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The Little English Boy by Liam McCann - Drama - Danish pilot Hans Gundelach escapes occupied France to England in 1940 with sensitive German documents, but he’s soon arrested as a spy by the Secret Intelligence Service. Only a young English boy can save him from the death penalty. 109 pages - pdf, format
EXT. AIRFIELD - DAY NOTE: THE DIALOGUE IN THIS SCENE IS SPOKEN IN DANISH AND IS SUBTITLED IN ENGLISH. A battered WW2-era Fokker aircraft misfires and limps towards the runway. It soon touches down and rolls towards a hangar. Smoke belches from the exhaust. A PILOT wearing the uniform of a Danish flight officer shuts the engine down and climbs out. Heï¿½s tall, lean and has the chiselled good looks of an athlete. He heads for the GROUND CREW with a confident and purposeful gait. SUPER: "Kastrup Airfield, Denmark, April 5, 1940.
I stopped here. First I had to go back to see what was going on because you wrote 'WW2-era'and what that tells me is we could be in the present which is the assumption not given an alternative. So I move along and then you have have super telling me it's 1940. You should put the date either in the slug or super right away so I know where and when I am.
When a pilot disembarks a plane, he is usually wearing a uniform so you can dispatch with that description. You spelled chiseled wrong. Most pilots are a-types so you can shorten the athlete stuff. He swaggers his a-type self.
What this tells me is I may not be in for a story but the event. When you describe the pilot the description doesn't tell me anything about him. If he got out of the plane yelling about his misfiring plane, that would tell me something. But he is just a chiseled athlete flying a plane.
If you say DANISH AIRFIELD - 1940 - DAY that tells me a whole lot. Fokker had a particular type of plane back then, right? Then tell me what it is. A Fokker single prop fighter? Like a D.XXI? I googled it. What does battered mean. Is it shot up?
Many thanks for your comments, and I'm sorry you didn't have the stamina to make it past the opening few lines and were confused by the SUPER. I've taken several of your suggestions on board, but I hope you allow me the right of reply on the others:
Having spoken with a development executive, I decided not to give the exact model of the aircraft as there aren't any serviceable Fokker D.XXIs still flying (you knew that of course having googled it). This would have meant any director would have had to use expensive CGI for the aircraft. Much better to say WW2-era as this allows the production company to source a viable aircraft.
You also know, of course, that many female civilian pilots shuttled aircraft between Danish airfields just before the war. As such, I think it's important to clarify that this is a commissioned officer. As he is the hero of the film, a brief description of his appearance should also be expected.
And I'm sure you know that not every script is written in American English. All development executives expect to receive scripts written by English writers, so 'chiselled' is the correct spelling.
Battered means in a poor state of repair.
Thanks again, and best of luck with your projects.
Battered means it's been hit with something. You'd be better of simply writing that it is in a poor state of repair.
I'm just a writer, as are most that post here, so not interested in your story, but more the way it is written.
The chiselled good looks of an athlete (I'm English).
You don't believe there are any ugly athletes? Athletes are more about the body. Yet, referring to 'good looks' puts one in mind of the facial area. Chiselled too, implies the jaw line, high cheekbones. So he may have the body of an athlete (which is enough), but then the chiselled good looks of a male model.
The writing itself is pretty good, but could do with tightening. Not anything a prod co will pick up on, but I'm not a prod co.
Liam: X-mas eve, so I am only have time for a few short reads today.
Sorry to add confusion, but I am generally fine with the descriptions. I saw what you wanted me to see.
I do think you cause some confusion with your character intros. You have Hans Gundelach speaking before you formally have him as a character both as Gundelach, page 1, and Hans, page 2. You also have a Mechanic speaking before he is introduced.
This would have made it clearer for me:
A MECHANIC and other GROUND CREW watch the sky as a battered WW2-era Fokker aircraft misfires and limps towards the runway.....
or something like that. The point being, you have to put the mechanic at the scene before you give him dialogue.
Next you have Gundelach speaking before he is into'd. You could do something like:
A PILOT wearing the uniform of a Danish flight officer shuts the engine down and climbs out. He is HANS GUNDELACH (age), tall, lean with the chiseled good looks of an athlete.......
That would also clear up later on when the boy refers the pilot as Hans. Speaking of the boy - much like HANS, intro him before he speaks. e.g.,
As the car disappears down the street, Gundelach spots NED, a SMALL BOY (7) collecting fallen apples from.......
Bottom line - the script will always read clearer if you intro your character names in CAPS before they have dialogue.
Other than that, I like the feel of the, Liam. I'll try to get to more after the holidays.
I had the exact same thoughts as Cloroxmartini, except 'chiselled' is correct for British English. 'WW2-era' suggests a museum piece, and a pilot "wearing the uniform of a Danish flight officer" is a man in costume. In the opening paragraph the story could be anything, perhaps an air show in the present day, so for this reason I took battered to show the Fokker as having years of use, but then the super meant the plane is contemporary and would likely be returning from action; this is not the case when we are told there has not yet been an invasion. It now seems you want us to see a pilot shuttling an aircraft that is barely serviceable in the face of a likely invasion, and I didn't get that. Anything to suggest "poor state of repair" would imply the mechanics are no good or don't care, and that's not what you want. The other possibility, that they are operating on limited resources is ruled out when the mechanic airily says "I'll see to the repairs." You mean that the aircraft is outdated, and that might be a better word. When the Germans invade, the Danes will indeed capitulate.
For the story, not everyone will know the background and you need to establish the war situation as it affects your characters. Denmark was neutral on the side of the Nazis - the fact that it was occupied with scarcely any resistance says that - so the opening scene would be a good place to have some discussion about the politics and give a reason for Hans to desert as he does. Not many neutrals at the start of the war will have judged the right side to be on, we need to see Hans as a man of principle.
To me, the title sounds like a story for children: The Little Mermaid, The Little Princess, The Little Drummer Boy, etc. I appreciate that the real Ned co-wrote the source material, but he plays a minor role. For this story it would be better to angle more on Hans's exploits.
From the logline I thought the story would be about the search for the little boy. It takes a while to get to England and then after to and fro under interrogation, Hans makes the suggestion that might save him, more than halfway through. "Why didn't you mention this before?" says Colonel Stephens, who promises to look into it. Half a page later the boy is brought in, and with a few words [***SPOILER***] Hans is free. Take Ned out of the logline and it's a more exciting prospect:
"A Danish pilot escapes Nazi-occupied Europe, but is arrested as a spy."
I read the whole script and made notes, which I will post if you are agreeable, or send me a PM.