Author Topic: Feedback Needed on Film Noir Script  (Read 7759 times)

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xerxes

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Feedback Needed on Film Noir Script
« Reply #30 on: April 30, 2005, 03:05:10 PM »
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at kotte’s suggestion and with ghostboy’s permission, i post his comments.  i hope he’ll forgive me for posting just about the whole thing.

Quote from: Ghostboy

My reaction to 'I'll Be Waiting' is one of admiration - admiration with quite a fair share of caveats. It's a beautifully written script, no doubt about it, and I think the manner in which you deflate noir conventions really does come across. In a sense, this is a script in which nothing really happens - and I like that. I love the extremely slow, methodical manner in which you detail everyone's morning activities. I'm not sure how that'll fly when you transfer the script to the screen, but it's almost a microcosmical reflection of your intentions for the entire script: to take these hard boiled noir characters and turn inward upon them, relying not on plot conventions to carry the script but the minutiae of their lives.

On the whole, I think you've succeeded in this to a certain extent, but not completely.

I think the character of Pete Anglich, and his particular story, suffers the most. He seemed to be very much based on the Phil Marlowe model - Marlowe fallen on hard times - and all the details of such a character are intact. But aside from his heroin addiction, there doesn't seem to be that much else to him - you don't really get into what makes him tick, so to speak. And that addiction is brought up early on, suggested once more, and then forgotten. I think at a certain point, if he was a true addict, he'd start getting the shakes pretty bad. But I digress. I think you could do a bit more with him; with his character; give him a monologue or two that offers a bit more insight into who he is, why he is, etc. Too much about him and what he does feels arbitrary (following Evelyn out of the bar, for example), based on your need to move the plot along and not the character's needs.

I bring up the character of Evelyn; she's intriguing, but more or less disposable at this point. I'm going to make an overt suggestion here: what if the girl that he wakes up next to, the one whose murder he's supposed to be framed for, is in fact Evelyn? I think this would be an improvement for two reasons: since a semi-rapport has been developed between Evelyn and Pete, this would be a bit of a shock, and would raise the stakes. It would also give Pete a more classical reason for returning to Waltz's place. I'm not suggesting you try to orchestrate a Sin City revenge scenario here - indeed, this actually gives you a chance to subvert that whole revenge cliche, because of Anglich's actions on his subsequent return to Waltz's place, which isn't exactly hero (or antihero) behavior. You could also use the extortion scene in Waltz's office as a chance for more introspective dialogue on Anglich's part - maybe about the girl, maybe not.

Also, this would allow you to drop a few scenes, the ones involving the Reno character - which feel more or less extraneous as it is.

On the other hand, if you go with the story the way you have it now, I'd consider having Evelyn show up again at the end. As it is, Anglich's story ends on a rather abrupt note - which is good, but not good at the same time. Maybe you could add a scene where he drops Evelyn off back at the street corner. Again, subverting the expectations, after he rescues her from Reno, that a romance might develop.

I'm not sure how I feel about the Vidaury character. I think you need to introduce him much earlier than you actually do. Maybe have something in the beginning where Eddie or the cops are watching one of his movies on TV an comment about how he's washed up. Just something to get the character introduced earlier on, so that he's in the back of the audience's head (sort of like the Frank TJ Mackey TV commercial that seems to be playing on all the TVs during the introductory sequences in Magnolia).

His whole deal with Waltz seems a bit shaky as well, but maybe I just need to read it again. Overall, I think this entire storyline could use the most work, but there's some good stuff there, waiting to be developed. At the moment, there's not enough character material to justify the sketchiness of the plot - or vice versa. One or the other needs a bit of work. I also wouldn't be surprised if, on close consideration, you didn't find five or ten pages of material to cut out here; despite the deliberate pacing, which is a good thing, I think there's a lot of fat on this storyline.

Jumping back a bit, I love how you begin the script. Throughout the first 20 or so pages, you're throwing the audience for a loop, consistently reworking expectations about what the plot might be, who the lead character might be - because of the prologue, we think the whole movie might be about the events leading up to Eddie's death, but then we're back to that scene 20 minutes in and he's out of the picture - it's a wonderful way to draw people in. Everything up until the first time Anglich shoots up - which is where I see his story as beginning - doesn't need to be changed.

I think the Eve and Tom story plays out quite nicely, and their scene together in the lounge is one of the high points of the script. I'd actually consider moving that to the middle, to the sequence where Eve is first introduced - because as it is now, that whole sequence is sort of confounding. If you give it a great hook - like that beautiful conversation about suicide - it'll be perfect. I think it would suit the structure of the script as a whole quite well, too - not just that particular sequence.

So yes. I greatly admire what you've done with this script - both in intention and, when it works (which is a good deal of the time) in execution. You're a rewrite or two away from something exceptional. I'll be happy to read any rewrites, too - hopefully with more timeliness!


and for the benefit of kotte and perhaps some other members of the board, i will post my reactions here.

ghostboy, your comments have given me the courage to dive back in and completely tear things out and change them.  i think, in a sense, i was stuck with what i had.  i wasn’t happy at all with the vidaury part, i don’t know if it’s that i couldn’t really think of anything (which may be that case), but i haven’t really brought myself to make any major changes to it. but now, i feel like i can do that, just maybe not right away.

having evelyn’s character be the one who turns up dead, would probably be great for the script, but it’s a little bit harder to do for me. i like ending that particular part on him opening the door and finding her quite a bit.  but i think you may be right with this whole part and i’ll have to do a lot more thinking about it.  it does let out some motivation for anglich’s character, which is both good and bad in my view.

the idea of one of vidaury’s films playing somewhere in the background is a good one, but it’s a little bit difficult to do since my envisioning for the time period of the story is before TVs were readily available.  i’ll have to think about this more because i would very much like to work some introduction like that into the script.

there’s more that i would like to dicuss with you, but that will have to wait till i’ve let everything sink in a little more.

but i wanted to ask one more thing, and this is for kotte  as well if you wish to give me some more feedback, the scene between tony and rauls near the end, was one of my favorite parts while i was writing it.  i guess i just wanted to ask your reactions to it and if you thought it worked.

thanks again to both of you.

kotte

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« Reply #31 on: April 30, 2005, 03:30:07 PM »
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It's a while since I read it. I'll do it again.

but is there a Raul character? Can't find the name with the search function. Am I crazy...?

Ghostboy, good dissection of the story. I couldn¨t even begin writing such a review. I'm lost when it comes to having intellectual opinions about films.

xerxes

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« Reply #32 on: April 30, 2005, 03:40:27 PM »
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sorry, ralls. yeah i'm an idiot.

matt35mm

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« Reply #33 on: April 30, 2005, 03:44:46 PM »
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Raul's better.

xerxes

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« Reply #34 on: April 30, 2005, 03:53:36 PM »
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Quote from: matt35mm
Raul's better.


even if it's a last name?

matt35mm

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« Reply #35 on: April 30, 2005, 04:08:05 PM »
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Can he be Raul Ralls?  Because that would be great.

xerxes

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« Reply #36 on: April 30, 2005, 04:16:42 PM »
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Quote from: matt35mm
Can he be Raul Ralls?  Because that would be great.


i'll see what i can do

Ghostboy

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« Reply #37 on: April 30, 2005, 05:50:22 PM »
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Quote from: xerxes
but i wanted to ask one more thing, and this is for kotte  as well if you wish to give me some more feedback, the scene between tony and rauls near the end, was one of my favorite parts while i was writing it.  i guess i just wanted to ask your reactions to it and if you thought it worked.
.


I think it's great. I think you set up pretty well why Tony would let Rauls go like that - the only thing I'm not sure about is whether he'd go out of his way to give him a car, but that only ocurrs to me now, after thinking hard about it. It all works fine while it's playing out.

I should also mention that you make excellent use of beats and silences, punctuating the dialogue in this scene (moreso than the rest of the script, even), and I also like how Rauls doesn't go back to see Eve - at least, that's the implication I get from the last scene.

kotte

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« Reply #38 on: May 01, 2005, 02:40:56 AM »
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I think it's lovely. It was one of my favourite parts when reading it actually.
I had the same feeling Ghostboy had. It's quite a stretch for Tony just give him a car when I think about it but it does read well on the page.

xerxes

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« Reply #39 on: May 01, 2005, 04:06:49 AM »
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yeah, tony giving ralls the car may be a bit far-fetched, but i really like how it all plays out.  i'll have to give that part some more thought though.

i always feel like i use too many pauses and whatnot, but i don't know, i guess that just how i see most conversations.  oh well, i appreciate the compliment nonetheless.

and you’re right, ralls does not get to see eve, she goes down again before they finish their little talk. i’m very glad you liked that.

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« Reply #40 on: May 31, 2005, 07:20:23 PM »
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Hey,

I'd love to read it, send you an email back, whatever...please send it my way.
whip it good.

xerxes

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« Reply #41 on: May 31, 2005, 09:05:07 PM »
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sure. just give me an email address and i'll send it over.

metroshane

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« Reply #42 on: June 03, 2005, 10:10:12 AM »
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Thanks for sending it along.  First I want to say that I admire anyone that gets anything of substance written.  It's a huge accomplishment that anyone who's ever tried to write a script can attest to.  

I've read the first ten pages and debated on whether or not to post yet.   But I already have some impressions and I'd like to share it even if I change my mind about it later.  At least it'll show what I was thinking in the first 10 minutes.  I'll also be completely honest b/c I feel it's the only way to really get better...but remember they're my opinions...not facts.

I really like the tone of the opening scene.  The details, pace and mood are all top notch.  However I feel that the second scene it really dives into the Pulp Fiction territory a little too close.  From the physical descriptions of the characters to the dialogue volley...it's drenched in Tarrantino influence.  But it doesn't succeed like Pulp Fiction does.  Why?  Well there are subtle differences.  One, there is too much dialogue about what we are already seeing on the screen with visuals.  Don't say it, show it.  If we can see a guy is shot in the head....there's no reason for a character to say "I think he's dead".  No need for a character to say "what did he do next?"...b/c it's a story--we already know he's gonna tell us.  Ok, so that's the critique of that portion, how do you fix it?  Well, if you show something accurately, it leaves plenty of room for better and more interesting dialogue.  In pulp fiction, when Jules and Vincent are on their way to Bret's...they aren't talking about what Bret did...they're talking about Amsterdam.  Classic example.  (I'm stealing this next example from an improv scene by UCB)  The suggestion for the scene was "hamburgers".  Two guys are standing around a grill with hamburgers cooking.  Most novices would write about how much they really like hamburgers and how they like cheese, but not swiss, etc.  The UCB improver came out starting showing that he was flipping burgers and said to the other guy "Did they ever find your wife?"  You can see how one scene was about burgers...the other was an entire story in one line.  Use those opportunities.  Next, use specifics.  "Some spot on the strip" or "The Hey Hey Club".  Which gives more meat to the story and dialogue?  Where they driving a black seden or 1934 olds?

That's it for now.  Keep in mind, the story is fine as it's written but there are a few opportunities to make it great.  And again, this is my page 10 impression.  I might change my mind at the end and say it's perfect all the way through.
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metroshane

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« Reply #43 on: June 03, 2005, 02:32:00 PM »
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OK, read the whole thing.   Overall, I'm very impressed that you've got a whole screenplay.  It takes a lot of balls to purge yourself like that and share it.  Congrats.  

However, as it is, I'm having trouble finding the real story.  A story starts at the interruption of the ordinary.  The point that makes this day different than all the rest.  Unfortunately, since you've set up this world where strange things can happen without reason or motivation...you've shortchanged yourself by leaving no motivation for the characters.  Anglich...what's his motivation to get involved?  That's the downer for me.  The best part is that you have a good sense for interesting characters.  And you have the fortitude to flush some ideas out. I think you could really make this into an interesting story.  One thing I'd like to see you rethink is the sequencing.  It's ok to have out of sequence events...but there's not enough to show a commitment either way.  I know that's harder than it sounds.

Here are some small notes too.

1.  page 12, bill walks Tony…or Eddie outside?

2. first conversation between Moe and Anglich….talk about what we are seeing.  They talk about how they like their eggs.....They could have easily said "how's your wife?" "Dead".  Get the point?

3.  page 27 7/8  What if the detective just said “sorry about that Pete”.  economy of words.  You can use and economy of words to great ends and open that space up for more intriguing dialogue.  Just that one word not only establishes that the cops know Pete...but also allows the audience to use their imagination about the extent.

4.  page28 2/8 Anglich “so I’m guess (should be guessing?)"

5.  page 29 Have Moe slide him a cup of coffee instead of going “you need coffee? sure.” Economy of words again...also don't talk about what we are seeing.  

6.  page 30 7/8 throws the match to the floor...should be ground?

7.  page 37 1/8 police car is park (should be park'ed')

8  Page 66 Det. Johnson tells Vindaury he can’t go in…then in the next scene he’s in.  Why the denial?  Denial in a story is really just a stalling tactic.  You can use it to effect sometimes, but mostly you know the action is going to happen anyway...why bother denying?

Overall, great start.
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metroshane

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« Reply #44 on: June 03, 2005, 03:54:28 PM »
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Quote
the idea of one of vidaury’s films playing somewhere in the background is a good one, but it’s a little bit difficult to do since my envisioning for the time period of the story is before TVs were readily available.


How about a movie poster or marquee in the background?
We live in an age that reads too much to be intelligent and thinks too much to be beautiful.

 

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