At Amazon Studios




I live in LA. I write and occasionally film stuff. I'm a nice guy. Been writing for a while now, and I have a degree in English, so I'm a bit of a stickler for technical writing. Incidentally, I'm not perfect, so you'll probably spot problems in stuff I write as well.

I'll generally review your script if you ask me nicely. I might not even ask for a reciprocal review.

I don't pull punches in my critiques; I won't soften a blow just to help your chances here. But I'll be honest and as helpful as I can. If it's a good script, then I'll tell you. If it's bad, well, you'll know that too. But I try to provide good and constructive feedback so you can move your script forward in quality.

Reviews Jeremiah Has Written

Lifeboat, 2028, Rick's Original Draft

1 out of 1 people found the following review helpful:

Get Your Space Elevator Pitch Ready

Overall Recommendation:
4 stars
4 stars
Story structure:
4 stars
3 stars
3 stars
3 stars
October 25, 2011
CSE-One has a ton of things going for it, and a few things that aren't quite so in its favor.

I noted a few minor spelling/punctuation issues, but nothing that bugged me terribly or detracted from the story. Formatting of the RTF was atrocious, so I'd recommend converting to PDF from Final Draft next time, to make for a more enjoyable experience.

So the good news is you've got a pretty nicely structured story, with delineated beats that are pretty easy to spot. You've got a wide array of characters, though most of them kind of blend into the background once the story really gets going. And the situation (a stranded space elevator, a damaged space station, and a totally nuked-out Earth) creates much of the necessary tension to sustain what is really a pretty small human drama--how to survive and stay calm in a situation that seems hopeless.

You do a good job of emphasizing the human drama over the mechanical drama--explosions and broken airlocks are fine, but what people crave are the interpersonal conflicts and issues that arise out of disasters, and how people react to these events and to each other. Nicely done.

I love your fatalistic Lenin, a cynical and potentially dangerous man with nothing to lose and a seeming death wish, paired up against Lange and Zhu, who both want to live and survive even with the odds totally stacked against them.

You don't linger generally. Your scenes are short and sweet, as they need to be. This would play well simply because the pace is never slow (though it's not super fast either). Some trimming could help in a few places, which I've listed below. Overall, nice job on keeping things moving.

I had trouble connecting with all the characters. As I said before, most of the characters kind of blend into the background after a while, so aside from Zhu, Lenin, and Lange, you sort of don't really get a feel for the other unique people on the elevator. While this isn't a deal breaker, a great script will make even those secondary characters come alive and make me care about them. Senator Giffords--I couldn't care less if she lived or died. Miller, same thing. Even Li was a wash for me. For a good example of a script that manages to make even its lesser characters memorable, check out Event Horizon (I know, I know). It's a fun movie and a popcorn flick in its best moments, but I remember each character distinctly, because each one has a specific hook on which the audience can hang. Things like nick names, unique mannerisms, and patters of speech can help distinguish each character and add a bit of depth. Don't be afraid to utilize tropes if you're in a jam. Nothing wrong with a trope if you're working it right.

Actually, that's one reason Lenin stood out to me. I loved the unique way you had Lenin speaking slightly out of step, just as I imagine a Russian with imperfect English might sound. However, a few times it felt heavy handed, like you were trying too hard. Might just need to go through that with a comb next pass.

I think you could possibly have a bit more physical human conflict onboard. There was a lot of talking, a lot of sermonizing about each character's feelings on death, inevitability, survival, etc. You could have them act these feelings out physically--instead of the characters disagreeing about their chances for survival, they could get into a brawl, break a few heads. In such a small space, it would be very easy to instigate this kind of conflict, and it will play more powerfully on screen. You do have a fight on page 105 between Zhu and Lenin, but it's kinda weak. I want to see some blood! Make these characters really fight, not wuss out.

Other things I'd cut down on is the "last word-itis" your characters seem to have fallen into. Everyone's got a "last word" that trumps or responds to something someone has said. Examples and suggestions:

I hope you're wrong about that.

Me too, but I'm not.

This would play better if you strike Miller's line.

Been here before haven't we?

In another lifetime.

Kill Zhu's line.

Beautiful isn't it? Order out of chaos.

Or evidence of intelligent design.

Hard for me to see evidence of anything but Hell on Earth when I look down.

Kill Whittle's line. It's a too-obvious lead-in to Giffords crying, yet too-far a departure from his observations of the Milky Way. Could be changed to something like "Look where intelligent design got us." It's a little less on the nose, yet still points toward Earth's nuking.

Then Whittle's and Giffords' conversation about euthanasia feels way on the nose. Nothing wrong with them discussing "taking the easy way out" but the whole "sin" and "playing God" angle feels too forced.

I wish we didn't have to leave anyone behind.

We all do.

Strike that entire thing. You can play the same emotion with a look from each of the characters. You're saying what everyone already knows and feels. Don't need to force the moral down our throats.

Remember the adage: enter your scenes late, leave 'em early. Cut your darlings where you can.

Is too bad we are not adapting.

His response to Worf (you misspelled in the script) line about the Borg adapting is, again, on the nose. Kill it.

I don't get Lange's attraction to Zhu. I don't get any chemistry from either of them. It feels strained, forced. Adding a love angle to the plot can work and you could use it to create some additional drama on board the elevator and space station, but only if you work it more. Currently, it's just an additional plot element that leaves me feeling a little empty. So I don't really have any sympathy for Lange when she discovers Zhu's death at the end.

I wasn't feeling the dream/nightmare sequences. I get what you're doing there, and they're not terrible, but they didn't really do it for me. That's more a subjective thing though.

I love the Tycho subplot, alluded to but never shown. Reminds me of Roy Batty's allusion to the attack ships on fire off the shores of Orion and C-beams at Tannhauser Gate. Could we maybe get a little bit more of that?

Your ending is great. Depressing, but great. Lenin's sacrifice, the establishment of the Mars colony, and the inevitable schism between the colonial governments, a great mirror to the entire plot.

Overall, nicely written, though a trim and edit pass would help tighten things up even further.

Violet Hill, Mark's 3rd Draft

0 out of 1 people found the following review helpful:

VioleNt Hill

Overall Recommendation:
4 stars
5 stars
Story structure:
4 stars
4 stars
4 stars
4 stars
May 15, 2011
p5 You have the scene taking place INT. but it appears to actually be both inside and outside. A little schizophrenic. Just needs some clarification.

p7 You've got questions that end with exclamations. I understand they're yelling at each other, but the punctuation discrepancy jumps out at me.

"You sayin' I can't take care of my own damn business!" and
"It's worked out great so far, hasn't it!"

p7 Elise has a line break in her dialogue. That should be removed.

p7 You don't need to capitalize Tom or Elise or any other character anymore, unless it's the first time introducing them, or for emphasis.

p9 another unnecessary line break in the dialogue. I'm sure this is just a formatting glitch... I won't point out any more, just go through the entire script with a keen eye to catch these.

p10 Add a ? for "What trouble can I get into."

Jack's story flashback was really well done. Nice job.

p66-67 Tom's reluctance to go to the cops doesn't ring true for me. This is his daughter; with as distraught as he is, and given that he's an attorney, his sudden detective spirit seems forced and unrealistic.

p69 Okay, Tom's paranoia now makes a bit more sense.

The experience I had with Violet Hill was what I've felt with many John Grisham movies. Good, but somewhat let down by the ending. Violet Hill's ending is so abrupt and out of the blue and happens so near the last page that I had barely enough time to process it before the entire thing was over. I was left with a "Huh?" feeling in my gut, surprised because up until page 89 or whatever it was that the "reveal" happens, the entire thing was written very much like a John Grisham thriller--well, more like a drama than a thriller, since very little action occurs. However, taking it at face value, the script seems very well constructed and well written until you drop the bomb on us. A very unexpected (not in a good way), very non-foreshadowed bomb.

This was my main beef with the ending. There was never any indication of your character's incitement or involvement in the crime, so it feels like a cheat, a surprise for the sake of surprise, not because that's just who your character was and he was just following the natural dictates of his character. Indeed, the ending belies the character's nature, pulling him in a really ugly direction that doesn't seem like it belongs.

What I really loved was your ability to draw very unique characters out of stock cloth. Granted, a few of them (Dell, Hooty, Didi) were more stock than others (like Cal or Elise) but you still did a great job bringing them to life, either with mannerisms or speech. Cal was somehow sympathetic despite our doubts about his character, and even when you reveal the dubiousness of his character, the atrociousness of his behavior, his wild recklessness and casual racism, you still manage to paint him in a light that makes us root for him to be innocent. Bravo.

Elise, likewise, is about a sweet a character as you could come up with. She's the audience's clear favorite, since she's both young and naive/innocent but also tied to the past through her family, and thus holds pieces of ragged history and the way the town has shaped her own existence. I felt really connected with her.

Where you falter, or where the story falters, is when you decide not to show us the important moments. Elise's kidnapping comes to mind, when we discover what really happened, you have her tell it to Tom. It's a scary scene as she tells it--it'd be ten times more effective if you showed it. And no need to tell it as a flashback. Give us this action as it happens, and with effective cutting back and forth between her action line and Tom's action line (of looking for her) you'd create a much stronger story dimension.

Likewise, I didn't feel connected AT ALL to the Cassie Mae Jenkins story. Yes, it was 30 years ago. Yes you ultimately show us (at the end what *really* happened, but it's too little too late. The entire story hinges around the suspicion that Cal killed this woman. But you haven't done a good enough job of making us sympathetic toward the victim in the first place to really feel the tension you're trying to build.

I think you should start your story in 1969 (as you currently do) but draw it out--let us SEE the town in all its rioting and looting and racial tensions. Set up Cassie Mae and Preston as these characters that we can connect to, like the little girl in A Time to Kill--then BAM, she's gone, and NOW you center us in 1999, where we NOW have witnessed this crime (you can keep the killer's identity a secret still) and NOW have a much greater appreciation for the weight of the crimes and how it's affected the town; I believe it'd make a bigger impact on us, and would make some of the characters' more erratic actions somewhat more believable.

Speaking of which, there were a few moments of sheer panic as I read characters doing and saying things that didn't make any sense to me. Tom's refusal to call the cops when his daughter is missing doesn't ring true at all--sure he doesn't know who to trust, but Robin already told him she has a trusted guy on the force, and since he ultimately goes to him anyway, the entire thing felt like a plot device rather than genuine motives on his part.

The White Rose Committee--great device. You don't utilize it enough. Need to really utilize the WRC in a bigger way--make a setpiece out of it--there should be a showdown or something. You hint at these subtle machinations behind all the town's violence and racial issues, but we never quite see it. You do give us a glimpse of it, with the flashback at 'The Spot' where Jack and Lonzo get into the fight; but it's an all-too brief snapshot, and in a movie filled with lots of character backstory and dramatic talk, you need some punch to fill the space.

I think the script just needs some tightening up; you could stand to lose some of those flashbacks and if you're convinced that the ending twist is something you want to go with, you need to build in the justifications so that it doesn't come out of the blue. In this draft, at least, I don't think you've done that.

Watch out for formatting errors; you've got a bunch of stray line-breaks in dialogue that looks like it may be automated in your script writing program.

Hope these notes help.

Lester, billan's 2nd Draft

2 out of 3 people found the following review helpful:

Tarantino on a Budget

Overall Recommendation:
4 stars
3 stars
Story structure:
3 stars
4 stars
3 stars
3 stars
May 01, 2011
LESTER is Tarantino on a budget with slightly better spelling. You clearly have QT on the brain when you let your characters chat endlessly about seemingly off-topic, non-topical subject matter (Magnums, anyone?) and you don't allow sentimentality hurt your devotion to the occasional outburst of gunfire or violence. Overall, Lester feels like it's just shy of achieving greatness, not because of these things, but more because there's not a great sense of subtlety or depth to this. The characters all do what they do, which is fine. But it sucks that we hardly get to know them while the tale spins out its bloody end.

Let's talk story. Or specifically, let's talk about this subgenre of story, the killer with a conscience, and his quest to protect and save the damsel in distress. It's old ground. It's been done really well, by the aforementioned (Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill), it's been done well, if spottily, such as in Payback, all of which Lester carries shades of.

This is the redemptive power of bloodshed by a badass, a man who goes by the adage tis better to give than to receive, if it's pain, misery, and vengeance on a dirty, gritty scale. In that sense, you've achieved your goals, giving us an unapologetic killer/ex-con who must fight the guys he's inadvertently pissed off, a mean son-of-a-bitch bad guy who, along with his various lieutenants and other assorted riff-raff and threshold guardians, spews meanness, inhumanity, and philosophical thought bubbles while torturing and killing people. It's not original, but it's at least fairly well done for the genre.

You've got the requisite hard language and harder lives, men and women broken and beaten for information, gut-shot and tormented, burned and stabbed, kids imperiled, and all for some "H" and some cash. Since this isn't new ground, it's imperative that every element work flawlessly.

Here's what I feel works almost flawlessly.

Selia. She's tough, but totally bruised. She's a woman, but she can hang with the men, even if she's getting the crap beaten from her by the Cowboy. She's got history, man, and I think, if you were to give us a bit more of her, she'd shine even more as a person who we could really grow to love. Yes, we sympathize with her. I think we could grow to love her and REALLY start to care for her and her plight.

The conversation outside the Stork, with Monty and James and Clint is a very interesting touch that seems to be the most Tarantinoesque portion of this script--it sort of "comes up" out of nowhere, written as a flashback but without the winking "FLASHBACK" really worked for me because it was real. And I didn't mind that it really didn't do anything to the larger story; in fact, the long conversations worked for me because I'm a huge fan of well-written dialogue. I know film is a "visual" medium but they don't call 'em "talkies" for nothin'. If you have a great dialogue burner, I say go for it and eff the critics.

That being said, you probably *can* trim some of those pieces a bit. I'd suggest ending your conversations earlier--Lester sometimes comes across as a last word freak; sometimes it's more effective to have the bad guy say his piece and then have Lester finish him off without a dorky one-liner to show how much of a bad-ass he is.

Your anti/hero. Lester's the genuine. He's the cat's ass, though there are moments when he verges onto the ridiculous, but you always manage to pull him back into a place of sublime "I don't give a crap" and while he knows that he's a badass, he generally doesn't behave in a way that telegraphs his *knowing* of this fact. I have a theory--a badass who KNOWS he's a badass isn't a bad thing. But a badass who has to PROVE he's a badass by saying clever bits and kind of winking at the people he's beating up on is not what you want, especially in a hero, but even in villains it's annoying.

In villains it quickly turns from "Okay that was clever and evil and sadistic all at once" to "dang this guy is a total creep and not only that, but I'm thinking that the screenwriter may have a few screws loose as well." See, it's okay to hit a woman once and have the bad guy make a pun about it. But to have him hit the woman again and again and again, each time having something clever to say. EEEEEEEsh. Not good.

You want your bad guys to be efficient, morally corrupt, and with limited sense of humor; the fine line between cloying evil and laughable is sometimes hard to see in the thick of it--you start writing all these great lines that work well by themselves, but stacked up, start to really grate on the reader.

So, re: all that above, consider trimming Cowboy's sadism with Selia.

Now plotwise, I had a few problems. I never understood how Eddie and Lester ended up with the cash and heroin; and even if I understood that, I don't understand how Avery caught onto them. Thus, Avery's beef with Lester didn't make sense. I may have missed this, esp. since your flashbacks weren't marked (which is fine, btw, I like this stylistic choice). But you probably could clarify just how Eddie and Lester ended up with the drugs and cash that Monty stole. I got that Eddie killed Monty. And I think I got that Eddie and Lester worked for Avery. Or at least Eddie did. Or did he? Very unclear.

Lester and Eddie's connection seems like it could use some fleshing out. How are they connected? Why are they together? Why does Eddie turn on Lester so quickly? In your logline you imply that Eddit believes Lester is trying to pull a burn, but I don't see that here. In fact, I don't see any reason for Eddit's turn, except raw greed. That last isn't as important as the other aspects of their relationship--I'd be happier accepting the events as they happen if I just understood how everyone knew each other.

I didn't get who Lester was talking to on the phone when he is confronted by Rome. Is it Eddie? Is it Monty? Lester shoots a guy in the trunk of the car in the very beginning: who is that? Is that Clint? And why's he say the line "You never knew how to keep your mouth shut." That never comes up again in the script, as far as I can tell. If it's to show he's a bad-ass, cut it. You don't need it. If it's to tie into the larger plot, make that connection clearer.

As stories go, this isn't original but it's a pretty brisk read, and if you can tie some of the disparate elements together a bit more (or make it a little clearer within the story itself) I think you have a solid B-Indie with a gritty hardboiled protagonist and on a sympathetic quest, which is something everyone can get on board with.

The Whiskey Sisters Ride Again, Marilyn's 5th Draft

2 out of 2 people found the following review helpful:

A Good Start To a Fun Ride

Overall Recommendation:
3 stars
4 stars
Story structure:
2 stars
4 stars
3 stars
5 stars
April 16, 2011
Notes below, followed by in-depth review.

Title page shouldn't have the Logline on it. It also shouldn't extend down to the second page. Just put your contact info at the bottom left or right of the title page. Just a note.

p3 If you have titles over Black you could just have BLACK. TITLES OVER And then the quote. No need to put Prologue in there.

p3 Some weird spacing issues between action blocks and slugs. Looks like four or five line breaks between. Might want to check formatting settings whatever you're using to write the script.

p3/4 Watch to make sure character slugs don't separate from the dialogue they belong to. I bet you're using Celtx.

p4 Big triple line break between Alice's and Lillian's dialogue...

And then a break between Alice slug and her dialogue.

Okay, enough about formatting. I'm not going to mention things that come up anymore. Just make sure you do a very careful close combing of the script and make sure you fix these issues, otherwise it could sink an otherwise wonderful story.

p5 Top paragraph needs to be broken up. Think like a director and write like a screenwriter. Instead of "Shot of the bride" just skip to a new line and have "The bride, MARYAM, waits in the wings for her big entrance." or something along those lines. A new paragraph often implies it's a new shot.

p10 Yes, one thing you can definitely do is start writing in smaller chunks of description. See where you can break things apart into smaller "shots" (for lack of a better word). Write for the lazy reader ;-) but also write as if you're seeing the action unfold onscreen, with edits and everything. In general, every time there's a new "shot" you would have a new paragraph.

p11 (Yelling back at Mark Cassidy) Not "the Mark Cassidy"

p21 Lillian's laughing uncomfortably should be a description, not dialogue. Watch for this throughout the script, as it happens a number of other times.

p23 Now you've got description lines in all caps, which you typically see in TV scripts. Make sure you fix this throughout since I see it show up later as well.

p23 Who is Tony Depaco? Is that Larry?

p29 The successful copulation line doesn't seem like something a cop would ask, at least not at this juncture of the interview.

p33 The sharks with laser beams line doesn't work for me, mostly b/c I know it's cribbed from Austin Powers, and you're a smart enough writer you shouldn't have to do that.

p34 Weird. You have an EXT. BILIOUS BARGE then without any description, you go to the INT. BILIOUS. So you should at least set the exterior as an establishing shot.

p54 You seem to forget that Maryam waved a gun around in the lounge and took Lillian hostage; with all the witnesses, there's really no reason why the police would arrest one of the sisters instead. Still, it's an easy fix. I get the point of this scene is to convince them to stay there at the motel, all together, since they have to eventually get together as a least, that's what I think will happen.

p64 Remember to capitalize character names when first introduced.

p66 Getting the "band back together" Blues Brothers reference doesn't bug me like the Austin Powers one did. Maybe cuz it's topical?

p85 Tony/Larry? It seems like you maybe originally had a character named Tony who you later changed to Larry (or vice versa). I'd go back and make sure you cleared all those changes.


Review time.

I want to talk about character, since you've got a very character-driven script here, less structured or plot-driven than most. I appreciate that your characters all have pretty unique voices on their own, but they seem to form a collective unit when they occasionally break into song; you can tell you've imbued Lillian and Alice with pieces of a whole, in some way broken pieces of something bigger and greater; this, I believe, is a core of your story that isn't quite there yet, but ohhhh, so has the ability to be. This has the chance to become something really quite wonderful and unique.

Since The Whiskey Sisters is a concept of separate people coming together and overcoming their various neuroses and psychoses and problems and inner doubts, the beginning you've made here is admirable. And I think it can go further. While I think you've started delving into the core of Lillian and Alice and WHY they are/have turned out the way they have, you haven't gone far enough; you've merely scratched the surface of what makes them tick. They need continued exploration and uncovering. Alice, for her part--I never quite understand what makes her tick--which is okay, if you can give me something to indicate that THAT is what Alice is and wants to be--but I think because the Whiskey Sisters are cut from the same cloth, so to speak, and because you do begin unpacking a few details from their past, it feels like the beginning foundation is there, so I'd encourage you to go further in exploring WHO ALICE IS and WHY. These would stem from growing up together with Lillian and Cindy, both of whom have their own arc (though Cindy's arc is only revealed at the very end).

Lillian is a bit more fleshed out, but on the whole still feels too flat to be fully realized on the screen. Together, she and Alice simply need more development. What makes them who they are is not only their past but their present, and so where I think you have succeeded is in showing us characters who are likable because they are so forgiving of everyone around them--and not in a pitiable way--but in a way that tells us these are decent women, no matter what their individual flaws and failures--they are decent women who are willing to give anyone a chance. True humans being. I love that about Lillian and Alice. The way they treat Maryam even after she kidnaps them and takes them hostage, is so utterly believable even though it's bizarre and almost surreal, but I see their strength in how they behave toward others.

I think you can bump the script up a notch just by exploring their characters more. So that's one big note.

The other note is a suggestion to cut back on the investigation of the death of Larry/Tony (still not sure what's the story with that). I think the investigation can still happen, but it feels so ancillary to the rest of the story that it almost detracts from the journey the girls take with Maryam, and in fact, I think you do that more important story a disservice by putting attention on the investigation. Indeed, it feels as if you could almost do away entirely with the investigation--take out the poisoning entirely, and you can still have Larry go a little nuts at the Lone Cowboy song, accidentally electrocute himself, and still push the rest of the story forward, but without the distraction of the cops. Maryam could still have the same psychotic response toward Lillian and the kidnapping and hostage taking and road trip would still occur, only now you could really delve into that journey and the emotional impact of these women spending more time on the road together and how they eventually become the Whiskey Sisters.

Maryam's journey from crazed and bitter bride-to-be to kidnapper to singer felt a bit rushed. I think this would automatically be fixed if you spent more time on the road with the sisters.

You also need to set up the Cindy sex change twist at the end a bit more so it's not so much of a deus ex machina, though you can still get away with not going SO deep into her story as you do the other girls--she's the missing piece of the puzzle, but not a vital aspect to Lillian, Alice, and Maryam's character growth.

Likewise, I didn't feel much connection with Joel or Nathan or Frank (actually, any of the men in this story). The Joel subplot felt a little weak, the Alice hooking up with Joel aspect felt a little TOO coincidental/convenient to feel real, and you spent so little time on it and it only comes into play in the third act that it felt empty. Either dump Joel completetly or expand that storyline a bit more. You have a pretty short script as it is, so by trimming things up you could easily add another 10 pages, which would give you some excellent development time.

I loved the singing throughout the script. It definitely gave the story a unique feel, and I almost wanted there to be more. I also loved your inciting incident (the wedding where Lillian plays Lone Cowboy). It felt so genuine and funny and tragic all at once.

Structurally, you spend too little time with the 2nd act, which is where you'd get most of that development I talk about above. Reduce your first act, which really should run about 16-20 pages max, so that Maryam kidnaps Lillian and Alice earlier in the story--this will give them more time on the road together, which is where the meat of their character development should be. Ideally, you'd have Maryam kidnap them about pg20, no later than pg25. Giving them that much more time together, and adequately setting up this dynamic triangle relationship would make her turnaround that much more believable. I'm not necessarily saying stick to formula--because I don't want to advocate that, especially with such a unique spin on the "road trip" story. But convention can be used to guide your craft. What I think this story needs is a bit more adherence to structure and further delving into the main characters, esp. Lillian and Alice.

Overall, I do think you have a lot of work to do, but you're in such a good spot here, and your voice is so unique and sweet throughout, that I believe this could be really something special on screen once you work on the things I've suggested. Definitely keep writing and keep working.

Also, based on the formatting issues in this draft, I'd really really recommend graduating to Celtx. It's not a perfect tool by any means, but it will definitely clear up most of the issues that made this version spotty. It's a free program and easy to use.

All the best in the next draft!

Vibrations of Ice, Charles Rick's 14th Draft

1 out of 2 people found the following review helpful:

Get Me a Vibrator

Overall Recommendation:
3 stars
4 stars
Story structure:
3 stars
2 stars
3 stars
3 stars
April 14, 2011
p21 Mark insists there is something else involved that caused the device to travel through the particles of the dummy's body. It just sounds unscientific for him to not test the upped percentage. Maybe you could reword it so it doesn't sound like he's such a hack...

p23/24 Stop referring to it as "this device"--makes it sound so 1950's pulp sci-fi, unless that's your goal (but it

doesn't seem like it is...)

p26 Okay, the cheap discount flowers I can buy. But the photocopied card is just... the bloom is way off the rose with that one.

p29/30 Dialogue has double line breaks in it; dialogue should be uninterrupted by line spaces.

p31 I don't see how Mark can be so pathetic and clueless about how cheap he is. But perhaps that's your goal.

Try to convert the present progressive verbs you use throughout to just present active (instead of "Jack is jumping" use "Jack jumps"). I'm noticing a lot of these throughout, and I wanted to note it here. Unless you have a very good reason to use the progressive form, your writing will be stronger if you stick to the latter.

p33 The flash back to Jake's childhood seems unnecessary. I don't think you need to justify his villainy, and as far as I can tell he doesn't have the depth that this kind of backstory would justify. Anyway, wouldn't it be more helpful to learn the backstory of why Jake has it in for Mark?

p35 You've turned Jake from a conniving snake villain into a temper tantrum child villain. Not a good thing.

p35 Having Jake remove the IC chip from the device was a good setback to introduce for Mark. However, Mark's incompetence as a scientist makes me question his place as this story's "hero." (What kind of scientist doesn't check, last minute, to make sure all the components are in place?)

p41 Mark's solution for freeing the pregnant woman from the van is viable but is it realistic--or rather more importantly, is it believable? It's a hell of a lot of setup (the blankets, the truck, and how does he do it all without people asking questions?) and in the end, it's a bit unspectacular. Maybe it would help to simply increase the sense of urgency--the scene plays tepidly on the page.

p44 "Yeah" not "yea"

p47 "Isn't he a dream boat?" -- isn't this a line from Back to the Future?

p52 Is there a reason for the nipple/pearls detail?

p53 Mark's pathetic cheapness is no longer remotely endearing or acceptable. If he's an alcoholic, that's one thing. This is almost bizarre.

p55 Or how about "MARK! DUCK!!!"?

p57 Bizarre mixture of action, comedy, and eroticism here. Finding it difficult to figure out just what kind of story this is.

p59 If Sally has bad vibes about Jake--could you show us? It's so much stronger if WE see along with Sally just what about him bothers her... Yes, we know from reading he's a creepy bad guy, but SHE doesn't have that knowledge. So you need to show her being suspicious of Jake, maybe he says or does something that rubs her the wrong way... anything to convince us that Sally has a reasonable explanation for being suspicious...

The amount of time Mark and Jeremy spend in Jake's apartment doesn't seem to match the amount of time Jake and Fran spend at the ball. I think you could just shift Mark and Jeremy's timeline later so you build suspense better when Jake leaves Fran.

p64 "He" not "He's"

p66 Lewy's dialogue about his boss using the device to rob banks is too on the nose. We know Lewy's boss is a bad guy,

and the implication of the devices is pretty clear from the outset.

p69 So Lewy and Danny are just dumb enough to follow them into the substation? They deserve to die.

p79 "You're just a loose string that I need to cut loose." Kind of redundant. Lose one of the looses.

Well done finale. Very descriptive, engaging action, and we see Jake get his comeuppance. Nice!

That being said, I'm not sure I understand the title. I get the Vibrations part. Where does the Ice fit in?

Now for the review.

Overall I thought your science stuff was neat, and provided a plausible foundation for the hook, without getting too over-the-top with the science stuff. You also did a nice job of using the science in unpredictable ways to get the main characters out of and into scrapes. I thought it would make for a great visual effect on screen as well, so you're clearly envisioning this correctly.

I'm going to point out something that may have been mentioned in other reviews (I try not to read reviews others have written, so as not to taint my own reactions or feelings about the script). But your villain is like a cartoon for all seasons. He's unbelievably one-dimensional, if that; as far as I can tell, the only real motivating factor for him being a total douchebag is that he's got a sizable gambling debt. Your quick flashback scene where he's being held underwater by his father the bank robber is laughable in the way it feels tacked onto the story to try and lend Jake some depth--it just doesn't work at all. Moreover, you have him confess to killing his Mother, the redheaded woman who looks like Fran, so there's a bit of Psycho drama that might have been interesting to develop, but you merely touch on it at the very end, so we never really get a feel for how that might have played into his motivations.

On top of that lack of richness, he's also, on top of being a smarmy playboy scientist in competion with the main character, he's a serial killer, a hired gun for a mobster, and a wife stealer! Of all those things, the thing I buy least of all is the killer-for-hire scenario. But on the other hand, as a scientist, he seems less knowledgable than he does about actually killing people, so maybe you need to focus on the hitman aspect of his career. Either way, one of them needs to go.

You have him murder a man in the very beginning of the script, and you never bring it up again. Are there no clues at all to who is able to kill with such marvelous ingenuity? Certainly that'd be a kind of signature.

As far as his interactions with Mark, they don't seem motivated by anything properly resembling reality. Why does Jake hate Mark so much? Why is he willing to go so far as to sadistically kill him and Fran and Jeremy, other than sheer pleasure of killing them? Why does he romance Fran, only to attempt to kill her after three dates? Why does he sling for the mob if he owes them money? I understand he's working off his debt, but it seems like he's super INTO it, but since I don't sense any internal or external motivation for this, he feels rather empty as a character.

Actually, I think you can make the romance stuff work, if you properly set up his overall beef with Mark. Maybe he feels inadequate as a scientist--or perhaps Mark has won grants in the past that he (Jake) should have won, and wants revenge for the slight. So if you set up that motivation properly, especially Jake's need to beat Mark at any cost, it would certainly make the wooing of Fran more believable, and sets up the finale much more concretely and makes him overall a much more interesting character.

I'd nix the scene where Jake throws a tantrum over his underling not being able to get more aquanauts. It was not what you want in a villain, made him appear petty and childish and foolish, which makes him lose respect in the eyes of the audience.

Right now, your story is a bit unfocused. You flip from Mark's quest to regain Fran's affections and trust, but he's such a pathetic cheapskate that it's almost embarrassing. You also have the rival scientist and the quest to perfect the vibration device. Then you have the mobster subplot and the grant subplots. It's a bit of a mess.

But your core story does feel like it's centered around Mark's discovery and Jake's attempts to subvert Mark. Mark's device doesn't really take a central part in Jake's anger toward Mark, and thus feels sort of incidental. Except for the instances where Mark and Jeremy are messing around with the devices to amusing effect, you could have substituted any technological breakthrough and it wouldn't have really changed the core story of Jake's hatred of Mark.

So I think what you could do is focus on the rivalry between the two scientists. Either make them rivals working on the same project and competing for the same grant (and make the oxygen bomb a side plot, maybe helmed by someone else, that Jake can still make use of later). OR you could make Jake's discovery of the oxygen bomb his Achilles heel--maybe he inhales too many toxins in his research that it drives him to madness and he starts going nuts. Essentially, you need to tie the cords more tightly around the hero and villain--in some ways, they should be two sides of the same coin--that would certainly explain why Fran would be attracted to Jake when he starts to woo her.

There are a lot of great aspects to this script, and hopefully these notes will help propel you in the right direction. Good luck!

The Messianic Prophecy, Rob's 4th Draft

1 out of 3 people found the following review helpful:

Somewhat Messy-anic Prophecy

Overall Recommendation:
4 stars
4 stars
Story structure:
3 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
April 12, 2011
p2 Slugs generally don't contain dates.

p2 A female named Matthew? Asian female at that? Hope this doesn't make for a confusing read.

p3 Not sure how a "wail of violent death" would sound. It's something you can read about and understand intuitively, but on screen I don't see it playing...

p5 Pretty cool opening.

p8/9 Young Matthew is awfully precocious. At 5, I doubt he's got the understanding to connect HIS distractions with the crash, much less go on to assume guilt for it; these are the psychological reactions of a much older person.

p9 Matthew yelling "Why can't Mommy come?" is much more realistic portrayal of a 5 year old's reaction.

p9 Don't need "SUPER HOT" as part of the slug. Use descriptions to sell the scene, or at least metaphors. And only in the action lines.

p13 Souter's line "... declared my brother--your father missing." Seems a little too on the nose--HEY, I'm pointing out how we're related by telling you something you already know, that my brother, WHO IS ALSO YOUR FATHER...

Also don't know quite what Matthew's thesis has to do with his father's disappearance.

More OTN dialogue from Souter, to help the reader understand that Matthew's been having mysterious visions. You're telling instead of showing.

p15 "...lead bodyguard WATCH Matthew..." as opposed to "are watching"--makes it a bit stronger.

p16 Looks like someone's using the Bible Gateway translation.

p17/18/19 The science/religion panel: I'm not following Matthew's reasoning or why his 'claim' is so astounding.

p22 Is 'pardonner' correct? I can't tell if that's French or if it's supposed to be "Pardon me."

p25 add comma after Dad in Matthew's "this time it's Dad"

p25 Maybe introduce Bishop with some description.

p56 Have we seen these visions? It might help us understand Matthew's motivation if you show us what these visions are.

p65 Since the timeline seems important to reader, I'd put it in a SUPER or TITLe so we can "see" it onscreen.

p67 "Americans are not afraid OF bombs..." (not "by")

p69 I'm wondering if we'll recognize that the Filipino teen is the same girl we saw in the earlier scene... is there a way you might make the connection a bit more apparent?

p92 I guess I am not seeing why Matthew is the key...

p92 STORMY shouldn't be in the Slug. Put that in description.

p96 Something I just realized: How did Lucas get from San Francisco to Boston?


So the first read through really was actually quite a lot of fun, despite a bit of confusion from certain details. On the whole I actually rather enjoyed your story; you've taken elements from church mythology and Christian doctrine, spiced it up with a bit of sci-fi and a good old fashioned chase, and given us a pretty cool rollicking, globe-trotting adventure.

The writing sometimes falters, but I suspect it may be due to your French-Canadian background, so I tried to keep that in mind. There are some weak moments of dialogue, but nothing that really stood out to me; I think a couple of polishes would help.

There are a few nits I have, and these primarly center around the convoluted mythology you've created around your central character, Matthew. Throughout the entire story I never quite gathered just WHY he was the savior of mankind. Is he the reincarnated Jesus? Is he an apostle? Or just a new chosen one?

There's also some difficulty following all the various apostolic incarnations, especially after a jump forward in the timeline. Perhaps there is a way you can find to link them in a way; maybe a totem or identifying marker to show that the Filipino girl is the same even when she's a teen, and likewise for the other reincarnated souls. Another visual device you could employ would be a sigul or pictoral representation of all the apostles--mention it briefly as part of Matthew's conversation with Brice about the Hall of Records (or whenever you feel would be appropriate, but definitely early in the story). Then you could have visual reminders for each person, and would go along way to help making it clear who exactly is involved in this millennial conspiracy. Also one thing you might make clear is exactly who is leading this whole conspiracy. Is it Jesus? Is Mosen Jesus? Or is it the Chinese guy? Or the frail Italian guy? If it's confusing to me on multiple reads, I think it's going to be confusing on screen.

I rather enjoyed the future storyline. It was an effective way of presenting the more esoteric resurrection/reincarnation ideas you are writing about. One way you might make it clearer on a visual level is simply to have TITLES over to indicate the year, or perhaps a "X Years Later" caption. Otherwise, I imagine viewers would have a difficult time placing things.

You have a decent structure in place from what I can tell, with a good pace and mix of action and exposition. It got a talky at times; I think the mystical mumbo-jumbo stuff starts to hang heavy after a while, especially with all the apostles kind of waxing pseudo-theological throughout, but I didn't feel too overburdened by it. Condense the theological jargon as much as you can, focus on the simple fact that there is an ancient sect, begun with the 12 apostles, who are jumping from body to body using hypnosis; they will unveil the information on HOW to do so to the rest of humanity once humanity is ready. Somehow Matthew figures into this plan (though I don't see how). Clarify those issues and reduce exposition as much as you can, and you'll have a tight little action-adventure.

Some minor notes:
Who was the mysterious voice speaking to Tor? What is his place in all this? That needs to be clarified.

I didn't really understand the point of the science/religion debate. It didn't make any scientific sense, nor did it seem like Matthew's point should/would have caused such a stir, and it ultimately led nowhere. I'd axe that scene completely.

While making Souter the "bad guy" was certainly a twist, looking back I don't see any clues indicating this, so it felt like a cheat. For twists like this to work, there needs to be some justification, even if it's only discovered in hindsight.

I don't understand quite why the Majestic 12 team lets Brice and Matthew go, or even what their ultimate goal is. It seems at first they want to break into Jonathan's computer (though they already set the "network" decrypter on there--seems like they would have the facility to break into the hard drive themselves); then when Matthew throws the computer into the fire, it seems that the whole exercise became a dick measuring contest, who was more "cool" and who had the most information, but again, it doesn't seem to go anywhere.

Good luck on the next draft!

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