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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Drama Scripts  ›  The State of Change and Migration of the Soul Moderators: bert
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  Author    The State of Change and Migration of the Soul  (currently 1472 views)
Don
Posted: March 6th, 2015, 10:47pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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The State of Change and Migration of the Soul by Joseph Cahill (medstudent) - Drama, Suspense - When a man's life begins to spiral out of control, the appearance of a mysterious object may be the thing that can turn everything around... for a price. 109 pages - pdf, format


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medstudent
Posted: March 7th, 2015, 6:54pm Report to Moderator
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Thanks, Don for posting. Looking to exchange a review for this. I will review anything, any genre, any length.

Joseph


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LC
Posted: March 8th, 2015, 5:50am Report to Moderator
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I'm giving this a read Joseph.

Is there an artistic reason all your slugs are:

INT. LUXURY APARTMENT. LIVING AREA.  instead of:

INT. LUXURY APARTMENT - LIVING AREA (no time of day)

I'd get rid of that huge title page font. Comes across as a little desperate imh.

That's just by the by though, so far I'm pretty impressed with your story and writing. Will get back to you in the next couple of days with some notes. No exchange required.


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medstudent
Posted: March 8th, 2015, 8:57am Report to Moderator
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Thanks, LC.

Yeah, been fiddling around with different looks, style-wise. No reason really. Saw that style on other scripts and liked it.

Let me know if you want me to read something. I could even read a recommended script (a script you feel needs a read and review) if needed.

Look forward to hearing feedback.

Joseph


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eldave1
Posted: March 8th, 2015, 7:52pm Report to Moderator
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I have a chance to read the first 20 pages.

so far, IMO, This is incredibly well written. Everything is so spot on and it flows beautifully. I am jealous.

One nit. This is on page 5.


Quoted Text
The Mustang, partially fixed up with rust spots here and
there, drives slow through the dark city street.


The first mention of the mustang is on page 4. i.e.,


Quoted Text
INT. 1960S MUSTANG. NIGHT

Wealthy neighborhood, mostly drug dealer type homes
surrounded by high walls and fences. Stark contrast to the
previous scene.


I would like it better if the fact that the mustang was partially fixed up - rust spots et al was described on page 4 rather than 5 as it would provide a nice contrast - e.g., piece of shit car rolling through a wealthy neighborhood. Like I say - it's a nit.

I'll try to get to the rest of the script sometime this week. Again - fantastic start.


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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medstudent
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eldave1,

Thanks for the read. The offer stands regarding a reciprocal read, if interested.

Look forward to hearing the rest of your thoughts. I agree, though. That description would be better right off the bat.

J


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eldave1
Posted: March 9th, 2015, 7:26pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from medstudent
eldave1,

Thanks for the read. The offer stands regarding a reciprocal read, if interested.

Look forward to hearing the rest of your thoughts. I agree, though. That description would be better right off the bat.

J


First off – again – your writing style is brilliant. The pages just flew by. Clean and crisp. That being said, there are several nit suggestions I would offer and I think there are several areas where the story and the consistency of the characters need some attention. Here goes:

Page 22


Quoted Text
MUNECO, 30s, dressed like an upper middle class yuppie with eyes that belie his outward appearances, sits at a back couch. The kind of guy you wouldn’t want to cross.


Not a fan of “his eyes that belie his outward appearances. Not sure what that means. All it tells us is that he doesn’t have the eyes of a yuppie – and I don’t know what those look like either.

Also – in this scene – I think you need to mention somewhere that Edwin entered the restaurant. Right after you introduce Muneco and Flaco would be fine.

Page 26


Quoted Text
Manny and Saul make their move.


I would be little more specific here. E.g., they exit the car – approach the house. Not sure readers know what “their move” is.

Regarding the crime at the gardener’s house:

I didn’t quite get what the crime was or how it works and I think it may be a real weakness in the story.

So, somehow they got a bill of sale and a deed to a house in a nefarious manner. Then Edwin shows up to kick the owner out so that the house becomes Muneco’s. This doesn’t make sense on several levels. First, if they got documents – why is this a violent ouster of the tenant? Why isn’t it – hey we own your house now – your evicted. And the crime itself is not plausible. I own a home – I can’t I imagine any scenario where someone shows up to my house with a deed and I’m – oh well, I guess you own it. There’s also the matter of banking, escrow firms, government bureaucrats, etc. that somehow would have to be fooled by fake title papers. Long winded way of saying – I think you need a different crime.

In several places throughout the script you overuse exclamation points!


Quoted Text
You knew about this, didn’t you?!


You use the !? quite a bit. Personally, I am not a fan of exclamation points in dialogue. Let the actors/director decide.

Page 38


Quoted Text
Muneco takes the iron and without warning, whips Manny in the face, instantly splitting his forehead

Although I like the action, I have a hard time believing that splitting his head open with an iron wouldn’t render him unconscious.


Quoted Text
A silent moment, as if Edwin is waiting for an answer from the statue.

CLOSE ON Jesus statue. It sits lifeless, unmoving.

BACK TO SCENE

I don’t think you need to change scenes here. Let the director determine the camera angle on Jesus. Instead, I would do this:

A silent moment, as if Edwin is waiting for an answer from the statue – there is none.

Pages 58 through 68 – this plot point went off the rails for me.

First, we have to believe that Olivia willingly quits her job (essentially), and plops into a car with a stranger and goes to a foreign country. Not believable.

Then – I am assuming she is expecting Henry – finds Edwin waiting for her and is generally okay with that. Not believable.

From Edwin’s perspective, he never mentions that Olivia has been screwing his brother – not believable. And then there is the matter of the box that he was supposed to be watching. It is the single thing that changed his life and he leaves it at the apartment while he goes abroad. – Not believable.

I really think that this segment of the story needs to be re-worked.

Page 72


Quoted Text
A KNOCK on the door startles Edwin.

Edwin goes to the door, nervously peers out the peephole.

EDWIN’S POV The Elder and the Elderly Man stand just outside.


The Elder shows up much too soon after Muneco leaves. It was only a matter of moments. At least make it later that night.

Page 76


Quoted Text
Continues straight for Muneco.

Muneco stands there shocked. Edwin strikes him in the head with the hammer.

I like the visual here – but didn’t make sense to me that he would kill Flaco with a gun and Muneco with a hammer. If you are going for dramatic effect, I would recommend that he shoots him in the knee bringing Muneco to the ground and then he tells Muneco that he thought it was only appropriate that he die the same way Manny did – he slits his throat. This prick has been tormenting Edwin – Edwin has got to make a little speech before he offs him.  

Page 103


Quoted Text
The Elder pulls a TASER. Tases Edwin, knocking him to the ground, unconscious.


No taser. As you set it up, these elder dudes are creatures with special powers (they carry things way beyond their weight, etc.) I can’t see them pulling a taser out. Do something like the Elder grabs both sides of Edwin’s temples – the whining in his head hits a incapacitating level – her falls to the floor – unconscious.


Quoted Text
INT. LUXURY APARTMENT. SPARE ROOM

The room spotless. Everything clean, including The Box.


I thought the elders took the box in the previous scene.

Page 103/104


Quoted Text
Edwin notices The Elder slide the back door down on a MOVING TRUCK. He gets in the driver’s side. Before Edwin can go after it on foot, the truck pulls away. Edwin quickly scans the street, finds his MUSTANG sitting curbside. He goes to it, gets it and starts it up.


Don’t buy it. Edwin has been out for a while and the Elders just happen to be loading a moving truck outside his apt later that night? You need to find a cleverer way for Edwin to know where they are rather than the mustang chase scene.

Page 107


Quoted Text
The Stranger shows off the place. Reveals to Edwin that The Organization is in the process of expanding and they want Edwin to be a part of it.

STRANGER
We are in the middle of an expansion, Edwin. We want you to be a part of it.


The action and the dialogue are redundant. Get rid of the action block.


Quoted Text
A similar pitch that was given to Edwin by The Stranger years before.


Years before?? Seemed like only a month or so had lapsed.

A few other issues.

I think you over do the hammer killings, especially when it comes to Olivia. Edwin already had a dream where he choked her to death and, given their relationship, I think the killing needs to be more exquisite. For example, Olivia enters the room and from behind, Edwin wraps around some strangulation device (e.g., cord) around her neck as he whispers in her ears (e.g., you were my angel……).  It just got a bit tedious too see everyone bludgeon with a hammer and it seemed that it was merely a device used to get blood splattering.

Olivia’s personality is a bit confusing and inconsistent to me. On one hand, your theme with her is that she is love with who ever has the money (hence her relationship with Henry). Then – counter to her personality – she’s going to break up with Edwin because of his secrecy??? He’s still rich – right?

Olivia’s affair with Henry is revealed much too early in my view. Halfway through the script, Edwin knew that Henry was screwing Olivia as well as screwing Edwin out of money. Yes, that was not enough for Edwin to kill Henry or even confront him for that matter. Later in the script – it is. So, I think you need to reveal the Olivia – Henry affair later and use that is the catalyst for the kill (i.e., if Edwin isn’t going to kill Henry for screwing Olivia once – he probably ain’t going to for screwing her twice.

I had problems with some aspects of the ending. Everything buttoned up too abruptly and many issues from the story went unresolved. Some examples: Who were the Elders? (e.g., maybe they were angels of God assigned to maintain the order or balance of things, etc.). Why was Edwin selected? (e.g., maybe because to maintain the order/balance Olivia, Henry and Muneco needed to be vanquished and Edwin was the only person in the position to eliminate them, etc.). What is the Box (e.g., it represents the constrains of one’s mind – and when one knows the constraints exist – they anything is possible, etc.). This is just blow it out my arse stuff – but IMO, the story ending as it does leaves too many WTFs?.

Again, as I said earlier, you write brilliantly and obviously have talent. However, IMO - there are holes in the story that I think you need to shore up. Good luck with this.  




My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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LC
Posted: March 9th, 2015, 9:06pm Report to Moderator
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Joseph, some notes will appear out of order. All are suggestions and observations. Use what you will, discard the rest.

Edwin stands, leaves abruptly, not wanting the others seeing Needs rewriting: (to see) his emotions. p.7

RE: SLUGLINES
Style is one thing, consistency is another. I think for a spec script you really should use standard formatting. Below are a few of your very fluctuating slugs.

EXT. GUADALAJARA CITY STREET, NIGHT.
EXT. GUADALAJARA CITY STREET - NIGHT.
EXT. GUADALAJAR CITY STREET. NIGHT
INT. BIG BOX COFFEE SHOP (MISSING TIME OF DAY)
SAME SCENE, MOMENTS LATER (REPEAT THE SLUG PROPERLY)
INT. 1960S MUSTANG. DOWN THE STREET. MOMENTS LATER (CONVOLUTED)

DAY/NIGHT often missing - use of mini slugs sporadically and not at other times etc. Just be consistent.

I'd avoid this type of thing:
'similar to the one she wears in the opening dream sequence.'
That's going to take a reader out of the story.

WE OPEN ON A RED SCREEN (you don't really need the 'WE' and some people dislike its use)
The red begins to move after a moment and we
FADE IN ON:

A RED SCREEN

FADE IN ON THE RED is how I'd do it and go straight to:

The red belongs to a vest on a man dressed as a symbolic
version SANTO SANTIAGO (30s), white cowboy hat and boots,
whip in one hand.


Then obviously you go on to describe the MEXICAN MARKET SQUARE etc.

Some small nitpicks such as: The crowd, part of A RELIGIOUS FESTIVAL going on.
You don't need the 'going on'.

And given you've got the fireworks 'snap' I'd have him crack the whip instead of:
SANTIAGO snaps his whip, (again) cause that's just doubling up.

You've got:
SANTO SANTIAGO
SANTIAGO snaps his whip,
Santiago SNAPS his whip to keep a Devil in its place.
I'd be a bit more discerning about what you choose to CAP too as it's coming across a bit haphazardly.

THE MASKED FACES
Which appear to bend in the heat, the sweaty faces of the
locals consume the woman’s view as she finds space to move
toward the opposite end of the crowd.


You don't really need the 'which', I see you're probably going for rhythm but it doesn't add to it here imh. 'Masked faces appear to bend in the heat' - great image. The 'sweaty faces of the locals' however should be a separate sentence imh and could do with a bit of an edit.

You have intro'd her as both WOMAN and OLIVIA and then state later:

OVERHEAD SHOT
'Of the woman moving within the undulating crowd.'
'of the woman' is not necessary.

Two things, you may as well call her OLIVIA in the sentence above - 'Olivia moves within the undulating crowd' and second thing in spec writing you don't generally 'call the shots' so to speak. I don't mind it in your script - you're directing but it works well with evoking the visuals you want to give us - just go easy with actually calling them 'shots' - a lot of the time you're more subtle in directing what we're seeing without actually calling it 'overhead shot' for example.

Likewise: The woman escapes (through?) the crowd' should also be at this stage OLIVIA escapes the crowd.

And although this description does conjure a specific image: A MAN (EDWIN 30s), Mexican Matt-Damon type, I personally would avoid making character description comparisons with known celebrities/actors. EDWIN should be given a unique description all of his own.

INT. 1960S MUSTANG. NIGHT
Lower case (s)

Learn the difference between 'lay' and 'lie' - it's common for writers to get this wrong so you're not the only one but you would do well to read up on it.
http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/lay-versus-lie?page=all

example:
Edwin lays in the center. Olivia hovers over him.
Should be 'Edwin lies...'

Edwin, sitting in the driver’s seat touches his temple,
I like progressive verbs but in this case making it present tense i.e.,
Edwin sits in the driver's seat, touches his temple' would be just as good, more present tense, and do away with the 'orphan' in that couple of sentences.

Speaking of which, there are a lot of 'orphans' in your descriptive lines - here and there okay, but you have a lot, and some of your description lines could do with some refining/editing so you'd benefit two-fold by going over them and eliminating a few.

'Edwin checks the rear-view.' Again here you have an orphaned description line so adding another word on a single line i.e., the subject wouldn't hurt- 'rear-view mirror'.

Sentences like:
'Cuts the headlights on at end of the road.' makes me think another proofread is in order your end and that a lot of this writing was just pouring out of you effortlessly which is great but clean up the fine detail so it reads even more impressively.

'Cuts the headlights at the end of the road'. or just: 'cuts the headlights'

drives slow through the dark city street.

'drives slowly through (or down) the dark city street. Not essential however.

And: Henry stands in the open door holding a BLOWHORN.
The sunlight outlining his imposing figure standing over Edwin.

The 'standing over Edwin' is superfluous here. Imposing figure does it.
And: I'd avoid using 'imposing' twice as you just used it in the previous line.

The thing lets out an imposing blast of NOISE. Again, I think a better and different adjective choice would work better in this instance. Actually 'blast' will suffice.

Incontinent of urine.
I take it you mean he's had an incontinent episode because of the seizure he had, but that's not worded well.

By the look on Edwin’s face, he’s heard this before.
Suggestion: The look on Edwin's face says he's heard all this before.

Olivia looks straight ahead, avoiding Edwin.

'avoiding eye contact' if it's even necessary. You could actually leave it at 'Olivia looks straight ahead'.

Henry waves down the WAITRESS. The waitress, a young, hot twenty something, approaches.
You repeat 'waitress' here and it detracts.
Henry waves down the WAITRESS - she's young, hot, twenty-something, - perhaps describe her wearing something we can picture, (instead of 'hot') a revealing tank top or 'short' shorts, you get the drift. Or just leave as is without the repetition of 'waitress'.

Henry gets in his car, leaves. His language draws hushed
GASPS from the other guests.


It's a good line but it either needs to be inside the restaurant where we were a moment ago(other guests) or if it is outside, which it appears to be with Henry and Edwin near Henry's car, it should be worded: 'gasps from people passing or offended looks etc.

'Edwin lies on the scanner table.'
You could add a bit more accurate detail re the MRI - an MRI table slides into a cylindrical tube and it bangs - the noise can be overwhelming - considering the problem Edwin is experiencing I would imagine he'd have a particularly hard time with the MRI - I just feel it's a visual opportunity missed.

'medical power or attorney' - This would be an: ‘enduring power of attorney’ – planning ahead for future medical treatment decisions.

Edwin goes to the fridge.
He goes to the fridge - for variation.

Stops to look at a bent photo of him
and Olivia hanging on the front.


of he and Olivia (creased photo? perhaps)

INT. EDWIN’S APARTMENT. BEDROOM
You should use a mini-slug here given it's a smaller location within the larger so, EDWIN'S BEDROOM will suffice. I say that cause you use mini slugs elsewhere.

MUNECO
...with eyes that belie his outward appearances,

What exactly does that mean?

What does FLACO actually look like? More description wouldn't go astray.

Terrific gangster dialogue between the two btw.

You guys are in trouble. You know who’s house this is?
TYPO: ‘whose house’
It ROARS alive.
Suggestion: It ROARS to life.

Edwin eyes him, calmly swerves to miss a car in the right lane. Moves in and out of traffic like a race car driver. V.nice description.

lay low
should be 'lie low'

MUNECO
You love Olivia, right, Winnie?
Would do anything for her? If you
promised her something that she
wanted dearly, then couldn’t
deliver, she’d think you were full
of shit. You would feel like fool,
wouldn’t you, Flaco?
FLACO
A real asshole, boss.

You need a wrylie inserted i.e., (to Flaco) cause otherwise it appears all the dialogue is directed at Edwin.

Fortunately, my driver realized
that the house... MY house was
still occupied, being guarded by
the local police.


Comma misplacement above. Insert comma following MY house. Actually you could delete the 'still occupied' and just have 'MY house, was being guarded by the local police.'

dinning table (TYPO) p.37

Muneco inspect the iron - typo - 'inspects'

INT. 1960S MUSTANG. DOWN THE STREET. MOMENTS LATER (badly written slug).

INT. CHURCH (incomplete slug)
When? Same night? How much time has elapsed?

SAME SCENE, MOMENTS LATER
Write the slug in properly - never seen it done this way - 'same scene' - nope.

Edwin tries to stay awake thought he high too much. (needs rewriting)

Death is a state of nothingness and
utter unconsciousness...


Though it's rather poetic this says the same thing in duplicate. It could be phrased a lot better. If you're going to put an 'and' in, then make that second thought something unique.

PEDESTRIANS enter.
Pedestrians enter the church?
I usually associate pedestrians with crossing roads – this needs to be rephrased imh. They're people coming in to pray, correct?

You've got minor errors including some grammar, punctuation, typos, word repetition etc. throughout and I advise you go through the script with a fine tooth comb.

This is especially necessary due to the fact your writing of the images/quick flashes/Edwin's hallucinatory episodes throughout, and your dialogue are really quite something. You don't want these errors to eclipse all the terrific writing you have. Make all of it shine. You dialogue is great throughout and the quick flashes and dream sequences or hallucinatory images (like I said)  are really terrific.

More notes to follow soon, and then some story notes.
Great job so far despite the things I've pointed out.


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Andy Best
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Hey Joseph.

I apologize in advance if any of these thoughts are patronizing or missing the point. I'll do my best to avoid the creative writing 101 stuff - which brings me to the opening observation:

The script is in the correct format throughout. Within that, you also pace the writing well, not too wordy, not too sparse. Overall I was easily able to read it while visualizing it as a movie. At no time was I pulled out of the read or annoyed by any formatting issues. So I don't think there's any need for me to comment in detail on that, you clearly know what you are doing.

Why did I pick your script from the list initially? The title is intriguing. On top of that, your board name 'med student' was visible right there and I was excited to read something by a med student with such a title. I'm not religious myself, but the idea of the soul still rouses my interest, especially from a medical point of view, like where would it be in the body, is it the mind? So the title grabbed me and gave me that impression.

Then, I read the first 20 minutes of the movie - up to and including the MRI scene.

This is what professional readers look at when they do initial coverage. In traditional movies, there must be some narrative or thematic hook in there too. Of course, if you go the indie route, you don't have to follow that, sure. This section gave us a nice opening scene with some abstract elements, and then gave us the character Edwin, his brother Henry and brief impressions of Olivia. We learn they have some kind of crime job coming up and then it's confirmed he has a brain tumor.

So after the opening 20 mins, which is not that short when watching a movie, we get the impression of a Mexico set crime movie with some dreamlike elements, probably linked to Edwin's tumor. The title backs up the abstract bits. My honest personal reaction was a little bit of disappointment: I'd got all excited for some dark weirdness, like some doctor cutting people up and looking for their soul.

Staying on the 'big beats.'

After meeting Muneco and then the bungled job, the next reveal is Edwin's suicide at the church: this happens on page 42 and the stranger repeats the script title in a line on page 44: so this beat, the first insight into the main element that makes this story unique, comes at 45 minutes into the movie. That's quite late.

Getting the box comes on page 53 and I thought the elder telling him 'the rules' was a cool set up ... coming at almost an hour into the movie. Again, nothing wrong with slow burn or different pacing, for me, just stating out the beats. If you know that, and are good with it, that's fine.

Saying that, in terms of big beats and traditional structure, the complication point comes at about the right time for a three act movie, 2/3. On page 69, the box has been discovered and tampered with, the rules have been broken and we have to see what happens or how Edwin is going to resolve it.

Then it is resolved quickly when he kills them and is then 'reborn' out of the box on page 78 Giving us a surprise and setting up an alternative end structure, something interesting.

The true end sequence of the movie, the next 27 pages (25 mins - 30 mins) sees him kill Henry and Olivia and be taken inside the organisation. It's quite a long sequence in terms of trad narrative beats.


OK, here are some more thoughts I had when I read it the second time:


The tone: It starts very hardboiled crime, in Mexico with tough talking, debt and jobs. Then the box comes in and overall it feels like a long form Twilight Zone (not a crit, just a descriptor). This is mainly because you stay away from heavy philosophizing/inquiry and keep the elements of mystery. The choice of ending adds to this, where the mystery loops around and the hero is now part of the mystery. That's a staple of the genre. The script within a script element reinforces this tone too.

Talking of the crime element ...

There's not much in the dialogue style to differentiate the three male leads, Edwin, Henry and Muneco. They stay on very similar topics and use similar expressions. Muneco is leaning towards having a different timing to his speech, but not enough, I think. Also, when Muneco talks about them studying together and the Canadian girl, it made me realise that we don't have any real details about Edwin and Henry's life together, of that sort. Why has Henry become such a prick? I understand that you don't want to put in clunky exposition but the characters feel light. Like, in the addicts group, that's a great natural opportunity for Edwin to talk about his brother, and some influence on why he became addicted ... but instead, Edwin says generic stuff and runs out. That could be a meaty scene. Edwin could be more sympathetic with more understated naturalistic dialogue, then the tough talking of Henry would be contrasted.

I really liked when we cut to the beach house. It was great to get a shocking contrast that showed how the box had changed everything. It was very easy to visualize when reading the script. I liked it best when the box was there. Here is Edwin, in this pristine white house ... and in the back, a locked door, with the box unseen behind it. Also the problem he has with Olivia really comes through at that time and should be the focus of the action once the movie gets going: he can't show anyone the box, but it gives him all this money: so basically he can't share it with anyone without causing risk - and for Edwin, sharing his life with someone he loves is what is meaningful to him, it's what gives him an out to his fuck ups, so this is a central conflict for his character. It could be explored way more.

Finally, in a high-concept movie like this, with the mystery box being the driving element, all discussion of the movie will move to what the meaning of the box is. What did I think when I read it? Well, the big beats are this:

A fuck-up petty criminal, who knows his problems and is sympathetic, has a brain tumor. He gets into real trouble after another job-gone-wrong, but is approached by a mysterious organization who give him a mystery box. He gets all the money he needs if he looks after it, but he can't show it to anyone, this leads to the bad/intrusive people in his life coming into conflict with him. After killing some of those people, he seems to be reborn through the box, and his illness goes away ... then when he finally kills his brother and wife, both who have betrayed him previously, he is accepted into the organization and will start to help others in the same way.

So does the box help him act on the negative people in his life and eliminate them? Is he dead after the church suicide and the rest is an abstract of him throwing out the bad elements and finally he's an angel. Why does he keep seeing Olivia and calling her an angel, by the end, she's not part of the process or the org, she's a bad element to be cast away. Be it literally or figuratively, the box wants Edwin to kill people, when he does so, he is accepted by the org.

These are the reactions I had.

Talking of high concept movies, the idea of "the rules" is always very cool and exiting in movies like this.

As for nit picking stuff. When the limo comes to pick up Olivia, it's the first time we meet her since she was kidnapped and held by Muneco - but there's no sign she went through an ordeal of any kind - is that an oversight or was she in on it? If she was with Henry on the scheme, then she wasn't in with Muneco right? How would she look, feel or talk in the scenes following being kidnapped with no idea if she'd live or die?

I hope all that reflection was useful in some way. Feel free to ask me further questions.


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medstudent
Posted: March 10th, 2015, 3:31am Report to Moderator
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eldave1,
I'll try to answer all the questions and respond to all the comments.

First, I'll say thanks for the more-than-thorough review and recommendations.


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The pages just flew by. Clean and crisp.


Thanks. My hope is that if the content doesn't suit you, then at least I should make the read as fast and painless as possible.


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his eyes that belie his outward appearances. Not sure what that means


Belie=does not support. I wanted to give the image of a clean cut looking guy with killer's eyes.


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I didn’t quite get what the crime was or how it works and I think it may be a real weakness in the story.


This (scam) is something that has occured in places like Mexico (which is where this is set). An owner of a house dies unexpectedely without next of kin. Someone forges ownership documents, sells the house as their own with those documents. Expensive houses and wealthy people in Mexico have live in workers (maids, etc). Henry and Edwin mistook the Gardener for that... a Gardener. In reality, he is a relative taking care of the house.


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In several places throughout the script you overuse exclamation points!
Noted.


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First, we have to believe that Olivia willingly quits her job (essentially), and plops into a car with a stranger and goes to a foreign country. Not believable.


I need to make this clear. Olivia's character (among other things) seems to be a sticking point. She is not consistent. I need to work on that. The point with this scene is that they are already in Mexico (Guadalajara, to be exact) so flying to Vallarta (45 min plane ride) isn't that big of a deal. Especially since she believes it is Henry.


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From Edwin’s perspective, he never mentions that Olivia has been screwing his brother – not believable. And then there is the matter of the box that he was supposed to be watching. It is the single thing that changed his life and he leaves it at the apartment while he goes abroad. – Not believable.


So the point here is Edwin doesn't care about the Box. His only interest is getting Olivia back. That's why he leaves it. Whatever is in it, doesn't matter right now. Only later does it become his focus, his obsession. Edwin loves Olivia so much, that he doesn't confront her about it. In his mind, if he can win her back, it doesn't matter.


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The Elder shows up much too soon after Muneco leaves.
Noted.


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didn’t make sense to me that he would kill Flaco with a gun and Muneco with a hammer.
Noted. I'll rethink this.


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these elder dudes are creatures with special powers (they carry things way beyond their weight, etc.) I can’t see them pulling a taser out.
Noted. I'll have to think about this, as well.


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I thought the elders took the box in the previous scene.
They did. Bad choice of words for the description.


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You need to find a cleverer way for Edwin to know where they are rather than the mustang chase scene.
Again, I hate to agree, but you are right. I'll need to reconsider this.


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I think you over do the hammer killings, especially when it comes to Olivia.
When someone kills someone, they tend to use a similar weapon. That was my reason for sticking with the hammer.


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Olivia’s personality is a bit confusing and inconsistent to me.
Something I really need to fix.


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Olivia’s affair with Henry is revealed much too early in my view.
In the very first draft, I did reaveal this much later. It seemed to go with the action at that time. I look at it again.


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the story ending as it does leaves too many WTFs
Hopefully, I can clear this up in the next draft.

Thanks. This was very revealing. Tough seeing the flaws in the story when I've been so close to it. I plan on working on these issues stated above the next draft. I'll go through your recommendations again when I sit down to rewrite this.

Best,
Joseph












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medstudent
Posted: March 10th, 2015, 4:00am Report to Moderator
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LC,
Thanks for looking at this.


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Style is one thing, consistency is another.
Yep. I'll go through it with a fine toothed comb.


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DAY/NIGHT often missing
I've always been under the impression that INT. scenes need no DAY/NIGHT attached. Maybe I'm wrong about this.


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WE OPEN ON A RED SCREEN (you don't really need the 'WE' and some people dislike its use)
Noted.


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FADE IN ON THE RED is how I'd do it and go straight to:
Noted.


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And given you've got the fireworks 'snap' I'd have him crack the whip instead
Noted.


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I'd be a bit more discerning about what you choose to CAP too as it's coming across a bit haphazardly.
Agreed.


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You have intro'd her as both WOMAN and OLIVIA
Noted. Consistency is a running theme with this script.

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go easy with actually calling them 'shots'
Noted.


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The woman escapes (through?) the crowd' should also be at this stage OLIVIA escapes the crowd.
Again, need to proofread this. I apologize. She didn't have a name with the first draft so I called her "The Woman".


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I personally would avoid making character description comparisons with known celebrities/actors.
Noted.


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Learn the difference between 'lay' and 'lie'
You figure after as many years of formal schooling that I've had, I'd know the difference.


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lot of 'orphans' in your descriptive lines
I'll have to look at this.


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Cuts the headlights on at end of the road
That's how it should read. He had the lights off and didn't turn them on until he was down the street.


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You could add a bit more accurate detail re the MRI
I was being lazy with that description. Didn't think anyone would care, actually.
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medical power or attorney' - This would be an: ‘enduring power of attorney’ – planning ahead for future medical treatment decisions.
In my line of work, it's the former.


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...with eyes that belie his outward appearances,

What exactly does that mean?
I can tell this line is a no-go.


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I usually associate pedestrians with crossing roads – this needs to be rephrased imh. They're people coming in to pray, correct?
I don't know if you've been to a Mexican City or another city with a heavy Catholic influence? People wander in and out of these churches without the intent on "praying". They come in, look around, admire the gold and statues, take pictures and leave. Those are the types of people I meant.

I'm happy you felt the dialgue and the dream sequences worked. I have a ton of work to do, it seems.

I look forward to the rest of your review on the plot, structure, etc.

Best,
J






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LC
Posted: March 10th, 2015, 4:53am Report to Moderator
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Just clarifying a couple of things:


Quoted from medstudent
I've always been under the impression that INT. scenes need no DAY/NIGHT attached. Maybe I'm wrong about this.

That a newie to me. I think you really are under the wrong impression here.

Quoted from Joseph
That's how it should read. He had the lights off and didn't turn them on until he was down the street.

Ah, I see. Cuts the headlights on at end of the road Hmm, so you've got 'cut them on'. Seems like a contradiction imh. To 'cut the lights' generally means to shut them off. At the very least you still need: 'at the end of the road' surely?  But hey, if you're happy with it. This is your script not mine. Just seems odd. Different parts of the world we often write things differently.

I can tell this line is a no-go. (re the description with belie)
The word 'belie' is fine. The problem is you don't tell us what his eyes look like for them to belie - get it? In your response to Dave you said: I wanted to give the image of a clean cut looking guy with killer's eyes.Now, that's great, that tells me.


Quoted from Joseph
I don't know if you've been to a Mexican City or another city with a heavy Catholic influence? People wander in and out of these churches without the intent on "praying". They come in, look around, admire the gold and statues, take pictures and leave. Those are the types of people I meant.

Well I've been to Catholic countries. And, I know even in Oz in the city anyone is free to enter the church and look around I just wouldn't call them 'pedestrians'. Sadly I haven't been to Mexico so I will defer to your local knowledge there.

P.S. No need to respond to this if you don't wish. You've got more feedback to reply to.



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LC  -  March 10th, 2015, 5:07am
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medstudent
Posted: March 10th, 2015, 8:56am Report to Moderator
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Andy,

Again, thanks for the in-depth review. It was so much more than I expected.


Quoted Text
we don't have any real details about Edwin and Henry's life together, of that sort.
One of the things you mentioned, I realized after you said it... We need to take a moment to get to know Edwin. The meetings are a good way to do this. I underutilized these scenes. I will focus on that on my next revision.


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Getting the box comes on page 53 and I thought the elder telling him 'the rules' was a cool set up ... coming at almost an hour into the movie. Again, nothing wrong with slow burn or different pacing, for me, just stating out the beats. If you know that, and are good with it, that's fine.
The pacing, I will admit, is unusual. I knew that when I wrote it. It does take some time to "get to the point" of getting the Box. Still, I think the story holds interest enough to get the audience to that point. Almost like two movies mashed together, with each having an Act 1 and 2, sharing an Act 3, if you will.


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As for nit picking stuff. When the limo comes to pick up Olivia, it's the first time we meet her since she was kidnapped and held by Muneco - but there's no sign she went through an ordeal of any kind - is that an oversight or was she in on it? If she was with Henry on the scheme, then she wasn't in with Muneco right? How would she look, feel or talk in the scenes following being kidnapped with no idea if she'd live or die?
Olivia was in cahoots with Henry the entire time. She knew he was setting Edwin up from the beginning. That's why they were together afterwards. She was never with or captured by Muneco. I look through it and make sure this is clear.


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A f***-up petty criminal, who knows his problems and is sympathetic, has a brain tumor. He gets into real trouble after another job-gone-wrong, but is approached by a mysterious organization who give him a mystery box. He gets all the money he needs if he looks after it, but he can't show it to anyone, this leads to the bad/intrusive people in his life coming into conflict with him. After killing some of those people, he seems to be reborn through the box, and his illness goes away ... then when he finally kills his brother and wife, both who have betrayed him previously, he is accepted into the organization and will start to help others in the same way.
That pretty much sums it up!

Finally, the entire script was based around the idea of misplaced faith or religiosity of an object. I wanted to write a story about a guy who is willing to give up his life, even kill for this... thing. The Box, in essence symbolizes all religion. The absurdity of following a "thing" or an "idea" to the end. No matter how absurd it may seem to others, as long as it provides what you are missing in your life. And the MAIN POINT is that this thing NEVER tells him to kill anyone. Edwin takes it upon himself to interpret what the Stranger tells him, what he feels with The Box. Edwin does everything. The Box does nothing. The Box is an inanimate object. That's the point.

Again, thanks. I am currently reading Piper Creek and will have a review by the end of the week.

Joseph


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eldave1
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Quoted Text
Belie=does not support. I wanted to give the image of a clean cut looking guy with killer's eyes.


I know what belies mean. What I meant was I didn't know what eyes that belied a yuppie appearance looked like. e.g., as opposed to something like - he had gray, lifeless eyes. i.e., if you know what eyes that belie a yuppie appearance look like - go ahead and write that.


Quoted Text
This (scam) is something that has occured in places like Mexico (which is where this is set). An owner of a house dies unexpectedely without next of kin. Someone forges ownership documents, sells the house as their own with those documents. Expensive houses and wealthy people in Mexico have live in workers (maids, etc). Henry and Edwin mistook the Gardener for that... a Gardener. In reality, he is a relative taking care of the house.


Got it. Assuming that this is not common knowledge - maybe a line or two between Edwin and Henry upfront (e.g., how long ago did the owner die? No relatives? etc.)


Quoted Text
So the point here is Edwin doesn't care about the Box. His only interest is getting Olivia back. That's why he leaves it. Whatever is in it, doesn't matter right now. Only later does it become his focus, his obsession. Edwin loves Olivia so much, that he doesn't confront her about it. In his mind, if he can win her back, it doesn't matter.


Okay. I still find a hard time believing that he doesn't care about something that gave him $5 million. Could be it's just me. I didn't see anyone else having an issue with it.


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When someone kills someone, they tend to use a similar weapon. That was my reason for sticking with the hammer.


His first kill was with a gun. Again, don't change it if you like it as is.


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Thanks. This was very revealing. Tough seeing the flaws in the story when I've been so close to it. I plan on working on these issues stated above the next draft. I'll go through your recommendations again when I sit down to rewrite this.


My pleasure - it was an enjoyable read - best of luck.



My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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