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WHOO! So I entered a contest, won’t say which one for now, and paid for a professional evaluation to go with it. I got the email yesterday and dreaded opening it. What response would I get from the first total stranger who read it?
Well, it was pretty good. If you don’t know the industry lingo, here’s a truncated version of what’s in Wikipedia about how an industry reader grades scripts:
• Pass: Fail.
• Consider: The reader sees lots of strong points, it’s good enough to proceed, though it has significant problems to solve before it’s suitable for production.
• Recommend: The script is extremely strong, buy it.
So getting a Consider means you’ve left the slush pile, and you’re pushed up to the next level. “Recommend” is extremely rare, so I did pretty damn good.
Here it is, presented to you in its entirety!
I’d first like to say that this was a great script. Although it could still use a little bit of tweaking, I felt that it had a very unique angle and hook that made it a great read.
Overall, the concept was a very thoughtful and interesting idea. Not only did it give us two completely different perspectives of the hardship of being a gay male but it also gave an interesting look on past experiences changing us as a whole. Showing the two men deal with their “broken” lives and coming together to overcome that was what kept this together. Great job!
What also helped the situation was the characters themselves. Not only was there thought and research put into these two but their overall arcs really made for a great duo. We got a sense of who they were, the struggles they were dealing with and hope for them to overcome their situations together. Another aspect of the character development was the Ed and Ava(the friends). Not only were they great sidekicks but they were able to help the story move forward by properly placing the right exposition at the right time. Lastly, the family. I found Tom’s family to be entertaining and worked for the story as a whole.
The structure was nicely set up as the story hit all the major pillars/beats. From the inciting incident, turning points, midpoint and climax, they all felt as if they kept the story moving forward in a timely fashion. Along with great formatting, the script had a nice pace to it that didn’t seem to drag on.
What didn’t work?
Although the characters and story were well thought out, I felt that the scripts dialogue was often on-the-nose and expositional. It felt as if their conversations were sometimes forced and a little over the top as it didn’t match their characteristics. An example of this is when Jamie and Tom go out for lunch the first time. It felt as if these two characters wouldn’t have been so up front about their situations as they didn’t really know each other by that point. From that point on the second act seemed to have numerous areas where the dialogue could be tweaked to make it more subtle and to let us discover their relationship in a more relaxed setting. Along with that, the exposition seemed to come in clumps and needed to be sprinkled into the scenes a little more.
Luckily it’s an easy fix as the information and characters are already there. It’s a matter of taking the time to disguise the exposition and on-the-nose dialogue in their actions rather than talking about everything.
Lastly, the end of the second act. At no point did we really feel that there was an all is lost moment. It felt as if everything after Tom’s relapse of PTSD/Brett, the story flowed with no major complications. Although the climax of the dinner was a great ending, it seemed too easy and a little too happy. We needed a little more conflict build up throughout in order to feel validated by the end.
Regardless of what needs work, it’s still a great script that could eventually go somewhere once there’s a bit of tweaking. Again, great job!
In other words, solve a few problems and I could get to a “Recommend”!
It’s so funny. There are a lot of humbugs online who’ll give Sage Advice like “Throw your first script away because it’s no good. And your second, and your third.” Like all Sage Advice, it’s wrong often enough that you should ignore it. (And maybe they just don’t want the extra competition!)
Your first script doesn’t have to suck, if you work hard on it, pay attention to the rules (see the gold star I got for “great formatting”? That shit matters, kids), use a spell checker (seriously, even some of the annual Black List scripts I see…), take good advice without getting defensive, and tell a GREAT STORY.
Obviously, I’m over the moon. I’ve taken the advice to heart and delegated it to my subconscious, where little gnomes and what not will beat and hammer on it for a few days. I’m big on trusting that process; I don’t think getting good advice and then immediately staring at your screen, trying to incorporate it instantly, is an effective process, at least not for me. But give it a few days, and hey presto! The Zoltar will spit out my fortune 🙂
So please tell your friends! I’m 1/3 of the way to funding this puppy! LET’S LIGHT THIS CANDLE!