Friday, July 07, 2006

Feedback'd

Okay, here is my feedback for The BlueCat Screenplay competition for my script, THE MONEY SHOT, followed by brief comments for CRICKET HILL, which I entered into Writers On The Storm (which was before Prospect Pictures picked it (and me) up to turn it into a TV series).

The following is from Bluecat, regarding The Money Shot (originally written in 2000). In a nutshell - college student loses financial aid & tries to make a porn:

WHAT DID YOU LIKE ABOUT THIS SCRIPT?

It’s definitely got some funny moments - there’s some good character based humor, as well as some laugh out loud slapstick scenarios. The premise of a group of film students shooting a clandestine porn film on the side isn’t particularly original, but it is handled with a genuine affection for its subject matter, and enough fresh angles that the overall script didn’t feel as though it had all been done before.

The characters were diverse and most of the major ones had some interesting levels to them. The relationship and interaction between Kenny and his friends was well presented and intriguing. The dialogue and tone was consistent and for the most part well matched to the characters, although there were some issues. (See part two.) The characters didn’t all sound the same - a frequent problem in many scripts. Boston’s snappy one-liners were funny, and the excruciating dialogue of Kenny’s parents in front of Megan was perfectly over-the-top. The action and description was clear, well written, and visual; and the story was easy to follow without any confusing or distracting scenes. There was a good balance between physical humor and dialogue/character humor, and some funny, original scenarios, usually plausibly constructed. The “Adam and Eve” scene on page 77 was very funny - although I think it could’ve been pushed even further. In general, I didn’t feel the story line lagged or slowed down at any point, and the tension of how long they could get away with their film-making unnoticed was nicely sustained. The opening scene was great, and a nice way to introduce the varied characters, as well as set the tone and subject matter of the script. The bracketing of Kenny’s voiceover in the opening and closing scenes works well thematically to tie the script together, and offers a nicely unexpected heartwarming feeling about the joys of sitting back with a group of friends and watching midget porn. Who would’ve thought?

WHAT DO YOU THINK NEEDS WORK?
There are some character inconsistencies. Grace is set up as an uptight prude - we meet her as she’s organizing a protest against the local go-go bar. When we find her smoking pot on page 82, it’s out of character. We can believe her and Gabriel’s tryst in the gym - the uptight prude turns out to be suppressing desires that have got the better of her - but her getting stoned just didn’t seem believable. The Dean’s dialogue doesn’t read realistically at many points - even considering that his character is preachy and didactic.

There might be a benefit to having an actor (or friend) read the lines aloud, and listening to whether or not they flow naturally. There’s also a problem throughout the story of the stakes involved. They never seemed high enough, which weakens the drama. What are the consequences of Kenny not graduating for another six months? Yeah, it sucks, but a whole lot of students don’t graduate on time, and life works out. He needs to have a strong emotional reason - gaining his father’s respect, winning true love, something powerful, something meaningful for Kenny, whatever that might be. Along with higher stakes for accomplishing his goals, there needs to be higher risks if he fails. In fact, there needs to be more risk for all the characters, and the risks need to escalate throughout the film. As it is now, it’s difficult for the audience to truly care about their situation and whether or not their porno succeeds. (I’d argue that the first “Revenge of the Nerds” was a much better movie than its sequels largely because in the first one the two main characters were fighting for one’s father’s respect, and the other’s first true love; in the sequel, they were fighting for an inter-fraternity competition.) If Kenny’s emotional life hangs in the balance between succeeding and failing, then we have a reason to root for him to succeed. The script, as it is now, would make a cute movie, but it could be much more.

Pretty good notes. I disagree slightly on their take of Grace; at that point in the script she has sorta lost all hope, and the point was that although she was a prude she was a closet pothead. Their main concern was with the "stakes." I agree with them to a point, although in the script I did make several mentions of a huge job opportunity for Kenny upon graduating, but if they're mentioning it as a negative then I should make that clearer.

As for Writers On The Storm - Good contest, cheap entry (like Bluecat, it was $35) and they give feedback (not as in depth, but it's nice to hear ANY notes on your screenplay. They did mention that they had 907 entries, and that 210 made the quarter-finals, and that mine came in at 250. Not too shabby.

"A well-written, entertaining script. the dialogue is sharp and many of the scenes have a good amount of conflict. The tension is good throughout most of the script, but some of the structure is off. Overall, it was a fun read. Good effort and good luck." Their scoring came down to checkmarks in the GOOD categories for Premise, Characters, and Dialogue, and SO-SO for Structure.

Well, they were right about the structure, but the script was never your typical 3-act Syd Field blueprint, and that was on purpose. But that's also the reason why when Prospect Pictures decided to take it on, they said it makes a better TV series than a feature, and since I started developing it with them as a TV pilot, I couldn't agree more!

I am awaiting Cricket Hill Bluecat feedback, and when I get that I'll post that, too.

Okay, I'm done. I'm hoping to catch Pirates 2 this weekend with the wife, and it's my B-day on Sat! Go on, say it!

4 comments:

Lucy said...

Good stuff! I'd heard Bluecat notes were a bit scant on the grapevine, but seems to me they're quite in-depth - you have a good foundation to redraft from should you choose to take them or some of their comments on board. I'm still waiting for my Bluecat feedback, but as soon as it drops in my inbox it'll be up on the blog.

Robert Hogan said...

Happy Birthday. Keep up the good work. I hope I get the chance to work with you soon.

Julie O. said...

Happy Birthday! Hope this is your best year yet - looks like it's shaping up to be.

Patrick J. Rodio said...

Thanks, Julie O, I'd say the same for you!

Rob, love to work with you.

Lucy - The notes were good, and I'd take another swipe at it, but not right now. Got too much other stuff on the plate.