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About

As an amateur writer who makes his living in a completely unrelated field, the short stories, manuscripts and screenplays I've written were done so out of pure enjoyment. I find the creative process very fulfilling and since my dream job is currently being held by Kobe Bryant, I'll stick where I'm at and write when I can.
 

Reviews Michael Has Written

Good People, V. L.'s 3rd Draft

1 out of 1 people found the following review helpful:

This is a good story that with a few tweaks can be very strong.

Overall Recommendation:
3 stars
 
Premise:
4 stars
 
Story structure:
3 stars
 
Character:
3 stars
 
Dialogue:
3 stars
 
Emotion:
3 stars
 
April 25, 2013
This is a good story that with a few tweaks can be very strong.

Let’s look at the opening scene.
Michael waking up with a migraine is a good place to start because it foreshadows events which will surface later. However, don’t tell the reader he has a migraine, SHOW it. You’re writing what the camera will see (and what the audience will see). So, how does the camera see that Michael is an astrophysicist and that he has a migraine headache?

Something like…
Michael covers his eyes as he closes the blinds. He rubs his temples as he stumbles into the kitchen and removes a pill bottle from the cabinet.

Show, don’t tell. There are a lot of instances whereby the reader is told things that won’t show up on camera. Things like (from page 4):

“All of Michael’s guests sit in the living room, glancing at each other quizzically, surprised they were not the only ones invited to his place.
While Michael nervously serves them orange juice from a box, MIA exhales, disappointed she’s not the only one there.”

How does the camera know that a) Michael’s guests are surprised they were not the only ones invited and b) that Mia is disappointed she’s not the only one there?

I would suggest reading the story again (haha…probably for the 100th time). But as you read it, read it from the P.O.V. of someone sitting in a theatre looking at a screen. I bet you’ll notice things that are un-filmable.

The dialogue in this story needs to be trimmed down as there is a lot of repetition.

One thing I didn’t quite understand was Father Andrew. First he won’t pick up the gun because he refuses to bring violence against a creature of the lord. Then, two pages later he’s concocting a plan to kill Michael and have the others agree on a viable story. There’s character arc but man…that’s really stretching it.

I like the ending. It’s very apropos for the rest of the story.

Overall, I think this is a very good story. One that can be great with only a little tweaking here and there. Also, I’m not a typo nazi but there are a few misspellings and out of place words throughout the SP.

Good job Veronica! You’ve got a very creative mind and I enjoy reading your work!
 

Chip Kalderon - Scientist, Soldier, Sorcerer, Alex's 2nd Draft

2 out of 2 people found the following review helpful:

There’s a lot going on in this Action / Sci-Fi story.

Overall Recommendation:
3 stars
 
Premise:
4 stars
 
Story structure:
2 stars
 
Character:
3 stars
 
Dialogue:
2 stars
 
Emotion:
3 stars
 
April 19, 2013
There’s a lot going on in this Action / Sci-Fi story.

Right out of the chute I noticed that the logline for this SP doesn’t really read as a logline. The logline should tell the reader what the story is about in a clear and concise way.

CONCEPT:
The concept behind Chip Kalderon (CK) is very cool and very ambitious. Set in the future, Chip Kalderon, leader of the rebellion is in the final stages of a 5 year war with earth’s tyrannical leader, Shakran. In a desperate attempt to annihilate humanity, Shakran creates a black hole designed to suck up New York City. Chip counters this move with the creation of some sort of worm hole which ultimately sucks Chip and his warrior buddy Joh to the planet Lumia.

The inhabitants of Lumia are busy with their own planetary battle; a battle in which Chip immediately becomes involved.

CHARACTERS:
The good thing about the characters on Lumia is that they’re unique. The problem I had was that there are so many different alien characters that I got lost keeping track of them. It was difficult to differentiate the Zargos from the Shizmann…the Ubermenks from the Gians. I understand that Gian is one of the good guys (ok, good girls) and that the Ubermenk is the bad guy but it needs to be crystal clear as to why. Both sides use magic spells (I think) and both sides use mystical powers, so it needs to be really clear as to why I should root for one of them.

With the exception of his bionic hand, Chip’s character kind of reminded me of Maximus in Gladiator. However, I think his character should be a full on warrior. He’s already a bad ass so why not lose the idealist part of him and send him over the top.

DIALOGUE:
The dialogue in CK needs work because a lot of it is on the nose, expository or just plain doesn’t make sense. It’s not my intention to be mean here, but throughout the SP, the dialogue just doesn’t work. Take this example from page 57:

CHIP KALDERON
I did create this to be a cure, not
a weapon. Well, by no means I´m the
first in my profession to create
something to help people and see
that nice idea turn into an
instrument of death. The worst yet
was to find out there is a part of
me that likes to fight.

I know what the writer is trying to say but there’s no flow to the dialogue. One of the things that would help tremendously is for the writer to do a table read and see how it sounds.

Not sure why there are so many “OS” parts of the dialogue either. I would lose most, if not all of them because A) they slow down the read and B) they aren’t necessary.

Lastly, and this is extremely important. If Chip is the Protagonist…who is the Antagonist? Is it Shakran or is it the Ubermenk? Or is it supposed to be another character? I read the script and if you asked me, I honestly couldn’t tell you for sure.

STRUCTURE:
This SP needs work. There are huge blocks of action and description that need to be reduced. Here’s an example from page 55:

Chip SUCKER PUNCHES kardaph and KNOCKS him out of his
dragon. The Zargos batallion leader falls on a PILE of a
hay-like vegetation.
The scientist and warrior tries to take control of Kardaph´s
dragon, but the beast clearly rejects him and SHAKES him
around, trying to drop him.
Chip tries to hold on to the saddle as hard as he can, but
the animal keeps shaking and flying erratically, not
allowing him to ride him. The creature spits a few ACID
BUBBLES at the hero, narrowly missing him.
But then the hero sees Mori right below him. He´s close
enough. Lets go of the dragon and PLUMMETS towards the
enemy.
Chip, in mid-air, STRETCHES his hand, as if it were Mr.
Fantastic or Plastic Man´s hand, towards Mori´s dragon´s
leg.
The prosthetic hand GRABS the leg and scares the dragon,
that grawls. Chip quickly "recoils" the hand (like a
grappling gun´s rope that rolls and pulls up the shooter),
and HITS the dragon´s belly with both his feet, making Mori
FALL out of the dragon.
The dragon KICKS Chip in the face, breaking his NOSE and
making it bleed, as Chip lets go of the dragon and falls.
An ENERGY-SHAPER ZARGOS WARRIOR creates a huge spiral-shaped
energy slide that makes Mori´s fall go smoother and safer.

This example is just one of the many portions of this script that reads as though it were a novel.

In addition, this SP could use a good scrubbing as there are numerous typos throughout.

OVERALL:
There is a good story there with some really compelling ideas. I love the mystical/magical world Chip finds himself thrust into. However, in order to be taken to the next level, the formatting and structure issues must be addressed.
Good luck with this project!
 

The Pets, V. L.'s 3rd Draft

2 out of 2 people found the following review helpful:

The Pets is a fun story with a lot of laughs.

Overall Recommendation:
4 stars
 
Premise:
4 stars
 
Story structure:
3 stars
 
Character:
4 stars
 
Dialogue:
4 stars
 
Emotion:
4 stars
 
March 08, 2013
I'm glad I had the opportunity to read this story. It was a lot of fun!

LOGLINE:
The first thing I look at when reading an SP is the logline. Does it convey what the story is about in a clear and concise way?

The logline in The Pets is confusing and too long. It needs to provide the reader with a quick snapshot of what the story is about. How about something like:

“Two rival dogs must work together in order to save the boy they love after he is stranded on an island.”


CONCEPT:
The concept behind THE PETS is really fun. When Eddie, a young wheelchair bound boy becomes stranded on an island in the Florida Keys, his pets stop at nothing to save him. Great concept.


CHARACTERS:
The relationship between Eddie and Bones is what sets the tone for the entire SP and is initially set up very well. The first couple of pages establish the bond between a boy and his dog but the audience needs to see a deeper connection between these two. I like how the story starts when Eddie and Bones are both babies and then jumps ahead a few years but I didn’t feel the love from Eddie…only Bones.

The writer does a really good job of introducing the reader to a wide variety of animal characters early on. Mozart, Chin Yii and Tsin, Peanut, Mr. and Mrs. Gallo, Chiki and Chika are all great characters with their own personalities. They’re fun, quirky at times and provide a great backdrop for the world in which Eddie lives. They all look to Eddie with great affection and reverence which makes their upcoming journey to save him plausible. Great job with all of these guys.

Sophia’s introduction to the story was terrific and I loved her personality. Her introduction immediately turns Bones’ world upside down. The interaction between Bones and Sophia is good, but I think there needs to be a little more conflict between them.

When Eddie comes home from the hospital he practically ignores Bones. I think Eddie would have been thrilled to see Bones but I didn’t get that sense from him. He needs to show Bones affection here. If Eddie loves Bones as much as we are supposed to believe he does then he would show him some kind of affection.

Eddie’s connection with his mother Ana was great. They shared a special bond and it showed throughout the story. Very well done here.

DIALOGUE:
The dialogue in The Pets is very well executed. The writer does a terrific job of giving each of the characters a unique voice through dialogue. There are many instances of terrific one liners throughout the story. Very good job here.


STORY:
This is a very good story and I could imagine it being popular with kids. The writer’s logline suggests that the two dogs (Bones & Sophia) can’t stop fighting over Eddie’s love, but in reality the story progresses with very little fighting between them. Bones is jealous of Sophia; that much is obvious. I loved the part when Eddie locks Sophia in the bathroom but we need to see more of this in order to establish real conflict.

Again, this is a very good story with awesome characters. But what is this story really about? What is the central theme of the story? If we look to the logline, it’s about two dogs working together in order to save a young boy. It’s about the obstacles the dogs (and other animals) need to overcome in order to save Eddie. That being said, we cannot wait 50 pages to start this journey.

The inciting incident happens on page 10 but the animals don’t start their journey until page 50. We don’t need 40 pages to set up the journey. The ingredients are already in place; all we have to do is get the animals on the road much quicker.

The writer does an excellent job of establishing the surroundings and environment in which the animals exist. Moreover, the writer fills most of the scenes with multiple characters doing multiple things. However, if the scenes are not propelling the story forward then they are superfluous. For instance, the animals attempt to clean the fish tank was very well written and very funny. The writer did a great job and I could easily picture the animals performing the task, but did it move the story forward? On a smaller scale, when the animals bumped into the manatee, did that propel the story forward?

119 pages for an animated SP is too long. The action / description sequences need to be cut, cut, cut in order for the story to be crisp and focused. By keeping the logline as the central focus, this task won’t be difficult.

The writer clearly has the ability to tell a terrific story and did an awesome job of foreshadowing. This task is not easy to pull off without a bunch of expository dialogue or description, but the writer was able to do so. The meteorologist on television was quick but foreshadowed events which played a vital role later. The same thing goes for Ana’s comment about the soil filling her with life. These are both examples of good story telling and should not be over looked.


STRUCTURE:
The structure of this SP is good, but could use a little scrubbing to clean up some typos. I’m also not a big fan of using things like ANGLE or POV (p. 37) in a spec script. Things like that take the reader away from the story. Sluglines should contain, DAY / NIGHT. Be careful using things like LATER or NEXT DAY as they can sometimes confuse the reader.


OVERALL:
The Pets was very enjoyable to read. The animal characters were a total blast and as I read the SP, I could easily picture them in my head.

MISC.
- Be careful using passive voice in the action sequences. Things like “he is sitting” could easily be changed to, “Eddie sits”.

- The montage scene seemed out of place.

- I’m not sure why in the beginning of the story the family who adopted the first two dogs were described as African American and the owner was described as Caucasian.

- The ending was very well done and very satisfying. (loved the dirt!!)

I’ll be watching for future drafts and good luck with this project!
 

Whiplash, Lauri's Original Draft

2 out of 3 people found the following review helpful:

Whiplash is ridiculously good...

Overall Recommendation:
5 stars
 
Premise:
4 stars
 
Story structure:
5 stars
 
Character:
5 stars
 
Dialogue:
5 stars
 
Emotion:
5 stars
 
January 03, 2013
I was skimming through the various posts yesterday and saw where Whiplash had been rated a 9 on the Black List. So I decided to kill a few minutes and read the first ten pages or so. 115 pages later I closed the PDF in total awe. This is such a killer story and so well written that I could not stop reading. I had to finish it…so I did.


CONCEPT:
The concept behind Whiplash is fresh and original and clearly stated in the logline. Throughout the story the writer never strays too far from her original concept.


CHARACTERS:
The characters in this story are believable. Not only was I able to identify with virtually all of the characters, but I was able to do so within the first few lines that each of them spoke. Normally it takes a few pages for me to get a good feel for a character but not in Whiplash. The writer conveys each character’s motivation without a bunch of needless exposition.

The writer has the unique ability to make the reader feel invested in each of the characters. I was rooting for Frank even before he delivered the bible to Charlie. I knew he was a great guy and I wanted Charlie to see it too.

I wanted Ingram to pay for what he’d done. And I wanted him to pay dearly.

Even the smaller characters were easy to identify with. John obviously played a major role in this story even though his character is only on-screen for a short time. What happened to him clearly had to happen in order for the story to take place, but the writer does such a good job of setting up the circumstances that I really felt bad for him.
Characters such as Mrs. Fletcher, Mr. Finch and the various stage coach personnel with whom Charlie worked were written perfectly. Especially Mrs. Fletcher. I was able to visualize each of them pretty much right off the bat.

Which brings me to Charlie. Wow, what a character! At first glance she’s tough, driven and fiercely independent. But the writer shows us glimpses of her tender side as well. Her complexities kept me intrigued from page one. She had more heartache by age sixteen than most people do by age 30. Yet with each setback she showed strength and resolve and it was very easy to root for her. Her relationship with Frank developed slowly and was very easy to believe. Very well done.


DIALOGUE:
The dialogue in Whiplash is excellent. It’s obvious that the writer did a lot of research into the dialect of the time. The Southerners sounded like Southerners should but it wasn’t overdone. Charlie’s travels takes her all over the country and at each stop the writer seems to capture the dialogue of the area.

Apart from the excellent dialogue, the writer is able to convey a character’s intentions through subtext. The words coming out of the character’s mouths did not always convey the totality of what was being said. This is so difficult to pull off but not for this writer.



STORY:
I really liked this story… can you tell? The story itself is relatively simple in concept but not in execution.

One of the most critical decisions Charlie made was when she decided to leave town rather than be shipped off to Mr. Finch (p. 26). The simple but effective way in which the reader finds out she’s leaving is perfectly executed.

The scene in Savannah (p. 49-50) really captures the essence of the post-war south. It’s disgusting and makes me sick… but it’s real and helps drive the story.

This story also has a terrific ending… Very apropos for the rest of the story.

Whiplash moves along at a very good pace with each scene moving the story forward. The overall theme of the story was awesome. Loved it.


STRUCTURE:
The structure of this SP is ridiculously good. If there are any typos I sure as hell didn’t find them and there’s no silly or oddball directing. There are a couple of times where the writer inserted a “Sound Crossover” that really helped with the visual. This was honestly the first time I’d seen this type of transition in a spec script. Some may see this as directing but I think it works just fine.

The writer clearly has a professional script here.


OVERALL:
I tried my best to find something negative but the writer made that task very difficult. Here’s what I came up with. The use of sound effects such as BLAM, ZING, POP, CRACK, etc. made me think of the old Batman series (with pre-Family Guy Adam West). Sorry… that’s the only criticism I could find.

Overall I enjoyed Whiplash very much. This is such a good story with such great characters that I really want this writer to succeed.

Good luck with this project… consider me a big fan!
 

SUPER FRIENDS, Chris's Original Draft

3 out of 3 people found the following review helpful:

Super Friends is a smart, well written, quick paced romantic comedy

Overall Recommendation:
5 stars
 
Premise:
4 stars
 
Story structure:
5 stars
 
Character:
5 stars
 
Dialogue:
5 stars
 
Emotion:
4 stars
 
June 15, 2012
Super Friends is a smart, well written, quick paced romantic comedy and I’m glad I had the opportunity to read it. As with virtually all romantic comedies (including my own), you pretty much know where the story is going to end up. But with Super friends, getting there was a really fun ride.

Lifelong friends Hannah and Sully share a similar incompetence when it comes to the bedroom. As we come to find out each of the main characters has had their share of sexual mishaps and the writer brings us along for a hilarious glance into their lives.

FORMATTING: This story is clearly formatted correctly but there are a lot of dashes in the description that are slightly distracting. But only slightly.

LOGLINE: Childhood friends Hannah and Sully suck at hooking up because they both lack confidence in the bedroom, so to help him snag the girl next door while she reels in a hunky colleague they make a pact to stay "just friends" as they practice the Kama Sutra on each other.

I’m not crazy about this logline because of the word “childhood”. The subject matter and the childhood reference would seem in conflict and thus confusing.

How about something like:

Sexually incompetent lifelong friends Hannah and Sully reluctantly formulate a pact to remain “just friends” as they look to one another for the experience each needs to land the object of their desires.

HOOK: This story grabbed my attention right away. It was witty, funny and immediately made me want to invest my time in it.

MAIN CHARACTERS: Both Sully and Hannah are likeable and that’s extremely important in this story. As a reader, I wanted each of them to succeed in their individual quests but I was also rooting for them to come to the same conclusion that I had; that they should be together.

PLOT: A plot whereby two friends search for the same thing only to discover that what they were looking for was right in front of them for their entire lives isn’t a reinvention of the wheel but this writer’s approach is definitely unique. This writer brings in a fresh approach in a quick witted and very professional way.

My only real concern is the use of so many flashbacks. In my opinion, I would scrap most of them and concentrate on the present day. After one or two it was more than evident that our heroes were a mess in the sack. The flashbacks got to be a little redundant.

I would like to have seen a little more character development for the minor characters such as Dougie. He plays a fairly big role in the end but I didn’t get any feel for him as a character. The same goes for Dee. I read through the script pretty carefully and still feel like I would like to know more about the Black and White Ball because it plays such a heavy part throughout the story.

The story moved along at a very quick pace and kept me absolutely interested from beginning to end. I’m talking every page here. I wondered how the end of the story would unfold. I mean I pretty much figured out what would happen but I wondered how the writer would pull it off. Lo and behold I found it to be very befitting with the rest of the story. Great job.

VISUALIZATION: This writer clearly has talent and that talent is conveyed to the reader during the entire story. I was able to visualize the surroundings and the people virtually every step of the way. I could almost smell the bar scenes. Very good job.

TIMELINES: With so many sluglines, action and descriptions sequences, the reader would benefit with more time references. Day / Night / Afternoon, etc.

OVERALL: This is obviously an extremely well written story. I’m glad my screenplay isn’t sitting on the shelf next to this one for comparison. This writer knows how to tell a story in a clear, concise and snappy way.
 

Ace High, Joanne's Original Draft

2 out of 2 people found the following review helpful:

Ace High is a quick paced story that with a bit of tweaking will be excellent.

Overall Recommendation:
4 stars
 
Premise:
5 stars
 
Story structure:
3 stars
 
Character:
4 stars
 
Dialogue:
4 stars
 
Emotion:
3 stars
 
January 17, 2012
Ace High is a quick paced story that with a bit of tweaking will be excellent.

I love the premise…An online poker player that normally plays in small stakes games suddenly finds over $1 million at her disposal. She has no idea where the money came from but she is quickly drawn into the higher, nosebleed games. And she does very well.

When she first logs in as Ace High and finds access to over $1 million, I would have liked her reaction to be more excited. Here’s a woman who plays in $1 tournaments that suddenly has access to a fortune and all she does is stare at the screen for a moment then shuts her laptop.

She suddenly finds herself the newest internet poker sensation and basically doubles her money. The poker hands are well thought out and realistic but again, she shows almost no emotion. I would be freaking out. I also think is would be a great twist to have her transfer the money to LadyJ’s account. Just a thought though.

In my opinion, the characters need to be more defined. Apart from being a mother, I have no sense as to who Jane really is. A little more set up away from the game would have helped. The same goes for Peter…first he supported her play, then it seemed like he hated it. Clear character definition would help.

The story moves along at a really good pace however, there are numerous scenes that seem to end abruptly. Some of the scenes shifted from online play to live play and it was difficult to follow. I would suggest looking at the end of the scenes and looking for ways to make the transitions go a little smoother.

There are quite a few action sequences or parentheticals that are un-filmable. For instance on page 4:
JANE
(still thinking about the tourney win)
It was only a dollar tourney. But a win means new toys!

In that line you can’t film what Jane is thinking. You need to show the reader something physical that Jane is doing to make us believe she is thinking about the tourney win. Maybe she smiles and pumps her fist into the air while staring at the screen that says Congratulations to LadyJ. Something like that…

I like most of the dialog, especially at the poker table. It was realistic and was a painful reminder that we here in the U.S. cannot play online poker. I won’t get to political other than to say that Bush is a jerk and the Dept. of Justice is run by a pack of asses. But I digress.

Not sure about using real poker players like Daniel Negreanu...especially writing them into speaking roles.

Overall, Ace High was a really fun read. I would strongly encourage you to revamp some of the areas because the premise and plot is very strong. You are a very talented writer and I think you’ve got an excellent project here.
 

Favorite Movies

Braveheart
Dances with Wolves
Gangs of New York
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Saving Private Ryan
 

Influences

J.J. Abrams
Dan Brown
James Cameron
Michael Crichton
George Lucas
Seth MacFarlane
Harold Ramis
Steven Spielberg
 

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