• Wondering which camera, gear, computer, or software to buy? Ask in our Gear Guide.

critique The Dark Site - First Act

Many thanks to the members who offered their advice on this project on the previous 2 threads, notably @sfoster, @mlesemann and @Unknown Screenwriter. Have taken the comments and suggestions on board and tweaked the story.

The main things I've changed is that the killer now plays a more prominent protaganist role. The film is still a kind of a joint protaganist/antagonist feature though bewteen him and the Detective. Similar in a way to the roles Pacino and De Niro play in Heat I suppose.

I've also toned the torture element right down so that it does not form part of any sick "need" or obsession for the killer. I have left some elements in there but they are milder than what I originally planned and used for a direct purpose.

His killings are not especially humane though, but that is kind of the point of the film I'm going for. This is not Dexter, It's a Gory Thriller/Slasher. Not everyone's cup of tea, but I think there is a market there for people who are into those type of films.

I've also tried to add more humour to balance the darkness of the subject as per Mara's suggestion.

Anyway, I've knocked up a working draft of the First Act over the last 2 days. Would really appreciate some initial feedback on it from anyone willing to read it.

I know the descriptions and dialogue will need further polishing but more interested to know thoughts on the characters plus what works well and what needs addressing before I go much deeper.
 

Attachments

  • The Dark Site - Working draft.pdf
    108.7 KB · Views: 45
Last edited:

mlesemann

Staff Member
Moderator
Overall, I like it a lot.

A few thoughts and suggestions of various levels of usefulness and in no particular order :)

1. Small thing - the term "hostage" has a very specific meaning so I'd simply call the first guy "MAN" or "GUY" or something similar.

2. I like the discussion of the form, and I think you might show Ricky editing & fine-tuning it.

3. The characters talk too much, starting with Schofield on the phone. Guys like that are usually men of few words, so tighten everything up a lot.

4. Related directly to 3 above - if this is act 1, it equates to a total length of 120 pages. Given that this is likely to be a low-budget indie (that's not a criticism, just an observation), I'd aim for 95 to 100 pages. This will work well with tightening and shortening the dialogue.

I hope that's helpful.
 
Overall, I like it a lot.

A few thoughts and suggestions of various levels of usefulness and in no particular order :)

1. Small thing - the term "hostage" has a very specific meaning so I'd simply call the first guy "MAN" or "GUY" or something similar.

2. I like the discussion of the form, and I think you might show Ricky editing & fine-tuning it.

3. The characters talk too much, starting with Schofield on the phone. Guys like that are usually men of few words, so tighten everything up a lot.

4. Related directly to 3 above - if this is act 1, it equates to a total length of 120 pages. Given that this is likely to be a low-budget indie (that's not a criticism, just an observation), I'd aim for 95 to 100 pages. This will work well with tightening and shortening the dialogue.

I hope that's helpful.
Thank you so much Mara and for taking the time to read it. I'm glad you like it overall.

As usual, you are on the money with your critique. My aim was for a film 90 to 100 minutes long so wanted to keep the first act under 25 pages. I was going quite well but then the pages got away with me.

Regarding Schofield's opening phonecall, I'm trying to cram as much of his background info in there as possible when perhaps I don't need to. And, several of the other dialogue pieces could do with a good trim, agreed.

I may also look to cut or move some scenes to the second act, the interaction Schofield has with his kids isn't particularly relevant to the story at this point so may move it to later in the film for example.

When you talk about the form, I assume you mean the submission form on the Dark Site? My plan for the second act is for Ricky to keep Jay as a prisoner now that he knows he is innocent. He treats him well and promises to let him go when his mission is fulfilled and the two eventually develop an unlikely bond. I will use Jay as a soundboard for Ricky to explain the website, his traumatic past and why he does what he does.
 

mlesemann

Staff Member
Moderator
When you talk about the form, I assume you mean the submission form on the Dark Site?

Yes, exactly.
I just think it's both interesting & funny, and can be used a bit more.
People are always fine-tuning their social media profiles to get the most attention possible, and I think he could be doing the same thing with the form.

Re Schoefield - I totally get it. But you can cut "What do you want from me?" "Thinking of them" (it's implied by the gist of the conversation) and "What do you mean? It's my turn" because again that's clear from the balance of the conversation. Also "that's what you're saying" because it's just not needed.

To put it in perspective - I've been working on a screenplay that crept up to 108 pages rather than the target 100. Yesterday I was able to trim 5 pages in total just from trimming a word or a sentence here and there. So it DOES add up.
 

sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
You describe hostage as a big muscular man. people like that are gonna try to break down the door with a kick.
you could have the door reinforced if you really want him to cut himself on the glass. but he should at least try to kick it once or hit it with the hammer or something if hes a big strong man.

you spend 2.5 pages explaining how the website works.. take it down to 1 page. its way too technical.
Most audiences know how websites work and how upvoting works... just showing the website screen with no words at all is enough for 99% of the audience. youre explaining the website like grandma's that dont use computers are watching your film.

showing the photograph is a little bit dextery. maybe something other than a photo of the victim since that was dexters exact MO.
but nbd.

like the whiskey transition from one scene/character to the next.

"digs out some change" sounds like quarters or something. an ice cream truck for quarters sounds like this is in the 1950s
digs out some bills

instead of asking the old lady for pain killers i would say ibuprofen or acetaminophen. it sounds funnier to me.
pain killers sounds like he's asking for Oxycontin and it makes his request sound less genuine.

im at page 21 now and shit I totally misunderstood this timeline.
So the jay video was live streamed? I thought we were jumping back and forth through time like pulp fiction or something

I thought jay was dead and the we are watching the video of his murder.
I went back and looked - this is why i thought that. you said " WRIGHT plays the recording. " recording implies the jay stuff all happened in the past.

i think you've made a classic male writer mistake here by introducing your female detective as attractive.
personally i would avoid that!! unless its a part of her character like she was ms maryland or something introducing your female characters as attractive is something people make fun of in screenplays. you didnt introduce any of your males as "attractive" ya know. its one of those things.

I developed a gnat problem in the last few days and i have killed at least 15 of these fuckers while reading this screenplay
god damn it is distracting. i have something coming in the mail for them tomorrow. i think it ruined my experience a bit in the second half.

so maybe it was just the gnats but i think there might have been a lack of suspense in the second half.
it was harder to get through. the first half had the pages turning for me a lot easier.
 
Yes, exactly.
I just think it's both interesting & funny, and can be used a bit more.
People are always fine-tuning their social media profiles to get the most attention possible, and I think he could be doing the same thing with the form.

Re Schoefield - I totally get it. But you can cut "What do you want from me?" "Thinking of them" (it's implied by the gist of the conversation) and "What do you mean? It's my turn" because again that's clear from the balance of the conversation. Also "that's what you're saying" because it's just not needed.

To put it in perspective - I've been working on a screenplay that crept up to 108 pages rather than the target 100. Yesterday I was able to trim 5 pages in total just from trimming a word or a sentence here and there. So it DOES add up.
I know what you mean, I'm massively guilty of overdescribing in the description and overelaborating in dialogue. I tend to do it that way in the first draft so I don't leave something out that seems obvious to me, but might not be to the reader. Once I'm done I go at the script with a hacksaw and chop away what isn't needed.

My last screenplay ran to 140 pages on the first draft. On my first edit I then took nearly 30 pages out of it straight away, mostly by sharpening up what was already there.

One thing I am finding annoying, and I don't know if it's unique to the software I'm using, is that a couple of lines inserted into my script can sometimes lengthen the script by several pages! It's due to the formatting where it doesn't want to leave one or two lines of dialogue at the bottom of a page so pushes it to next page, but that then moves everything down on that page and the whole things compounds further and futher down the screenplay.
 
Last edited:

mlesemann

Staff Member
Moderator
it doesn't want to leave one or two lines of dialogue at the bottom of a page so pushes it to next page,

That's governed by the "widows and orphans" setting. In Celtx (which I see that you're using), go to "Edit," then "Script Settings."
The options are then on the lower right - you can play around with different settings to see what you like best.
 
You describe hostage as a big muscular man. people like that are gonna try to break down the door with a kick.
you could have the door reinforced if you really want him to cut himself on the glass. but he should at least try to kick it once or hit it with the hammer or something if hes a big strong man.

you spend 2.5 pages explaining how the website works.. take it down to 1 page. its way too technical.
Most audiences know how websites work and how upvoting works... just showing the website screen with no words at all is enough for 99% of the audience. youre explaining the website like grandma's that dont use computers are watching your film.

showing the photograph is a little bit dextery. maybe something other than a photo of the victim since that was dexters exact MO.
but nbd.

like the whiskey transition from one scene/character to the next.

"digs out some change" sounds like quarters or something. an ice cream truck for quarters sounds like this is in the 1950s
digs out some bills

instead of asking the old lady for pain killers i would say ibuprofen or acetaminophen. it sounds funnier to me.
pain killers sounds like he's asking for Oxycontin and it makes his request sound less genuine.

im at page 21 now and shit I totally misunderstood this timeline.
So the jay video was live streamed? I thought we were jumping back and forth through time like pulp fiction or something

I thought jay was dead and the we are watching the video of his murder.
I went back and looked - this is why i thought that. you said " WRIGHT plays the recording. " recording implies the jay stuff all happened in the past.

i think you've made a classic male writer mistake here by introducing your female detective as attractive.
personally i would avoid that!! unless its a part of her character like she was ms maryland or something introducing your female characters as attractive is something people make fun of in screenplays. you didnt introduce any of your males as "attractive" ya know. its one of those things.

I developed a gnat problem in the last few days and i have killed at least 15 of these fuckers while reading this screenplay
god damn it is distracting. i have something coming in the mail for them tomorrow. i think it ruined my experience a bit in the second half.

so maybe it was just the gnats but i think there might have been a lack of suspense in the second half.
it was harder to get through. the first half had the pages turning for me a lot easier.
Lots of notes there, thanks. Will try to address each in turn.

The muscular man and the door. Yes, the door is reinforced, so is the glass. In my effort to not overdescribe, I've gone the other way. I will add that he kicks it, then tries with the hammer.

The description of the website is a part I'm not happy with, it is cumbersome. Ironically, I was trying to address some of the believability issues surrounding it that you brought up on a previous thread. Definitely need to cut it back and maybe some of the specifics around it can come later in the story.

I'm not too bothered about the part where he shows the photo of Mikey. May be a little bit Dextery I suppose. Will have a think on that one.

Regarding digging out some change. The film is set in London, so change is more common here. The lowest bill denomination we have is £5. Part of the reason I have him scrapping around for change is to illustrate that he is somewhat rubbish at being prepared to take his kids on a day out, hence the free outing in the park.

Re: Painkillers, again it's more common to say this in the UK than a brandname. If someone asks for painkillers here in the uk, they mean Ibuprofen or paracetamol. They're pretty much the only tablets you can buy over the counter.

No, Jay wasn't live streamed. He was recorded and the vidoeo circulated on social media (we're not meant to know the source at this point) later that day. The live streaming of victims begins with Melvin, but your observation there has made me realise I need to make it clearer on both parts of the story.

The attractive new detective. Ok. I did wonder whether that mighy be a faux pas, but she is attractive and becomes a love interest in this story. Maybe I need to re-word for a more subtle description.

Regarding the second half of Act 1, I hope it's the gnats putting you off and not that it's gone boring. That said, it's definitely the second half of Act 1 where I need to do most of the cutting so hopefully this will improve the read. I hope you finish the rest though, don't let the gnats win LOL.
 
Last edited:

mlesemann

Staff Member
Moderator
Instead of "attractive," you could simply describe her a bit - but do that also for the guys, because I definitely agree with @sfoster on this.

You don't have to say someone's attractive in order for them to be love interest :)
Just make the character appealing.
 

sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
Lots of notes there, thanks. Will try to address each in turn.

The muscular man and the door. Yes, the door is reinforced, so is the glass. In my effort to not overdescribe, I've gone the other way. I will add that he kicks it, then tries with the hammer.

The description of the website is a part I'm not happy with, it is cumbersome. Ironically, I was trying to address some of the believability issues surrounding it that you brought up on a previous thread. Definitely need to cut it back and maybe some of the specifics around it can come later in the story.

I'm not too bothered about the part where he shows the photo of Mikey. May be a little bit Dextery I suppose. Will have a think on that one.

Regarding digging out some change. The film is set in London, so change is more common here. The lowest bill denomination we have is £5. Part of the reason I have him scrapping around for change is to illustrate that he is somewhat rubbish at being prepared to take his kids on a day out, hence the free outing in the park.

Re: Painkillers, again it's more common to say this in the UK than a brandname. If someone asks for painkillers here in the uk, they mean Ibuprofen or paracetamol. They're pretty much the only tablets you can buy over the counter.

No, Jay wasn't live streamed. He was recorded and the vidoeo circulated on social media (we're not meant to know the source at this point) later that day. The live streaming of victims begins with Melvin, but your observation there has made me realise I need to make it clearer on both parts of the story.

The attractive new detective. Ok. I did wonder whether that mighy be a faux pas, but she is attractive and becomes a love interest in this story. Maybe I need to re-word for a more subtle description.

Regarding the second half of Act 1, I hope it's the gnats putting you off and not that it's gone boring. That said, it's definitely the second half of Act 1 where I need to do most of the cutting so hopefully this will improve the read. I hope you finish the rest though, don't let the gnats win LOL.

iboprofen isnt a brand name its the scientific name of a drug. brand name is advil. but yeah do your culture lol there will always be differences there.

youre making great progress on this thing, definitely getting better each time
here is some inspiration for you

 
iboprofen isnt a brand name its the scientific name of a drug. brand name is advil. but yeah do your culture lol there will always be differences there.

youre making great progress on this thing, definitely getting better each time
here is some inspiration for you

Thanks, the descriptions in that article are inifinitely better than my 'attractive' effort. Will have a good dig and come up with something that best describes what I'm after.

No, I know Ibuprofen is the generic name, that's what I meant, we just refer to the whole lot, plus paracetamol as painkillers. It's generally only stronger pills that get referred to by their name. We don't have Advil here by the way, the main brand of Ibuprofen in the UK is called Nurofen.

Glad you think I'm making progress. Appreciate the help and advice you've given me.
 
Last edited:

sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
Thanks, the descriptions in that article are inifinitely better than my 'attractive' effort. Will have a good dig and come up with something that best describes what I'm after.

No, I know Ibuprofen is the generic name, that's what I meant, we just refer to the whole lot, plus paracetamol as painkillers. It's generally only stronger pills that get referred to by their name. We don't have Advil here by the way, the main brand of Ibuprofen in the UK is called Nurofen.

Glad you think I'm making progress. Appreciate the help and advice you've given me.

thats interesting you dont have advil.

Okay so this is only tangentially related to your story. very tangentially

I recommend that you watch The Drop (2014) or read the screenplay.
James Gandolfini's final film, starring Tom Hardy.

woah if i could ever write a screenplay like that. its so good.
there is an element tangentially related to your story but i would spoil the movie if i said any more

watching this movie will not improve your screenplay directly but its a masterpiece imo so you cant go wrong.
 
Last edited:
So I read your 30 pages...

Not sure what you're trying to achieve with this script... Is it a spec that you want to eventually take to the market? If so? I think you've got some work cut out for yourself.

First off? I don't think you've got a complete first act here. With all the overwriting? I think once you've really honed it down? It'll be much shorter.

Second? I have no idea who your Protagonist is. That's not good. By the end of a first act? That should be CONCRETE. By the end of Act 1? I should have already jumped on the Protagonist's train and be willing to ride it the rest of the way.

What you've done with Archer and Schofield has really confused me... Out of NOWHERE, Archer is suspended. LOL. He's the one of the two that you've developed to have a calm head. The one who doesn't make snap decisions. The one who's got a lot of experience on the job... Then all of a sudden, via Kimber's exposition, You take him OUT of the story. We never see it happen... We just hear about it through a third party.

SHOW don't TELL.

So after you did that? I felt like you're TRYING to NOW tell me that Schofield is your Protagonist and that now? I need to jump on his train and ride it all the way to the end. The only problem? So far? I'm not really liking the guy. It's difficult for me to invest in a character I'm not really liking so far. In order to get me to like this character? Consider having him perform some selfless act probably while he's on the job.

At no time did I feel like Schofield is LOCKED into this story. You kind of try to do that when you partner him with Detective Lisa Carson... Which by the way, when you did that? You made Schofield even a bit more unlikable when you had him tell Carson to get him some coffee. LOL. Which is fine by the way... It shows us what kind of character he is but at the same time? Assuming he's your Protagonist? At some point? You've got to show us SOMETHING about him that makes him likable. You almost do it when you have him with his two little girls but I think you could have fleshed that out even more. At this point? If almost comes off as simply his obligation and or responsibility to be with them. Like he's doing it because he has to and that feeling doesn't make me like him any more... Makes me like him even less. For instance... I personally went through the divorce from Hell decades ago... My ex did whatever she could to keep me from seeing my kids on MY designated weekends and summer. She made sure they were involved in all kinds of activities to keep me from seeing them. So when I FINALLY did get to see them and spend some real time with them? I CHERISHED that TIME. I used it to learn about each one of my children. I used that time to get closer to them.

Since this is a first draft? I feel like you need to follow some traditional story structure here... But I'm not really seeing that much. You kind of show us your Protagonist's ordinary world and him dealing with an imperfect situation in his life but at the same time? I'm not too sympathetic toward him either. I feel like this could be fleshed out a little more.

Thus far? You haven't HOOKED ME into this story. So far? I feel like I've seen stuff like this happening before. It feels familiar... Like I've seen bits and pieces of it from other movies and or television shows. You might want to try to figure out a MASSIVE HOOK at the beginning to really compel your reader to STAY HOOKED.

I don't think Shofield is fully invested here either... I'm just not feeling like anything he's going through is PERSONAL ENOUGH... i.e., it could have just as easily been Shofield who was taken off the case instead of Archer and who would care?

Which makes me NOW think that maybe there needs to be something personal going on between Ricky and Shofield. Some past story between these two that makes his involvement even more personal. Maybe someone close to Ricky was murdered and or raped and Schofield never solved the case... Although that? In and of itself is a bit cliché so if you do something like that? Try to make it different than what we're used to seeing. Maybe someone CLOSE to him was lost by thugs like these. Think LAW ABIDING CITIZEN. Watch that film to see where I'm coming from. Thus far? I feel like he could simply walk away from all this no worse for wear and if that's true? Then he's not that great of an Antagonist.

Where's the inciting incident?

Your Protagonist needs an inciting incident that draws HIM into the story. Schofield is a homicide detective. This is his ordinary world SO FAR. You've got Ricky being somewhat creative with his torturing and killing but again... I'm not feeling like Ricky's truly DEDICATED to what he's doing. I'm not getting that this is something he's agonized over before putting into action. Why is he killing these thugs? Why is he torturing them? Just because they deserve it? That's fine but there needs to be MORE to it that that.

Assuming Schofield is in fact your Protagonist? You've got to reveal both strengths and flaws during your first act... I see his flaws... He's a whiner. He's a drinker. He's pissed at his ex-wife. He sleeps around. He treats his new partner like a rookie.

All fine but what are his strengths?

What does your Protagonist stand to LOSE or GAIN here? So far? All I'm getting is that this is just another day in the life of Homicide Detective Shofield. I'm not seeing anything HE stands to LOSE or GAIN from this story and that's because there's nothing PERSONAL really going on between him and your Antagonist, Ricky.

Ricky hasn't really done anything (although his actions are brutal) in my opinion, that serves up as a REAL call to action for Schofield. So far? This is just another day on the job.

I've also attached the script with a few yellow sticky notes I made as I read. I didn't keep pointing out every problem I found except maybe your use of parentheticals. You can read about them.

I think you could have the makings of a good story here but I do think it needs to be developed a bit more in order to make us LIKE Schofield and want to keep watching him.

Good luck with it!

*NOTE: There's a part in your script where you have Ricky talking to Melvin but you make a mistake and have Jay react... That took me completely OUT of your story. That was a major mistake that really made me want to stop reading. Definitely get that resolved.
 

Attachments

  • The-Dark-Site-Working-Draft-Unk-Notes.pdf
    154.8 KB · Views: 39
Last edited:

sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
Two notes for today. how about this

"anything in there for a headache?"
that should work as a punchline in both our cultures.

other one instead of showing a picture like dexter.. what if he had an audio recording of the dude bragging about the murder.
and how it was too easy to get the evidence. the fact that it was too easy is what makes him realize that jay might be telling the truth
 
Last edited:
So I read your 30 pages...

Not sure what you're trying to achieve with this script... Is it a spec that you want to eventually take to the market? If so? I think you've got some work cut out for yourself.

First off? I don't think you've got a complete first act here. With all the overwriting? I think once you've really honed it down? It'll be much shorter.

Second? I have no idea who your Protagonist is. That's not good. By the end of a first act? That should be CONCRETE. By the end of Act 1? I should have already jumped on the Protagonist's train and be willing to ride it the rest of the way.

What you've done with Archer and Schofield has really confused me... Out of NOWHERE, Archer is suspended. LOL. He's the one of the two that you've developed to have a calm head. The one who doesn't make snap decisions. The one who's got a lot of experience on the job... Then all of a sudden, via Kimber's exposition, You take him OUT of the story. We never see it happen... We just hear about it through a third party.

SHOW don't TELL.

So after you did that? I felt like you're TRYING to NOW tell me that Schofield is your Protagonist and that now? I need to jump on his train and ride it all the way to the end. The only problem? So far? I'm not really liking the guy. It's difficult for me to invest in a character I'm not really liking so far. In order to get me to like this character? Consider having him perform some selfless act probably while he's on the job.

At no time did I feel like Schofield is LOCKED into this story. You kind of try to do that when you partner him with Detective Lisa Carson... Which by the way, when you did that? You made Schofield even a bit more unlikable when you had him tell Carson to get him some coffee. LOL. Which is fine by the way... It shows us what kind of character he is but at the same time? Assuming he's your Protagonist? At some point? You've got to show us SOMETHING about him that makes him likable. You almost do it when you have him with his two little girls but I think you could have fleshed that out even more. At this point? If almost comes off as simply his obligation and or responsibility to be with them. Like he's doing it because he has to and that feeling doesn't make me like him any more... Makes me like him even less. For instance... I personally went through the divorce from Hell decades ago... My ex did whatever she could to keep me from seeing my kids on MY designated weekends and summer. She made sure they were involved in all kinds of activities to keep me from seeing them. So when I FINALLY did get to see them and spend some real time with them? I CHERISHED that TIME. I used it to learn about each one of my children. I used that time to get closer to them.

Since this is a first draft? I feel like you need to follow some traditional story structure here... But I'm not really seeing that much. You kind of show us your Protagonist's ordinary world and him dealing with an imperfect situation in his life but at the same time? I'm not too sympathetic toward him either. I feel like this could be fleshed out a little more.

Thus far? You haven't HOOKED ME into this story. So far? I feel like I've seen stuff like this happening before. It feels familiar... Like I've seen bits and pieces of it from other movies and or television shows. You might want to try to figure out a MASSIVE HOOK at the beginning to really compel your reader to STAY HOOKED.

I don't think Shofield is fully invested here either... I'm just not feeling like anything he's going through is PERSONAL ENOUGH... i.e., it could have just as easily been Shofield who was taken off the case instead of Archer and who would care?

Which makes me NOW think that maybe there needs to be something personal going on between Ricky and Shofield. Some past story between these two that makes his involvement even more personal. Maybe someone close to Ricky was murdered and or raped and Schofield never solved the case... Although that? In and of itself is a bit cliché so if you do something like that? Try to make it different than what we're used to seeing. Maybe someone CLOSE to him was lost by thugs like these. Think LAW ABIDING CITIZEN. Watch that film to see where I'm coming from. Thus far? I feel like he could simply walk away from all this no worse for wear and if that's true? Then he's not that great of an Antagonist.

Where's the inciting incident?

Your Protagonist needs an inciting incident that draws HIM into the story. Schofield is a homicide detective. This is his ordinary world SO FAR. You've got Ricky being somewhat creative with his torturing and killing but again... I'm not feeling like Ricky's truly DEDICATED to what he's doing. I'm not getting that this is something he's agonized over before putting into action. Why is he killing these thugs? Why is he torturing them? Just because they deserve it? That's fine but there needs to be MORE to it that that.

Assuming Schofield is in fact your Protagonist? You've got to reveal both strengths and flaws during your first act... I see his flaws... He's a whiner. He's a drinker. He's pissed at his ex-wife. He sleeps around. He treats his new partner like a rookie.

All fine but what are his strengths?

What does your Protagonist stand to LOSE or GAIN here? So far? All I'm getting is that this is just another day in the life of Homicide Detective Shofield. I'm not seeing anything HE stands to LOSE or GAIN from this story and that's because there's nothing PERSONAL really going on between him and your Antagonist, Ricky.

Ricky hasn't really done anything (although his actions are brutal) in my opinion, that serves up as a REAL call to action for Schofield. So far? This is just another day on the job.

I've also attached the script with a few yellow sticky notes I made as I read. I didn't keep pointing out every problem I found except maybe your use of parentheticals. You can read about them.

I think you could have the makings of a good story here but I do think it needs to be developed a bit more in order to make us LIKE Schofield and want to keep watching him.

Good luck with it!

*NOTE: There's a part in your script where you have Ricky talking to Melvin but you make a mistake and have Jay react... That took me completely OUT of your story. That was a major mistake that really made me want to stop reading. Definitely get that resolved.
Ok, lots to address then. Not able to view the sticky notes you've done for me on my phone. Will run through them on my laptop when I get chance.

Just picking up some of the other points made.

Re: the protaganist. Like I said at the beginning of the post, I want Ricky and Schofield to be co-antoganist/protaganist characters. I know that's a bit unconventional in terms of a screenplay formula (outside of romance feautures) but it worked in Heat and that was the angle I was going for. I want the audience to ride both stories, and almost be confused at times as to who's side their on. That's why I've given Ricky more appeal than Schofield to begin with as the normal convention would be to root for the good guy.

I agree I don't think I've shown enough of Schofield's redeeming side though, was saving that for later in the story but you're right, think I need to show some in the first act as maybe I've made him too unlikeable.

Ok, the Archer disappearance is done that way as part of a twist to come later in the story. He hasn't really been suspended, it is part of a plan. Perhaps I can include a scene showing Archer leaving, while making it ambiguous so that it appears he is being suspended?

I'm a bit unsure what kind of thing you are referring to when you say a massive HOOK. Can you give me an example? Something that I could potentially use in this story? The hook I was going for is the website and Ricky's unhinged personality.

Incidentally, the discovery of the website (and what Ricky was up to) was meant to be the first inciting incident. I guess that didn't work for you then?

The first act turning point is the realisation that Ricky has already captured many of the people from the list and is keeping them prisoner. Upping the urgency for the detectives to find him and rescue the victims before he kills them off one by one for prime time viewing.

Regarding Ricky, and why he's doing what he does, that reveal will come in the next act. I would struggle to fit all that into the first act and it doesn't seem relevant to the setup of the story to put it there to me. Similarly, the relationship between Schofield and Ricky, that is part of the story that develops over the course of the film. I think in most cop v killer films, the beginning doesn't explore any direct relationship since they don't know who the other is to begin with.

Well spotted on the Jay/Melvin mix-up. Will change that now.

Thanks for the notes. I will go over the stickies and see what I can imrove. I have also managed to cut 3 pages out of this draft so far from Mara and Sfoster's advice.
 
thats interesting you dont have advil.

Okay so this is only tangentially related to your story. very tangentially

I recommend that you watch The Drop (2014) or read the screenplay.
James Gandolfini's final film, starring Tom Hardy.

woah if i could ever write a screenplay like that. its so good.
there is an element tangentially related to your story but i would spoil the movie if i said any more

watching this movie will not improve your screenplay directly but its a masterpiece imo so you cant go wrong.
Can't find a copy of the full screenplay anywhere and it's not on Netflix or Amazon prime by the looks. Will keep an eye out though.
 
I do remember you saying that you were going for the way HEAT handled the Protagonist/Antagonist. I get that but as far as I'm concerned? Pacino was the Protagonist and DeNiro was the Antagonist. That the movie revealed so much about both characters is what kept us liking both of them but little by little Mann reveals MORE about DeNiro and who he REALLY is i.e., the guy that can leave EVERYTHING behind (even his new girlfriend) in 30 seconds flat if there's heat around the corner.

What I think Mann did with these characters was REVEAL how much ALIKE they are which is where you're getting the Protagonist/Antagonist thing i.e., that they are one in the same. Both are married to their work and both have lives that never take precedence over their WORK. Both have their little circles of community i.e., their co-workers.

Mann juxtaposed both Hanna and McCauley's lives to reveal they were pretty much flip sides of the same coin... One is a good guy and one is a bad guy but they're really not a whole hell of a lot different from one another.

You haven't done that in your 30 pages. Ricky and Schofield are as far away from one another as characters can be.

Another movie that kind of does the same thing you're talking about is LAW ABIDING CITIZEN. I believe Jamie Foxx's character is the Protagonist in that film too even though the story revolves MORE around Gerard Butler's character.

As for a HOOK?

True... Ricky's unhinged but what's you've depicted didn't really HOOK me into the story. Again, look at LAW ABIDING CITIZEN. Butlers wife and daughter are brutally murdered RIGHT OFF THE BAT hence, I am HOOKED. I have a wife. I have a daughter. I can empathize with this character and I want to SEE how HE HANDLES it and like most people... I assumed right off the bat that he was the Protagonist but as things develop, I find out because of what happened to his family? He's actually the Antagonist.

So something probably needs to happen to either Ricky or Schofield or BOTH that really GRABS US at the beginning. TO HOOK US INTO THE STORY and want to KNOW MORE about BOTH of these characters.
 

sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
Can't find a copy of the full screenplay anywhere and it's not on Netflix or Amazon prime by the looks. Will keep an eye out though.

How are the libraries over there?
I just looked it up on my local libraries website - they have a few copies of the DVD.

I can place a hold on the website, go to the library and they will have it on a shelf waiting for me.
 
Top