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Republic Dread by Billy James - Series, Drama, Web Series, Pilot - In the heat of the 1970's Northern Ireland, the daughter of an IRA bomb maker wins a fortune, escapes for a better life, finding refuge in a privaliged Cambridge community but slowly gets blackmailed into a terrorist plot involving her fellow students at her private school. 52 pages - pdf format
I liked the way you connected the characters. Some tension and contrast (privileged and not so privileged). Also, I felt the second half read better for me, than the first half of your pilot. Pairing up Christopher and Aoife should make for some interesting times in future episodes.
IMO: Action: Needs tightening and also show us, don't tell us what's going on. Some unfilmables throughout the pilot. Also, use more descriptive words.
Dialogue: Character description are virtually non-existent. I see action placed in dialogue in parentheses (shouldn't be) different from parenthetical. Dialogue improved 2nd half of pilot. Sometimes good to read out load dialogue to see if it makes sense.
Some nit-picks on the first few pages. Keep in mind, these are my opinions and we do have our own writing styles, so take it for what it's worth.
Nit-picks (TEASER): There are some formatting issues, but mostly my own opinions.
P1: Not sure if FADE IN: is used in Series. It's missing.
P1: SUPER IMPOSE: JULY 1ST, 1972 - NORTHERN IRELAND -- need to superimpose on something, maybe move this to after the first paragraph.
General: Go easy on words ending with -ing, ex: P1: use trips instead of tripping.
General: We hear/We see/We follow - I would remove these, show us what we see and hear, don't tell us.
P1: "It's clearly a mother and daughter squabbling over something." -- how do I know. I assume, what I can hear are two female voices, possibly distinct voices, but that's it. Also, go easy on words ending in -ly.
P1: Begin/start - I would remove these words (ex: he starts walking -- keep it simple, he walks).
General: Go easy on CAPPED words in action, IMO.
P1: MARY MC.BURN (Closing door) OK. OK. Don't have a fanny. (From outside, O.S) Will you come sort the kids out? -- Example of how you put action in dialogue, 2nd parentheses. This happens throughout the script. Parenthetical is ok (not a big fan, but a few ok) and why not use (O.S.) next to MARY MC.BURN.
P2: "Lights from other kitchen's" -- kitchens (this happens throughout, no apostrophe needed, it's plural). Too be really picky, how do we know it's kitchens?
P2: EXT. MC.BURN HOUSE - FRONT GARDEN - NIGHT -- don't repeat in action what has been established in the slug (front garden). A few more of these throughout (P8: corner store).
General: Always good to mix up action a little bit, not always start a sentence with the character name.
P2: "Conner shaking his head, disgusted with his wife, and with himself. He keeps it hidden enough to go unnoticed." -- mostly telling.
General: cont'd -- not used that much anymore.
p3: INT. CONNER'S THREE WHEELER, COUNTRY ROAD (CONTINUOUS) - NIGHT -- I would establish an EXT: shot of the country road showing the three wheeler hits potholes, then new slug, something like, INT. CONNER'S THREE WHEELER, DRIVING - NIGHT. Again, just my opinion, different writing styles.
P2: Mary's dialogue, "Where do you think you're off to now then, you? -- a little clunky, IMO.
P3: "Conner pulls into a pub car park." -- again I would use an EXT: to show the 3-wheeler pulling into the parking lot pub.
P4: CONNER MC.BURN (to Aoife) Wait here. -- to Aoife is redundant, we know he's talking to her.
P4: PATRICK DONNELY - (35) a built, dangerous member of the IRA. -- how do we know?
P4: "what's supposed to" -- I think this should be "suppose"
P4: "Conner aggressively slams the car door shut. Putting on the safety belt, red faced." -- being pissed off, angry, I would use a more powerful word than putting.
P6: EXT./INT. OUTSIDE/ INSIDE CORNER SHOP - NIGHT -- doesn't work for me, I would use INT: when they are in the store and EXT: when they run out in the street after the explosion.
P6: TV PRESENTER (O.C.) -- I would use (V.O.), cause the presenter is not on location (O.C. - Off Camera), I assume Aoife watches the screen.
P6: "Aoife see's the love in her father's words." -- unfilmable, telling, remove apostrophe.
General: NEW ANGLE/INTERCUT TO:/PAN UP -- leave that up to the director, unless you're planning on filming it.
P7: "GO INSIDE AND PICK YOUR NUMBERS!" -- underline emphasis in dialogue, don't CAP. I believe.
General: Use mini slugs when possible (Taylor Mansion - living room - day -- kitchen, master bedroom, etc.
A few more picks ...
P11: I would use a SUPER for London location (and also Cambridge later on).
P13: INTERCUT TO: -- no need to use.
General: Some slugs are missing time of day - NIGHT or DAY
Slugs: Be consistent, ley's private school vs. Ley's school vs. school.
After Poole gets new ID, I would stay with Mr. Reynolds when teaching. Transitions can be something like POOLE/MR. REYOLDS - when teaching, MR. REYOLDS/POOLE - when agent. This one I'm not sure about. Just make sure it's clear to the reader.
P20: INT. SCHOOL HALLWAY - MOMENTS LATER -- still Ley's school (hallway duplicated in action).
P23: "where's the kids " -- where are the kids.
P30: Two analysts - I would CAP them, even if they don't speak.
P35: "He's with the secretary for defense." -- of defense.
General: Numbers in dialogue, write them out P36: 16.
P38: "INSERT CUT: 1945, MICHEAL TAYLOR, YOUNGER DRINKS AND WATCHES FROM THE CORNER OF HIS SIGHT, HIS FRIEND AND THE BLONDE GERMAN WOMAN HEAD UP THE PUB STEPS. GOING UPSTAIRS." -- not familiar with INSERT CUT, looks like a FLASHBACK (don't cap if using FLASHBACK).
Be consistent with names, Chris vs Christopher. Okay to use Chris when addressing him in dialogue.
P33: I assume Jack is Christopher.
QUESTIONS/COMMENTS: * Any of this based on true events?
* Why did you have Connor walk through the pub with the duffel/bomb? Quite risky. Maybe I'm being too logical. Certainly built some tension.
* Aoife sent to a privileged community, I guess that creates friction/tension. She knew she was in for some harassment.
* Daniel Poole got a job as a teacher. That seems a little too easy?
* Phone calls in the hallways of the school, risky business? Use an office, maybe?
* Having a 16 year old monitoring a possible "terrorist," that's a tough task, but it makes for some great future episodes. I'm probably overthinking this a little too much.
All in all, I enjoyed the read. Some tightening and clean ups needed, IMO.
Hi thank you so much for that frank that's really nice. Sorry I havn't got around to yours yet. Yeah the action lines are my weakest bits but I am working on it and when I come back for the second draft of this I will definately look into it.
I was just wondering I know it would be written trips tripping - but I've heard on podcasts that you need to write in the present tense for screenplays so I'm always trying to fit it in to present tense whenever I can.
Fuck! Yes that's from an older screenplay Jack - Christopher haha.
But Thank you Frank that has all really helped and I appreciate it. I will and I swear to God I will read your script it's just a stressy time atm writing stressing but I will read your script and give you a whole edit before it's done within the next month.
A screenplay, and I assume a Series too, should be written in present tense, but instead of writing in "present progressive/continuous", words ending in -ing, just keep it in present form, like: talks instead of talking. Talks is active, talking is more passive. Hey, I'm no expert, but that's what I've picked up from reading scripts on this website. Not sure if this was what you were hinting at in your response above.