Friday, August 17, 2012


LOGLINE: An alcoholic social worker is forced to work the overnight shift at a rehab center for teenage girls. Throughout the night, the unsettling nature of the house and scheming girls test not only her commitment to sobriety, but also her sanity.

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.

*Don't forget to check out Rob's interview with Energy Entertainment's Derrick Eppich *

This week's review of Michael J. Regina's 1st 10 pages is brought to you by Dan.

Today's pages come courtesy of Michael J. Regina. Thanks Michael!

So this is a film that's about a social worker who is forced to stay overnight at a rehab center for teenage girls when the center is understaffed. I'm not sure what "unsettling nature of the house" means in the logline - it almost makes it appear as if this is some kind of ghost movie too, but I didn't get that impression from what I read. From what I read, this movie seems to be just a straightforward drama. Here we go...

After a somewhat confusing intro sequence where we travel from a quiet suburban street into the basement of a neighborhood house/rehab lodge, we find ourselves in the midst of a heated counseling session for teenage girls with substance abuse problems. 

(My first thought while reading this was I wasn't sure exactly what kind of facility this was, and what was it doing in the middle of a "typical, quiet suburban street"? I've spent a good deal of my years growing up in the suburbs, and I don't recall ever seeing any houses that also doubled as rehab centers. More clarification is needed.)

Anyways, we open right in the middle of a spat between two hostile young women, Kylie and Brianna. Apparently Kylie is bisexual and thinks Brianna is too, but Brianna isn't having none of that. Juicy! Posie Penton, our heroine, is the moderator of the meeting, assisted by Meredith, a staff member at the house. 

As the tension and arguing in the room continues between the girls in the room (of which there appear to be five or six), we learn that some alcohol and drugs have been snuck into the facility, presumably to be a source of temptation not only for the girls, but for Posie later on (she is listed as an alcoholic in the logline, but we don't get to see that aspect yet in the first 10).

While some of the dialogue here feels very natural and flows well (and it has conflict, hooray!) this first scene ultimately goes on way too long (about 7-8 pages I believe). I'm not saying you can't have extended scenes like this, as there are no rules in screenwriting, but chances are it better be damn near breathtaking to maintain my interest, especially if you're using it to open your movie. Sorkin can do it, Tarantino can do it, but most people can't get away with stuff like this. All the arguing just gets bland here after a while. I'd cut this opener after 3-4 pages.

Another issue I had was that there are about 7 different characters in the very first scene. Again, you can do this, but you have to make sure all of them are distinct and unique. The reason why The Breakfast Club works so well is that the five students are all polar opposites, and stand out from one another. I think the writer did try to separate her characters some, at least in the descriptions, but it wasn't enough. At the end I just felt like these girls blended together too much, and I had trouble telling them apart. This being a rehab center for girls with a specific problem, you're going to have to work extra hard to make sure these are not all the same personalities.

And finally, this concept, while a bit intriguing, is pretty iffy too. If this is going to be a film about a social worker who bonds with her patients while struggling with alcohol addiction, you better have seriously memorable characters and dialogue and story, because the hook just isn't there. Not saying it can't be done, but as a spec writer it's hard enough to write something interesting with a good premise. This is just starting with a disadvantage right off the bat. Also, I can see this kind of story getting sappy and melodramatic pretty fast.

PROS: Some solid, natural dialogue and conflict
CONS: First scene too long, concept isn't very exciting

I will give this baby a "Take Another Pass". 


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

What did you think of Michael's 1st 10 pages?
Next week Amy gives feedback on Rocky Lotito's QUANTUM IMMORTAL.


  1. Not sure where to start with this. It has its good points... But it's probably mostly bad points.

    First off, you keep contradicting yourself in lines. I feel like this is intended to give it a choppy, edgy feel, like a series of constant surprises. It actually comes across more like you're not keeping track of what you're writing. For example:

    "A typical quiet suburban street. A typical quiet suburban house. Not typical on this street, though, it’s twice as big.

    And it’s not quiet."

    This doesn't give the reader the bombshell effect you're going for here. "'s twice as big" reads oddly, but I give it a pass because it's understandable. "And it's not quiet," on the other hand, completely contradicts what you just said. We know what you meant and the effect you're going for, but it doesn't work. Also, having these two lines back-to-back diminishes the impact of both. Have one punchline.

    "DON SCANDRICK, 25, lounges on his couch. Actually it’s a futon."

    Sorry, but this sounds flat-out stupid. Which is it? This isn't a teenage conversation, it's a movie script.

    There are a few examples of this occurring, but I just picked one from the beginning and the end.

    The girls... I've already forgotten their names and who they are. There was a Brianna... I forget the rest. I don't remember any particular differences between them except that the new girl was quiet. For the first ten pages, you have to have more differentiation and impact than this.

    Also, the protagonist. What happened there? Did she have a complete personality transplant between the group session and the meeting? She goes from being barely in control of a situation to telling her superior fuck you. It might just be me, but that makes no sense whatsoever. I think the point is that she panics at the idea of staying overnight? But at the minute, the audience has no idea why that might be, and she seems to be in a fairly stable state of mind. This comes across as completely irrational behaviour.

    On the other hand, it was a very quick read, I didn't feel like I'd read ten pages at the end of it. That's sort of good, although when you're introducing multiple characters at once it could feel rushed and confusing.

    You also got the bitchy conversation of teenage girls pretty much spot-on!

    Overall... I don't know. I don't really know any of the characters. The main character was fairly translucent through those pages, before she had the confusing personality shift. The concept itself seems... Less than thrilling? I'm guessing she has to deal with the stressful girls while making herself stay away from the alcohol? However, her alcoholism recovery seems to be a matter of general knowledge, and would certainly be in her employment record at such an institution. Thus the idea of her colleague leaving bottles of unattended alcohol around her is either idiotic, malicious, or a forced plot point. I wanted to vote Take Another Pass, but really, I'm not particularly excited by this concept, none of the characters resonate, and I think that the theme could be dealt with in a more compelling way. I'm gonna have to vote (*) Trash It. Take the strong dialogue skills and apply them to a more dramatic concept.

    On the other hand, if you're trying to write for a $10k indie drama and have a big house available to you... Then ignore that, deal with the issues we've outlined and go for it.

  2. I completely agree with Dan on this one. I did like the first scene starting with an argument but maybe it's a real physical fight between the two girls and Posie has to break it u and then we find out what the fight was about.

    The way the writer opened it was a bit confusing because I have lived in the suburbs and never saw anything like this either. As I kept reading, the first scene was too long and grew bored reading it. I was skimming after a while just to see where this goes. I also had problems keeping up with all the characters. Making them more distinct in their dialogue would really help. After a while, I felt like all the characters sounded the same.

    For the next scene when Andrea's talking to Posie, she repeats some of the same information that I don't think is necessary. The conversation could start off with her asking to stay for the overnight shift and generally feel like this scene could be trimmed down as well.

    I also thought this was going to be more of a horror movie from your logline because you wrote "unsettling nature". If that isn't what you are going for than perhaps you should change it to something else. Might be cool as a horror movie though.

  3. i like how you think. let's write a sci-fi spec together.

  4. Feedback Friday. What a brilliant and wonderful opportunity to get your work out there and read. Thank you for this amazing chance. And thank you to everyone who took the time to read my first 10 pages (whether you voted or left a comment or not).

    I am the writer of GRL and I'm glad to say that, over the course of the 4 months since I submitted this, I have seen many of the same problems you have and am (hopefully) well on my way to fixing them.

    I have also seen how the first 10 pages can be a really harsh judge of a script. To succeed, you really have to get to the meat of your story, whether it's through main character, the hook, inciting incident, etc.

    I always knew I wanted GRL to be a slow starter. Sort of slow burn psychological horror. But you can't bore people and you can't make them think you aren't going anywhere. Lots of things about my opening need to be reworked, namely establishing the rules of the house (including why it's located as such) and doing a much better job of introducing not only my protagonist, but also each of the girls (who despite not being the focus of the script, should all be individuals and distinguishable).

    Thanks to everyone for pointing out all the problems (especially the ones I didn't know I had). And just thanks for reading in general. It's a scary but good feeling getting eyes on your writing. Thanks for the opportunity, Feedback Friday.

    I'd love to plug my website (which has more samples) but I'll refrain cause I don't know the etiquette. If anyone has any questions, please don't hesitate to email me.



  5. lolololol

    For what... The sixth time?

    I actually do still want to, if we can ever come up with something that neither of us can immediately tear apart. I have a bit more free time these days too.

  6. ha i know, i would love to if we can get a decent concept. why the free time? you should write that looper short, that was a sweet idea.

  7. I'm freelance writing instead of designing these days, because the money's more
    guaranteed. Haha. I'm a much faster non-fiction writer than designer, so
    I end up with more free time. Naturally, the obvious choice is to fill
    that time with even more writing. :P

    One of these days I'm going to, I just feel like it needs a certain
    something adding to it. It feels a little empty at the minute. Next time I'm looking over past projects I'll
    try to figure out what that could be.

  8. First of all, thanks for sharing! Girl's Recovery Lodge is an interesting concept, and I think you did a good job setting up the catalyst pretty quickly here. The writing's lean, mean and I loved your descriptions of the girls.

    I agree with Dan's comments here, and I would add that you may want to start your screenplay with something that hints at the genre. If I picked up this script without knowing anything about it, I would be sure it was a drama. It's not really a slow burn if we don't get some foreshadowing or atmospheric set-up right off the bat.

    Once again, thanks for sharing and keep working on this script!

  9. right on, man. sounds like a win-win job to me.

  10. I'm afraid I'm mainly going to echo what has already been said regarding the length of the opening scene and there being too many characters too soon - if you throw too much at the reader little of it can sink in and take an emotional connection.

    I thought the actual quality of the dialogue was good, it flowed nice. I actually would like to read more of this as hopefully after I got a better grasp of all the characters it could be quite the interesting read.


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