At Amazon Studios

 
 
 

About

I've been a playwright for many years, having written my first play when I was in seventh grade for a bunch of high school seniors to perform.

No Longer Warrior is my first screenplay attempt. I enjoyed the process, but found it greatly different from stage play writing, it was especially evident because I had written the stage play of No Longer Warriors a few years back. In the play, everything you wanted the audience to know, you had to have a character say or act out, but in a movie, you can show so much more. It's freeing, yet at the same time, limiting in new and exciting ways (how do you want to "show" things).
 

Reviews David Has Written

ZvG: Zombies Vs Gladiators, Allen's 1st Draft

2 out of 2 people found the following review helpful:

Several improvements to original

Overall Recommendation:
4 stars
 
Premise:
No rating
 
Story structure:
No rating
 
Character:
No rating
 
Dialogue:
No rating
 
Emotion:
No rating
 
September 13, 2011
I read about 33 pages. This borrows heavily from the original, while adding its own flair and a new villian.

Pg#16
“CASSIUS
You see, the beast is more afraid of us than we”
This can’t be Cassius, he is at the Hospital by now. I think you mean Arrius.
Pg#19
“EXT. barricaded sewer entrance - nIGHT
Bindu looks around carefully.
He sets down an unlit torch and a large satchel beside him.”

Why is Bindu allowed to run free? Needs some setup that he has some freedom of movement. He is a slave.

Pg#25
Very nifty scene with Cassius sitting up behind Drusis. I like the way Drusis is handled in this rewrite. I like that the change to a zombie is slow in this version.

Lots of improvements to areas that troubled me in the original, such as Lavinia leaping into the Imperial Box when there is a high wall in front of it. That is handled nicely in this version.

I agree with Laurie that Titus is not greatly changed, but his back story has been moved up sooner in the script. The problem with that is that for a man who is as quiet and private as he seems to be, he kind of blurts it out, so I’m not sure that it can be considered an improvement.

I think that the Bokor is a good villian, the chanting, and spells in the candle light sound erie.

Overall, I find this rewrite an improvement over the original. Worth a full read if you have the time, but I am only doing partial reads. Good luck with it.
 

ZvG: Zombies Vs Gladiators, Jamster's 1st Draft

3 out of 6 people found the following review helpful:

The new parts didn't work for me

Overall Recommendation:
3 stars
 
Premise:
No rating
 
Story structure:
No rating
 
Character:
No rating
 
Dialogue:
No rating
 
Emotion:
No rating
 
September 13, 2011
Jamster’s 1st draft

I read the added parts and skimmed the rest.

Pg #1

“HOODED MAN (V.O.)
…Children ask ‗how old are you, are you a God?‘”
God should be lower case when describing multiple gods.

Pg#2
“...But I have witnessed others. And within these pages… fables… myths… many such things I have witnessed....”
He should not call what he is declaring to be true and witnessed account a “fable...myth.”
These are both terms for false or incredible accounts. He is contradicting himself.

I found instances of the Hooded man at the beginning and the end and one brief instance in the middle, which is fine. However, it might work better if the hooded man turns out to be a character that is featured throughout such as the doctor, Drusis. That may give more credence to his tale.

I get the idea of having the framing device. I’ve done it in plays, it can be effective. I think the age setting (ancient Rome) of this tale is so far removed from the audience (modern world) that it will not do what they usually do, which is to bring a sense of reality and plausibility to a tale because it was witnessed. I don’t think it is successful here and just slows the story.

The remainder of the play seems a slightly trimmed version of the original. It really doesn’t seem to address the AS notes.

I give it about the same rating as the original, which I give 3 stars.
 

ZvG: Zombies Vs Gladiators, Vernon's 1st Draft

1 out of 2 people found the following review helpful:

A good clean up of the original, but nothing new

Overall Recommendation:
3 stars
 
Premise:
No rating
 
Story structure:
No rating
 
Character:
No rating
 
Dialogue:
No rating
 
Emotion:
No rating
 
September 12, 2011
This review is based on reading about 10 pages and skimming to the end.

This version does not attempt to address the AS notes, but appears to be a good cleanup of the original.

Three stars is my starting point for the original story, my reviews will be up and down from there. this one is basically just the original.
 

ZvG: Zombies Vs Gladiators, Taylor's 4th Draft

3 out of 3 people found the following review helpful:

Solves some problems, but creates some others

Overall Recommendation:
3 stars
 
Premise:
4 stars
 
Story structure:
3 stars
 
Character:
2 stars
 
Dialogue:
2 stars
 
Emotion:
2 stars
 
September 05, 2011
This rewrite makes substantial changes to the original while keeping much of the scenes and many of the characters while adding deleting and changing a few. There is an additional villain, the god Orcus, who becomes a mystical element behind the zombies. Orcus is invoked by Quintus who takes on more of a villainous role right from the beginning.

The nit-picky details:

Pg #9 “The biggest, strongest of the captured Africans.”
Need to cut this remnant of the original. We haven’t seen that Africans were captured and it really isn’t filmable that they are the “biggest and strongest.” If you keep it, it should be more like: “Big, strong Africans.”

Pg#15 “Quintus grabs a cluster of grapes from a fruit bowl. He begins dropping the cluster into his mouth.”
A bit cliché, but I like the choking and spitting it out.

His purpose for bringing the slave to the room is unclear. I can guess, but maybe a line or two of innuendo before Orcus shows up.

Pg #22 You need a Scene heading taking us to the Colosseum before the less formal IN THE ARENA

Pg #23 Hadrian is put to death after a single failure, I though previously it said he had a month to succeed? Need to change one of those.

It bugged me in the original that the emperor should be jealous of a slave. It’s true that was a motivation in Gladiator, but they showed that he was a person who craved attention for which he was deprived and the gladiator and the emperor had a history. You’ve corrected the issue in the original by making the emperor want to kill the gladiator because of his daughter. Much better motivation. The party makes more sense as well, so he can fool his daughter into believing that he would not be trying to kill him.

Pg #40 Good idea having Cassia take over driving the elephant, so Titus can fight. I like that.

Pg #42 You could add a line just having Cassia say “Oops, sorry dad.” Or something like that when she bumps over the statues of her dad.

Pg #43 I know they had crossbows in the original, but my research showed they didn’t have them in Rome in 300 AD. I can usually accept anachronistic elements if they are supported creatively, like if there is an inventor in the story, such as the blacksmith who created the lightweight armor in Knight’s Tale, also that film already established a trend of anachronisms in the use of music and dance. Otherwise it just seems like a mistake.

Pg #47 “Marcus, out of his armor, walks over to Antonius. The Senator takes a step towards him, trips, and spills the wine all over Marcus.”

That’s one coincidence. An audience will accept one or two. It’s better if the BAM! On the door that follows comes sooner and startles him, less coincidence and more of a natural reason to trip. Titus’ armor line doesn’t work for me so that could be cut in my opinion.

Pg# 54 “...It rolls down the hall...” They’re still in the sewers, not sure hall is the right term, happens several more times in the next couple pages.

Pg# 72-73 I like the “key” lines.

Pg# 73 “Suddenly, the flaming zombie drops down into the cell in front of Titus, along with chunks of rock and clay.
Titus looks up. There‘s a gaping hole in the ceiling!”

That’s two coincidences.

Pg# 74 “Which shrine?” I like that.

I like the zombie catapult, clever idea.

Pg# 83 “She jumps up, holding her chains, and takes off in the same direction as Quintus.” Then in just a few lines, “Quintus sees Cassia running down a hill.”

Your intention is unclear. How’d she get past him?

Pg# 85 “Suddenly, Flavius is DECAPITATED. His head falls off, and his body keels over. Standing behind him and holding a sword is Zombie-Lucius.”

I’d almost call this a third coincidence. He comes out of nowhere. It is a bit of a let down for the death of one of the villains.

Pg# 86 “Now the zombie-panther has two heads!”

I’ll be looking for why. Nope, never found out why.

Pg# 88 “It spins and spins and spins, decapitating the right arm of Quintus, right before his dagger comes down.”

Use “severing.” Decapitating just applies to heads.

I think we need to see that Orcus is influencing some of the occurrences earlier in the script. Quintus says so, but that doesn’t feel like it’s enough. Maybe if he appears like he did in the slave girl in a few other people, that could be cool.

Overall, I found it an improvement over the original in some aspects, but I feel there are some problems.

The tone is inconsistent. This seems largely due to the fact you developed new characters, but kept a lot of the original story. For example Cassia. I like the modern expressions and flippant tone, but she is the only one in the screenplay that goes quite that far and she contrasts with all but the more goofy bits of Quintus. Quintus goes from being Goofy to being evil, to being a senator (remnants from the original) to being an emperor. I’m not getting that Titus likes Cassia. I would rather see him come around to love her and her to tone down as she gets him to love her, to keep the energy, but loose the annoyingness. Like when she is jumping for joy at killing all the zombies, he could hush her up and kiss her, making her focus on him. If he doesn’t love her he merely used her at the garrison for sex and that will drop him in the eyes of the audience. Have him make believe that he doesn’t love her, but secretly he does, it might make him more interesting.

I think the tone could be improved by going more toward the comedy side. There is lots of comedy in, but it doesn't quite go far enough, ending up in uneven tone.

Killing Orcus. I’m not too sure about that. He is a god. Can a mortal kill him? For one thing, his death is kind of Mehh (sp?). Yeah he floats up, yeah Titus chokes him...Mehh. They drift back down and the zombies catch fire...Mehh. How is it he was able to do it? Pure strength? Stronger than a god? That has to be established somehow. Maybe if Titus claimed then that he loved her...or disclosed that he had sex with her...or what if they did get married? Maybe this could dissuade or weaken Orcus or somehow give Titus a boost to allow him to triumph. In the humorous vein, it may even be cool if Titus just says “Talk to it” and she says stuff like “for a god, you have an awfully small penis.” Until Orcus changes his mind about wanting her.

None of the villain deaths really got me excited. An audience likes to see a villain get what is coming to them. Orcus gets strangled (mehh), Flavius gets his head hacked off with no warning, (what was that?), Quintus gets...I can’t remember. I have to go back to the script and look. Oh yeah he gets strangled and his neck broken (mehh). It didn’t work for me with the god, I doubt it will be terribly exciting with a skinny senator.

While Orcus ultimately causes the zombies to appear, he does it for reasons that seem to me like a god should be able to do easier in other ways. Why didn’t he just take Cassia before? Need to set some ground rules that can make his limitations evident, and make killing him or dispensing with him at least possible.

Ultimately, for two months work, this is not too bad. Most of the problems could be fixed fairly easily. I don’t see any fatal flaws that make it unworkable, except the idea of having to kill a god.

These are just my opinions. I tried to be as honest in my review as I could. Considering this is two months of work only, I would give it four stars because all the flaws can be fixed in a couple of rewrites, but as is I think the tone is too inconsistent for four stars.

Good luck with it in the contest!
 

Survive This, J.B.'s Original Draft

6 out of 7 people found the following review helpful:

Funny first few (only read 4 pages)

Overall Recommendation:
3 stars
 
Premise:
3 stars
 
Story structure:
No rating
 
Character:
4 stars
 
Dialogue:
3 stars
 
Emotion:
No rating
 
July 31, 2011
Quick review. Only a few pages.

First off, yes, it’s funny. I’ve laughed out loud several times by page four.

Secondly, oh my gosh, I believe you used the space bar for formatting. It’s going to be a nightmare to edit. You need to back out the spaces and learn to use the format painter feature in MS Word (similar features are found in similar programs). Then you copy the format from a correctly formatted piece and paint it onto each of your various formats.

Thirdly, you got me into the story very fast. By page three I saw where it was going. I see character development, plot, some back story hints, all in a natural scene with one main character and only half the dialog. Nicely done.

Pg 4 “... Who's God did I piss off to get this job?”

Should be lowercase “god.” When speaking of multiple possible gods, it’s lowercase.

Pg 1 You used the name Frank 7 times in conversation on page one.
You should review these and trim a few. Think about your own conversations, how often do you use the name of the person you are speaking to? I’m guessing not many. Once or twice, sometimes more for emphasis. I see a few that could be cut. However, don’t cut the moms. I love those. Funny lines.

I only give it three stars because in it's current form it needs work on grammar, punctuation, formatting all the technical stuff. However, what I read was funny, so I would read more if I had the time. I sense in those first few pages that the writer has a good feel for character.

Fix the
 

A Midsummer Nightmare, Branden's Original Draft

2 out of 3 people found the following review helpful:

Intriquing premise, execution needs some work

Overall Recommendation:
3 stars
 
Premise:
4 stars
 
Story structure:
2 stars
 
Character:
3 stars
 
Dialogue:
3 stars
 
Emotion:
3 stars
 
June 09, 2011
Review of the first 30 pages of Midsummer Nightmare

This review is of the first draft, first 30 pages only.

I’m going to start with the nitpicky details. Most of the problems relate to the idea that screenwriting is not the same as writing a book. The descriptions are in a screenplay as a form of blueprints and specifications for a director to assemble a movie. A lot of the descriptions are too vague to convey your vision to the director. That's why I only gave a couple of stars for story structure.

Pg 2
“The library is quite unique; it’s very big with lots of windows and every bookshelf has a different color: red, blue, green, etc. Even the floor she walks around on is splashed with color. Myra continues her task until all of the books in her arm are put back.”

The words “quite,” “very,” and “lots” should be cut from the above quote. Something is either unique or it isn’t; it is not a quantifiable term. The terms “very” and “lots” do not really tell us anything. You should apply some kind of visual comparison to make us see your vision, such as:

The library was as large as a two story, window lined, warehouse. Or something like that.
***
Pg 2
“In the middle of the forest there is a small, rustic town surrounded by tall trees and brick walls.”

Same crit applies to “small” above. Without a frame of reference, small does not mean anything, especially in a fantasy context where small could be a few inches tall.
***
Pg 2
“A tall clock tower…”

Tall, same problem.
***
Pg 2
“Standing alone in the road is CRAIG WESSON (16). His hair is short and black and his face is round but his mature complexion and deep eyes put at last five years onto his age. He wears a brown leather jacket, a black shirt and blue jeans.”

Is Craig’s description important to his character? If not, just the age and physical type should be enough. If clothing is not important to the character or story, leave it out too.
***
NOTE
Double return (two spaces separation) before a new scene heading.
***
Pg 12
“…he makes eye contact with a girl that is the spitting image of the girl running against him in the student elections.”

How do we know this? You need a prior scene to establish this.
***
Pg16
“ELEANOR
There aren’t many of us here with men
in our lives and Miss Maydeen is no
expectation. “

Exception.
***
“MYRA MAYDEEN
I was putting some books away when
someone hit me over the head. When I
came to everything was on fire.”

Need a comma after “to.”
When I came to, everything was on fire.
***
Bottom of Pg 19

“Craig grabs Zach’s shoulder and pulls him off to the side really quick.”

Cut “really.” This kind of word use is okay in dialog, by the way, people do talk like that, but not in action or descriptions.

Since you’ve already revised the script I will leave my review of the nit picky stuff here (you may have already picked it up).

Overall, the story is a bit confusing, but seems creative and intriguing. I like the jumps into and out of animation. Could be very cool.

Keep in mind that your fantasy world should have rules, even if you are the only one who knows them. There should be rules and you should follow them consistently. You don’t want the audience saying “Wait, why is he animated now? He’s in the ranch house?” or something to that effect (not that you have done that).

I’ll try and check out the latest revision.

Good luck with it!
 

Favorite Movies

The Godfather
The Unforgiven
The Music Man
Amadeus
 

Influences

Clint Eastwood, Ron Howard and Francis Ford Coppola directed movies have influenced me strongly. The movie Seabiscuit in the way it was a movie about overcoming adversity, not just about horse racing.