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Barstools and Locals

by Scott 

Posted: 24 May 2003
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Summary: I want ALL your criticism, be as harsh as possible


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Scott at 10:59 on 24 May 2003  Report this post
I wrote this script quite some time ago, at first I loved it but after my ego deflated I realized it was not the master piece to change the course of comedy culture as I though it might. Not to sound big head but there was a lot I really liked and still do but there was much also that wasn't right. For a comedy the characters were not witty enough in their dialogue and the main theme was not inventive enough though individual events that occurred were.

Now I am drastically revamping the script, completely butchering it really, I have an imaginative theme and I am going to take the best bits from the original. What I would love from you is to be as critical as possible about my original work, I want to know all that is wrong with it, be as harsh/cruel as possible, I want to correct the mistakes and be a bit closer to that perfect script I dreamt of.

Thank you

Scott



GC at 15:48 on 25 May 2003  Report this post
Hi Scott,

I take it this is a pilot script for TV? If so I'm not sure on the correct format for writing, as I said I work in film. What I did notice, was that the layout - compared to that of a film structure, makes for heavy reading.

I don't actually like being over critical but here goes:

You need to check your spellings - you're instead of your, and lager instead of larger, etc. Agents are very picky about spelling. (One of my major weaknesses too)

You have far to much of 'The Director' going on. To many camera angles, how it should be shot etc, don't do it! Unless it's an absoloute MUST! The director will not thank you for trying to do his job.

Cut down your detailed descriptions of scenes, the shorter the better, make it snappy - show don't tell. Here's an example - You have written 'Camera pans along bed. The camera passes the woman whose head is out of frame and comes to a man who is still asleep. He is unshaven bald, and gaunt with saliva dripping down his cheek and has a cigarette butt in his mouth still.'

Why not try - Patrick's parents are scattered in the bed. His father's face hanging out, snoring - his cigarette butt moves in time with the rythmic flow of his dripping saliva.

Anyway - you get the gist, a lot of your scenes need to be cut hard, and your dialogue needs to increase. You also need to find a way of adding a voice to your main characters - I always try to imagine them having their own little trademark - a word that only this person uses - a way the person moves.

Right after all that - when you pull the script back to its bare bones, it has definite promise! Highly amusing and original - which is what we all strive for. Do not give up on this script, even if it's driving you crazy. The plot is good. The begining is not to bad, I liked the talking pint glass, again original. You just need to lift the dialogue, and cut your descriptions.

Take a look at some of the scripts you can download on the Internet, see how they make use of the 'show - don't tell factor.' Also look how they use the bare minimum of description when setting a scene.

The dog had me in stitches, but use it more, don't tell me, show me, write it in scenes that I can visualise easily in my head.

One of the things my Agent has taught me, is that producers don't like to much description, and this has proved to be correct.

I wish you well with this, you have a good comedy style, and this should prove to be a really fine piece of writing when you have re-done it.

I look foward to reading it again!!!

Scott at 16:27 on 26 May 2003  Report this post
Thank you very much Glennis, I thought your comments were absolutely brilliant, just the sort of thing I was looking for. LOL I myself only notice just the other day I was typing things like larger instead of lager when I was flicking through the script whilst deciding how to change it.

I am just beginning to rewrite the script now and I will HEAVILY take on board what you have said, I am very grateful and you may never know what a help you are being to me because the script was my first ever attempt, I have never been taught how to do one so it was all guess work. I thought you had to put all the directions in so that shows how I was wrong.

The new script is essentially just recycling the old one. I have a new theme and the only characters I am keeping from the original are the parents (I love the mother and her dog) and Patrick but he will not be the main characters brother this time. Ben is going, his replacement will be a bit meaner and more witty, the dialogue is the most important thing to change, lots more humorous talking needs to be injected.

I am keeping the fight scene but will have to cut it down; obviously I have to since not all of it will fit in with the new story that basically keeps with the same theme of trying to boost trade.

The pub appears in the new script but is not the main location this time, I think the idea of a sitcom based around a pub sound terribly unoriginal before you even read it so that is the first thing to change.

I would be interested of what you thought of the off the wall humour, what is your opinion of it, I think with the original script I was heading for a very strong VISUAL comedy opposed to witty chat chat, but hopefully the new one will combined the two. Are there any scenes you think I shouldnít cut or should definitely?

Anyway you have been great and I am really thankful

Scott


GC at 18:31 on 26 May 2003  Report this post
Dear Scott,

You've done a good job, if this is your first script. If you want to write for film, may I suggest you download some of the software that the Industry uses. There is Final Draft, I myself use Sophocles - a fraction of the price, just as good, and you can download a free trial, to give you the idea, before you want to purchase. Just search the Internet.

I'm now going away for a few weeks with the family - so I'll go through your script in more detail when I get back if you want.

I liked your off the wall humour, it keeps the script fresh - don't lose that.

Good luck

Glennis

Becca at 06:27 on 27 May 2003  Report this post
Scott,
I read it as I said I would from my perspective as a shorts writer. I was interested in what you say above about the changes you are going to make. I felt that the same location of the pub became relentless after a while. I worried too that there were no characters, except Qwim? who a reader could have any empathy with. This may sound harsh, but the female characters can across as props for the men, not that that hasn't been done a million times before. I did wonder what the narrative was, was it the downfall of Ben? Does a film have to have a narrative? I sensed you'd made a huge effort with all the scenes and admired that, but the people hardly say anything. I think I wondered in the end where you were going with this and whether you could use it to build something on. I would be seeing this as a 'reader' or 'watcher' and would still be looking for the story line.
This is of course a very personal perspective. Good luck with it.

Scott at 21:39 on 27 May 2003  Report this post


Dear Becca

I do understand what you are saying and have taken all of what has been told to me very seriously. I am going to cut down ALL the directorsí stuff and concentrate on character and plot development.

For the last two weeks I have particularly concentrated on a major amount more speech and finer definition in each character, especially the leads one. I may stick with the original idea and characters but work on building them significantly.
The story was about Bens dream at being respected and to step out of his fatherís shadow but this I know did not come across and so in short the story is about the downfall of Ben, he's struggle to succeed when all those around him don't share his views or passion.

The story will now change slightly but only to focus more on Ben and Patrick and how they both deal with the pub aspect differently.
I believe now the script is too bogged down with immense details and through all that the story starts to become lost.

I have plans for Jasmines character but for this episode she only needed to be established and not much more but I would be interested what you thought of the mother Heather?

Thank you for your time to read through my script and I hope when it goes through its new workings it will be more to your enjoyment to read.

Scott


Scott at 23:04 on 27 May 2003  Report this post
Thank you all, I do appreciate all of this and I am taking it all on board. Iíve been piling up all the notes and alterations and at some point over the weekend I am going to make a start on the changes. Thanks Bev for the tips, I am down loading the template now.

This might sound silly but every time I have gone over it before I have been too worried about getting all the directions perfect because I thought they were the most important thing (I have never been taught to write a script), I had a very visual comedy versioned and I suppose I let the vocals fall by the way side and after reading your comments and going through the script again I am truly shocked with myself at how bland a lot of the speeches are, so trust me that is gonna get a kick up the jacksy. I actually think I made it more difficult for myself going on about every camera angle, I had so many things going through my head I was bound to neglect some important stuff! (That is not an excuse though lol)

I would be interested to know what Becca and Miss Hills thought of the style of humour, did it work for you or too silly?

Youíve all been great, really chuffed with your response.

Scott


Beverley Hills at 23:23 on 27 May 2003  Report this post
Miss Hills eh? Very good, I like it.
The humour? Well, I'm afraid it didn't work for me but I think that was because the balance needs adjusting. At the moment it's very blokey humour, which, quite frankly, doesn't float my boat and never really has, however you're writing with a target audience in mind so maybe my opinion on content isn't valid here. As a writer I prefer the humour to come from character rather than situation, it's a persons foibles (great word!) that make me laugh, putting two unlikely types together under adversity and watching the sparks fly as they try to win each other over using personal argument which never works; you can only truly win an argument when you argue from the other persons point of view, never your own. In this draft the women are underwritten and as they're pivitol it makes them one dimensional. But I am looking forward to the next draft, as they say the secret of good writing is...rewriting! BTW you might want to think about form, how long is it going to be? Half an hour is the norm, and to be honest most people can only keep it up for that long! (fnar fnar) Oh and another thought, if the idea of not being able to write camera shots is driving you nuts have you thought of radio? More chance there of being produced than on tele, or so they say...
Good luck!
Beverley

Becca at 07:33 on 28 May 2003  Report this post
Scott,
Heather was more blokey than the rest of the women if I remember rightly, but again I didn't get much of a real sense of her, as 'Miss Hills' says, a one dimensional quality to them. And I do agree that it's very male focussed and at some points almost a sense that your characters hate women, because they treat them like cattle. That's harsh isn't it? Sadly, I'm not saying it's unrealistic. But even in humour I like a sense of being able to identify a little with the characters, or have empathy with someone represented. I think men's erections are hard to write about with any joy, it would probably be hard to get now, but there was a book called Portnoy's Complaint you might enjoy. That was some years ago, I speak to you as 'Miss Becca' a grandmother.
Becca.

Scott at 21:41 on 28 May 2003  Report this post
Lol, well I suppose shows like Monty Python and The league of Gentle are not for everyone. I have put a lot into writing some strong dialogue, exchanges with humour opposed to just the situation being funny. I think I'm into Marmite humour, either you love it or you hate it and I think some of the characters like the mother are more like cartoon characters than humans but thats a habit I suppose because I'm a cartoonist (well now and again), in fact I think of the script sometimes as a live acted toon.

This script is not 100% made up, it is based on real events though of course they are all blown out of proportion. I was 18 when I moved to Torquay to become licensee of my fathersí pub (3 and a half years ago)and I suppose the script is loosely based on my own real experiences. Patrick is based on my brother and Miller on my best friend (both by the way helped with the script). I gave up working in the pub trade after two years, it was great but the missus (I donít hate women LOL) didnít like it. I'm afraid to say the humour in the rewrite is never going to be PC and might get sillier but with more purpose to beef the storyline.

Jasmine is destined to split the lads up (thatís if I ever write the whole series) and so she does become a strong character but apart from establishing her in this script I never really ever saw much more she was needed in this particular episode.

Both Ben and Patrick are to become more individual, more human if you like, I want to make them believable as people because at the moment they don't say enough.

I don't think you are going to like some of the new bits, especially the BMX riding midget prostitute and the history of the little dog in brief (basically why its so mean and why it goes for Bens googlies), mind these new additions are actually for the purpose of improving the story and are not some new pointless scenes. I don't think this would convert well to radio since alot of it is viusal humour.

Oh Miss Hills just a quick question, how long do you think this would last if it was an ep, is it too short or too long?

Thanks for all your comments

Scott


Becca at 06:07 on 29 May 2003  Report this post
That's the problem I have reading parts of things! I often say I find it hard to only see parts of people's works and make reasonable thoughts about them. I wouldn't want anything PC for it's own sake. league of Gents was gorgeous. Because your script is for a film, so much demands on how it's performed, I imagine.
Anyway you're already working on it again and from what you said it sounds as if the piece will gain more substance, and you already knew where you were going to work on it.

Scott at 22:46 on 03 July 2003  Report this post
I have begun rewriting this script, I have added a bucket load of new dialogue to enhance both the personalities and gags and so I hope the rewrite is an improvement. I have renamed it ĎCome Again Pleaseí and have posted it on the site for all to read


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