Would you keep reading this?

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  • 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?
    STANDARD DISCLAIMER: I'm a wannabe, take whatever I write with a huge grain of salt.

  • #2
    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.

    Comment


    • #3
      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.
      Results posted for the Halloween 2020 contest
      in Writing Exercises forum

      Comment


      • #4
        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.

        Comment


        • #5
          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, 07:10 AM.
          "Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.- - Ray Bradbury

          Comment


          • #6
            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.
            Eric
            www.scriptreadguaranteed.com

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Would you keep reading this?

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


              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.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Would you keep reading this?

                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.
                Advice from writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick. "Try this: if you can replace your female character with a sexy lamp and the story still basically works, maybe you need another draft.-

                Comment


                • #9
                  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.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    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.
                    "Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.- - Ray Bradbury

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Would you keep reading this?

                      Originally posted by harbak View Post
                      ... 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.
                      ... Taking the one exception to the rule doesn't make for a new norm to learn by.... Exceptions to the rule are inherently ... exceptions.
                      I can see your point. The example is outdated by thirty years of movie development and audience education. It was a fun movie when it was out because it felt like a new way of telling a story. It's kind of corny, really. Gibson was hot A-list property then and a huge draw for any movie and it sure made this one a hit. But now, everything that has Gibson in it or behind it has a taint on it for me that makes me want to shy away from it these days.
                      Last edited by TigerFang; 05-17-2018, 03:20 PM.
                      "Go to the edge of the cliff and jump off. Build your wings on the way down.- - Ray Bradbury

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Would you keep reading this?

                        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.
                        Shane Black is Shane Black -- nobody is going to write "exactly" his style. The whole point here is that he wrote with confidence, didn't follow the "rules" and told the story in his own voice. He didn't use the "Formulaic, Paint-By-Numbers, Fill In Box A Then Box B, Dos and Don'ts, Junior Screenwriting Kit" (TM).

                        People teaching screenwriting should absolutely follow these professional screenwriters leads. Ignoring arbitrary "rules" is the norm with professional screenwriters -- not the exception. (And they shouldn't follow the lead of the high school or college screenwriter, who -- not able to make even the minor leagues -- creates the "Formulaic, Paint-By-Numbers, Fill In Box A Then Box B, Dos and Don'ts, Junior Screenwriting Kit" (TM), instead.)

                        Five Scripts That Made Shane Black...

                        "Lethal Weapon- (1987)
                        Price: $250,000
                        Synopsis: A mismatched pair of LAPD detectives (both of them Vietnam vets) team to take down drug smugglers in Los Angeles who have a connection to the detectives' past.
                        What About It? The sale of deranged buddy cop script "Lethal Weapon- for a quarter of a million dollars, from a 23-year-old kid who had just graduated UCLA, was the moment Shane Black as we know him today was born. All of the trademarks of his work are evident in this very first screenplay - witty banter laced with profanity, reversals, reveals, a loopy plot that doesn't make much sense if you hold it up to any kind of scrutiny but it's so fun you never will, a Christmas-time setting - less tightly controlled and mannered in his later scripts, but still there. (Director Richard Donner and producer Joel Silver helped wrangle in the script that everyone thought was brilliant but slightly unwieldy.) Black became the icon for every maître d with a script tucked underneath his podium - not only did "Lethal Weapon- get sold for top dollar - particularly for a first time writer - but it attracted top talent like Mel Gibson and Danny Glover and became an international sensation that spawned three equally lucrative sequels. The movie is largely considered a classic because of Black's script, and the subsequent films were less successfully, critically and commercially, because Black wasn't there and the crazed madness of the original kept getting watered down. "Lethal Weapon- was such a sensation that Black was paid $125,000 just to come up with the idea for the sequel, although little (if anything) from that made it into the final film.
                        ----------------------------------

                        "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang- was a breakthrough - instead of a director adapting his prose, Black was doing it himself, and the whole movie is effervescent and alive in a way that only reading a Shane Black script was.
                        "I just couldn't live in a world without me."

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Would you keep reading this?

                          Loved the two (TM) items! Long live Shane Black! (Truly enjoyed Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, by the way)

                          However, if every writer went this route, but we don't change how we approach the business of movie-making, you do realize the panic that would ensue as readers, agents, managers, producers, gurus - and every other in-betweener who uses canned metrics to evaluate the boatloads of specs that arrive at their doorsteps - would commit mass suicide by the thousands? Or their garbage cans/deleted files folders would fill up in a hurry.

                          "Ugh, ugh, ugh, but this doesn't fit the paradigm! Arrgh!"

                          The answer, which I may try to trademark myself, or at least keep promoting vigorously, is "DIY". (Yes, do-it-yourself is already a common enough term, including for filmmakers and writers who make their own shorts as a means of breaking in or as a way to rise above the pack.)

                          But DIY is something we writers should begin to apply to our role in this business, lest we be stuck forever in the "May I send you my spec, sir, and could you pretty pretty please read it sometime, at your leisure, and thank you thank you thank you so much" mode.

                          If CGI were the cause of much revolution in the 90s, DIY (chiefly enabled by the web and low-cost technology) can be the new paradigm of the 00s that's going to really shake things up. and I don't necessarily mean pure multi-tasking (writing, directing, camera-operator, acting, etc.). We perhaps should be more willing to make the time, financial and other resource risks that producers do and, voila, we're instantly producers!

                          And the biggest advantage of this new type of "role", of course, is that we're the owners of the IP.

                          DIY may not offer the up-front security and comfort of "minimum pay guidelines", but the long-term benefits may far outweigh the disadvantages for some.
                          Last edited by catcon; 05-17-2018, 07:37 AM. Reason: Added KKBB reference

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Would you keep reading this?

                            sc111: "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):"


                            If you think Nice Guys is written even remotely in the same vein or tone as the intro pages to Lethal Weapon you are delusiona,l and caught up in the cult of persona worshipping. Now don't get me wrong, I loved Nice Guys but his "voice" is so different than that which made him famous it's like two different writers.

                            Sundown: You miss my point. I didn't say there wasn't brilliance in there. However, think abut an amateur opening his script now a days with the vomit inducing we float above Los Angeles crap. Follow that up with a drug addled hottie jumping to her death and you have the cold open of every CSI ever made, ugh. Now introduce the main character beating up Thug #1, Thug #2 and Thug #3 to save an animal and any modern prodco reader is going to instantly be thinking FML not another one of these.

                            Why? Because most amateur writers can't write like Shane and keep the readers attention. All of the other problems will simply allow the reader to check out and move onto the next pile of garbage on his desk.

                            Back to sc111's comment and Nice Guys. If the writing was so brilliant why did it take 15 years and numerous iterations to get made? Could it be that some of his proclivities had become dated/tired and there wasn't an appetite for it because it had become overdone so to speak? He didn't get a shot to make it until he directed Iron Man 3 and changed the story tons of times.

                            The original post asked if we would keep reading and why. If it was the year 2018 and this was put in front of me, no. If it was the 80's, probably.

                            Any newbie writers out there who try to copy/mimic a Shane Black approach to screenwriting will likely fall very flat. That's all. Embrace your own way of telling stories and go from there.
                            Eric
                            www.scriptreadguaranteed.com

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Would you keep reading this?

                              Originally posted by harbak View Post
                              Any newbie writers out there who try to copy/mimic a Shane Black approach to screenwriting will likely fall very flat. That's all. Embrace your own way of telling stories and go from there.
                              I think that's what I said.
                              Shane Black is Shane Black -- nobody is going to write "exactly" his style. The whole point here is that he wrote with confidence, didn't follow the "rules" and told the story in his own voice.
                              EDIT: Looks like you were responding to someone else. Missed that the first time I read it.
                              "I just couldn't live in a world without me."

                              Comment

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