At Amazon Studios

 
 
 

About

I've always been drawn to the written word, even as a kid I would always be reading (when not causing trouble or getting into some adventures) and writing long-winded stories, just for fun.....but now I've decided to take it a little more seriously and put forth great effort into becoming a good writer -- for the page and hopefully for the screen....I have no illusions about being a famous screenwriter (but it would be nice!) and expect in these early stages to get my writing blown off and dismantled, but that's what makes you better. We'll see where I end up in the long haul..... The key is to never give up.
 

Reviews Charles Has Written

Twin Wars: The Hidden Weapon, Bruce's Original Draft

1 out of 1 people found the following review helpful:

Good story structure orchestration, needs better dialogue

Overall Recommendation:
3 stars
 
Premise:
3 stars
 
Story structure:
3 stars
 
Character:
2 stars
 
Dialogue:
1 stars
 
Emotion:
2 stars
 
March 08, 2012
Hi Bruce,

Sorry it's taken so long for this review, I appreciate your patience.

First of all, I wanna say that I usually don't go too much into the fantasy realm, I like LOTR, HP and the like, but I tend to lean more toward realism, which I think will be helpful to you in this review....

I like the premise of this screenplay, and your orchestration of the story structure -- it has all the right elements to it.....Twin brothers orphaned and armies out to get them, a change of heart bounty hunter who has love problems of his own, the war for a kingdom and the secret weapon that could end it all......all of this is excellent drive for the story, and structured pretty well in my opinion.

One main thing that threw me off for the first 20 pages was WHERE and WHEN was this story taking place? At first the opening scene is described in a Victorian-style house, which led me to believe this was in modern times, especially with the parents and their speech patterns, it was all very modern -- then all of a sudden there's goblins and houses burning and a bounty hunter named Coniah trying to get these modern kids and I didnt know if somehow the kids entered a fantasy world or they were pretending it was happening, or that this story was taking place in a fantastical age.....Once the story got going -- and it didn't take off for me until page 20 -- then I was able to piece together that it was in a different age and time and I could sink comfortably into it....So that is something I would recommend for the beginning, clue the reader in, tell us specifically where and when this is going on -- you might not need to do it saying "This story takes place..." -- you could tell it in the scene heading (NARTHLAND) or perhaps Shage and his family live in a "Medieval style house".....

Another main problem with this project is the dialogue throughtout the entire story, it was too modern and on the nose -- I would seriously review and rewrite most if not all.
The dialogue and thus the emotional impact of the characters are where the flaws are. For me, there wasn't really any emotional connection to the characters. Let me elaborate.

Coniah was an anti-hero, almost irredeemable too, you came very close to losing that character completely on me....I know what you were going for, the selfish bounty hunter who has a change of heart and tries to help the boys out of a sense of regret for his past actions.....but in the beginning and for the first like 30 pages that we know Coniah, he's a total douche, and a fool....he has no sense of morality, he lies, he's apathetic and uncaring, he doesn't have really great plans of attack, more like bumbling toward getting into the Mountain and Nicanor's castle which gets him captured anyway, and he tells Nicanor that Shage is hiding in a cave when Coniah is trying to hide Shage for himself -- this doesn't make sense, why would he drop a big clue for Nicanor when he's trying to hide Shage?....and when Coniah's change of heart occurs (after his "girlfriend" leaves him) it makes it very hard to believe, and by that time my sympathy and interest in him was already gone....I'm not sure the best way to go about changing him, his dialogue was very problematic for me, and too on the nose.....perhaps this is where the disconnect is -- I would review and rewrite almost all of his dialogue, especially since he takes center stage in the story.....perhaps make him a little more sympathetic or charismatic in the beginning, rather than a complete heartless sellout....Dialogue is the key to the character, our glimpse at their motiviations, psychology, desires, and the viewer's connection to the character.... and with Coniah I think his dialogue needs alot of polishing to make him really shine and connect with the audience.

pg 26 Adam smokes a pipe??!! He's 14!.....and again, the dialogue in this scene is way too contemporary, it's rather jarring -- these people live in a land with goblins and swords and medieval castles, yet they talk like they're in the 21st century....not sure if you were worried about alienating the viewer by using different style of dialogue, but I think it's just too modern throughout the entire script....it definitely needs some flavor of the age, but not overkill.

pg 28 After Coniah's house burns down, he screams "I don't believe this!" It felt odd for me, I imagine if my house burned down and everything I owned was gone, I'd yell out something else....I don't suggest to use swearing, but somehting a little more emotional....this is one of the main driving forces for Coniah to kill Nicanor (among others) and I think this scene could be a little more gut-wrenching

Also, the dinner at Adara's parents house -- the dialogue was very odd for the circumstances....Adara was kidnapped, Coniah's house burned down, and they still are chatting and eating like not much has happened...

Also, throughout the entire script, there's too much weather description, keep it only essential for the scene, like if a battle is taking place during a lightning storm, or a flood....otherwise its just superfluous....also the directions like North, South, Northeast.....doesn't matter, can't tell on the page or on the screen which direction a character is riding into.

pg 37 - "Adara pulls grabs" double verb usage......and at the bottom, the dialogue is too long.....and I noticed it occasionally throughout the script. I've read that dialogue and scene descriptions should be split up into lines of four, and even that is pushing it.....if there's more info needed, break it up, don't give the reader a big chunk of text to read through, it's easy to feel like you're bogged down....and with dialogue, it's best to use long dialogue at the climax (if necessary) of the movie, or when King Amnian was giving the speech about the history of the conflict, which was very useful info to the reader, so for that part it was necessary for exposition dialogue, but for others not so much.

pg 40 Coniah yells at Shage. For me, this was a grown man yelling at a 14 yr old kid about how he wants his life back? And Coniah is supposed to be a battle-hardened bounty hunter? Very melodramatic, unrealistic and not believable.

pg 43 When Shage escapes from Coniah. I didn't pick up on whether Coniah left him untied or tied. If tied, maybe describe Shage loosening the ropes more, then it gives him more credit for using his brains and courage and thus more depth and sympathy for his character. If Coniah left him untied, then it's all bad -- Coniah's a fool to go to sleep with his prisoner untied and wakes up in the morning to find him gone, and Shage is just more of a passive character who escapes because his captor is a fool. I think definitely describe this scene as Shage resourcefully escaping after Coniah ties him up tightly.

pg 44 A goblin speaking is shown as 4Goblin 2

The scene where the goblins chase Shage and one of them turns into a snake....I thought this was excellent scene, and the times in the story you employed twists and action like this I think paid off big time.....these are excellent features to the story.

When Shage is about to be captured and he's calling for Coniah.....I didn't buy it. Why would he call for Coniah, after this guy just sold out his brother, lied to him, and is now trying to sell him too? I think it would be beter if Shage was pleading for Adam....

In general, I think the dynamic of Shage and Coniah could be really built on and improved upon....there wasn't that much emotional layering there.....and this I believe is because of the dialogue....the dialogue is too on point, nothing is mysterious or implied, there's no real emotion behind it, it's more to further the plot than expose the emotions of the characters....much more layering for the dialogue, their psyches and motivations (though subliminally) should be revealed in their dialogue.....and I know, dialogue is the hardest thing to write and get right!

Small nitpick.....don't intro a character through dialogue....take a line to describe him....ADRIAN, 40s, coughs up blood.

Lucian's dialogue with Adara is very stale, "You know how I feel about you".....show it. he caresses her arm or picks some leaves out of her hair as he says it. Just a little more touch up on it.

The climax with the running battle outside and the battle between Nicanor, Shage, Adam, Coniah and Ridwain.....really great scenes! Hightens the action and intensity!

The very end for me was a downer.....it was cool that the kid was a dragon, that really was cool.....but the last couple of lines I know you could close this epic adventure out with something more witty other than "Good one, Coniah" Coniah: "Thanks".

Overall, I think this story has a lot of potential. THe conflicts are there, the story structure, the plot all have the right elements to them......it's just the dialogue that needs alot of work. The dialogue is so central to a script, and from reading yours, it really brought the limelight on how important good dialogue is. The words the characters use and what they say is too on the nose, too plot-driven, not enought emotional insight to the characters themselves. This needs alot fo improving, which I think would elevate this script up to be more of a real winner. You have something really good here, it's just the dialogue that slows it down.

hope this helps, and is not too harsh. I'm not trying to shoot your script down, just trying to help you see if from another perspective so you can improve upon it.

pg 47 Shage is "pilled" off his horse instead of "pulled"
 

Whistle and I'll Come, William's Original Draft

0 out of 0 people found the following review helpful:

Excellent Atmospherics....Needs something new though

Overall Recommendation:
3 stars
 
Premise:
3 stars
 
Story structure:
3 stars
 
Character:
4 stars
 
Dialogue:
4 stars
 
Emotion:
3 stars
 
January 19, 2012
Hi William,

First of all, I really did like your script. The atmosphere and how you describe it, the gloomy, haunted feel really fit in perfectly I felt. The Professor, Herbert, Zachariah Chapman, all great portraits of the archetypal character usually found in stories like "Whistle and I'll Come". The dialogue for the time period I thought was superb and did sound how I would imagine people of that era speaking. Overall, I think you hit the nail with the atmosphere and basic set up for this story, but I think the guts of it still needs work.

Some thoughts: I really enjoyed the beginning, thought you were spot on for that.....and i was hoping something new or different would happen soon after so as to dissuade me of the fear that this script might turn out to lack that "new element" to revive the type of story you were going for. The atmosphere was perfect, but as a whole, it didn't have anything really new in it to distinguish it from those that have preceeded it. It was just a regular ghost story, at least for me it was. If the atmosphere chosen for the story is the quintessential one as most haunted mansion stories have (cemetary, fog, haunted mansion, ghosts, the wandering cat, etc) there needs to be something new to make it stand apart from all the others. I found myself thinking that with all the CGI available today, it would be really cool if Zachariah Chapman had unleashed a truly crazy, evil demon from hell to devour those who have set foot in the cemetary: then, with all the creepy atmosphere that surrounds the story, the viewer is rewarded by seeing some awesome looking demon that really could strike fear into the heart of the viewer. I know, I know, the jaws factor -- less is more, but in this case I felt kinda cheated by not getting some cool looking CGI to help move the story forward and spring some life and action into it. Maybe something along the lines of Hound of the Baskervilles, except it's a Demon Hound sent to devour the souls of those who step foot in the cemetary?

Some notes:

on pg 18: The Elderly Woman is introduced, but not in all caps. Each new character should be introduced in all caps.

pg. 30: They chat and laugh lightly ..... I felt this was a bad transition and could be improved upon, it kinda broke me out of the story's environment

pg. 41: The Professor sips a glass of wine.....I thought they were drinking sherry?

pg. 68: Unbelief.....do you mean disbelief?

pg. 74: when the VO is reading the excerpt from the journal about the Angel of Death, I thought you really missed a chance to throw some really cool CGI in it......VISUALLY describe the Angel of Death swooping across the world wreaking destruction, don't just do a VO of it, show something as awesome as that!!!

pg 88: When the Fireman gives his reason for not going back to save the Prof's wife and daughter....I don't think you need it. Plus, it paints the firemen in a bad light for no reason and nothing is resolved.....heck, if I was the Prof and knew the Firemen said forget about my wife and daughter and they died in a fire, I think I would be wanting some answers from those firemen.....but maybe you can use that as a motiviation for the Prof REALLY going to the mansion??? In the 3rd act, it is revealed he knew the mansion was haunted all along and really wants to cast a spell on the firemen? I don't know, just creative criticism....

Ouija board.....unnecessary. Thought you were just grasping for more things to fill the page with.

Also, too many VO's as a whole throughout the story......seemed like there were almost as many VO's as dialogue.......most of the VO were redundant......I remembered what was going on, and didn't need a VO to clue me in....

Overall, William, I thought this story was cool, I like it, especially the atmosphere which I think would be a strong selling point or would be a reason a director would want to be attached on it. But the story itself (ora at least the action) needed alot of spiffing up....CGI!!! I know that might not be your style, I don't think it is, but think "Sleepy Hollow"....that movie had lots of atmospherics, but also lots of action......this script as it stands is like a low-budget indie movie, which you could probably get some up and coming or student/amateur director, crew, cast to do it...which I think would be fun if I were more inclined to direct or had some extra cash lying around.....but if you wanna really sell it, I think you gotta add a real great hook in it, or put some good action sequences or a really truly terrifying entity in it that will grab the reader and viewer and make it stand out in their minds.

But this is jus tmy two cents....
 

HIDE, matt's Original Draft

1 out of 1 people found the following review helpful:

Modern Western meets Jekyll/Hyde....Nice!

Overall Recommendation:
4 stars
 
Premise:
4 stars
 
Story structure:
3 stars
 
Character:
4 stars
 
Dialogue:
5 stars
 
Emotion:
4 stars
 
November 03, 2011
Hey Matt,

Great script! You've definitely got an ear for dialogue and believable character interactions! I could definitely SEE this movie, feel the dust and heat and and enjoyed the whole ride! The atmosphere was perfect, a heat-stifled, slowly suffocating race to find a killer that is in fact smarter than all the other cops combined!

Just a few nit-picks:

Mainly is how Ellborn is able to solve who all these serial killers are when none of the cops are able to, even though the cops have all the technology and resources at their disposal? Unless maybe he has a leak on the inside or he's a hacker who can get into the Cops' database to piece these puzzles together himself? -- I dont' think you should leave it to the audience to just give him the benefit of the doubt and take it that he just knows?.....unless I missed something where you explain how he solves the identities of 7 serial killers when the cops can't.....

Also, and I've seen it in some of the other reviews on here, is that the serial killer of serial killers is unfortunately a huge TV show success in the name of Dexter.....and though it's not like this takes away from your idea (especially when it's the Sheriff who is the schizo killer, which I really liked), maybe not emphasizing the term "serial killer of serial killers" so much will help paint over the parallel with Dexter......maybe keep Ellborn more as a Vigilante reference, or Avenging Angel instead of a serial killer?

Of course there's lots of formatting issues with the script, but we've already went over that. Format is really important though of course, since a producer or someone interested might be immediately turned off when they see something unfamiliar....

Also, no need to directly identify highways in the setting headlines, since chances are most readers probably won't even know where those are so no need to put more than necessary in......especially with extra details like what color the sky is, or music that belongs to someone else -- since that will cost a studio to pay the band or whatever more money to put in those songs, and in reality, they'll just ignore your music selection anyway....

Also, just a comment on the emphasis put on the race/stereotypes of certain characters, though it's not intended negatively, it might cause a stir if on the big screen in front of thousands of audience members---things like a Native American raping a white girl, or a Native American serial killer scalping victims and eating their hair--the mentioning of race in these things really aren't necessary to the story so you're better off leaving them out of it.....especially in the writing, you don't want to risk turning a reader off just because of that...

And the fact that LB is the grand finale that Elborn wants before signing off........maybe they have more of a connection than just the first time they meet? Maybe one of LB's past victims was Ellborn's mother or something? I also think that LB's spasms and bloody noses should happen way sooner than after the Karachina scene......I thought they were due to smoking peyote or something.....maybe in one of the very earliest scenes (like Harper's going away party, LB goes into the bathroom at the bar and his nose starts bleeding?) he experiences a spasm or nose bleed.....

And at the end, I personally thought it would be more believable if Ellborn shot and killed LB and then put the gun to himself....since LB was his finale, it would be a little more dramatic if he then offed himself, since he is a serial killer too......and it kinda makes it more of a thriller that the quasi-bad guy wins in the end

Overall, it was a great story, great action, good concept just needs some reworking or a little more layering regarding LB and Ellborn....

BRilliant mix of the Killer Inside Me, mixed with Seven-like atmosphere and Thunderheart! I really love the title too, brings the Jekyll/Hyde theme home......great job!!!
 

Devil's Pass, xxxxxxx's 4th Draft

1 out of 1 people found the following review helpful:

Gritty realism with a supernatural tone

Overall Recommendation:
4 stars
 
Premise:
5 stars
 
Story structure:
4 stars
 
Character:
4 stars
 
Dialogue:
4 stars
 
Emotion:
5 stars
 
July 21, 2011
I loved this concept and the script! Excellent job! The atmosphere of the story is perfect, as well as the characters all thrown into the wilderness in a tooth and claw fight for survival.....Dialogue was great, the deliver of action was fulfilling....but just a few thoughts regarding the last act....

Did you think of limiting the clan of werewolves down to just a couple? After the intro of the Alpha Warrior out for vengeance, it kind of distracted me when it was revealed there was a whole tribe of werewolves living in the wilderness, and it actually cut down on the horror element for me....I loved the lone Predator/Werewolf in the Old West feel.....just goes back to my thoughts on limiting the werewolf to ONE....who picks off the tracker party one character at a time, until there are only a few characters left racing for survival who must try to outthink and outfight the terrible beast that lurks in the darkness....

also, I felt you might have been hesitant and liked the good characters in the story too much to make them possibly die....not sure if you were trying to just soften the brutality or if you wanted to give a reward to the audience at the end...But I did like the end, I must admit....a nice warm feeling to counter the cynicism of the rest of the story

Also, regarding "stereotypical" werewolves.....when they die, they morph back into human form, but I was willing to ignore that while I was really engrossed in this story....and the whole silver bullet conundrum.....maybe LaMonte (since he's heard of this creature before) suggests melting down some silver he has into bullets in order to kill the beast/s??.....might just make killing the creatures more difficult and hence scarier

Just some thoughts and ideas....Don't get me wrong, I seriously loved this story, I would definitely want to see it on the big screen! Awesome work!
 

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