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Short films are incredibly difficult to write, so first and foremost I’d like to congratulate you for packing so much conflict into so few pages! You didn’t waste any time getting to the action. That being said, I think paring down your action description would free up a lot of space on the page to include even more conflict. For example, you spend the majority of a page introducing the three judges. I think something more compact would suffice. For example: The judges JUSTIN (40s), VIVIAN (50s), and SEBASTIAN (30s) sit at a table across from the stage, critiquing a FEMALE AUDITIONEE. Characterize them through their respective responses to the Female Auditionee--Justin and Vivian ripping into her while Sebastian is more supportive. Your audience will automatically understand that Justin and Vivian are antagonists while Sebastian is an ally. That leaves more room on the page to explore Jeff’s goals and the obstacle(s) standing in his way of achieving it. (On a similar note, I would avoid dictating your characters’ actions with so much detail. Let your actors and director do that work. Your job as the screenwriter is to write the more macro blueprint of the story. The nitty-gritty blocking can be decided on set.) Additionally, is there a way that you could make that scene more about Jeff? In a short like this, every moment should be about your protagonist. Yes, we need to see the environment he’s entering, but why not do so from his POV? Have him watch their harsh criticism from the wings of the stage, tension mounting as we approach his audition, which I would argue is your Midpoint. That brings me to my next point: your structure. You do a great job introducing us to Jeff’s ordinary world! I know who he is, how he spends his time, so on and so forth. Additionally, you waste no time introducing his call to action--the audition… and he’s late, oh shit! (Great ticking time bomb!) I’d love to have a beat before he actually goes on stage when he considers giving up. After seeing how harshly the judges treated the Female Auditionee, he wants to go home. With a little push from The Metal, however, he takes a deep breath and crosses the threshold of the proscenium. Then, give him a little blip, i.e. tripping on a cord, mumbling his words, his mic doesn’t work, etc. The judges should make one last jab at him before he strums his guitar. His performance is the Midpoint (which obviously doesn’t go well.) Jeff retreats to his apartment where he is “gifted a sword” (his electric guitar). “The Metal has taken over” was a great line to express that! Jeff should then face another obstacle or two in returning to the audition. Maybe there’s traffic, he runs into a roommate, another noise complaint, etc. Then, he returns to the most threatening place in his story, this time with additional aid from The Metal and his electric guitar. His 2nd performance is the Climax of the film, and well… we know how that goes. I suggest checking out “The Writer’s Journey” by Christopher Vogler. It’s useful for structuring short stories because Vogler’s paradigm does so without initially taking into consideration page numbers, applying the traditional act structure retroactively. That’s where I’m pulling my structural advice from. Most used bookstores should have a copy available for purchase, plus there’s plenty of Vogler related templates online as he initially published his pamphlet in the 90s! When working on your next draft of “Mad Talent”, I would suggest going back to the basics. The beauty of shorts is that they allow you to familiarize yourself intimately with the building blocks of crafting stories without having to worry about other ancillary elements. In every story, you should be able to answer: Who is your protagonist? What is your protagonist’s goal? What is at stake if they fail to achieve that goal? What are the obstacles standing in their way? You’ve answer #1 clearly; this is Jeff’s story. I would urge you, however, to make the following three more explicit. For example: Jeff’s goal is to win his local talent show, and the audition is the first step. If he fails to pass the audition, it’ll be a crushing blow to his self-esteem, sending him into a spiral that ruins his life (him dying is obviously the worst outcome of that.) His nerves, harsh judges, and the negative influence of The Metal are some things that stand in his way. You have a really imaginative piece of writing on your hands! I think any reader can relate to Jeff’s plight. Albeit most peoples’ fear of performance (whatever shape that takes) usually involves less gore… but yaknow, “that’s showbiz, baby!”
I would say that your script has at least 250 grammatical/spelling errors combined. The majority of your dialogue consists of a run-on sentence, making it extremely difficult to read or get a feel for the characters. One positive is that the script follows the proper plot structure. You introduce the characters and there's a proper order of events that leads to a well-written climax and ends with a cliffhanger which opens up the story for the next episode. However, the characters are very underdeveloped for two main reasons. One is your lack of context behind the protagonists. We know who the veterans are, and you are right to assume that the audience is already familiar with them. However, characters like Surge and Broo show up out of nowhere. Why are they so special? What particular event causes the veterans to waste their time on this particular group of newcomers? They're mutants, sure, but so is every mutant that arrives at their school. We need to see their powers or see something that shows they're worthy of the audience's attention, aside from just simple exposition. It's not enough that they're simply mutants with above-average powers. That doesn't give them the right to the audience's attention or respect. In order to earn the audience's respect, they need to prove themselves first as actual characters with dynamic lives and true purpose. For instance, Surge just shows up at the school all of a sudden, and that's her introduction. Why not give her a more dynamic introduction, like introduce her in a scene where she's fighting off or escaping a group of people connected to Risman. Clearly she's a runaway, but how is her runaway story unique? That's a question you need to answer for all of these characters. Also, the dialogue is also difficult to read, and can be very wordy at times: Example, page 18-19: DETECTIVE BAMBER There has never been policy for such cases. Usually one sole member of a movement or group cant level a city block....so when every member of that group can bring a trick to the party....game changes. EMMA We are not using our powers for evil or ill. We want to be left alone to live like everyone else. these attackers came to our house. They came to our school, at night no less. DETECTIVE DEARDEN What about Hells Kitchen. You saved one of your own. several civillians in the hospital. Nothing happenend there. You cant cry unfair. SIRYN Civilians? wi automatic weapons, riot gear ya sure.....Yeah that is lucky, those poor civillains attacked by mutants never made an official statement. I wonder why? Aside from the misspellings and grammatical issues, the conversation between Emma and the detectives doesn't really go anywhere or provide anything except exposition to move the story forward. In other words, this scene only exists to show us that the detectives won't do anything. But at the same time, the detectives are all over the place. First they say they won't do anything because it's a mutant school, then they say they have their hands full, then they say they can't identify the culprits, then they say that tensions have gotten too high and they don't want to be involved in a race war. It's just all over the place, and instead of getting across the main point that mutants are treated unfairly, you make things more complicated with unnecessary back and forth. But again, the first and most important thing I would focus on in your next rewrite is all the spelling and grammar errors. The script takes 5 times longer to read and comprehend because of so many errors. Every single error should be fixed, or it will only damage the story you've written. Hope this helps
The overall concept and action scenes are strong, which undoubtedly makes the script intriguing for a first draft. However, there is an overhaul needed, and it requires the full,complete understanding of the real story you are trying to tell. Right now, your script is mostly a spectacle of violent, adrenaline-filled action. However, there is little to no connection between the action that takes place, and the underlying story you wish to tell. The question you want to ask yourself is, what value or morals are you trying to bring to your audience? What "truth" are you trying to instill? Right now, your audience is following a character and his best friend as they face off against a long list of horror movie villains and come out on top. But this is really all they see, except for a few random flashbacks thrown in to show that Richard had a rough childhood. There's never any concrete connection between his upbringing and anything that goes on in the script. The mark of a good script is the ability to inject the truth into the spectacle and action. In other words, Richard's purpose, his essence as a character is missing from the majority of the script. The only time we get to really know Richard and connect with him is during brief moments of exposition. For instance, he and Michelle barely interact throughout the script, but we are expected to believe that she would suddenly show up at the hospital despite their very brief moments of unpleasant dialogue. We're also expected to believe that Richard bad people skills and can't seem to confront an honest confrontation without hyperventilating. You attempt to accentuate this by showing him as confident and "in the zone" when he confronts the horror movie villains, but why is this? Why is Richard such a huge fan of horror movies. What about this genre makes him feel free and invincible? We need to see this. There's also a disregard for the fact that the audience does not understand how Richard was able to create a machine that transports him into horror movies. The only explanation we get is that he's an extremely gifted engineer, but this is only stated as a point of on-the-surface exposition. It does nothing for the audience to tell us that Richard is capable of inventing a device that completely alters reality. You have to prove, through the actions of the script and the world you create around the script, that Richard is capable of this. Again, the idea is intriguing, but like all successful scripts, it can't be just spectacle. The character and his/her story has to be the point of concentration and the source of inspiration for the action. Hope this helps!
The idea is very solid and makes for an exciting, fun movie. Not to mention the social commentary which everyone can understand. However, the characters need far more dynamic. The dynamic I'm referring to has nothing to do with their actions, because the script is already action-packed. The dynamic I'm referring to is motive. For me, there isn't much motive or context behind any of the characters. For instance, we understand emerald is a determined teenager and wildly ambitious. We later find that she had a brother who was killed. But how did she get to where she was? How is she so good at fighting, how did she train. Why should the audience believe that this seemingly normal teenager is worthy of infiltrating a giant evil corporation and succeeding? Her character and the believably behind her is not well-established, and it ends up weakening the story. How did her brother die, was it from saving her? The action scenes are well-written, but the reasons for it are one-dimensional. You could add dimension in so many different ways. One is to have a flashback of her brother when he was still alive, fighting the same corporation that Emerald is fighting. This would bring context to Emerald's motives and give the audience a reason for why she's going great lengths to get revenge. Another main issue is the dialogue. At times it can be repetitive and flows poorly. Example: PAGE 71-72 The secretary sits at the desk sipping a cup of coffee. The door's opened and Harrison steps in. HARRISON What is going on? The secretary looks up, confused. SECRETARY Nothing is going on. HARRISON Then what on Earth are those people doing? SECRETARY Outside? They’re demonstrating. HARRISON Tell them to demonstrate elsewhere! SECRETARY I can’t really, since I’m not security, therefore it’s not my duty to tell them to leave. (Harrison’s glare) They wouldn’t leave anyway. They’re here to free Jaden Stainfield. HARRISON Who? SECRETARY The guy we sent to jail for stealing the sperovitacryte. They're saying he’s a political prisoner. HARRISON That's ridiculous. Make them go away! SECRETARY Again, it’s not my duty to -- HARRISON Jesus! There are reasons I have a private army. Remind them to do their fucking job! SECRETARY I’m afraid that isn’t possible. HARRISON Care to tell me why? SECRETARY Today is a national holiday. It would be inconsiderate -- Harrison grabs the secretary by the collar. HARRISON Does it seem to you like I give a fuck? (he shakes his head) Good. Fucking holidays... First of all, there's a lot of unnecessary dialogue. Harrison doesn't need to ask, "What's going on?" He should already know what's going, or the secretary should be ready to tell him. Also, why is Harrison asking his secretary to make the protesters go away, and why so many questions and explanations? Is it necessary? What is the purpose of this exchange in the first place? If it's to show how the tide is turning against Harrison and how his protection is weakening, you could do this way more effectively and avoid the repetitious dialogue. Maybe something like this: HARRISON What's happening outside? SECRETARY Protesters. The guy we sent to jail for stealing the sperovitacryte. They're saying he's a political prisoner. HARRISON Get rid of them. SECRETARY Sir, it's not my duty. HARRISON There are reasons I have a private army. Remind them to do their fucking job. SECRETARY I’m afraid that isn’t possible. HARRISON And why is that? SECRETARY Today is a national holiday. You gave them the day off. HARRISON Not anymore. Call them in. This seems to have the same effect, but the dialogue is less wordy and repetitive. There are a lot of instances where you can either cut or reduce the amount of dialogue to make it flow better. I would also consider removing any rated R language, as this seems more marketable to a pg-13 audience. But again, the main thing you want to consider when rewriting is character motive and consistency of the characters. Hope this helps
The concept is original and fresh. Best of all, you give the audience a character they can see themselves being in the distant future while bringing a nostalgia to the present time. But despite the 120+ of script, there isn't much to the plot. In over two hours of script, you have Marie taking Boppa on a one hour train ride to Ohio. They spend some time in the train talking and he has a few health scares, but it isn't until the very end when Boppa takes off on his own and Marie goes on a frantic search. Then before we know it, the story is over. Perhaps there doesn't need to be any more plot than this, and it can be more of an artsy profile of a Boppa, where his life and anecdotes are the main focus. But if this is the case, you have to place more emphasis on Boppa's story and weave his compelling life into the fabric of the plot more effectively. An example is around page 58 when Boppa tells Marie the story of meeting Nana. It's a brief story and nothing really stands out. Instead, it comes across as a generic story of two people meeting and eventually falling in love. What's so special about Boppa and Nana's romance, and how do you want it to hit the audience? More importantly, how should it effect Marie? She's writing her thesis on him, and he's not giving her much from the audience's perspective. There are so many compelling ways to do this. Maybe you could make this a flashback, or they could have met during a special event. For rewriting this script, the goal should be to decide what the meat of your script will be. This starts with deciding who and what Boppa represents. Once you nail that down, your decision will be on what storytelling method is best to draw this out. Is it through an intricate plot where Boppa does more than just pay a visit to his old home to pay his final respects, or is it through Boppa's retelling of his life to Marie, who will carry on his legacy. Marie's story is just as important. She's writing the biggest paper of her life, and needs material. However, she' doesn't evolve enough as a character to make the audience believe that her paper is going to shake up the world. By the end, I felt like her paper was insignificant. I think it would help to give us an idea of how talented Marie is, because we never see this. Apparently she's being considered by the NFN (which you need to let the audience know exactly what the NFN is), but what is really on the line here? Why not have a scene where she's interviewed by the NFN, or some scene where the stakes are set before the audience's eyes, so we know exactly what Marie is going after. This would also add dynamic to her character development, because maybe she's blindly ambitious to begin with, but once she starts writing about her great grandfather, her approach to the paper changes and it becomes less and less about her ambitions. Hope this helps.
The ambition to tell this story is strong and present throughout the script. However, the story itself is incoherent. One of the reasons is the lack of proper formatting. The alignment of the dialogue and the spacing make it extremely hard to read the script, and doesn't follow proper screenwriting formatting. However, there is a story here and with the proper formatting it would be much easier to provide feedback. Some grammar and misspellings also cause confusion when reading through. One of the positives is the lighthearted yet dark tone you set in the script. This is something I believe you can draw more from, and perhaps allow the story to feed off of. But the dialogue is very sporadic and hard to understand any character motives. What is the point of the story? What message do you want your audience to leave with? Why are we supposed to care about James? What is it about him we should be invested in? These are questions I was left asking, and they are fundamental to creating a cohesive story that is worth watching. The great thing about your script is that when rewritten according to the rules of the screenwriting craft, you could have something very unique and entertaining. Right now, it needs to be rewritten with the goal of making it coherent on paper. I recommend either a book or audiobook by Robert McKee on screenwriting and storytelling. Hope this helps!