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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Drama Scripts  ›  Dark Organs Moderators: bert
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Don
Posted: September 11th, 2020, 11:25am Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Dark Organs by Billy James - Drama, Modern War - In 2011, a retiree surgeon drags along his ex - student to war torn Syria, seizing the moment to cash in on the gold rush that is the illegal organ trade, all the while trying to escape moral justice, gaining on them at an alarming speed. 121 pages

Treatment - pdf format

Writer interested in feedback on this work



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BillyJ
Posted: September 13th, 2020, 7:46pm Report to Moderator
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Hey everyone, sorry I fucked up the treatment again, here's the real one.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Fi-fJw27dtjM743Ua0X7z1PVa0kn50gx/view?usp=sharing
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eldave1
Posted: September 25th, 2020, 5:44pm Report to Moderator
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Billy, I gave the first few pages a read.  Sorry, but IMO not quite ready for primetime.

I do think the premise is an interesting one. But for me, it may be backwards.  It looks like it is going to focus on your Protag and friend stealing organs and trying to avoid capture while doing so. Who am I to root for here??? I would find it of far more interest if it was instead the story of the Investigator trying to track down these two monsters and capture them. i.e, The  Investigator is the Protag.

My initial impressions that it is a bit clunky, a bit tricked up and some of the dialogue is painfully on the nose.  For example Ė here:


Quoted Text
FAISAL (V.O.)
This can be bigger than before. You
know why I picked you the first time
round? You still don't get it do you?
When the rest of the world
military's, militias, comes out to
play these big games they put so much
at risk. Losing half while gaining
half. They all come out with what
they lost. But me and you are more
evolved. While they all place their
chips at the poker table - me and you
sneak out, go to the depository -
grab whats left in their hanged up
coats, minimal risk with all the
credit. You know you're not a game
player - same as me. A professional.


Never have two characters exchanging information they already know.  Itís unnatural.

You have a lot of unfilmables  Like there:


Quoted Text
Andrew stops in his tracks. Remembering an old student he
used to teach. Faisal starts sounding more sensible now.


How do you film Andrew remembering an old student??????? Only include in your scripts what we can see or hear.

You are using O.S when you should be using V.O Ė Faisal is not in the room so it is V.O

IMO Ė no need to show these mysterious rowing machine sounds in the opening in the dark. Just get to the point Ė show us the Protag.

Way too many parentheticals.

Lose the camera directions Ė not needed.

Too prosey Ė just get to the point.  Your style is more novel than it is script. You have a lot of stuff like this:


Quoted Text
Thereís a pause in the conversation. Crackles in the background from an international call. Itís a sign of business. After the pause, a familiar voice comes through,


Not only is it not needed Ė it isnít really true anyway. Crackles donít indicate international calls NOR a sign of business and there is no way for us to know that the voice is familiar.

Some poor choices Ė Look Ė you have a very long conversation with Faisal over the phone. It is obvious that this dude is going to be a big part of the story. Find a way to get him there in person. i.e., it is a knock at Andrewís door rather than a phone call.

For what is worth Ė here is an example of how you get that first scene out much crisper (again Ė I still think itís better if Faisal is actually there.

INT. VICTORIAN HOME - LIVING ROOM - MORNING

Old but opulent. Expensive antique furniture and artwork on the walls.

In the center of the room, DR ANDREW BENNET (55), clad in sweats, strains as he relentlessly pulls the oars of a rowing machine.  His muscular, trim physique evidence of this being a daily ritual.

SUPER:  SPRING, 2011.

As he rows, Andrew stares at framed photos on a distant wall:

-  A much younger Andrew graduating university.
- A framed certificate of a surgical degree; Title : Oxford University.
- A distant wedding day photo Ė Andrew are in arm with his young bride.
- Andrew, with his colleagues at the hospital.
- Andrewís retirement photo. A a sticky note in the corner reads  ďWe'll miss you, boss.Ē

The CHIME of a landline phone breaks Andrewís focus.  Andrew stops rowing, reaches for a water bottle Ė gulps it back.  

Andrew wipes the sweat from his brow with a towel, walks to a nearby table and  picks up the phone receiver.

ANDREW
(into phone)
Hello.
(no response)
HelloÖ.?

FAISAL (V.O.)
(Filtered Ė thru phone)
Just the man I need. How longs it
been, old man?

ANDREW
Not long enough. What do you want?

FAISAL (V.O.)
Turn on your T.V.. BBC News.

ANDREW
Why?

FAISAL (V.O.)
It's easier to explain.

Andrew picks up a TV remote, points it at the TV- clicks.  He scrolls through the channel guide, lands on BBC Newscast.

INSERT TV SCREEN:

A Middle-East protest gone wrong. Fighting, shootings. Terror in the streets. Protesters holding signs: Down with Assad.

BACK TO SCENE.

Andrew mutes the TV.

ANDREW
(into phone )
Syria?

FAISAL (V.O.)
They're calling it the Arab spring. Might as well called it fall of Syria. A beautiful investment opportunity, don't you think?

ANDREW
I don't know...

FAISAL (V.O.)
This can be bigger than before.  You're a brilliant surgeon. I'm a
more than brilliant businessman. Letís make some money.

ANDREW
It was a mistake the first time.

FAISAL (V.O.)
You didnít seem to mind being paid for that mistake.

ANDREW
Not interested. Get yourself someone --

FAISAL
And this payday could be much larger. A hundred times larger.

Like I said - just an example - but it cures some of the problems pointed out above and it gets there in about half the time.

Read a bunch of scripts - it will help your writing.




My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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BillyJ
Posted: September 26th, 2020, 9:46am Report to Moderator
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Hey eldave Thankyou for getting back to me, ok I will start using V.O for phone conversations and another question, when using (filtered) on the telephone conversations, should I just use (Filtered) once? Because I donít know if I should keep using it or just once at the beginning?

I know that itís also about bad people, in it William the student slowly understands the consequences and the ethical reason why not to continue and he drags Andrew into believing this too by the very end, meanwhile Faisal is all in on making money and nothing else. Overall the people who are good is the Syrian rebels and William.

Ok from my last script I learnt obviously not so wordy and to cut scenes which are pointless, and so far from all youíre advise Iíve cut down on 11 pages which is good.

So for this screenplay Iíve learnt that maybe I should make my characters more likeable, but how do I do this? I know Hollywood wants it but I find it so difficult writing for good people, I just like them real, and Andrew is the protagonist but heís definitely not a good person and Iíd say in the end he gets what he deserves - death.
I do like how youíve written that and I will change it in the re-write, could I also ask something that is difficult for me - I know I do write more novel like and I donít want to continue to do that but how can I write, like you say showing more but still have the impact of meaning, is there any books you think I could read that will help me? I really really want to try and I know Iím not there yet but I donít want to give up. Iíve read the 101 books like save the cat and Joseph Campbell but if thereís some more unique books that you know of that will help me Iíd definitely be interested, give me a PM?

I know this script isnít ready for tv and I wouldnít want it for tv but itís just a competition to see if channel 4 would accept me.

Please give me some hope man! Lol thanks David.
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BillyJ
Posted: September 26th, 2020, 10:08am Report to Moderator
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Also Iíve been buying some more, I just bought clockwork orange and Tenet to try get into a feel of a dystopian British film Iím going to try and write after Iíve finished this pilot episode. If anyone has some good books for me let me know?
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eldave1
Posted: September 26th, 2020, 12:29pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted Text
Hey eldave Thankyou for getting back to me, ok I will start using V.O for phone conversations and another question, when using (filtered) on the telephone conversations, should I just use (Filtered) once? Because I donít know if I should keep using it or just once at the beginning?


Some people will tell you yes - some people will tell you no. I believe that once does the job. The reason - if you wrote - "for this scene, XXXX'S voice will be heard filtered through the phone" - you'd only do that once. To me, doing it in a parenthetical is the same thing - once you've established it - no need to re-establish it each time.


Quoted Text
I know that itís also about bad people, in it William the student slowly understands the consequences and the ethical reason why not to continue and he drags Andrew into believing this too by the very end, meanwhile Faisal is all in on making money and nothing else. Overall the people who are good is the Syrian rebels and William.


Okay.


Quoted Text
Ok from my last script I learnt obviously not so wordy and to cut scenes which are pointless, and so far from all youíre advise Iíve cut down on 11 pages which is good.


Cool - crisp and clean is always better, IMO.


Quoted Text
So for this screenplay Iíve learnt that maybe I should make my characters more likeable, but how do I do this? I know Hollywood wants it but I find it so difficult writing for good people, I just like them real, and Andrew is the protagonist but heís definitely not a good person and Iíd say in the end he gets what he deserves - death.


Then stick to your guns. I'm really just conveying how I personally would approach it. I'd keep the bad guys, but the emphasis would change - e.g., In order to stop an organ stealing ring in Syria, a medical student must....

But that's me,  You write you.


Quoted Text
I do like how youíve written that and I will change it in the re-write, could I also ask something that is difficult for me - I know I do write more novel like and I donít want to continue to do that but how can I write, like you say showing more but still have the impact of meaning, is there any books you think I could read that will help me? I really really want to try and I know Iím not there yet but I donít want to give up. Iíve read the 101 books like save the cat and Joseph Campbell but if thereís some more unique books that you know of that will help me Iíd definitely be interested, give me a PM?


Here is a list:

https://nofilmschool.com/best-screenwriting-books

I am not a Save The Cat fan.

there is nothing I have particularly read that provides the basis for how I write. There are a ton of scripts that I have read that do. So my advice is that you are best off my reading a as many screenplays as you can.

My own rule in this area is never describe the kitchen. I used to write like this:

INT. KITCHEN - DAY

White marble tile floors glimmer. There's a stainless steel double door refrigerator adjacent to a state of the art oven.  On the sparkling clean counters, all sorts of modern gadgets - cappuccino machines and the like.

Now I write.

INT. KITCHEN - DAY

Clean and modern.

The second thing to do is to look for shortcuts. For example, in your opening scene, there is about 1/2 page dedicated to the dude turning on the TV.  All that could be eliminated if the TV was already on while he was rowing.



My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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BillyJ
Posted: September 26th, 2020, 5:18pm Report to Moderator
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Yes! I like that, and thatís a good rule Iíll start doing that, one more question sorry, what about personalities and looks? And with formatting I do  John - (50) but I see you do straight to () Iíll start doing that too, but what I was saying you know in some scripts itíll say somebodies name and then describe their age, maybe abit about personality and looks, whatís your rule for that? I described faisalís looks well off with a watch that he checks and his fashions high end, would you apply the same rule to looks and style the same as your kitchen?

Thankyou for teaching me Iíll take those notes and use them for my next script, Iím nearly finished editing the first script so hopefully Iíve taken your notes on board and thanks again.
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eldave1
Posted: September 26th, 2020, 5:52pm Report to Moderator
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I think there is more leeway with character descriptions


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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Yuvraj
Posted: September 27th, 2020, 3:23am Report to Moderator
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Read about 14 pages. And yes, Dave's right. There are unnecessary details mentioned in the script.  

Remember that in a screenplay: 'Never write what you think is important. But write what will be important'. I hope it makes sense. And yes figuring this out takes time and a lot rewrites.

Good luck with the next draft(if you're rewriting).


Most recent script: DEAD AHEAD, VULTURES
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BillyJ
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Ok then do like for instance if I think that itís important to explain defining things that will come up later in the story? Thankyou all for helping
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eldave1
Posted: September 27th, 2020, 12:24pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from BillyJ
Ok then do like for instance if I think that itís important to explain defining things that will come up later in the story? Thankyou all for helping


No.

Film is a visual/audio medium.

If you need to detail things it always must be done ala something we can hear or something we can see. Importance is not relevant.


My Scripts can all be seen here:

http://dlambertson.wix.com/scripts
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AlsoBen
Posted: October 8th, 2020, 5:19am Report to Moderator
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Just an impression of the first few pages/hook thus far. I'm not finished it yet. Sorry if Dave or others gave you the same feedback.

Pg. 1 - First action: "A soft sliding noise spacing out the sound of two
separate clanks of metal, which turn rhythmically joined
with panting. This is a manual rowing machine, being used by
someone relentless."

Cut the first audio desc - I don't know how to imagine that sound. Just say "the sounds of a manual rowing machine".

Not sure what the purpose of the smash cut is. If the photographs and memorabilia are important, you could show them more efficiently. E.g "Some memories on the wall - a medical degree, a young college graduate, wedding photos [ and so on, but briefly]". The pan is implied.

I'm not a stickler for "no camera directions" but this many on the first page is a distraction.

Capitalized Dr. Bennet's intro. Your language in his description is artful but unnecessary. I'm sensing a lack of efficiency in general here. You can add it more flowery language in later drafts - when you're still writing to seek feedback, keep it as minimal as possible. Saying that, it's not poorly written, just not suitable for screen direction.

Too many parentheticals/wrylies.

Faiasal and Dr Bennet's discussion of the Arabic Spring is a little expository. Assume we all have some basic understanding of what the Arab Spring looks like. News reels on screen are a trope of over-expository scenes.

More like this: "Faisal's voice, it starts to get darker, like a kind of
sinister, Iranian car dealer with a persuasive touch"

What does an Iranian car deal sound like, if not persuasive (like all car dealers regardless of background)? If you insist on describing his demeanor like this, you could just go "Faisal sounds forceful - persuasive. He's got an agenda." An actor would interpret this to suit the plot and theme.

"Remembering an old student he
used to teach." - I'm also not a stickler for unfilmables, but this is so specific and unwieldy. How would an actor be expected to make use of this description? Use your action lines to describe exactly what changes with his face on screen, or at least use similes that universal e.g "[he] looks like he just had an important realisation" or something. But even better yet, don't do this at all. Use your dialogue to demonstrate that back and forth and Dr Bennett's change of heart.

So far -

There are certainly lots of things that are promising here. It sounds like a fresh premise and you write with such linguistic passion that despite these flaws I'm going to keep reading. But lots of people would be turned off. In a new draft, tighten up your action lines completely. Get every action line as short as you possibly can - assume your readers are literate and have strong comprehension skills. If you then get feedback that it's not clear what's happening or that it's too barebones, you can be more purple.

Thank you for sharing this and good luck.

EDIT: I just wanted to so you're not discouraged - even though there's lots of thoughts here, this is so evidently full of passionate writing. It's way more fun to me to read a passionate writer with some stuff to learn, than an objectively and technically adequate screenplay written by someone with no enthusiasm. Please keep writing and sharing.



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AlsoBen  -  October 8th, 2020, 5:51am
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BillyJ
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Thankyou also Ben! Thatís really fucking nice and I know what you mean I will start cutting down the action lines and being a lot more obvious with it, Iím slowly getting better. Also just to expand on your point do you mean explain less about events that are known historically? Like they shouldnít be explained in dialog too much?

Thankyou for your comments Ben! I am writing on your review now I have been doing it on paper (I donít know why) and then Iíll type it all up but I am loving your writing too I also love how free you are with your writing, your experimental with ideas and itís clever to me. A few more days Iíll give you a full report! Thankyou again
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