doesn’t mean much to me, as I don’t know these medical terms even after you mention it. This lack of knowledge may be on par with the general film going audience. If you want to show this movie is serious and accurate, maybe this info can be on the computer or chalkboard or something. As it is said through dialogue from one doctor to another it feels too expository and awkward, for me.
Wow. Okay. I like how you’ve clearly connected our two worlds together. the bone marrow match is the ruthless gangster from the opening scene. This is a really compelling shift. If Bashkim (Bash) isn’t agreeable, how will Alex force him to donate marrow? It might be a tough sell for Alex. Interesting.
I like how Alex drives out to meet the donor gangster face to face for his proposition. I wondered if phoning would make more sense. Maybe others will be distracted and think the same? A way to divert that is to show Alex about to make a call and then put down the phone. Maybe he talks to himself and says he needs to go there to convince him. Face to face. Man to man.
I stopped reading as he drove up to Bash’s house. It seemed like a good “chapter” point. I really like how you took the time to get us involved with Alex’s emotions first. While you definitely delivered action right up front, I’m glad you set-up our protagonist on a more personal level. It’s love that motivates him. And past regrets. He needs to save his son with what he’s learned as a doctor. I really appreciate these motives. It’s a refreshing driving force behind a modern thriller. Congrats with that.
I enjoyed this script. I will read more and post my further notes soon.
I read the newer version you just posted. From the start...
After thinking about the first part for a while, a couple of things occured. I don't like seeing certain types of characters in scripts, private eyes are among them. Along with journalists and alcoholic cops. And hookers with hearts of gold. Although I bend a bit for cops as it's hard to do a crime story if there's no police.
Your PI is a bit different, as is what he's tasked with isn't your stardard run of the mill private eye stuff. So that's good. I'd have preferred it if it was someone with a different job, but I get where you're going.
The other thing was, doesn't Alex have to work sometime? He said he'd see them tomorrow. I get the feeling he might have taken holidays or be between jobs. But as it stands, as it's not been mentioned, it is a little too Dick Van Dyke in Diagnosis Murder, running round sorting stuff out, while his patients drop dead in the hospital. He could just not go in, but that makes him somewhat heartless for a doctor. Obviously your story is nowhere near as silly as DM, even they do it with tongue in cheek a little, but you take the point.
I probably already said it. and maybe you're going there, it's just I doubt the Triads would lie down so easy. Surely they'd retaliate in some way and try and take back the brothel before page forty. I'm sure they will later. I just expected them to do it before page forty or so.
On page forty Larry says 'Seventy k?' I flicked back, thinking I missed something. But I couldn't find a previous reference. Maybe he misheard, or there's some reason I'm missing, but I can't work out why he'd say that.
I liked the scenes just prior page 45. Not quite seen it done that way before.
It flies along until page 58. All of that stuff would work faster in the screen, but the tension is there and it's proper thriller stuff with true motivations. It was very good.
It was only a few typos and some exclamation marks that took a little of the weight out of it.
I did notice this typo, and only mention it as it's on your new draft's first page - forties’s.
The only other format/typo stuff I'll mention is you need to correct a few instances of numbers appearing in dialogue. They need to spelled out. And there's no character names and (MORE) on some dialogue that runs onto the next page.
Rereading the first forty pages or so I still think some of the dialogue does need more work. What they're saying is good. But the doctors don't sound quite enough like doctors, in parts. And the Albanians speak English too well for foreigners with strong accents.
Larry's dialogue just before the gun buy says exactly's what is going to happen. Maybe this was intentional. Rereading it though made me think it's too much telling and leaves little to the imagination. When it does happen it's not as much as a surprise as it could have been. He could have just said they'll get spooked, or think he's a grass.
I like the stuff with the kettle on p49. I always did intend to use that in a scene somewhere but never had the opportunity. Works well.
p58 - Jesus. You certainly put this guy through the mill. Poor bugger must be hurting. It's good. I'm sick of seeing films where bullets and punches never seem to do any real damage. As well as average joes who manage to turn into Jackie Chan or Leon.
p58 again. I saw you do it earlier on, and was hoping you'd stop. But you keep repeating the header in the action line immediately below it. Please stop it. Thanks.
My medical knowledge is as limited as the rest of it. But I was under the impression there's a bit more to bone marrow than a needle insertion. Obviously, if there is, it's of no help to your plot. Hopefully there isn't. Even if there is, you could work around it with some equipment and a locked door or a bit more time. Or something.
p70 Personally I agree with you on this. However, I doubt the police would be happy with one of their own being labelled a 'sniper'. I think they'd prefer the term 'marksman' or even 'rifleman'.
Finished. Well, that was quite a ride. I'm with you on the end. It was better than I expected. Any other ending would have been a lie.
I've made a lot of points, most of them sound like I'm not a fan of this. I am. Best thing I've read in quite some time.
Hope this stuff helps. The only thing I'd say further is that overall it feels more like an hour long rather than an hour and a half. There needs to be another few scenes, either with the Triads and the brothel or with another character who isn't presently in this. Regardless, bloody good work and I hope you sell it soon. Shouldn't have a problem fetching quite a few quid.