Saturday, April 04, 2009

BlueCat Feedback - The Stand-In

Okay, gang, here's the feedback from Bluecat, for my comedy, The Stand-In. My logline is:

Pete, an anti-social loser, hires a male model, Simon, to attend his high school reunion cruise as Pete to "wow" his former classmates. But when Simon falls for Kara, Pete's high school crush, Pete takes matters into his own hands and battles the model for her heart.

The feedback.....

What did you like about this script?

Pete's initial humiliation-by-wedgie is an amusing scene. Pete clearlyseems destined for a life of humiliation and sexual failure; youeffectively set him up as a protagonist who needs to transform himself and his life.

When we jump forward chronologically, you swiftly establish that Pete is still a put-upon individual: his good nature is exploited by his colleagues, who pile their work upon him. His dress sense may have improved (slightly), but he seems no closer to romantic success. Will the impending school reunion enable Pete to correct wrong turns that he's previously taken, or will it just be a reminder of his sexual and social failure as a teenager, a pattern that heappears to be stuck in?

You quickly establish Simon as a rather vacuous, self-absorbed hunk.The scenes in which he feigns concern for the starving Africans before switching to diva-esque behavior between takes are amusing (if a little obvious). The impending reunion sets the main plot in motion:Pete hires Simon to impersonate him, creating the impression that he'ssucceeded in life. It's a premise that has comic potential. We already anticipate that things won't go quite according to plan; is Pete's aspiration (to impress everyone with "his" (Simon's) good looks and material success) a false goal? Perhaps accepting himself and being unashamed will prove to be his true goal.

You derive some farcical energy from the scenes on the boat. You quickly show Pete's plan coming unravelled: Simon wants Kara for himself, while Pete discovers that Kara actually had a crush on theold, socially-maladjusted him; he'd have been better off appearingunder his own guise rather than that of the fictitious "Chuck". Of course, Kara hates liars, so he feels compelled not to come forward immediately (a narrative contrivance that is just about convincing).

You tighten the screws on Pete as Simon appears to be successfully winning Kara's heart. How will he undo the confusion he's caused? Can he hope to win Kara away from Simon? Will the (unavoidable) revelation of his true identity anger Kara when it finally arrives?

You bring Pete to an appropriate end point, as he discovers some home truths: that he should have confidence in himself as he is, that the bullies who tormented him were fallible people with insecurities of their own, and that being himself is the route to success with Kara (well, that and a good makeover). Having a fitting end point for your protagonist is a good attribute in a script; so long as you're aware of the "lesson" your protagonist needs to learn, the false goal they're aiming for and the true goal they need to recognize, you havea strong "core" to the script. If things go a little awry in the second act (and they do, somewhat), it's just a matter of remedying this. The spine of the script remains strong.

What do you think needs work?

It's problematic to specify too many songs in the script; you may not be able to secure the rights to use them. It's best to refer to generic types of song if it's absolutely necessary (in the karaoke scene, for instance), rather than being specific. The karaoke sequence itself is overlong; it should only take one song to establish that Pete's unabashed taste for cheesy music endears him to Kara.

Why is Simon so determined to seduce Kara? He's an odiously self-absorbed and cocksure character, obviously, but he has a vested interest in keeping Morty (and, by extension, Pete) happy. It should be easy for Pete to persuade Simon to follow orders and make him lookgood without threatening his relationship with Kara. You need to establish convincingly why Simon goes "rogue" and pursues his own agenda at the risk of angering Morty (who holds the keys to his career in his hands, of course). The mechanics of the plot need a little attention here.

Some of the contests between Simon and Pete (the relay race and the rock-climbing contest) seem a little unnecessary. The second act feels slightly dramatically flaccid. Once we know that Pete has a circle of friends who are prepared to help him defeat Simon, we never feel that Simon is a serious threat to Pete's happiness. Write to increase the possibility that Kara will fall for Simon; make him more of a real romantic threat. Deepen Kara as a character; she feels slightly one-dimensional, a "prize" for Pete to win rather than a distinctive personality in her own right.