Friday, June 1, 2012


When the Nazis smuggle their latest nightmarish creations into a secret military base below London, a regiment of soldiers must make sure Churchill and Eisenhower survive the night, but not everyone is who they seem to be.

How It Works

Email Rob the first ten pages of your feature length screenplay (in pdf. format) along with a logline and title. Every Friday one of us (or a guest reviewer) posts one writer's work along with notes and a:


Trash It (Start over.)
Take Another Pass (You're onto something, but it needs more work.)
More Please (I'm hooked. What happens next?)
Somebody Shoot This!

Readers then vote and comment on your work.

This week's review (of Karl Larsson's 1st 10 pages) brought to you by: Amy Suto

I picked this review out of the pile because the logline is unlike anything I've read. It's so different and interesting and new that I had to read it. I wanted to know what the so-called "nightmarish creation" is, and why Churchill and Eisenhower have to survive and why everyone is not who they appear to be. 

So do the first ten pages of Deep Level Shelter meet the expectations set by its killer concept? Let's find out!

The story opens somewhere in West Africa, where a tribal ritual is taking place. A priest, standing in front of an open grave, calls forth a beast who attacks the tribesmen, wreaking havoc until it is slain.

And then we hear applause, and the lights go on. This isn't West Africa, it's a soundstage, a sort of gladiator ring, where the Nazi leaders watch this gruesome battle from above. The remaining survivors in the ring are executed.

Cut to: World War 2-era London where the roguish Charlie Rayburn, who appears to be a Warden, runs into a burning jewelry store where someone is trapped! That someone is a safecracker who recognizes Rayburn and seems surprised he's alive. But instead of getting the safecracker out of the building, Rayburn kills him, pickpockets him, and steals what's in the safe. Talk about a surprise!

As it turns out, Rayburn is no Warden, and his intentions aren't honorable. He knocks out a firemen after cracking the safe, and picks up the fireman and escapes the burning building. The bystanders treat him like a hero -- irony at its best -- and Rayburn returns the Warden hat to its rightful owner, who is bound and gagged and stuck in a dumpster.

What I like about Rayburn is that he's the kind of character A-list actors like to play. Think Jack Sparrow, think Hans Solo: sly and quick-thinking with shady intentions and questionable morals, but highly entertaining to watch.

The dialog in these ten pages is brilliant, punctuated by quick wit and minimum exposition. One of my favorite lines from Angus also subtly sets up a type of "ticking time bomb" that may play a part in the story later: "Aye. You Yanks better shoot straighter than you throw those wee darts, or we'll all be speaking German soon enough."

The accents in this script also make the dialog feel textured, interesting, and specific to each character.

This script reads like a professional script should: paragraphs shorter than four lines, tight, concise action, sharp dialog-- the works! You always hear about entering and leaving your scenes as soon as you can, and this script actually applies this rule. These ten pages are so close to perfect that I wouldn't be surprised if Karl Larsson is actually some working screenwriter submitting this under a pen name. That's how much I love these pages!

There is one area of this script I'd like to point out that could be strengthened: the character introductions. Louis, Angus, Palmer and Tom are all introduced within one and a half pages. Most script readers read at a breakneck pace and can only keep track of eight named characters on average, and considering these four characters appear to be a part of the main cast, their introductions feel a bit rushed. Introductions are so important, and by staggering them, you can give each character a chance to reveal a bit about themselves by how the audience meets them. First impressions are everything!

Overall, these first ten pages are incredible! Karl's strong opening, slick dialog, multi-layered characters and a promising premise make this a definite "somebody shoot this"!

(  ) Trash It
(  ) Take Another Pass
(  ) More Please
(*) Somebody Shoot This!

Amy's notes on "Deep Level Shelter"

What did you think of Karl's 1st 10 pages?

Next week ReviewBrain gives feedback on the 1st 10 pages of Dean Figone's ROTTEN MEAT.

Please comment on Karl Larsson's 1st 10 pages below.


  1. okay, as always, writing this before reading the review (though i did see her rating, holy crap!).

    i thought this was very good. i remember seeing the logline and wanting to review it myself, but amy had already jumped on it. it was definitely intriguing, well-written, and left me wanting to know more! what the HELL was that first scene all about? i thought it was a movie set at the end, but then the guards came over and shot the cast members. a little confused, but definitely intrigued.

    i had minor things, but none that would prevent me from keep reading obviously:

    - i didn't like the roof parts that almost fell on our hero in the first minute of us knowing him - he seemed pretty in control of the situation, and to have him literally almost snuffed out by something he would have had not been able to avoid made him seem really weak for some reason, especially that early on. maybe just add some CREAKING before the stuff falls, and he gets out of the way?

    - some of the writing was a little unclear. i had to re-read the guy in the dumpster scene to get that he was the actual warden, it took me a minute to get that the line in the cab was a code. maybe just add a few clarifiers or something, i dunno.

    - i don't think some of the dialogue worked (though most of it was very good) - for instance, "milking a pigeon" didn't seem to fit, and when the hero tries to incite the black guy for being black, his insult about black dicks making his glass dirty doesn't work - ANYONE'S dick in a glass would make it filthy enough to not wanna drink.

    - the writing itself was kind of slow, it took me a while to get through it all. part of that is that there's just a lot of content on the page, but i would suggest maybe work on getting things to flow better, adding commas instead of periods, making it more visual, drawing attention to significant points by formatting, capitalization, italics, etc. this honestly would probably be my biggest complaint, there wasn't much else i got fussy about. though, i won't give it the highest rating because i would assume that means it is ready to film, which i don't believe it is (i wouldn't assume 99 percent of scripts out there are, but this is one of the better pages we've had for sure).

    great stuff!

  2. Just a quick note for now, as I'm 'out of the office', but I will be back this afternoon: Thanks Amy, Dan, this is encouraging. My previous script was written in a very minimalist style, so I am trying something new here, going for a more laid back style, hopefully with some of that elusive 'voice'.

    It's still very much a work in progress, so the notes on clarity will be useful, but the general positiveness towards the logline and the material are very heartening.

    Thanks again,


  3. Great opening scene. It definitely grabbed me.

    Page 1- “and it’s clear the priest is controlling the beast with his mind.” I don’t think this needs to be said, especially with the next action line describing the beast’s struggle but the priest is too powerful.

    Page 3- “-- BANG! Rayburn shoots him dead” you don’t mention a gun before or after. Might want to have him tuck it back in a hidden holster or something.

    Page 6- “CLOSE ON a blindfolded man.” Don’t direct from the page. Just say “The face of a blindfolded man.”

    Page 6- “PULL BACK to reveal:” Again you can just state “The blindfolded man raises a dart and throws. It’s just a game!” You should also probably introduce him in the first action block instead of waiting until mid scene.

    Page 8- If Rayburn is supposed to be the hero, his actions have just lost me as a reader. He’s not very likable.

    Page 10- So it was a set up? It’s okay to have an anti-hero but be careful that you don’t make him too anti-.

    Overall, I think this is very well written. I’m hooked on the premise and you’ve definitely have a unique voice as a writer. I’d read more.

  4. Karl,

    Love your stuff over at Scriptshadow and here. Might want to shorten some of your action on the first page. You have a lot of relatively dense action paragraphs and no dialogue. In other words, little white space. I know that turns off a lot of studio readers. So far, I'm liking what I'm reading though. Keep working at it and good luck.


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