A Couple Of Joes has been named a quarter-finalist in the Writers On The Storm screenwriting contest. Got some great feedback, too, which is included with EVERY entry (it was a $30 entry with my movie-bytes discount, can't beat it!). Here it is:
Recommendation: Consider With Reservations
Strengths/Weaknesses: This is a unique, engaging concept. The story of a boy running his grandfather for governor of New Jersey has lots of comic potential - as well as a good emotional core. The structure is good. There are three identifiable acts. The writer's style is engaging and the script was an easy read. The pacing was good. The ending was satisfying and the journey along the way was fun. The problem with the script is that the stakes for the boy need to be clearer and higher. What will happen if he fail at getting his grandfather elected? What will happen if he fails his class? Why is this a critical moment in Joe's life? Also, there are some believability issues. Grandpa Joe's first speech in the square was not remarkable enough to garner attention. Also, his appearance on the talk show was bland. What makes him so remarkable? Why do people get behind him? Look at the movie "Being There" and we see how an ordinary man can capture the imagination and ignite the hopes and dreams of average people. What is it about grandpa that makes people want to vote for him? Right now, it seems implausible that he would be able to run and implausible that the kids would be able to get him so many high-profile media appreances. There also needs to be more conflict in the script. The beginning is a bit slow... there needs to be conflict on every page of the script to keep a reader/audience fully engaged. But, the writer did a very good job. This is an entertaining script. The premise is good, the writing style is good, but the execution just isn't there quite yet. One more rewrite and it'll be good to go. Good work!
Reader suggestions: What sells scripts in Hollywood these days is... emotions. Plot is important, but getting the audience fully invested in the characters is paramount. The relationship between Joe and Grandpa Joe is the core of this story - and so this relationship has to be developed much more. Perhaps younger Joe disliked his grandfather before and now, through the campaigan, he is drawn closer to him and understands him more. The author has this in the end, but it needs to be brought out much more. In the first act, we need to get more invested in the characters - on an emotional level. It feels too superficial right now. The end of the first act needs to come sooner (it happens on p. 38 right now). They decided to run Grandpa for governor. Great. Now, we are off and running. The second act needs a stronger tension. Make things more difficult for the Joes along the way. Give the protagonist more obstacles, more challenges. The third act is a bit weak - feels like an epilogue. There needs to be a strong narrative drive to the third act. It seems like young Joe wants to find Grandpa, but he does so right away and then we are back to Grandpa running for Governor. It's a bit predictable (and implausible) that Grandpa Joe would win the election - particularly based on what he says as a candidate in this story. Make it stronger, more real. Make him a real candidate - someone that people would vote for. Allison subplot is good. Brenda subplot doesn't do much - thought it's nice for Dudley. EVERY scene in a script needs to 1) move the story forward and 2) expand our understanding of the characters. If the scene does not accomplish BOTH of these things, it has to be reworked or cut. The script needs more original action and more clever methods that younger Joe uses to help get Grandpa elected. And raise the stakes, for younger Joe. Why MUST he do this? What happens if he doesn't? Title is too vague. Titles are important - make it a strong one. I enjoyed the script and the writer did a fine job - just focus the story and dig deeper into the characters. Good luck!
Also, scoring a "GOOD" was STRUCTURE, DIALOUGE, COMMERCIALITY, MAJOR & MINOR CHARACTERS, EXECUTION & TITLE. Scoring better in the "STRONG" category was STYLE/VOICE, ORIGINALITY, & PREMISE.
Overall, pretty nice feedback. Actually useful for me as I'll certainly keep some of those notes in mind when I take another pass at it soon. I'm waiting to hear if I made the semi-finals.