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Old 05-15-2018, 11:53 PM   #1
Centos
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Default Would you keep reading this?

Would you keep reading this ... and why?

Code:
FADE IN: CITY OF ANGELS lies spread out beneath us in all its splendor, like a bargain basement Promised Land. CAMERA SOARS, DIPS, WINDS its way SLOWLY DOWN, DOWN, bringing us IN OVER the city as we: SUPER MAIN TITLES. TITLES END, as we -- SPIRAL DOWN TOWARD a lush, high-rise apartment complex. The moon reflected in glass. CAMERA CONTINUES TO MOVE IN THROUGH billowing curtains, INTO the inner sanctum of a penthouse apartment, and here, boys and girls, is where we lose our breath, because -- spread-eagled on a sumptuous designer sofa lies the single most beautiful GIRL in the city. Blonde hair. A satin nightgown that positively glows. Sam Cooke MUSIC, crooning from five hundred dollar SPEAKERS. PASTEL colors. Window walls. New wave furniture tor- tured into weird shapes. It looks like robots live here. On the table next to the sleeping Venus lies an open bottle of pills ... next to that, a mirror dusted with cocaine. She rouses herself to smear some powder on her gums. As she does, we see from her eyes that she is thoroughly, completely whacked out of her mind... She stands, stumbles across the room, pausing to glance at a photograph on the wall: Two men. Soldiers. Young, rough-hewn, arms around each other. The Girl throws open the glass doors ... steps out onto a balcony, and there, beneath her, lies all of nighttime L.A. Panoramic splendor. Her hair flies, her expression. rapt, as she stands against this sea of technology. She is beautiful. On the balcony railing beside her stand three potted plants. The Girl sees them, picks one up. Looks over the balcony railing ... It is ten stories down to the parking lot. she squints, holds the plant over the edge. GIRL Red car. Drops the plant. Down it goes, spiralling end over end -- until, finally ... BAM -- ! SHATTERS. Dirt flies. A red Chevy is now minus a WINDSHIELD. The Girl takes another plant. GIRL Green car. She drops it. Green Dodge. Ten stories below, BAM Impact city. Scratch one paint job. Grabs the final plant and holds it out, saying: GIRL Blue car. POW. GLASS SHATTERS. Dirt sprays. A blue BMW this time. The Girl loves this game ... her expression is slightly crazed. She reaches for another plant -- There aren't any. Her smile fades -- And for a moment, just a moment, the dullness leaves her eyes and she is suddenly, incredibly sober. And tears fill her eyes as she looks over the edge -- GIRL Yellow car. And jumps the railing. Plummets, head over heels like a rag doll. Hits the yellow car spot on. She lies, dead, like an extinguished dream. Still beautiful. CUT TO: EXT. BENEATH THE PIER NIGHT FOUR TOUGH-LOOKING DOCK WORKERS are camped out under the pier, warming themselves around a small bonfire, laughing loudly. Christmas decorations dangle above them from the pier, and empty beer cans litter the sand around them. CAMERA PUSHES IN to discover an old collie tied to one of the pilings. Then we realize that the dog is being tor- mented by the dock workers. They flick lighted matches at him. Shake their beers and spray him in the face. These guys are not rocket scientists. The dog cowers, tugging bn the rope. Tries to get away. All to the great amusement of its tormentors. One of them turns, laughing -- As a shadowy FIGURE strides calmly up to the fire: Long hair. Cigarette dangling from-lower lip. Shirt-tails hanging loose below the waist. Nothing threatening in his manner as he plops down beside the men, smiling. They are immediately on their guard. AL (FIGURE) Happy holidays. Mind if I join you? PUNK #1 Yes. PUNK #2 **** off. Al smiles at him innocently. Strokes the collie's fur with one hand. With the other, he reaches intb a paper sack and produces, a spanking new bottle of Jack Daniels, possibly the finest drink mankind has yet produced. AL I need help drinking this. Cool? The dock workers exchange glances. There seems to be no harm in this. One of them frowns: PUNK #1 You a homo? AL Do I look like a homo? PUNK #1 You got long hair. Homos got long hair. PUNK #3 I hate homos. Arrggh. Riggs shakes his head, laughs. AL Boy, you guys are terrific. You make me laugh, you just do. At which point, appropriately enough, Punk #4 shakes a beer and sprays it in the old collie's face. The DOG pulls away, WHINING. Al leans forward. AL This your dog? Nice dog. And then, he proceeds to do a peculiar thing: He starts to talk to the dog -- in what seems to be the dog's own language. Very weird, folks... He coos, snuffles, barks softly, then withdraws, listening, his ear to the dog's muzzle. Al nods. Frowns. The others look on, puzzled. Then Al looks at each of the four dock workers. AL Huh- You know what? He says he doesn't want you to spray beer in his face. He says he just hates that. A pause. Uncomfortable. Then -- PUNK #1 Oh, he does ... ? (beat) Well, mister, why don't you ask him what he likes...? The others snicker. Al simply nods. AL Okay. And once again, begins to confer with the dog. Listens intently, piecing together what he is hearing. AL What ... ? You want ... oh. Oh, hell no, I couldn't do that ... Nossirree bob, you little nut. He ruffles the dog's hair. The men are more puzzled than ever as Riggs turns and says: AL (chuckling) Get this: He wants me to beat the **** out of you guys. Everything stops. A cloud passes over the assembled faces and a pin-dropping silence ensues. Al, completely heedless, once again attends to the dog: AL What's that ... ? The one ... in the middle... 'is a stupid fat duck'... What ... ? (listens again) Oh ... Oh! A 'stupid fat ****!' Right. He looks up, shakes his head. AL Boy, this dog is pissed. The one in the middle grabs Al by the collar. Hoists him to his feet. Gulp. Stands, staring down at Al, whose eyes are completely neutral, like a snake's. PUNK #1 Buddy, you're shortening your life span. He flicks open a mean-looking switchblade. Al is dead meat. So why then, does he choose this moment to execute a Three Stooges' routine, consisting of nose tweak, eye gouge, and rotating fist that bobs the dock worker on the head... ? He's nuts or something ... Al steps back and adopts a neutral fighting stance. The others begin to circle. The DOG BARKS. Al turns to the dog, but his eyes never leave his grinning attackers. AL (to the collie) What's that ... ? You want me to take the knife away... and break his elbow... ? Circling ... Al, watching them, his eyes beginning to dance ... Breathing slow and even... AL But that would be excruciatingly painful ... Something inside Al is gearing up ... the others can perhaps sense it, their smiles falter a bit, they crouch, combat-ready... Al, eyes blazing ... AL And if I separated the fat one's shoulder... he'd probably scream... No doubt about it. We know from the look in Al's eyes he's nuts. He wants the fight, badly, all four of them at once ... And then Punk #1 springs... Big mistake. Needless to say, mincemeat is made of the four meddlesome dog-torturers. The beach is littered with their writhing forms as Al does, finally, what he set out to do: Unties the dog. Starts to go. As he does, he pats his shirt ... Pats his jeans ... Realizes his wallet has flown free during the fracas. Scoops to retrieve it from its resting place on the sand, where it lies open, and as it lies open, yes, folks, that is a badge we see. Al, we realize, is an officer of the law. He lights a cigarette and notices the collie, seated. Frowns: AL Okay, skeezix. Go on. Get outta here. He begins to walk away. The dog remains close at his heels. Following him. AL No, no. Don't follow me. I'm an *******. Go away. The dog sits obediently and Al walks away. He can't help it, looks back over his shoulder... Sees the dog watching him with a beseeching expression. Pitiful. AL Aw, ****. He signals the dog. AL Awright. Move it. Let's go. The COLLIE BARKS happily and dashes toward him through the surf, kicking up sand and water. As they shuffle off against the palm-lined skyline, we hear, supered, Al's voice. AL (V.O.) So. You live in the area? What's your major ... ? And so on as we ... CUT TO:
I've tried to keep the format as close to the original as possible. The main character's name has been changed.

Does anyone care to count how many "never dos" have been ignored here?
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Old 05-16-2018, 04:30 AM   #2
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Default Re: Would you keep reading this?

Yes. because it is brilliant writing. Voice, style, descriptions that put you in the scene. The person who wrote this is a pro. Anyone who says otherwise is either a guru or a slave to one (aka: newbies buying into all the 'don't use camera angles' nonsense).



Shane Black is the man.
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Old 05-16-2018, 04:58 AM   #3
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Default Re: Would you keep reading this?

Yes, to see how many more glaring mistakes this amateur is going to make. If only he'd posted here first before embarrassing himself, we could have helped!

EXT. CITY OF ANGELS - NIGHT

Need I say more? I pity the fool.
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Old 05-16-2018, 08:01 AM   #4
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Default Re: Would you keep reading this?

If I were hired as a contest reader or being paid by a prodco to read and evaluate for story and production viability and feasibility? Absolutely, because it's my job.

Read it out of interest? Dunno. I'm not put off by anything I've seen here. But I'm usually too busy writing my own stuff to read others' scripts. (Yep, the secret is out: I don't read many scripts, but I am spending WAYYYY too much time on this board these days.)

By the way, I'm only about 12 hours away from having seen "Psycho" for maybe the tenth time, last night, and this opening reminds me a lot of that. Hmmm, let's see.... "psycho opening scene" in the YouTube search bar found it in 0.015 seconds.

Oh, then there's that early long camera movement in Citizen Kane.

No doubt lots of others.

In other words, if somebody wants to see how it's done, there are lots of precedents.
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Old 05-16-2018, 08:54 AM   #5
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Default Re: Would you keep reading this?

Here in the first pages, we have a cocaine-crazed beauty who kills herself. Then we have the good guy dog whisperer who rescues a dog (a Collie, no less) from animal cruelty by thugs. It's “Save The Cat” with a dog.

There's no clue that the two incidents are concurrent, or whether the later-revealed cop became an alcoholic dog-saver after that cocaine-crazed siren of desire killed herself. The sequence of events allows for either storyline.

Unbeknownst to the audience, however, the “stranger from out of town” is a cop (cliché, but could have been Rambo, too). And even though animal cruelty is treated as a misdemeanor offense in the eyes of the law (sad, isn't it?), in the eyes of the audience, the alcoholic cop — with his bad habit of carrying a bottle of liquor on him — could do no better than to liberate the animal from its tormentors in a bona fide “save the dog” moment.

For this story to stay alive, the dog either needs to return the favor in classic “Heart of a Champion” style, or the cop needs to be an actual dog whisperer, or both. Somehow, this cop and this Collie must and will solve the riddle of that beautiful young fallen dove's death.

As for the original question, it was an easy read for “a boy and his dog” story. I liked it. Predictable, but likable. As to whether or not to keep reading it, the only way to know that answer would be to know what direction the next scene set for the story, then flip to the end of the script to see what happens in the last four or five pages.

Last edited by TigerFang : 05-16-2018 at 09:10 AM.
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Old 05-16-2018, 10:57 AM   #6
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Default Re: Would you keep reading this?

I didn't really like it because initially I was thinking wow, how cliche, I've seen all this before, lame. However, in the 1980's we hadn't and thus it was different and intriguing and sold for a million. Why? Because it was a game changer.

No one wrote the way he did back then. However, the never do's still apply as any amateur trying to write in this vein is far more likely to botch it than replicate Black's success.

Just because he succeeded in this style doesn't mean you can. Taking the one exception to the rule doesn't make for a new norm to learn by. Bryce Harper doesn't choke up on the bat on a 1-2 count and just try to make contact, but that doesn't mean a high school or college batter should be taught to follow his lead.

Exceptions to the rule are inherently ... exceptions.
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Old 05-16-2018, 11:25 AM   #7
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Default Re: Would you keep reading this?

Quote:
Originally Posted by TigerFang View Post
For this story to stay alive, the dog either needs to return the favor
Not. True. At. All.


Quote:
Originally Posted by harbak View Post
Just because he succeeded in this style doesn't mean you can. Taking the one exception to the rule doesn't make for a new norm to learn by. Bryce Harper doesn't choke up on the bat on a 1-2 count and just try to make contact, but that doesn't mean a high school or college batter should be taught to follow his lead.

Exceptions to the rule are inherently ... exceptions.
Yet more nonsense. It's not just Black, it's pretty much every pro from Hill to Ngo to Red to Widen - they all write with the abandoning of the 'rules' you and Centos are so hot on.

What is really startling and saddening, is how not one of you, faced with such stellar, invigorating, clearly top-level writing (even if you didn't know it as Black) could see all of this. Not one of you would felt that buzz of 'fuck, this cat can write! I have to read more.' Even if you didn't care for the excerpt, anyone with a nose for writing would see this is engaging, enriching and enthralling writing and by default would want to read more regardless. It's exactly this type and class of writing that perks dejected and disheartened prodco readers up - those precious readers you all moan about trying to get past. SMH.
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Old 05-16-2018, 11:40 AM   #8
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Default Re: Would you keep reading this?

Quote:
Originally Posted by harbak View Post
I didn't really like it because initially I was thinking wow, how cliche, I've seen all this before, lame. However, in the 1980's we hadn't and thus it was different and intriguing and sold for a million. Why? Because it was a game changer.
Soooo.... you're saying Shane Black doesn't write this way anymore because it's cliche? Um, no. He still writes this way -- it's his voice.

Here's a link to The Nice Guys (written in 2003, released in 2016):

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_o...h2MUtCMkE/view

EDITED to answer OP Question:

I recognized it as Lethal Weapon immediately - so, yeah - I would keep reading it, again.
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Old 05-16-2018, 12:57 PM   #9
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Default Re: Would you keep reading this?

I enjoyed what I read of the item that was posted but, duh, I didn't realize I could scroll down in spite of the fact it was supposed to be 10 pages.

Anyway, the one "rule" that still scares me into more-or-less obedience is script length. My stuff is at 104 now, on average, but even that makes me nervous because of people on this board, who're supposedly paid readers, who boast about knowing the value of a script in the first quarter of a page - never mind the length of it.

Meanwhile, I see from the link to "The Nice Guys" that it's 136 pages.

If we're snarky we can also point out that there's only a single line of space before scene headings. That's not exactly a standard way to do it, and is just another thing that would probably raise the ire of a reader.

In this case, if "fixed" that could add another 5 pages to this script length.

So, with respect to the style of writing in the OP: I find it very engaging, and I usually have stuff like that in my first draft. But in my own never-ending quest to reach 100 pages, I generally sacrifice a lot of it.
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Old 05-16-2018, 11:16 PM   #10
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Default Re: Would you keep reading this?

Saw the movie Lethal Weapon 31 years ago. I've never read the original screenplay, but if the above sample was that, it was a great idea to cut the “save the dog” fight scene from the movie. My favorite Shane Black piece is Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Fun times.
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