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Vow to Kill by Daniel Viau (Last Fountain) - Thriller - A former intelligence agent, who has finally rebuilt his life after tragedy, is thrust into action on the day of his wedding. A madman forces him into a dangerous mission somehow revolving around 9/11. 97 pages - pdf, format
Daniel, I gave this a read and admit to being a little confused with your overall plot so feel free to elaborate for me.
The crux of it as I understand it is that your character Cassidy is to carry out a number of tasks/killings, or his family, in particular his wife will die. He is also told his ex-wife is still alive or at least this is alluded to, as some sort of motivational ploy. All of this takes place on the eve of 9/11 and the eve of Cassidy's wedding, give or take a day or two. And, Cassidy ends up being one of the passengers on ill-fated Flight 93 and ultimately one of the men to storm the cockpit.
I think the problem with setting a story around 9/11 is that unfortunately we know all too well the outcome and it can't be changed. This creates a bit of a dilemma in my mind at least with your story and this challenge i.e. the race against the clock. Cassidy appears to find out a lot of information about AL-Qaeda and yet he doesn't seem to pass any of this information on to anyone - except for Bowman towards the end.
I started to think why doesn't Cassidy inform the FBI/CIA what's going to happen, or at least notify them of the 'book's' contents. I suppose you could rationalize that by saying that the guy's family has been threatened but this is all a bit too convoluted for me - for one thing the family never really appeared under any great threat and it was discovered pretty early on that the 'bomb' was photo-shopped, wasn't it? Lots of unanswered questions with this one for me I'm afraid.
I had a few issues with the writing too. It needs a good spit n polish overall both in formatting and with lots of typos/errors throughout. I won't go line by line but a few things below really stuck out:
'They separate and stare into another's gaze.'
Pretty sure you mean gaze into each other's eyes, or equivalent. You do a line like the one above with passengers on the plane as well.
careens not careems
All of the 'ya's' - sounds a little odd - yeah, or yep will do nicely in most instances.
Cassidy takes it. He looks to the photo
Imh you should be saying 'looks at'
As for the story overall - there are some nice things on display - the characters and their interactions are for the most part natural and they're memorable, in particular Cass and his son, and the story moves along at a decent pace.
There were a few too many things regarding credibility I just couldn't get past, and I think in a way you set yourself a difficult task setting your story against the background of 9/11 when we are aware now of so many of the facts of that day and the days leading up to it.
I'll be interested to hear your take on this. And, well done on finishing the challenge.
Hi mate... enjoying the script so far. I'm just arriving at the end of the flashback sequence near the start where he is with his family. I appreciate the set-up... his new, happy, family, the ex wife, the one (apparently) in danger. The son from the first marriage. I like how you did all of that with imagery. I have to admit though, I started skipping the boring dialogue. There's a lot of it compared to what the scene delivers visually already. I think you could cut most of the dialogue here and show everything more visually, smiles, body language, events that are happening. Only keep what is essential.
Cassidy stands on that dusty gravel road. Alone. The breeze
blowing sand and grit into his face.
I'm not sure if you're the type of writer that likes these things pointed out as, for all I know, you may come back and clean it up on a later draft, but there's an opportunity here to make the action run smoother. The slug makes mention of his location, so really all you need to write is: Sand and grit blow into Cassidy's face as he stands.
I already know he's alone. I got it from the earlier scene. It's like you're resetting the atmosphere. The reader won't forget. As a reader, I don't need this repeated... but maybe some might, so I could be wrong.... wouldn't be the first time.
He scans his surroundings again.
He notices a vacated vehicle 100 meters away.
Maybe have him walk a while before spotting the car.
The whole thing with Cassidy and the Voice on the phone needs cleaning up. Way too much exposition.
Pass the dutchie to the left hand
Musical Youth... they originated from my city. Although the correct lyrics are, Pass the dutchie pon the left hand side. I think it's shortened from 'upon'. It's a Jamaican/British slang ting. Maybe she knew that and being a typical white girl, felt awkward about going the extra mile and singing the correct lyrics (at least, in public). So perhaps, I'm wrong again.
Their hands caress another. They separate and
stare into another's gaze.
Your writing is normally a hundred times better than this.
She runs a soft hand across his cheek.
EXT. GRAVEL ROAD - TODAY
Cassidy traces his hand across her cheek, like Janet did.
Nice scene transition.
He sips his bottled water and looks to the sun. He shields
his eyes with one hand.
If you think about it, the above could be just one sentence. Maybe something you'd notice on later drafts or maybe not. It would really help with flow if done in one sentence though. Something like: He sips bottled water and, shielding his eyes, looks to the sun.
Be wary of mentioning hands, as in, his hands do this or that. More often than not, it will go without saying that a character would have needed to use their hands to do it. It's a visual cue the reader does not need.
He reaches across and opens the glove compartment. A sheet
of paper is inside. He retrieves it.
Same in the above. He 'reaching across' isn't needed.
More correct would be... passers-by. Some dictionaries allow passersby. But not the oxford, which is the standard, as far as I'm aware.
pages 18-21.... where Melody and Thomas go from the arcade to the shop just so she can pummel into our heads the fact that he's a natural born killer. I don't like it. You're forcing that into my mind and I just never had Thomas down as a natural born killer. Actions speak louder than words. Try to think of a way of showing this visually rather than forcing it through dialogue. It just doesn't fit at the moment.
Cassidy swishes at the air, twirling the pen around and
jamming it into Mo's arm.
Try to find a better way of wording the above mate.
I'm up to page 34 and finding that the dialogue with the voice on the phone needs cleaning up for exposition.
Why can't Tariq simply tell him what is written in the diary? This would save a lot of fuss. Tariq already intimated that he could read it, but was too afraid to. I think it would be better if you had Cassidy meet the bookstore owner before Tariq. Also have Tariq as too westernised to understand it properly.
I don't like all the flashbacks, they don't seem to be revealing very much but are notching up the page count as they are so dialogue heavy.
I'm at page 42... this is the reveal on the notebook. Finally. This is the end of your first act, yet we are almost half way through the script. This should be happening around page 22 not 42. You're dragging this script along with inconsequentials.
The Sniper from the bed of the truck has him at gunpoint.
Why not just shoot him? Why would he want to capture Cassidy alive? As soon as he got a bead on him he would have fired.
I'm at 50... and wondering why the constant cut backs to Thomas. I see they are going to be victims, or maybe have to fight for their lives as they are being followed... this should have happened much earlier. I think we need to feel that they are in real danger from the outset. Showing the normal family life could be offset by showing them being watched. However, I still think the family stuff is played out too much.
Every time the voice comes on it's exposition time. The voice gives away way too much. Let your actions tell the story as much as you can.
They look into another's eyes.
You do this quite a bit, so I'm going to have to pick you up on it. The way this is written is that both look into a third person's eyes. What you should write is: They look into one another's eyes... or, They look into each other's eyes.
One thing I like about this script is the use of an Asian actor and the culture in general. You're not skipping over or stereotyping that I can make out. It's refreshing.
I'm up to around 62-63 and there is a lot of exposition going on.
Ah, so you chose an actual moment in history. It's a great story, however we learn everything through exposition. I also feel that all the family stuff doesn't really go anywhere. Be better to stick with Cassidy and concentrate on his story. At one point, I thought the constant cuts to the family would reveal Thomas as being the antagonist, maybe because he felt left out or something, but as the story went on it became obvious you weren't going that route.
All of the issues are easily fixed, good luck with it, mate.
First off, I had no idea this was taking place at the actual time of 9/11. I thought it was taking place now, but was somehow related to it. It wasn't until that very end scene that I realised we were in the past the whole time. Unless I missed something along the way, then I feel that should of been mentioned.
As for the end scene/s, I found that pretty hard to keep up with what the hell was going on. You time jumped all over the place, the future, the wedding, the plane. It might be the sort of thing that would work better on screen, but on the page it was pretty hard to follow.
The stuff with the family is pretty good, and could have the makings of a separate story, but as a drama. As this was supposed to be a thriller though, with all the jumping back and forth it loses traction. I think it would work better if you started 'yesterday' and just went forward from there. Start as a slow burn then build up into something more thrilling. Going back and forth really slowed it down and made the tone a bit inconsistent.
I also think it would work better if you somehow managed to find a way to have Thomas as Cassidy's sidekick instead of Tariq. You could still have Tariq involved to help, maybe he's a friend of Thomas from school or something. It's just with Thomas starting out as a bit of a loner, not really wanting to be part of the new family, it would be an interesting take on the father-son bonding scenario.
Now, I remember saying in the first 10 section about the use of 'he' or 'his'. And while I know they need to be used, you've gotta find a different way to start each paragraph. It becomes very repetitive. Take page 13 for example. Eleven of the paragraphs start with the word 'he'. Just a quick example, you start a line off 'he looks around', which could easily be changed to 'looking around he...' Yes you would still have the word 'he' in there, but it would make a nice change. Perhaps it's because you didn't want to use words that end in 'ing' as some say that's a no no. But used at the right times it's fine.
I saw that Libby (LC) mentioned the use of the word 'ya', and it did strike me as a little odd. Maybe it's there accent, if I remember Fargo right, wherever that's set they all say 'ya' too. But I got the impression it should be 'yeah' instead, it would certainly make it read easier.
You seem to use a lot of full stops/periods where commas would be better. A random example would be at the end of page 62, there's a line... 'I'm not the only one either, pal. I'm one of many. And one by one. You. And your friends. They're dead'. The first couple of full stops are fine, but the others should be commas as it holds up the read when really it should flow better. It happens throughout the script too, it made it a bit trickier to read then needed.
Overall, I think I get what you were trying to do, writing a story around the conspiracy theory that the higher ups knew and did nothing to stop 9/11, or didn't take the threat serious enough anyway. But like Lib said, we know a lot of the details surrounding the events of that day so it doesn't quite seem to work. Or not for me anyway. Not sure it counts as thriller either, but I still reckon you could write a good drama based around the family.
The exposition reads fine. I get to know about all the characters.
INT. BEDROOM – CONTINUOUS ... The descriptions could be better here. It's very static. Half a page but there's not much happening. I think you should bundle the necessary descriptions of the surroundings and what Thomas is actually doing.
P12 CASSIDY You think Alan would approve of me? ... (and so on)
That whole part of their conversation is very strong and authentic. The audience will identify a lot with this. It has a kind of spiritual vibe and way of thinking which most people can understand and have been confronted with.
Concerning the whole abduction plot so far: I can imagine- Cassidy speaking some more soliloquies, his reaction feels too lifeless to me; - and also him trying to use the phone to call Janet.
P15 Well, that's a problem. We guess Cassidy's next hours are determined by following precise instructions. So, why he has time to act on his own here? I think you should better explain what instructions he has in hands while driving to this sub cultural place or we won't understand why he's able to plan to do stuff with Tariq in the meantime.
As well I think this all is quite an interesting angle. If you find the right connectors to justify Cassidy feels save and free to start that conversation----maybe he sees on his watch and has enough time to be on the schedule of a visible, potential and "understandable" instruction WE'VE SEEN on this sheet right BEFORE.
MELODY You're a natural born killer.
THOMAS Like Woody Harrelson? Or another character says:
Mr. Mom, like that movie with Michael Keat--
Since this challenge the calling of titles, actors, movie characters, quotations etc. go into my biggest no-gos list for amateur scripts. It doesn't work. It really doesn't work.
The book is full of answers. Answers that will help you save your wife, for once you succeed these missions, YOU WILL HAVE SAVED THE COUNTRY AS WELL.
Okay, reads like the plot point. I'm happy to say that I like it so far. You got a great balance between the present events and the day before. It's a very interesting concept you've drawn out - in any case. The characters interact fine. The dialogue is overwritten, though I like it, still: Because of that I don't know exactly which genre I'm reading here. It's not pure action, pure thriller, or pure social critical/political drama. Don't know, maybe this will be a strong feature of your script in the end.
31-33 Think visual It isn't cinematic to have a conversation with your prot phoning a Voice while sitting around. It's a problem. Two minutes without visuals is simply too long. In this situation I would start to cut down any word, whichever isn't precisely needed to FILL THE TRUE CONTEXT. Such as
CASSIDY That doesn't make any sense. VOICE ...We have to do this ourselves.
A lot of repetitive things like these. You already established what's going on.
P34 INT. APARTMENT HALLWAY - MOMENTS LATER In case of focus, descriptions and all that, "technically", this is one of the best scenes I read from you.
Cheers – The concept of these three transitions works well in my eyes.
I hope you keep that whole level.
44 reads uneven, because the green van was at the front of the building, but then, they're already driving, followed by this green van. You need to fix that.
The action could be more precise in case of who does what when, focus?
Again, please not!!!
"Do or do not...
THOMAS / CASSIDY There is no try"
Well, Star Wars. By the way: They phenomenally replayed the dialogues concept in Batman Begins on that frozen lake. It's a great quotation, but don't let them recite movies. It doesn't work. Is it harsh to say it's ridiculous to make it clear how much it doesn't work?
Okay. At p 51 starts another phone call of Voice and Cassidy. There's so much wise-speaking and philosophy rhetoric stuff which repeats over and over again in case of content and style. Unnecessary. Can you write it one page??? Everything above that amount of phone call conversation makes me start to skip, only if it wouldn't be a screenplays from here of course.
Around 60 it comes to my mind that Cassidy had a chance to take a gun from the mysterious peoples, earlier, at the streets, not?
65 66 reads very sensitive. I know you are a big talent in building emotional conflicts between characters. That shows along the whole script imo. I also like the development the family's doing in order to the chaos at the other story-string. That said-you tend to overwrite these emotional parts as if you can't let it go.
Well, now that Cassidy knows he has an "ally" at the other end of the line, why he doesn't call Janet, Melody or Thomas?
"Did he really do the BILL & TED air guitar thing?" ..again..
"The book talks about killing airplane captains." – unbalanced. Tariq had enough chances to get to the point earlier, but when Cassidy asked what the book's text is about he and his uncle just answered in the sense of: Bad people will bring evil.
Again. Man, take it serious. I don't know if it's just me but I'm searching for true ambition, original stuff. If you don't trust my critique here, that it doesn't work that characters and here even many different characters talk about the world of movies - then I suggest you to do a research and read what the pros and the whole market say about such behavior.
???? The large TV: Fans cheering so loud. The Boston Red Sox have won the World Series. Finally.
You think such a serious theme deserves such a cheap payoff as you do it here with baseball???????????????
Okay. I made a lot of notes. I hope they help.
In the end it's about
SPOILERS how the hijackers of flight 93 were overpowered by Thomas Cassidy.
Phew. What to say. I think you are very talented in building emotions.
Then there's another part of your characters, a humorous, playful one. When you squeeze that too hard you lose the connection to your concept. 9/11 in fact has traumatized so many people around the globe – and here - for example, you let Tariq make some calls he wants to see boobs in a strip club and that BostonRedSox stuff in the end. That doesn't fit together. And you do this extensively.
Tarantino did make a partly humorous stuff about slavery and Nazis. But those things are "in large parts" worked off by humanity, "mostly" we overcame that. That said: I don't like his stuff and think he's one of the biggest idiots who gets fame out there . I dare to say if you write about a man who stopped flight '93 it has to be serious, more non-fictual stuff in its presentation ESPECIALLY AND NEARLY ALMOST MEANT IN CASE OF THIS HUMOR.
There must be a better way to bring across the phone calls. They are heavy overwritten and feel static this way.
The story itself - I enjoyed. Especially I enjoyed your sub cultural Arabic world inside the States. It's an original location.
The deep emotions of the family perfectly fit to your "deep" theme.
So, in the 93-angle lies the problem-- in opposite to those humorous parts, what if you appeal more to the deep patriotic feelings of Americans. I know it's an old hat, but IMO it's the only way to do it here.
The humor definitely has a place in the family's angle. The humor definitely has no place in the flight 93 angle.
Another point: Look out for some techniques to stop overwriting things. Since I read your stuff I always have pointed that out. Build up some knowledge to pretend that and understand why the reader thinks so. It would make you much stronger imo if you invest at this point.
It was hard stuff you handled here. I think you did well, though I think you did some faults which have to be reworked in its conception. If you wouldn't have that heavy overwriting and that humorous handling within that deep theme I would say it's great. Those flaws are simply too big.
Been a busy two weeks, but I finally found time to get this together. Here goes…
Pg. 1 “His wrists are wrapped with cordage. His mouth is gagged by a cloth.” This information should be promoted to the earliest description on Cassidy. Particularly his mouth being gagged, as it would be near impossible to have an image of him early on without having at least one of these elements in the shot.
Pg. 5 The scene with Thomas needs to be more active. Right now it’s just 30 seconds of shots of his room. It might not seem like a long time, but it is when you’re just staring at a fictional person’s stuff. You can combine or cut some of these images. I’m also curious how Thomas has a rejection letter from the military, but also dogtags and pictures of his fellow soldiers.
Pg. 8 Is this meant to be humorous? The caller starts off saying “this is a recording” and Cassidy just keeps interjecting and asking questions. It makes me think he’s not all there. [It turns out he’s right, but maybe we should find that out in this conversation so we don’t spend a lot of time wondering if our hero is dense]
“VOICE: It's quite a moral dilemma isn't it, Cassidy. Do you still love your wife? Or have you really moved on?” This is a little OTN for my taste.
Pg. 9 “The final photo is timestamped: 08:36AM, 09/10/01 (September 10th, 2001).” I think this deflates the tension. As soon as we see that, we know that something shitty is going to happen the next day no matter what Cassidy does.
Pg. 12 “Cassidy traces his hand across her cheek, like Janet did.” Who? What? Last we saw he was looking at a photo of a bomb. He’s also been sent pictures of both Marilyn and Janet, so who’s ‘her’ here.
Pg. 13 Arabic signs with English translation are much more common in the Middle East. If it wasn’t for your aside, I would assume that’s where he is (Plus I’m pretty sure there’s a set standard for street signs in America that would prevent them from being in the Arabic alphabet).
Pg. 14 I think the conversation between Tariq and Cassidy would work better trimmed. Get to the important bits quicker. Cassidy is impatient and in a hurry. He spends too much time going back and forth with this kid.
Pg. 16 “Heh, what's your name?” I’ve always interpreted ‘heh’ to be a sort of half-laugh. You use it like “hey” frequently.
“Tariq laughs. Cassidy smiles with him.” Cassidy’s right in the middle of talking about someone trying to kill his ex-wife.
Pg. 17 “TARIQ: If you say so. But, how do I know it's yours?” I don’t understand why Tariq is making an issue of this. Why does he care if Cassidy’s lying? He doesn’t even know what Cassidy is talking about yet.
“TARIQ: Why are you here then?” For all Tariq knows Cassidy’s getting married to a Muslim a block away. The incessant questioning is too much for me. If I were Cassidy, I would’ve given up on this kid and started looking around the Muslim neighborhood for someone else who could help. Someone who wasn’t going to question every single word that came out of my mouth.
“CASSIDY: What does this have to do with Marilyn?” Now Tariq could actually have a legitimate question, but he’s not asking it. That question is, ‘Who is Marilyn?’
“THOMAS: Fuck ya. We win.” It’s a small thing, but arcade games almost always end with the players losing. The one time I ever beat an arcade game, a small crowd had formed around me cause no one had ever seen this shit before. [Looking back, the whole natural born killer thing doesn’t really go anywhere either. I thought Thomas was gonna get in the fight or something]
At page 20 and I feel like all the real action is with Cassidy in the “present day”. I want to stay there because that’s where the intrigue is. I don’t know why I’m spending so much time in a flashback of Thomas smoking weed, playing video games and buying cigarettes. I feel like I’ve almost seen more of the latter than the former.
“THOMAS: Listen. Your mom is great. But. I can't-- I'll never call her "Mom".” The substituting of commas with periods is starting to grate on me a bit. “Listen, your mom is great, but I can’t—I’ll never call her “Mom”.” The comma between great and but could be a period to indicate a fuller pause in the dialogue, but isolating the word ‘but’ between two periods is weird to me.
Pg. 25 I like Cassidy ushering Tariq away. I’m not sure what to make of the fight with Mo though. Mo seemed to be involved, but doesn’t want to be involved (why didn’t he help Cassidy than?) He goes from trying to kill Cassidy to trying to kill himself, but I have no idea what any of that is about. The whole thing was a little more baffling than thrilling and doesn’t really tell me anything new about the situation.
Pg. 26 “TARIQ: You pay?’ Damn, the kid already has his watch and all he did was introduce him to an assassin. If the kid’s a hustler I’d play with that a little more. Really let it come through.
Pg. 27 I don’t know how big they’ve made their wedding, but usually you’re doing stuff right up until the last moment. The 24 hours beforehand is pretty much nonstop preparation for one thing or another. That Cassidy is watching SportsCenter and Janet is joining him instead of hunting down Thomas to get his haircut seems unrealistic to me. I think these scenes would also be more interesting if the family was engaged in actual acts of preparing for the wedding rather than just talking about it. It would allow the conflicts to come out naturally, since it’s a pretty stressful time anyway.
Pg. 29 If we’re going to be spending this much time with the family, things can’t be so hunky-dory in every scene. The only place there’s any scent of conflict is with Thomas not accepting Janet, but even there he’s really just moping. He’s not taking any actions that would warrant my attention to his feelings. If all this is just to show that this family has a bright, happy future, I got it already.
Pg. 30 Once again, Cassidy’s entire family is at risk of being blown up and burned alive and he’s eating shawarma with Tariq and laughing about gender role reversal.
Pg. 33 “TARIQ: He does not like them either.” Have we established who ‘they’ are?
Pg. 51 “VOICE: You're mistaken. I want you to succeed this mission. Trust me I do.” First question that comes to mind is, why not help him to a greater extent than sending him on a scavenger hunt.
Pg. 52 I’m curious why he hasn’t decided to get in touch with the police, or even just call Janet and ask her if there happens to be a bomb under one of the tables.
Pg. 53 I feel like there’re two or three different groups that are all being referred to as ‘they’ in this conversation. It’s confusing.
Pg. 56 “a pale Victorian gown with a corset.” Is she the bride? She would look like the bride. I doubt the bride would like that.
Pg. 60 Cassidy’s attacker getting shot by his own man, and the way it happens, is funny.
Pg. 71 “Several bridesmaids and their husbands carry music equipment into the reception hall.” Maybe the husbands. I doubt the bridesmaids. They should be somewhere with Janet helping her get ready. That’s pretty much their purpose.
Pg. 80 “A naked stripper runs towards Tariq. Her breasts bounce. Tariq stares in awe.” In the middle of a gun fight, this establishes an odd tone. Sex and mayhem can work in a movie like Cranked, but I’m pretty sure Cassidy’s involved with events leading to 9/11. That’s such a risky proposition in general and I imagine mixing in sex jokes and other offbeat humor elements would only hurt you. 9/11’s still a sensitive subject for many. You wouldn’t want to be accused of making light of it.
Pg. 91 “BOWMAN: Al Qaeda? Well, I can't say I haven't heard of them.” I know you’ve been vague about who Bowman is and what exactly he does, but Al Qaeda weren’t exactly small fries before 9/11. They weren’t a household name, but anyone with more than a passing interest in the Middle East would’ve heard of them and Bin Laden, and known they were a problem. Sort of like ISIS now. It strikes me as off that so many of your characters act like they’re some shadowy, little known group.
I liked the intercuts in your ending. I was pleasantly surprised by the Red Sox bit coming back into it and thought it was effectively placed. I see Prussian didn't dig it, but Baseball, America, Fathers and Sons... yeah, I get it.
I like the idea of Cassidy starting a new life and being pulled back into his old one. I like the idea of him trying to balance a high stakes personal situation (the wedding) with a high stakes professional one (the terrorist attack). And I like the idea of a father making amends with his son before having to make some noble sacrifice. The way you chose to structure all this, and the use of 9/11 left me wanting.
First, using 9/11 saps a lot of the tension from what Cassidy’s doing. For example, we wait 42 pages to find out Al-Qaeda is involved, but we already knew that. To be honest, I can’t really think of anything that 9/11 brought to the table here that couldn’t have been pulled off by an ‘original’ attack, which sorta left 9/11 at the level of gimmick for me. That of course, is no good.
Similarly, a lot of tension is robbed by from the family angle by having it all done in flashback. There are certain things we know won’t happen, and ultimately the story’s resolved separately on its own. They never really mixed in the way I hoped.
I see Arty suggested having Thomas replace Tariq. I think that’s a good suggestion. I think it might also help to have Thomas be Janet’s son and unaccepting of Cassidy. Thomas seeing how far Cassidy’s willing to go to save his ex-wife would be an interesting dynamic to play out.
If you ditched 9/11, you’d also be free to pursue the comedy angle that you appeared to want to go for here and there. It could be fun to watch Cassidy chasing down terrorists while also trying to complete wedding chores along the way. A scene where Cassidy threatens to waterboard a florist could be superb.
Wherever you chose to go with this, good luck and congrats on completing the challenge.
Congratulation on finishing the challenge. You did great writing a full draft. More power to you.
Pros: - Nice concept: If it wasn't for some unheard of heroes 9/11 could have been much worse. It's a difficult concept to market though but I, for one, like it. - Words economy. The haiku writing style was superb. It was a fast read. - The characters weren't shallow. You made good efforts to try and give them depth. - You're voice as a writer is quite distinct which is always a good thing. - Yesterday/Today trick to keep us aware where we were on the timeline was very smart.
Cons: - The two story-lines running parallel wasn't a good choice. The father finishing his tasks. The family trying to adapt. They felt like two separate movies. - Too many talking-heads scenes. Too many tame scenes that had no conflict in them or the conflict was too weak it was unrecognizable. - The description wasn't as vivid as I hoped for. It's mostly because you were too blunt when drawing images. Better choices of verbs and adjectives could fix that easily. It's not like your choices didn't deliver I just want you to aim higher. - The dialogue was on the nose most of the time. No good use of context that I have seen in these pages. - Thomas seemed to be the only character who changed during the course of this story. The others seemed too perfect to need any change at all which hurt your script badly and made you lose a lot of points. And even Thomas change of heart came too easy it was tasteless. - In the most parts things were going too good for your own good. People don't like smooth rides they like them bumpy when it comes to stories. You need more conflicts, more troubles, more bad emotions in this story. - There seem to be no climax in the script.
Suggestions for your next draft: - What if Mel is Cass's daughter and Thomas is his step son instead, so Cass can use the chance of being with Tariq to learn more about how to befriend rebellious teenagers. At the same time, Mel and Thomas could be kidnapped and forced to stay together which gives them an opportunity to understand each other and become closer. This will make a better parallel story than flashbacks in my humble opinion.
- Things has to escalate for Cass faster. It seemed that the challenges he was facing was in the same level throughout. He was always easily taking down his foes. I might be wrong but I thing he wasn't even scratched.
- Make the reveals come in slower pace. Knowing about the plot planned by the terrorists was fully unveiled too early in the story. Give us bread crumbs not loaves.
- To give this idea a better chances in marketing make the story about terrorist planning a 9/11 anniversary so there will be fresh high stakes.
Over all you have a great promise to be successful screenwriter. Good luck. Keep honing those skills.
Though your descriptions of Cassidy being dropped off in the beginning are good they could be condensed some I think.
I would lose the inner monologue dialogue as well of "Marliyn?" and "The wedding?" I know it looks good on paper but on screen it's often unneeded or kills any early mystery you're trying to build. WHY is there a tuxedo there? Much more interesting that way. Let us figure it out.
That said, great intro scene. Love the old flip phone, typo messages, a tux in a bag, etc. We are confused, because of your scene and not because of your writing.
Again condense your action. All the he, he ,he could be one slug I would think.
The family talk could be cut down. Early in, early out.
Don't let Cassidy talk to the recording. Or at least stop asking questions to it. Makes him look dumb. More inner monologue dialogue that's unneeded. Also the recording goes into too much detail. I don't think we need to know the stakes right away specifically. We know there ARE stakes and can guess what they may revolve around. That's enough for now.
Oooh, somebody at the wedding is up to no good with the bridesmaid pics. Nice touch.
I have to go, work is over. But I'll try and read some more when time permits. Not a bad start at all so far.
Not digging the family stuff flashback from page 9-12. You're trying to build character but nothing is happening.
Cassidy getting into the Sedan is way overwritten. As is it's over a minute of just him in a car onscreen. Cut it down.
Page 15 A MAN in a green truck
There's good parts with Cassidy and Tariq but it goes on too long. I like how Tariq gets scared about something but we don't know why. Cassidy fought in Iraq or something. Cool. But cut down the extra fluff. On screen this could be an engaging scene but drawn out like it is takes the excitement away.
The book store with Mo doesn't add much to your script. What changed from the beginning of the scene to the end? We already kinda knew what was written in the book was bad. Mo doesn't shed anymore light on it however. If we got another piece of the puzzle that would help. He's willing to die for for the book but I feel this scene needs more.
The flashback scenes are dreary. They don't seem to be building towards anything. If you could work in some clues within the flashbacks so they have value that would help. For example, maybe explain a special significance for the tux. It's a special one Janet and Cassidy picked out together. Maybe a clue is in a pocket from earlier?
And wait a second? His family is going to die horribly and Cassidy stops........ for lunch?
The phone rings and the voice is surprised Cassidy didn't call his recording bluff earlier, but he did.