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About

Michael Cravotta is a New York-based writer, corporate and educational communications consultant, and marketing dude. A graduate of NYU film school back in the day when things were actually still shot on film, Michael has garnered dozens of professional awards in the areas of writing, graphic design, photography, and video production. His video work has appeared on PBS and his 2009 comedic short, The Next Gotta-Have-It, was an official selection and fan favorite of several New York film festivals. He likes long walks on the beach and candlelight dinners, and has an encyclopedic knowledge of film theory, technique, and history.
 

Reviews MICHAEL Has Written

Lost Eagle, Liam's Original Draft

2 out of 3 people found the following review helpful:

Just plain fun.

Overall Recommendation:
4 stars
 
Premise:
5 stars
 
Story structure:
4 stars
 
Character:
3 stars
 
Dialogue:
2 stars
 
Emotion:
3 stars
 
November 19, 2012
***SPOILERS***

Just plain fun. Who doesn't love Nazis and time travel?

The writer has a natural talent which makes for a breezy read.

There are things to be tweaked, liked dialogue (which IMO is so easily worked on). Particularly when story structure is sound. Which it is here up until a point. And the lead character has to have more of a transformational arc.

Here is what I would change: I think that upon learning that Germany lost WWII, the bad guys want to take possession of a weapon or a piece of technology that they can bring back to their own time so that they can win the war. And our hero needs to stop them. Perhaps it is the plans for the Manhattan Project. This really raises the stakes. And makes the film not just about finding the portal, but changing history – and the lives of everyone in the audience.

Here are some details that struck me as I was reading:
Tom, who has time traveled forward from the early 40s, seems to be a little thick when he is told he can't smoke because it's 2007. He needs to pick up on the fact that he is not in Kansas a lot faster.

Love the bunker/bar scene. There are little bits of wit sprinkled throughout, like the overweight prostitutes, which is a delight. And this line was awesome: Well the SS aren't exactly known
for their work in agriculture... Funny. And some of the fish out of water stuff was fun too.

Overall, a good first draft.
 

Herod, Lauri's 3rd Draft

2 out of 3 people found the following review helpful:

Very good writing!

Overall Recommendation:
4 stars
 
Premise:
4 stars
 
Story structure:
4 stars
 
Character:
3 stars
 
Dialogue:
3 stars
 
Emotion:
4 stars
 
November 19, 2012
One of the best screenplays on AS that I have read. Intelligent, stylish, and epic.

If this were another day, when Sword & Sandals were big screen staples, Herod would be coveted by every studio.

The story hooks you, propels you to turn pages, and skillfully manages to juggle a great many characters.

Description is excellent, brief but still allowing us to appreciate the full visual and sensory experience of a world long ago.

Some very snappy pieces of dialogue, particularly with the female characters, however overall this is an area that needs tweaking. Exposition in the dialogue can be heavy-handed at times, more suited for playwriting than screenwriting. Writing dialogue for S & S is no easy task because it can feel completely stilted and unnatural, thus making characters seem wooden. So that is why even more attention must be paid to include smaller, subtler beats in the story.

Sometimes I felt scenes were too chit-chatty, not in length but in substance. Scenes, in general, could have been milked a little more for emotional impact, particularly in moments that let our characters meaningfully interact. Because of that, the script felt somewhat imbalanced, more concerned with moving forward than what is happening in the now.

Overall though, a professional well-crafted script and a nice way to start my morning.
 

Breaking News, Lauri's Original Draft

3 out of 7 people found the following review helpful:

Needs some work

Overall Recommendation:
2 stars
 
Premise:
4 stars
 
Story structure:
2 stars
 
Character:
2 stars
 
Dialogue:
2 stars
 
Emotion:
2 stars
 
November 18, 2012
***SPOILERS***

This is a new version of a previously written review. I was very impressed with one of the writer's other scripts, Herod, which is one of the best screenplays that I have read on AS, and I wanted to give her a bit more to chew on as she works on a second draft.

THOUGHTS ON THE FIRST 10 PAGES:
When working on the next draft of the script, focus on character. Particularly in the first dozen pages.

Everyone has heard that you have to grab the reader in the first 10 pages and most writers think that means you must have something big happen around the page 10 (hook or catalyst). No. The opening 10 pages of a script has got to be a masterfully crafted symphony.

You have to do so many things in such a short time in the first 10 pages that it really is, IMO, a true portrait of a screenwriter's ability. In mainstream Hollywood movies you need to indicate the genre and give the audience an idea of how the story will unfold, establish the location, start the story visually, introduce the hero and his or her internal need, show the hero in his regular world, show a strength of the hero and make him likable so that the audience will be happy to spend two hours with him, establish the hero's POV, set up supporting characters and establish their relationships with the hero, state the screenplay's theme somewhere, and set up the dramatic situation of the hook. Oh, it would be nice if you show some sort of writing style. All this in 10 or so pages! If you've done this successfully, the reader is going to cut you a whole lot of slack and the audience will follow you almost anywhere.

Here is what I would do to these first dozen pages: Start at the rally and intercut scenes of our hero trying to get there. She's late because of her internal need/character trait. It could be anything from washing her hands because she has OCD and can't leave her apartment to forgetting her car keys or where she parked her car because she is irresponsible or absent-minded or she is stuck in a cab and she gives orders to the taxi driver showing him the fastest way to get to her destination... Something. The rest of the news crew is panicked that she is late and the mayor has started his introduction of the key speaker, the senator. (Maybe she hits the male lead with her car coming in and they "meet cute" – if getting hit by a car is cute – because she is the world's worst driver or just got a standard shift and hasn't gotten the hang of it... Just throwing things out there.)

OK, so the hero gets there in time and does her thing, and when the senator is shot we smash to black. And we come back to either the main t.v. studio interrupting regular programming to cut to our hero or just a television feed of the hero doing her breaking news intro. I think cutting right after the shooting creates incredible tension. And then we see the hero splattered in blood as she appears on camera. Powerful stuff. (Forget the fellowship angle, just make her a cub reporter sent to cover a noon rally that should have absolutely no news value beyond filling space in the newscast.)

There's a lot of chit chat here now with the hero's soon-to-be love interest and unnecessary exposition which can be cut down considerably.

Also, I would not introduce facial recognition in these pages. It gives us exposition that we don't need at this point and that we are not ready to pay attention to. Save it for a later scene, or maybe she brings it to a crazy computer guy who will run it for her (and hit on her).

The only other bit of advice I would like to give in these early pages is to pay close attention to exposition and unnecessary exposition. Watch how and when you reveal information. This is something that I am crazy about. My favorite film is Jaws, and I think the exposition after the cold open is so well done, it's a level every writer should aspire to. It's fast – maybe two or three minutes – and provides the backstory in some creative dialogue. Doing as much as you can visually is great too if you can avoid being cliche (e.g., panning to an obituary, a bottle of Jack Daniels on the night table, a bottle of prescription meds, etc.).

Just some thoughts. Hope I have given you something to think about at least.

Good luck.
 

Favorite Movies

Jaws, Maltese Falcon. Close Encounters, Star Wars, Broadcast News, L.A. Confidential, My Favorite Year, Them!, E.T., Alien, North By Northwest, Dr. Strangelove, Die Hard, Go, Last Samurai, And Then There Were None, Planet of The Apes, Fletch
 

Influences

Shane Black, Aaron Sorkin, Kubrick, Spielberg, Ridley & Tony Scott, Vonnegut, Kal Bashir (the absolute master of structure and the hero's journey), Vogler, Seger, Neil Simon, Joe Campbell, Jung, Johnny Carson, Rod Serling, alcohol and barbiturates
 

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