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



  1. Hi Erman! First of all thank you for your precious help and for being so kind about grammar errors. I'm Italian and I do my best writing in English, usually I use proofreading service, but this one is a very early draft and I can't afford a professional service at this stage. I think that your comment about showing more about Jenny's dislike of her town is true, it's too feeble. Even the argument Jenny-Josh needs to be improved, your advice to turn the scene into a climax is illuminating. Every scene should have a proper climax, actually. The wedding and the arrangements are obviously an excuse to explore the members of this family, their relationships and even their secrets. I'll work on it keeping in mind to improve characters description and of course dialogue, which is always the most difficult part for me due to my not-being-mothertongue. I'm pretty bad at writing loglines, I know that. I really find it difficult. But I found out this link which really helped me out and maybe can help other writers: Feedback is the most important thing for writers, even the bad ones. The only chance to see the flaws and improve your work, so THANK YOU and keep in touch!

    1. No problem, Francesca! Please keep in touch throughout the writing process! I want to see the journey these characters go through. Thank you for being open to feedback!



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