Sometimes I write things... http://www.imdb.com/name/nm4971001/
So there’s a lot here I really enjoyed. I think the best thing about this script is it’s incredibly timely, with parallels between this and coronavirus, our country’s conversation about healthcare, and issues with pharmaceutical price-gouging. Based on what I read here, I’m guessing our politics are pretty closely aligned. So, you know, thanks for being cool. I think your biggest strengths as a writer reside with character and dialogue. Especially dialogue. I really enjoyed Siren and Casey’s rapport. They felt real and lived-in. Dialogue writing is something folks either got or they don’t. It’s all about the ability of the writer to pick up natural speech patterns and reflect them in the script. And man, you got the gift. Your dialogue flows really naturally, most of your characters have a really unique voice, and I’m able to really get a good feel for who these people are. Additionally, you had some really great examples of dry humor here, as you got me to laugh a couple of times here and I’m a really hard laugh. Specifically, Camaro’s line “And that’s why I don’t go to potlucks” made me spit out my soup I was laughing so damn hard. Additionally, I want to call out that the scene with Casey and Jameson in the bathroom as being especially well done. Casey’s vomiting was a really great moment in that it made his nervousness very real and palpable. So well done. In general, I can tell you’re fairly new to screenwriting, I’m guessing this is one of your first three scripts. Please stick with it. You have a TON of raw talent, so the more you write, the better you’ll get and the better your scripts will get. I have a lot of notes here, but you’ve got enough talent that if you continue to develop, you can build this into something really fricken cool. Please don't hesitate to reach out if you've got questions on any of these. I have three big notes, the first of which is focused on tone. Obviously, this is positioned as a witty satire, but your tone vacillates a bit. Some moments are really heightened comedy, such as the visual joke of Uncle Lloyd’s medical bill or the suits showing up RIGHT after Casey applies to the Jameson Program or Jameson explaining away his brandishing of a gun as “nothing.” However, there are only a few moments that contain this heightened reality sensibility, as most of the rest of your script is fairly grounded in reality. So I think tonally you may need to make a choice between whether you want this to be a heightened satire, in the form of a SORRY TO BOTHER YOU, or something a bit more grounded, like THANK YOU FOR SMOKING. If you want to lean into that heightened reality, I would weave more over-the-top gags in and have the ridiculousness build (remember, the end of SORRY TO BOTHER YOU literally has horse people destroying a city). But, if not, I’d remove these few heightened moments you have here to focus in on a more real feel because otherwise, they feel a bit out of place. My second big note focuses on Jameson’s motivation for joining the Jameson Program and the roll-out of the program himself. It’s pretty obvious that Casey joins the program because he wants more money to take care of Siren and Lloyd, amongst others. But I think you could improve this by showing how much Casey needs money visually in some of these early scenes. That will help motivate his decision to stay with the program, even though it’s clearly got a nefarious element to it. Remember that SORRY TO BOTHER YOU has a few great scenes of Cassius living in his uncle’s garage and filling up his gas tank with spare change to really harshly establish his need. If you’re able to do something similar with Casey here, I think it will go a long way in strengthening his motivation. In terms of the Jameson Program itself, the scenes of Casey’s team going through the first two steps didn’t quite work for me. The first round spans across eight pages and yet still feels rushed in spots, while the second contains similar issues, but also struggles in that it doesn’t really relate to testing anyone’s business capabilities or mental acuity. Thus, I’m wondering if there’s a way to re-think these elimination rounds where they can be thematically relevant. It would likely make more sense to have them relate to the pharmaceutical industry in some way. And I’m also wondering if they should focus on tasks that test mental acuity while also being ethically compromising, to prepare something for a career in the pharma business. Essentially, the program would be testing how willing the participants are to sacrifice their core values and beliefs for profit. This would give Casey something to be weighing as he does increasingly problematic things while chasing this financial reward he so desperately needs. My final large note is that I was looking for a bit more detail around some of these Alive & Well scenes once Casey learns he’s won. We have a few scenes that show success, but they don’t feel fleshed out. We don’t get how Casey is feeling and reacting to these moments. And we don’t really get any hints around Jameson’s motivation. I have some examples, below: Pg. 63 – I want a little more out of this scene. It just ends on a check, but, like, what’s next? Pg. 71 – I want a little more of what Jameson wants in this scene? You can keep the ending a mystery but lead us a little deeper into the darker parts of this conversation so we’re ending the scene leaning in and wanting more. Pg. 91 – Again, I think we need more from these Alive & Well scenes. Jameson becomes CEO and then just… leaves? It all feels very anti-climatic. And this leads into the ending, where I feel things get wrapped up a bit too quickly. We should probably see Casey talking with a reporter and calling the police instead of having it voiced over in dialogue. Even on page 103, I’m wondering who misted Casey and why? And how he seems to be recovering a page later. It seems rushed it isn’t quite clear what’s happening. I’m also wondering if, thematically, there’s something additional to explore around the police. Just given how the police are set up to insulate and protect the wealthy and connected, there could be something really fascinating to dig into there if you ever wanted to go for a slightly less cheerful ending. Beyond these bigger notes, I had some other things to go through as well. There were a few moments here that didn’t quite make sense that I wanted to highlight, as they may require clarification. Pg. 1 – I think we need a bit more background from the reporter on who Abigail Anderson is and what happened. This character/plot point never really comes back, so I’m a bit confused as to what’s happening here. Pg. 2 – Give Jameson’s full name here. Reporters typically use full names when someone is introduced in reporting. Subsequent mentions can just focus on the last name. Pg. 6 – What makes Casey change his mind about going into work? I’m assuming it’s not the moaning, but this may be a good way to give insight into their relationship a bit. Pg. 6 – Siren’s playing with Casey about the pick-up last week doesn’t quite make sense. It feels like circular logic. If there’s something here we should know that’s important, I think you need to play it up more. But that doesn’t seem to be the case. Pg. 13 – I was never really clear on why Lloyd owed Casey money. Pg. 47 – I’m wondering why Casey didn’t answer Siren’s calls? It’s the first moment in this script where I question why he’s doing something, as it feels more plot-influenced than natural to the character. Maybe show him cleaning as Siren enters so that we see that’s the reason he didn’t pick up the phone. Pg. 75-76 – Similar to the aforementioned example, I feel the contents in the stack of papers is more of a plot convenience than something that makes sense from a character perspective. I’m wondering why Mr. Jameson would have his ex-assistant’s business card and a picture in the stack of papers he gave Casey. It makes no sense to make yourself look back in the packet you provide to your future CEO. I also noted that I was unclear why is Casey still working at the donut shop after winning the Jameson Program. Like, he won a lot of money, why does he need to go in? Obviously, it’s helpful to have him there for plot purposes, but perhaps he’s just hanging out there with Camaro since he has nowhere else to go? Pg. 90 – How does Jameson know Siren cheated on Casey? Does he have spies or something? If so, let’s see them in that party scene. Lastly, I have a few other notes that I took that don’t fit into a concrete bucket, so I figured I’d list them out here: Pg. 1 - I’m wondering why we open with Camaro when this is really Casey’s story. Shouldn’t Casey be in the bookends of this film? Pg. 1 – This opening conversation about the Necrotraxia price hike for Cor’s treatment feels expository. Give Bystander a bit more voice and frame it the way you’d tell a story about that Pharma bro to someone at a party and it may come across more realistic Pg. 2-4 – This TV interview scene just feels like an exposition dump. Granted, it’s exposition we need, it just feels a bit tough. I’m wondering if you can have this play over some other action so that it feels more natural and interwoven into a scene. Pg. 8 – If Patricia snatches away the cigar, Jameson wouldn’t be able to put it out later in the scene. Pg. 16/44 – Movie references (John Boyega flicks, or “that Brie Larson movie”) are always a tough sell for me. They often age and, unless something is really huge in the public consciousness (like Jurassic Park or a Marvel flick) they’re gonna be lost on some people. Pg. 32 – Can lose “Casey’s comes home,” as you’ve got a good description of what we’re looking at without it. Pg. 101 – We’ve seen lock picks a million times before to the point of it being a trope. May be funnier if she just busts through with a hammer, right?