Friday, May 31, 2013


Hi folks, no review today but I'm excited to share the 1st 10 pages of Sly Ada's IN THE YEARS OF SONDER. 

A sci-fi actioner set in 2045, the story follows two idealistic, advanced humans whose lives get turned upside down when a research doctor hunts them for experimentation.

If you'd like feedback on your 1st 10 pages email me (Rob) at: dillonscreenwriting at gmail dot com.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

UNION by Joshua Lee Andrew Jones

Thank you all for checking in on this week's edition of Feedback Friday. Joshua Lee Andrew Jones shares his futuristic science-fiction inspired by Odyssey and Blade Runner. 

Union by Joshua Lee Andrew Jones

Reviewed by Erman Baradi

Genre: Science-Fiction

Original Logline: The ruling Excelsis, scientifically engineered humans, call upon a natural man with extraordinary talent to help quell an android rebellion on Mars in exchange for permission to marry so he goes on a special operation that cripples the insurrection only to return home to greater challenges as the Excelsis do not live up to their end of the bargain and he happens to foster a special Martian refugee who might be the next step in human evolution. 


I notice right off the bat that you're title page is blank. Make sure not to forget all that vital info next time. Script readers will be thrown if they aren't sure what they are reading and by whom from the get go. Also, your logline reads a little long. I think you can actually cut it in half and leave it as:

The ruling Excelsis, scientifically engineered humans, call upon a natural man with extraordinary talent to help quell an android rebellion on Mars in exchange for permission to marry...

This alone, we get who the protagonist is and what makes him unique enough to be called upon; who is enemies are (androids); and what he is trying to achieve. Notably, it is good to point out that we are dealing with opposing entities (natural humans interacting with scientifically enhanced beings). I personally would mention who the protagonist intends to marry so that we are emotionally involved in the subsequent romance. By doing so, we are also interested in finding out WHY he needs permission to wed. 

Your first ten pages were a brisk, descriptive read that drew me into the story but could use quite a few tweaks. 

With this being a sci-fi set in the future you have done well with creating this universe for the audience. Kudos! You introduced technology common in similar sci-fi films set in the far future such as service robots, laser map grids, etc. Additionally, none of them are written in to be flashy. These cool gadgets so far all have a purpose in this world. I do suggest, however, describing the climate. Very rare do these films have clear skies. I would like to know how the rule of androids have affected the environment. Do they treat the Mother Earth worse or better than humans? Is it generally polluted and smoggy? Furthermore, I know the physical attributes of these characters but what are they wearing? What styles set apart each level of the hierarchy? I hope they don't wear the cliched silver one-piece suits!

You are very deliberate with the way each character acts, responds, and interacts with others. Protagonist Syd is going through a lot of inner turmoil over his circumstances of being low on the hierarchy, whereas scientifically-altered Zelda plays his calmer half and voice of reason. I also loved how the kickass 30-something mother and her catatonic, almost son Bodhi are written in the intense opening scene. I would like to see what role they play in the bigger scheme of things. Bodhi returns on page 10, captured by who appears to be the main antagonist. Safe to see, he is likely the child Syd has to rescue in order to save humanity. Each character so far plays his or her specific role with their distinctive emotional depths. 

One of the things I noticed in your writing is the abundant use of similes. Granted, with the story set in the future it is natural to help us relate to these gadgets and new environments through the use of similes, yet sometimes it can feel repetitive. Rather than use "like" a lot, find a way to creatively switch it up every now and then. 

Despite the intriguing premise, there are grammatical errors that can slow it down. Pay particular attention to minor spelling errors and subject-verb agreements. Examples include:

Page 1 - "A service ROBOT CLEANS" rather than "A service robots clean"
Page 3 -"ITS limits onward" rather than "it's limits onward"
Page 4- "A silvery eye" rather than "an silvery eye"
Page 4: "If Norse god Odin WERE a woman" rather than "If Norse god Odin where a woman"
Page 4: "computer monitor that DISPLAYS" rather than "computer monitor that display"
Page 4: Zelda's line "but with those test results OTHERS will have" rather than "other's"
Page 5: "His EYES narrow in disbelief" rather than "His eye narrow in disbelief"
Page 6: "ITS turbo prop fans" rather than "it's turbo prop fans"
Page 7: "Whoa" rather than "woah" 
Page 9: Zelda's line "That's what MOTHERS do" rather than "That's what mother's do" 
Page 10: "Next to AN alcove" rather than "next to and alcove"

During your rewrite be mindful of these errors as agents and managers will take note of these habits. 

I suggest working exposition into the dialogue without uncovering too much at once. The scene on page 5 when Zelda points out Syd is a "neutral" and the downside of being one in this world, it plays well because Zelda is putting him in his place. However, other times it seems like explaining too much to the audience. Once again, it is difficult in this genre to show rather tell but it is possible. 

On Page 9, the supporting character states the theme of the story: "You don't need to trust technology, only yourself." With that being said, I sense the inevitable showdown between human and robot. Juicy! Perfect timing as the very next scene you introduce the main villains, Android Alpha and Janus. They have strapped up 10-year-old Bodhi. They seem like the perfectly twisted villains by the end of page 10. As stated in your logline we know that Syd's relationship will be at stake. Zelda's mentions his girlfriend Penelope but I wish we are introduced to her earlier on so we have a connection to the love story. 

In an essence, we have a futuristic story where one must save a very important child to save humanity. It is familiar yet I an interested in seeing how this will differ from others. Also, I like the concept of the hero battling BOTH androids and humans. Like in "The Walking Dead," the stakes are raised when the heroes are up against two forces - one of them being their own kind! I do wonder, though, who created the androids and how they rose to power. Hopefully, these questions are answered further into the screenplay. 

Overall, you have an enjoyable first ten pages and I am captivated by the world you have created. The title makes me wonder if the "union" describes the marriage Syd seeks, a revolution against the androids, or a possible relationship between man and robot. Intaeresting title. By the way, you definitely have guts for writing this type of film. They can definitely be hit and miss. When I, Robot was released nine years ago it grossed almost $350 million, yet last year's Total Recall remake only grossed $58 million domestically. There is definitely a market for your screenplay. Fix up the grammatical errors, spice up the dialogue, and flesh out the characters' identities some more and I would be glad to read an updated script!


I would love to read the rewrite!


-Erman Baradi-

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

RECIPROCITY by Michael Gorrie

Reviewed by Jim Newman
(posted May 14, 2013)
(Screenplay | Action, First 10 Pages)

“From what I’ve read, this reminds me of
Gone in Sixty Seconds coupled with Ocean’s Eleven. Clean writing, fast read, but some components fall short – but nothing that can’t be fixed with a second draft.”
Let’s kickoff with the logline:
Original Logline: A bank thief has a debt placed on him after trying to help his friend with a Chicago loan shark. He's forced to pull jobs to repay the debt, but when his sister dies and his nephew moves in, he has to decide which direction his life is headed.
Let’s identify the recommended elements of an effective logline:
  • The logline hits these chords:
    • Protagonist – Bank thief
    • Goal/Mission – Choose between repaying a debt to loan shark or care of his nephew
    • Antagonist – Organized crime boss
    • Irony – A bank thief is conflicted between saving his friend and caring for his nephew
  • The logline lacks the following essential elements:
    • Time – How long does he have to repay the debt?
    • Structure – More than one sentence – will need to cut without sacrificing the other elements
  1. A bank thief has three days to choose between pulling a heist to save himself and his friend from a Chicago crime syndicate or retire to care for his orphaned nephew while in hiding.

Vince cuts up some cocaine, adding some baking soda to skimp on the weight, while David looks on. They pack it up and take it out for delivery to the loan shark. David comes packing heat while Vince works with the shark to clear up a debt with the shark’s enforcer watching over the exchange. After some disingenuous pleasantries, an ambush occurs where the cocaine is stolen. Vince is still responsible for paying the shark back for the money he borrowed to purchase the coke, but with the product gone there’s no other source of cash. After some colorful torture, David agrees to take on the debt after paying a small percentage of the amount owed. Now Vince and David own the debt.

They take off for the hospital so Vince could get some much needed medical treatment after his little run in with the boss and enforcer. David goes off in the opposite direction to visit his sick sister, who’s choosing to stop treatment and accept death where she reveals that her son (David’s nephew) will need a man in his life … and David is the only man she trusts with her son.

Bullet Pointed Feedback:
What I Like:
* Writing is clean, which gives the reader (me in this case) a fast paced read through the scenes.

* Format/structure is aligned with the standards. Plenty of white space – always a plus!

* Yanking out the fingernails gave me a chill down my back. Loved the idea, you psycho. haha

* The dilemma of taking on the debt to save his friend (putting himself out on a limb), but now he must choose: repay the debt or keep himself and his nephew out of harm’s way.
What Needs Work:
* Without having read the logline, I was a bit lost:
> What the story’s backdrop? Wasn’t sure what brought the characters together until much later.
> Who was the main character (Vince or David – not until page 10 do we learn it’s David)?
> Why we should care about the characters?

* The money owed to the Chicago loan shark seems to be small dollars and an easy fix for a bank thief. Make it a challenge and put it in the hundreds of thousands.

* A loan shark appears to be a low level stooge. Make him more authoritative like a
crime boss or top dog of the local drug trade.

* Although dialogue is on point, it felt a bit forced at times … unnatural. Maybe it was just how I was reading it and misinterpreted the tone.

* Give a bit more description of the scene’s location. What do we see around us?


None noted.
Rating: Take Another Pass

Thank you for sharing your work with us! Feel free to send me your rewrite for additional feedback and a review of your outline, if available.

Friday, May 3, 2013


No review today, but you're welcome to post loglines and links to your work in the comments (as many pages as you like.) Maybe some folks will be nice enough to drop in and share their thoughts.

Good luck with your writing,