Friday, November 30, 2012

THE OMEGA FILES by Derek Anderson

Entrenched in a century long covert war, two opposing forces fight for a talented young girl with a mysterious past who holds the key to ending the conflict. One side seeks to kill her, the other seeks to save her, but accepting her past will mean letting go of everything she’s ever known.

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 our reviewers (or guests) 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 comment on your work.

This week Bob took a look at the 1st 10 pages of Derek Anderson's 

Review of “The Omega Files”
Reviewed by Bob Schultz
(Screenplay / Action, Sci-Fi? First 10 Pages)

Original Logline: Entrenched in a century long covert war, two opposing forces fight for a talented young girl with a mysterious past who holds the key to ending the conflict. One side seeks to kill her, the other seeks to save her, but accepting her past will mean letting go of everything she’s ever known.

Derek, one thing is for sure: THE OMEGA FILES starts with a bang.

We have an innocent protagonist facing an assassin committed to ending her life, a near- superhuman hero assigned to save her, and everyone’s motivations are shrouded in mystery. Is there a time-travel element to the mystery (“something not from this century”)? What does this all mean? How did Mary come to write such a brilliant piece of literature? She seems to be just another all-American girl. I wanted to learn more.
The brutality of the attack on Mary was effective (though it might be difficult to watch for audiences). I think the risk of alienating audiences with the violence is one worth taking. It immediately does the following:

  • Sets the stakes as life-or-death.
  • Establishes the antagonist organization is a genuine threat that will stop at nothing.
  • Drives the audience to empathize with Mary.
Having said that, I think the scene could use some tightening. Franklin falls victim to classic “Movie Bad Guy” syndrome of stopping to talk when he could kill the hero. Clearly this assignment (killing Mary) has implications wide and far-reaching, and he pauses to gloat “You really don’t know, do you?”
This hesitation gives Sphinx time to swoop in, save Mary, and kill Franklin.
The level of mystery and intrigue will be raised even further if Franklin doesn’t hesitate. He should stride into the award ceremony and go right for the kill. This will allow you to introduce Sphinx earlier. In fact, I would establish her presence very early. On Page 32, after we’ve moved past the MATCH CUT, maybe a moment of Sphinx watching the proceedings from a hidden location (the eaves of the building, some dark shadow, in disguise among the paparazzi, something like that). I think if Sphinx knew the value of Mary as a target, she wouldn’t let Franklin get the drop on her.
If Franklin is ready to kill Mary immediately (instead of beating her), the fight between Sphinx and Franklin can last a bit longer, and we can see the reactions of Mary’s boyfriend and parents too.
From a story perspective, I want to know more about what happens in this adventure, for certain.

Aside from a slight tendency to overwrite (see the annotated pages with comments about redundancy), your writing style is sleek and direct, critical to an action script. I would consider truncating some of your complete sentences. Doing so helps the script read faster. Instead of:
… you can write:
Edits like this will have the reader’s eye careening down the page, searching for your next exciting set piece.

MORE PLEASE. I need to know what happens next and why everyone is after Mary. Good job, Derek.


  1. Thanks Bob for taking the time to review this! I loved your idea of introducing Sphinx earlier and cutting out some of the cheese from the dialogue while they're fighting. I will definitely use both in a re-write. Glad you enjoyed it!

  2. Undoubtedly a fast moving, slickly written piece with an intriguing mystery. I had only two problems. First, the swearing ("c***s") and overly brutal violence (stabbing an old man in the chin) didn't feel necessary and might (I can't say for sure as I haven't read the whole script) cause problems with finding the right audience or releasing this (the protagonist after all is a 16 year old girl).

    Second, I felt there were a few too many clichés: Franklin's accent feels comedic whilst his stopping to talk to Mary rather than killing her when he had her at his mercy felt predictable and silly. Sphinx also feels a little clichéd as well (another beautiful female ninja type) although her late arrival means that there might be more depth to her in the rest of the script. Overall, a very commercial idea written in a pretty professional style.

    The only aspect that feels genuinely bad is your logline, which is over-long and over-complex. My own quick effort:

    "An innocent girl must abandon her normal life in order to discover the truth about her mysterious past when she finds herself the target in a deadly centuries long war between two covert organisations."

    Good luck!

  3. Argh! I typed a couple little paragraphs of thoughts and Disqus swallowed it! Anyways, I liked this enough to want to know what happens next.

    Try and shorten the action lines, you've got a lot of "orphan" lines with just one word in them where you will save a line of space just be re-wording a couple things here and there, you'll fit a little more into these pages.

  4. Thank you for your thoughts and critiques GYAD. Yeah, I admit, the logline is bad! I had about 10 minutes before I had to leave for work and I was about to send Bob a copy of the first 10pgs when it suddenly hit me... I never typed a logline! Wrote the whole script, but never a logline. I already like yours better.

  5. Thanks Graeme, shortening the action lines is definitely a must. Thanks for reading!

  6. Okay, I really loved that. The violence and swearing really worked for me, It came from nowhere and really exploded, and at the right time too - just as the 10 pages are coming to an end.

    The story fills me with intrigue and the violence fills me with excitement, it seems like my cup of tea and I'd love to read the rest.

    The pace is supersonic and I don't think I've flown through 10 pages that quickly in a long time.

    In regards to Franklyn's cliched lines when he is about to kill Mary, I'd like to see him be a bit more disgusting, maybe even sexual towards the young girl rather than the cliched "I'm gonna kill you", we learn he has a filthy mouth through his interaction with Shpinx, so would fit for him to be that way to Mary too and would make his death all the more satisfying.



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