Friday, March 29, 2013

The Wrong Block - Gina Thorwick

How Feedback Friday 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.


Gina Thorwick


After losing his son in an accidental gang shooting, a high-powered lawyer violently opposed to guns finds himself developing an unlikely bond with a cold blooded killer—a 15-year-old orphan—as they struggle together to rebuild their lives.

These Screenplay Notes are brought to you by Script Doctor Eric

Dear Gina,

First off, when you send over your script in a PDF, it's a good idea give it the title, so that when a reviewer is looking for it on his or computer they can search by the name of the script, or perhaps your name, and not "First Ten Pages - Rough Draft."  

The little things count.

Because, hypothetically, by the time the reviewer finds it, they might be a little more frustrated than they had been five minutes before!  


In all seriousness, it's these little things that will really piss off an agent, manager, producer or their assistant.  Yes, they are petty little details, but some of these guys and gals have 10-20 scripts to read a day.  Yes, in A DAY.  So, five minutes looking for a script really WILL get them to think "Oh, the screenwriter couldn't take two seconds to title their ef-ing file?  Yeah, I'll be lenient..."

Trust me.  I've been there.  The coldness and pettiness sets in quickly after shitty script number six on a Thursday evening.


Phew.  Alright, so let's see what you got for me...


After losing his son in an accidental gang shooting, a high-powered lawyer violently opposed to guns finds himself developing an unlikely bond with a cold blooded killer—a 15-year-old orphan—as they struggle together to rebuild their lives.

Okay, so I've read the pages.  Solid start!  You've got an intriguing character in your orphan girl, and an immediate story with the killing of the lawyer's son.  Good work - it already feels like a movie!

As you'll see in my notes below, there are a number of screenwriting techniques that you really should pay a bit more attention to.  The script is OK, but feels like a first effort.  

First efforts are fine, by the way, but if you want to improve, I'd get my hands on as many scripts as you can - there are a TON online.  Read, read, read scripts, then write, write, WRITE them!  That's really the best way to improve.

Anyhow, back to the notes.

To be honest, it feels like you're enjoying writing the orphan much more than the lawyer.  So why not make it the orphan's story?  

If this were the story of the orphan, who befriends a lawyer, that could work, and be something a bit more original then yet ANOTHER story about a lawyer.

I do not want to see another movie about a lawyer.  But maybe that's just me.

Also, I didn't get the sense that the orphan was a "cold blooded killer."  Maybe she is, maybe she isn't - perhaps that can be a mystery of the script!  That way, the audience would be guessing...and they just might be following - and liking - a potential killer!  Creepy, compelling, a movie should be.

Again, this is a good start, and I hope you continue writing this script and others.  

And READ scripts.  As many as you can!  


Logline Friday Rating: 
Take Another Pass (You're onto something, but it needs more work)

Your page by page notes are below, and can also be found at THIS LINK

Hope they help!  Best of luck on this script, and all the rest.


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

MEET THE MURPHYS by Tony de Freitas

When a Two year old Caucasian boy is left at a doorstep of an African American's home and thirty years later discovers that he was never abandoned.

Hi Tony.

Thank you for the opportunity to read MEET THE MURPHYS. Based on your logline, the story will be jumping ahead 30 years at some point, so your first 10 pages need to packed to the gills with set-up. In light of that fact, a little bit of clunkiness in the exposition might be tolerable. Look at a film like "Heart & Souls." In order to fully embrace and empathize with the goals of the four ghosts, we needed to get to know them quickly, and some type of awkwardness often comes as part and parcel of that need to get the information out there quickly.

But MEET THE MURPHYS falls down on a number of other fronts, making it really challenging for a reader to reach the time jump when the main plot of the story can commence.

First of all, it's extremely important to proofread your script. I don't mean to be too abrupt, Tony, so please take this with all due respect, from one writer to another. There is craft and technique to writing. And no matter how much talent you have, your road to a writing career is going to be very difficult to navigate without the ability to proofread your work.

We are only talking about ten pages of script here, and there were numerous errors.

On page two, Kevin is "dressed in rages."
Page two (and others): "Who could of left left him?" (Instead of "could have.")
Page two again: "He's name is Michael."
Page two again: Action line: "Trisha enters Michael." This had me wondering if you were going for an NC-17 rating.

There were more errors through the rest of the fist 10. I can only imagine how difficult it is to navigate the other 80.

It's entirely possible to write a script with strong story/character/theme, and bad spelling/grammar. But the task of making the script easy for a reader is part of your job as a writer, Tony. And the disregard for the fundamental tools will raise a big red flag for anybody who reads the script.

Another giant red flag is that the entirety of the first ten pages contains no action. It is just talking heads in the living room, then talking heads in the car.

I assume that there is a supernatural element in play here which hasn't been revealed in this first ten pages. Kevin reacts to the boy's written note even though he is in another room. Trisha instantaneously decides to adopt Michael without discussing it or even considering it for more than a few minutes. Kevin's brother appears out of the clear blue to take care of kids in Africa instead of taking care of his own. And, by the way, he's dying.

Lastly, read your dialogue out loud and ask yourself whether it sounds like the way people talk. The brothers telling stories that both of them know, for example (the Watchalot conversation). That exposition is clearly there to inform the audience, since both characters already know all the details. The bit about the father mistaking Michael for a dog repeats too much and goes on too long.

I recommend a thorough proofread and rewrite. Pay attention to verisimilitude in dialogue, consistency in tone, and proper spelling and grammar.

Good Luck!

Friday, March 15, 2013

HUSKER by Marc Johnson

Review of “HUSKER” by Marc Johnson
Reviewed by
Jim Newman (posted Mar 15, 2013)
(Screenplay | Horror, First 10 Pages)
“0-60mph from the get-go. Page 1 thru Page 10 is a fast read with no major flaws. But need more to be sold.” 

Let’s kickoff with the logline:
Original Logline: When a mentally unstable woman is pursued by skin-husking killer, she believes it is because her policeman dad killed the suspect forty years earlier.” 

Let’s take a few moments to dissect this:
The logline hits these chords:
o    Protagonist – Mentally unstable woman
o    Goal/Mission – Get away from vengeful (sadistic) killer!
o    Antagonist – Skin-husking killer
o    Time – Only as long as she can survive!
o    Irony – A mentally unstable protag is chased by a mentally stable killer who was presumably killed by her father decades ago.
The logline lacks the following essential elements:
o    Can’t cite any. Although I am a fan of re-working and re-working the logline.
§  For instance, keep the present tense: “A skin-husking killer pursues a mentally unstable woman who believes her policeman dad killed him forty years earlier.
Is there a better way to describe the woman? Mentally unstable is overplayed and too generic. Is she delusional? Is she schizophrenic? Try to diagnose her without revealing too much.
The story begins with setting the place/world we live in – a remote area in Nebraska, nighttime, dilapidated barn. We see Rollins, an older man, chained presumably to an overhead rafter or wall. The skin on his stomach has been peeled off by Husker, the “villain” who playfully displays it, then tosses it aside before finishing Rollins off.
Pages two through seven center on the cast of four: Jennifer (Rollins’ daughter), Amy (token hottie), Rick (bashful local law enforcement), and Sean (Rick’s side kick and smart ass). The relationships of the characters are revealed as well as the backstory (emptying Jen’s father’s house) and a sub-story (Amy’s mother killed herself in a pretty gruesome way).  One item of distinct importance (at least I think so) is that Sean find a Ouija board when the crew is cleaning out the house. We’ll see if this comes into play later.
End of page seven brings us back to Husker having his way with a female victim who ultimately meets a gruesome death.
Pages eight through ten closes the clean up on the Rollins house and the characters set off in their separate ways. Jennifer and Amy are about to start the clean-up in the attic, which seems to be creepy enough. And we see the Husker enjoying some chocolate pudding in his car outside a grocery store.

This will be an easy one. I’m not one for horror, but this one has me hooked – meaning, I would like to know what happens next and how it concludes.  
The format meets industry standard rules. It’s well-written with no major flaws. Plenty of white space helps make it a fast read and proves that the writer is attuned to making the dialogue and narratives short and sweet. And I didn’t find any gaps in the story.
Character descriptions are either too concise or completely missing. Each is given a full name and an age, but only Amy is given a physical description (curvy brunette). I have no idea what Jennifer, Rick, and Sean look like.
The opening image is gruesome and kicks off the story in the right way. I do think it would be more sinister if Husker did more to the navel of the skin than poke a finger through it. Perhaps peek through it or throw it up like pizza dough (ok maybe that’s a bit overboard).
Page 1: Instead of “seventies metal music plays” I would replace plays with “BLASTS from a beat up boom box” (maybe that’s too much alliteration). Also, can you give a solid physical description of Husker?
Page 3: Amy reveals her relationship with Jennifer – childhood friends. Instead of saying it, show it. Perhaps a photo from their younger years.
Page 3: You lost me with the “lost relative” comment. Can you explain?
Page 4: Is there a way to show that Rick is a cop instead of Sean saying it? Perhaps he flashes a badge when flirting with the girls or they're driving in a squad car.
Page 5: Laughed when Amy repeated Sean: “no wonder you never get laid.” And when “Amy enters” – this is blah. Say/show this in a more specific manner, i.e., “Amy cautiously steps inside … “ or something to that effect.
Page 6: Jennifer’s first line – correct “order” to say “ordered”
Page 7: Laughed when Sean said a village has lost its idiot.
Page 8: I thought Husker was going to hatchet off her foot. Perhaps this is implied. Question: does Husker keep trophies from his victims? Body parts? Jewelry?
Page 10: Spider prepares a meal in “its” (not it’s). Common oversight – I do it all the time.

This has been the shortest review I've written because I could not find many issues. I did not scan my hard copy because there aren't enough notes to warrant it. I wish I could offer more insight on the first ten, but I do like what I’ve read so far and would like to read more to see if the solid work continues.

Your writing style makes for a fast, fun read. I flew to page 10! You've setup a good scenario with a hook.

Great job!
Rating: More Please! (I’m hooked).
Thank you for sharing your work with us! Feel free to send your rewrite for additional feedback and a review of your outline, if available. If you have more, then feel free to send it to me directly.
Jim Newman -

Friday, March 8, 2013

FAMILY TIES by Francesca Gajo

Welcome to this week's Feedback Friday.

Email Robert Dillon the first 10 pages of your script and one of our reviewers will gladly comment on your work and provide notes. There is a rating system that goes accordingly:

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!

by Francesca Gajo
Reviewed by Erman Baradi 

Jenny comes back to her home town from college for her sister's wedding. As soon as she arrives, she finds out a mortgage on their family house. 
She has to put aside her hate for the little town to save the estate rediscovering, with great surprise, the perks of living there and the warmth of a big family.

General comments from Erman Baradi.

Hello, Francesca!

Thank you for being brave enough to allow your screenplay to be read and commented on. Screenplays are a writer’s pride and joy so big kudos on submitting!

Regardless of if the story’s premise is one personal to you, you have a pretty good hold on the world you have placed your characters in. We are in a “small town drama” and so far you’ve nailed the characteristics we associate with small towns. Jenny comes back from college and bumps into Martin, a local shop owner who knew her growing up. It’s a small town! Who doesn’t know each other! Plus, the Marshall family appears to have a business of their own. 

I enjoyed the dynamics between the characters this early into the script. Although we only get a glimpse of Jenny’s college sweetheart, Scott, their interaction feels genuine, albeit a bit dry. Unless he decides to head east for Beth’s wedding the couple won’t be seeing each other for a while, so I would like to see more passion between them before they part ways. As the logline entails, Jenny will hate the small town life but warm up to living there with her big family. So already we understand an obstacle she must overcome to achieving goals: the household must learn to get along! So far, we see issues arise between Jenny and her soon-to-be brother-in-law Josh at the dinner table. What I find interesting here is that the person to blow up in her face is not an immediate member of the Marshall family! I wonder why it was him to argue with her and not, say, Beth or her mother? Here, I wish the heated discussion between Jenny and Josh intensified first before they reach their boiling points. It feels a little rushed. We can definitely draw it out more to a more emotional, authentic climax. 

Even though this is not a comedy I suggest sharpening the dialogue. What if Jenny is the witty one in the family, especially when describing her time in Chicago and in her comebacks at Josh. Right now the dialogue relies on simple “Hello,” “Welcome back,” “I love you,” “I miss you,” “Don’t call me that…,” etc. Also, the logline indicates Jenny’s dislike of this town. We should see it more as she walks back into town for the first time in years. Maybe we can show her looking at landmarks with disdain. So far she has had happy reunions with all the characters. 

Finally, we reach the moment that will change the course of Jenny’s life. Two men come and break the news of the Marshall family’s risk of losing their home! Hmm, perhaps it will affect the wedding as well! Here, I would like to know who these two men are and exactly who sent them? That way, we feel more of an opposing force preventing the Marshalls from reaching their goals. As of right now we don’t sense a main villain (if there is one) that may test the unity of Jenny and her family. This moment takes me back to the conversation Beth and Jenny had where Beth wouldn’t quite expose the family’s financial qualms. It was the right move not to reveal that until the next morning.

I would like you to take another pass at this script considering the timeliness of this topic. I think many potential viewers would find these small town characters vying to save their home relateable in today's world. By the way, do you have an exact east coast town in mind? What time period does this story take place in? Am I correct in assuming they are a hardworking middle-class family? Also, I am interested in seeing more of the dynamics between the different characters as the story progresses - who has grudges, resentments towards one another, etc. That's where drama can really take off and hook the viewer. Go back and fix spelling errors, ensure the character descriptions stay consistent throughout, and try to condense your logline to two sentences! Keep writing! I cannot wait to see how the planning of the wedding is impacted now with the impending loss of the home.


FAMILY TIES by Francesca Gajo


Friday, March 1, 2013

Birthday Bonanza

I started this blog a year ago in the hopes of helping screenwriters get feedback on (and maybe even a little exposure for) their work. I've considered abandoning it at times, due to a few snafus and the time it takes to maintain it, but thanks to the generous contributions of my reviewers (whose info you'll find in the sidebar) as well as Amy Suto, Dan Dollar and the many guest reviewers - we've been able to keep it going.

I'd like to thank everyone who has  taken the time to submit pages and share their thoughts. We'll be back next week with a review, but today we're celebrating our first year with the 1st 10 pages from 10 different writers below.

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.

Click here to > READ THEM ALL

ALUMNI NIGHT by Matthew Kane

A 19-year-old movie star ditches an important Hollywood Christmas party to play in the "Alumni Night" game of her high school comedy improv team — but she gets one crazy night from hell — chased by paparazzi and juggling three guys: the pop-star boyfriend who kicked her out but wants her back, her high school sweetheart who still wants them to be college sweethearts, and that adorable little 10th-grader who's now a senior … and super hot!

AMAZON CON by Jeff Thomas (Title Page)
A two-bit hustler who gets himself hired as translator on a jungle medical mission learns that the missionaries want to poison the villagers.

BEFORE A FALL by Joshua Lee Andrew Jones

Seduced, set up, ruined by a sex tape, the new minister’s son dared to pursue a girl above his station and was rewarded with humiliation so now he must turn the tables on the person who destroyed his reputation.

DOGBITE by Paul Holbrook

Looking for a fresh start, a man with a violent past moves his family to Small Town, New Mexico. When they are tormented and abused by a sick and twisted psychopath, he is forced back down the path of vengeance.

EPOCH by Cillian Daly

The crew of an interstellar ship, on an eighty year mission, return to the solar system to face a devastating mystery.

KATE by Eric N. Jones

How much is love worth? In this darker modern take on Henry James's WASHINGTON SQUARE, shy billionaire heiress KATE SLOPER finds out when she defies her tyrannical father, Senator and high-powered businessman AUSTIN SLOPER, and engages in a passionate relationship with the handsome, but rootless MORRIS TOWNSEND.

LITTLE BANDITS by Michael DiMartino

A group of orphans steal priceless works of art to keep them from falling into the hands of the Germans and to save their orphanage.

SNIPER by Geoff Breedwell

A high school student must evade the Sniper's cross-hairs during class, without telling anyone, or everyone in his family dies.


A group of scientists and marines must travel back in time to stop a cataclysmic event that could destroy the galaxy.

THE BUTTON MAN by Robert Dillon

A hitman faces a tough choice when he learns that the boss of a rival outfit, whom he's been ordered to whack, is also the brother of the woman he loves.


If you're a fan of Looper, 12 Monkeys, Source Code, Deja Vu type of films - then you might see what I'm trying to do with this.