I am a writer from the UK and a student of the craft for many years. Until now I've never wanted to put my work out there but I love the craft so much and enjoy the process that I feel maybe now us the time to share; knowledge and work.
Yes, I really liked the idea. A well written and thought out tell with believable dialogue. This concept has been walked over and walked over so many times it's worn away a crater, so when I began reading, I was wondering would this story it fall smack bang into that crater as well. To my surprise, no it doesn't. I was actually quite staggered by the intriguing purpose of this murderous cult. They celebrate their own history to form a new ideology, fathomed from the ongoing virus pandemic, by using the immune, in their rituals, as a means of survival. At least that's how I interpret it. And that's great, a perfect concept to set a tale around. Wearing other peoples faces as mask?! Nice horror element but gross as hell. The trio of protagonists were well rounded but could have more depth to their personalities, sometimes it was a little difficult to differentiate them and I felt like Mac and Izzy's relationship with Dev turned quite suddenly, in ACT2b, without gradually getting their. But, having said that, all three were still very interesting and I was rooting for them throughout. The setups and payoffs were good, especially the Christa scar set up as that was quite integral to the fracturing of the Cult's seduction of Mac and Izzy. The nine page opener, although it is a good opener, seemed a little over paced. Six pages would settle better for me. The general pacing of ACT2a and ACT2b did also come across a little slow; the suspense sequence when Jack first appears to the trio and Jenn's death, were the only really gripping moments of action, everything else serves as exposition or a means to move forward. Don't get me wrong that's all good, it would have been nice to have seen a little more action; the seduction elements especially as they may come across as cliche in some eyes. The ending was a bit cheesy but I enjoyed all the same. But on the whole this script is workable. I liked the writing style, I liked the story, I liked the screenplay.
It was quite difficult for me to write a detailed synopsis because there is a lot of storytelling elements missing from the draft. I'm under the impression that the writer is just putting the feelers out as if to ask if the idea can grow into something great. I can say that the idea is good but now it needs executing, because as of now there are no established story beats that hit the correct storytelling signposts. The approach to the story lacks believability; think about the film 'The Last Action Hero', the whole Houdini, magical ticket, approach set up the story as believable. Here we have a guy, Richard, who seemingly is a engineering genius but never comes across that way simply because one, we don't see him at it, and two, because of the Beavis and Butthead style of relationship he has with Josh. I just wasn't convinced the 'Alternator' could do what it was designed to do because of the lack of exposition attached to it. There is no drama, no dilemma, the protagonist does not travel the hero's journey and comes home with the elixir. All I can interpret from this draft is that two grown men act irresponsibly and inconsiderately, where the F word is the word of the day, that do not come of age. Although acting this way is good for starters, for me the change was way too insignificant to warrant the tell. It's a bummer having to write such a negatively critical review and I apologise, but I just didn't get it.
Really good. I enjoyed the read very much. The subject matter of dealing with self inflicted mental illness and how it consumes us, such as guilt, is very real and relevant, especially is in todays day and age, albeit not in such extraordinary circumstance such as this story but, for the sake of drama, I totally get it. The tone is set up from the start and the writer comes across as aware of the theme in place because there is a strong sense of story here that has a clear direction that ends in a satisfying way, although probably not in the most appropriate way. Which is suicide. Don't get me wrong; Revenge. Suspense. Excitement. Got to add some spice to such morbid subject matter to keep this thing a page turner. I'd be thinking along the same lines too. I've marked this story up highly because everything is in place to rewrite and hone the craft into a great screenplay. However, I did wonder what it was that drove Brooks to the booze, which lead to drink driving, which led to killing Sammy. So, although the Hooded Man connected the dots for the reader, I did feel that not all the dots were connected. The flashback scenes with the grandparent threw me somewhat as I couldn't see the relevance, unless it was to foreshadow the scene where Brooks steals money from the homeless man. If that's the case I can safely say I would understand his need to steal without the flashback. It's tough living rough. Speaking of foreshadowing, alluding to the Honda in the phone call with his father and the child playing with the toy cars in the café was a good move. The scenes are well written and polished and, like I've already said, it really set the tone of the story. There are minor craft concerns with regards to structure and dialogue which I'd rather discuss in my additional notes as it's not a direct influence on my review. Because craft is craft, we're students of it with our own opinions and style; and my thought process may not align with yours. Also, on a final note, the length of the script might, and probably will, come across as way too long for a short feature; the length of Man on a Phone is borderline episodic TV. But again this is probably down to its place in the rewriting process, nothing honing the craft can't fix.
What is this about? I don't get it. Is this really a short story or an attempt at opening a future Bond feature? I only ask myself that question because a song by Melissa Fine is written in as an opening credit song on p4, which is one page before the script ends; that's strange for a short story. Also, the song is seems too upbeat for a Bond flick to me, although, I'm not really an expert on Bond theme tunes to have an opinion on that. Then I ask myself is this even a story because I couldn't logline it, simply because I didn't get what Bond wanted off the page. What does he want from this story? It all seemed like a random event where neither Bond or the audience get anything out of it. On the upside, there is a dilemma; Blofeld will detonate bombs all over the world if he doesn't get Bond and 10million. Thing is, Bond doesn't react to the dilemma, he just looks to M for the answer with the line "So... What should we do? Should I surrender? What's the mission?". Just by asking those questions seemed a little out of character for Bond; the reason why Bond is who he is because he can make the tough decisions that no-one else would even comprehend. Some other things that came across as out of character, for Bond, was the swearing, specifically the F-word. So I did a google search and the worst cuss word I could find was him calling Jill St. John a bitch in Diamonds are forever. I don't think swear words have a place in Bond movies, especially the F-word. Another thing about this Bond that didn't sit right with me is him killing the clown in what came across as an random act of violence. Was the clown armed? I didn't get that off the page. Does the clown have an association with Blofeld or is he someone who is going to help Bond? I didn't get that off the page either. Bottom line is, Bond isn't just going to kill someone, who could otherwise be just an innocent man, without just cause; the consequences would be dire. Also, Bond works for an intelligence agency, so even if the clown was there to kill him, I'm pretty sure Bond would want to extract information before shooting him. I believe a better understanding of the Bond character, traits/behaviours, strengths/weaknesses and flaws, would provide for a better tell. If someone is to write a Bond story then it's only right to stay true to the original creation of Flemming. Anyway, the end of the script begins to interpret this whole thing as a dream/memory like he is struggling to escape the trauma inflicted by his run ins with Blofeld. If that's the case, then okay, I kind of get the impression but I certainly didn't get it off the page. Dialogue is okay, seemed natural enough, although there were some exchanges that could have been done away with subtext, but as it stands, it wasn't distracting enough to take me out of the moment. It's difficult to measure the structure because there's no (apparent) story to weave through it, the bare bones are probably there but it just not fleshed out enough to warrant a tell. There is nothing compelling about this Bond or this story at this time. It needs a complete retool and a logline from the writer; if a writer can't tell their story in one or two sentences, then it's not worth telling.