We want your script to be the best that it can be, so we’re sharing with you the following feedback from our Story Department. This feedback is provided for informational use only, and is not in any way a request on our part for you to make changes in your screenplay.
Title: The Umpire
Draft: Script 1
Writer: Matthew Wilson
THE UMPIRE is a tightly written baseball-themed comedy that will appeal to sports fans and rom-com aficionados. and the writing is structurally solid and fast paced. The main character Rob is a lovable troublemaker, and there is plenty of wish fulfillment in this premise. While this is a strong script, we feel there are a few areas that can be addressed to make it even stronger. The next draft should focus on creating a villain, strengthening Rob and Amy’s relationship, increasing the stakes, and building a more resonant third act.
At the moment, there is no real villain in our story; Rob brings his calamity upon himself. But in order to increase the conflict, it might be helpful to create a concrete antagonist for Rob to surmount. Let’s consider making Miles Barrington, the player who replaces Rob when he is suspended, the villain. Perhaps Miles conspires to get Rob kicked out of the league so that he can take his spot on the team. It would also add to the conflict if Miles tries to keep Rob off the team after Rob’s community service has been served. For example, Miles could leak photos of Rob sleeping with the hooker in Tijuana in an attempt to keep him from returning. Eventually, Rob could figure out that Miles has been sabotaging him and then get him suspended from the league in turn, or sentenced to community service. Making the commissioner the villain could also work. Perhaps Tina is the commissioner’s daughter, and he wants Rob to pay for treating her poorly. But whoever is chosen as the antagonist, the script would greatly benefit from a villain.
ROB & AMY
Rob and Amy’s relationship could benefit from being a bit more believable. At the moment, Rob seems to only care about Amy because she is “hot and prude,” and Amy warily trusts Rob for only a few pages before he disappoints. They don’t seem like two people who should be together, yet a large part of the story hinges on their relationship. In order to root for them as a couple, we need to see why Rob and Amy are good for each other. To that end, consider showing how they learn from one another, or how each has some quality that the other needs.
Perhaps Rob needs to teach Amy how to trust again by coming through for her. The last line of the current draft is “Amy trusts him;” however, this beat feels unearned. Rob hasn’t really done anything to earn her confidence, except continually try to sleep with her. Instead, let’s convey how Amy comes to believe in Rob through real actions he takes. For example, Rob could show up to ump a level-A game even though his community service hours are complete. Or Amy might suspect Rob of cheating, only to discover that the woman he’s with is actually his niece or sister. After Rob repeatedly proves to be an honorable guy, Amy finally learns to trust him. In exchange, Amy needs to teach Rob how to be an honest person. At the moment, Don affects most of this change in Rob, without Amy really assisting in this transformation. Consider having a line where Rob declares that Amy makes him a better person. By showing how Rob and Amy have grown as a result of knowing each other, we will root for them as a couple.
Let’s consider increasing the stakes in this draft. Currently, once Rob completes his umpire hours, he returns to the Dodgers and performs poorly with little consequence. Instead, consider giving Rob something to prove once he returns to the team. Perhaps Rob is in a downswing in his career when he is suspended from the league. This is currently hinted at but not quite fleshed out. Maybe Rob needs to play well for the Dodgers or his contract won’t be picked up next year.
Another reason the stakes seem low is that Rob does not appear to care about returning to the Dodgers, particularly through the second half of the second act. To remedy this, consider showing that he is excited to return to the team, and needs to prove himself.
At the moment, the script ends a bit abruptly. Consider having a stronger resolution for the lead characters, by creating a powerful climax where Rob wins back his girlfriend, ensures his career and triumphs over the villain. While cinematic, Rob and Amy’s kiss at the end doesn’t have the necessary gravitas. You might instead insert a brief 1-2 page resolution where you see Rob and Amy as a successful couple, umpiring a level-A game together or taking Tim to the fair.
We also want to see Rob’s career return to an upswing in Act Three. As is, he starts playing better in the final game, but the scene doesn’t carry enough weight because we don’t get a sense of what is truly at stake. What will happen if Rob doesn’t play well in this game? Could he get traded next year? Let’s show that Rob’s career will be over if he doesn’t play well against the Giants.
In addressing the note about creating a villain, we should also see the antagonist get his comeuppance in the third act. For example, Miles might be forced to do community service, or the commissioner could be convicted of sleeping with a prostitute. Creating a more powerful Act Three will make the story more satisfying.
It might be helpful to track Rob’s progress on the news a bit more to give us a sense of the stakes with his career. Also, consider showing Rob try to contact Amy repeatedly before he shows up on Tina’s doorstep. Currently, he runs to Tina too readily without trying hard enough to win Amy back. Also, time seems to pass way too quickly when Rob returns to the Dodgers; 14 games are played in a matter of pages. You might add a montage depicting several games to address this issue.
• A fun, compelling protagonist.
• Structurally sound, well-paced plot.
• Wish fulfillment premise.
• How could we create an antagonist for Rob to overcome?
• How could Rob and Amy have a stronger relationship?
• How could the stakes be bigger for Rob?
• How could we create a more satisfying third act?