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B2W Live Script Edit Notes 2020

Table of Contents


So it’s LondonSWF Live Script Edit time again! I have been doing the Live Script Edit for the festival for years now and I’m never failed to be impressed by the plucky writers who offer up their pages for dissection in this session! Seriously, mega round of applause for you all.

Most writers know they have just ten pages to grab a script reader’s attention to get a full read. The reality is far scarier … You probably have just ONE page!

That’s right … There’s so many submissions out there, readers frequently do a ‘first sift’ of the submissions and check out the first page, THEN decide to check out the first 10 pages. Only then do they read the whole thing.

As ever, there’s unfortunately not enough time to discuss many whole screenplays in mega detail in just a 2 hour session. However, since I will be doing the Live Script Edit virtually on LSF365 for the first time, I thought, ‘What if I could discuss ALL the submissions this year??’

So, with this in mind, I decided to do a ‘first sift’ of every submission to this year’s Live Script Edit. This means I read every page one at least twice, with some advancing to the first 10 pages.

From there, I prepared initial feedback on ALL 52 SUBMISSIONS. The result is this ebook. Phew!!!

For tips on getting a full read, CLICK HERE.

How To Use This Ebook

On the next page is a table of contents. If you click on your name/title, you will be taken straight to my feedback for your feedback.

First up … Apologies for any typos, especially on names. I also occasionally mix up titles or words in titles too. I can promise that I tried very hard to get all this right, but it’s more than possible I got word blindness after a while.

I have grouped the issues I identified in the script pile under four main headings …

  1. Format/ Miscellaneous issues
  2. Visuals and Teasers
  3. Starts with ‘The Familiar’
  4. Dialogue

I chose these headings as I felt they are the most relevant to the ‘first sift’ approach I took in assessing the screenplays in this particular pile. My reasoning …

  1. As we all know, format is ‘the least’ any writer can do, but it’s also the element of screenwriting new readers focus on the most. This is why B2W always recommends ‘reader-proofing’ scripts of any obvious ‘pet peeves’. After all, 9/10 it cleans up the page and avoids any pain-in-the-ass pendants out there!
  2. Screenwriting is a visual medium, so we need to invest in our scene description. This year visuals were at an all-time high, but there was quite a lot of ‘misfiring’ scene description that made me go ‘eh?’ Teasers are great for setting the tone, genre and storyworld too, but they frequently ‘misfire’ as well. With this in mind, I grouped them together.
  3. Lots of writers don’t believe that lots of samey, familiar things crop up again and again in the spec pile. I thought I would take this opportunity to illustrate how they DO … and why it’s always a great idea to avoid writing familiar stuff in the first ten pages.
  4. Most screenwriters love to write dialogue, but can have blind spots on the issues dialogue can create for their writing. I decided to pick out the scripts that had familiar problems like dialogue taking over, or characters saying what they mean ‘too much’.

Some writers may notice their script appears in more than one category. Don’t feel despondent if this is the case – remember I am just one reader! I would also encourage you to read everyone’s feedback in the booklet, because you will see you are not the ONLY writer with the same issues I flag up.

Also, make sure you take a look at the LSF365 app for all the submissions … It’s a rare opportunity to cross-reference a professional script reader’s opinion with the actual scripts in question. A LITERAL LOOK IN THE SPEC PILE!


Don’t Forget To Grab Your Free Course

I am offering Bang2writers a free mini course called The Foundations of Writing Craft. Using video, worksheets and PDF guides, I walk you through what I call ‘The B2W Holy Trinity’ … Concept, Characters and Structure. It’s for novelists as well as screenwriters.

So, if you want proven methodologies for working on your writing craft, this course will provide the know-how and the resources you need.  To grab your free mini course from B2W then, CLICK HERE.

Now, on to my feedback … Ready? Let’s go!

The Write Stuff

This pile was one of the most diverse in the history of B2W’s involvement with the Live Script Edit … in more ways than one!

There were lots of characters of colour, plus stories of all types. These included short films, features, sitcoms and television pilots, plus also nearly every kind of genre as well as drama. There was high concept and character-led stories too. Brilliant!

Next are the scripts that grabbed my attention as I was reading, plus I found myself thinking about afterwards too. Congratulations to those LSFers who made this list, which makes up the top 30% of the submissions.

Commiserations to those whose work didn’t … Don’t be despondent if yours doesn’t make this particular list. Never forget a reader’s personal response/preferences always has to play its part too. (Plus, if you check out the rest of the feedback, you will see some whose work hits the top 30% still needs some tweakage in my opinion. No script is ever perfect!).

In no particular order then …

Hen Party Massacre by Sam Kurd

Starts with some good visuals that are Horror genre-specific and contrast against the unwitting protagonist’s plans for her hen party. Noice!

 Reasonable Time by Wyatt Lamoureux

Good visuals to start, sets up the social justice aspect of the story re: the radio in the taxi, contrasts with the fresh ink tattoos and the gravestones. Pleasing diversity from the offset too. Yay!

Invisible Crime by David Laurie

Vertical writing! I see this so infrequently. Well done. Love your confident style and your character intros, especially your female character who is ‘part hand grenade’!

Blue Notes by Linda M James

Establishes storyworld from the offset – the title is ‘Blue Notes’ and it starts in a jazz club called Blue Notes. Immediately we know where we are and the ‘feel’ of the piece is obvious. Great!

The Golden Voice by Daniel Ramirez

Establishes the genre as Action and the cut-throat, violent storyworld of from the offset very well. Curious why the first character mentioned has the same surname as the writer though!

Drones & Clones by Rachael Howard

Creates a visual image of what we see that connects with the title and states the theme. Tight scene description contrast against dialogue that gets straight to the heart of the story.  Nice work!

 How Heather Survived The Apocalypse by Amanda Graham

Does a great job of establishing its storyworld and its 80s motif – Kiefer Sutherland forever!

Downing by Bobby Stevenson

A DARK CAR cuts through the night like a shark’ – fantastic, visual opening line that sets the tone, well done.

Diamond Alice by Emily Isaacs

Opens on diamond rings, establishing the thief motif, the storyworld, its female lead AND links back to the title as well. Bravo!

Vital Signs by Richard Osborne

Clever update of the ‘newscaster’ device, where a sci fi/futuristic world is introduced via a bulletin/programme, which in delivers exposition and sets up the story. Good work.

The Republic of Dave by Vladimir Bern and Michael van Koetsveld

Starts with a great story-specific image that sets the tone and genre, meaning the story hits the ground running and pulls me in straight away. Great thematics – the contrast of past war versus today’s war of Climate Change is well drawn. Nice work!

Small by Alex Davies and Arlene Leigh

Does a great job of subverting the ‘beginning of the movie is an actual movie being filmed’ cliché by revealing the lead is … SURPRISE! Tom Hanks. Sets the tone and genre by the ‘Grumpy Old Cop’ film gag.

M&M by Jean-Luc Julien

Some nice visuals, plus I liked the cheeky line ‘affirmative action in the sack’! Makes the important point white women may fetishise BAME men and does a great job of sidestepping the usual trope of our guy laying out ‘Jock Boyfriend’ afterwards and then being the one in trouble for it all.

Little White Lies by Ian Masters & Jon Smith

Love the writers’ voices of this duo, which jumps off the page from its protagonist’s intro: ‘Beneath her Dulwich poise and privilege, she’s as confused by life as she is self-assured and smart.’ Wonderful jaunty, confident style of writing throughout.

Influencer by Marzio Valdambrini

Uses Instagram stories to capture and subvert cliché female character intros such as the blonde jogging woman and ‘keeping it real’ getting on public transport and lampoons social media because of course it’s all fake. Noice!

The Dragon Whisperer by Mel Evans

How To Train Your Dragon meets Gladiator – fantastic, high concept idea that establishes the storyworld, tone, genre and even its hero’s ethics from the offset. Great visuals too and ties back to its title. Bravo!

Now, on to the rest of my feedback.

1) Miscellaneous Format Issues

For an mammoth rundown of the format issues B2W sees regularly, plus what to do about them, CLICK HERE

Script reading is an entry-level job, which means students on work experience are reading our work. Very often these students don’t really understand writing craft all that well, so they may hyper focus on stuff like format or things that are obvious and jump out at them.

Don’t forget either that what’s acceptable for script format may change according to where you’re sending it … for example, US readers have told me they prefer bold, but UK readers have told me they absolutely hate it! 

So, here is a list of the random pet peeves that writers may fall foul of with script readers, which is why it’s always worth ‘sweating the small stuff’ and reader-proofing your screenplay for these tiny things.

The Secret Life of Teenagers by Borna Armanini

‘We see’ / missing blank elements between scene description / breaks ‘the four line rule’ – try to break scene description up with a blank element every four lines.

Hen Party Massacre by Sam Kurd

No title page.  Not a huge issue for something like this LSF365 Live Script Edit, but always double-check for submissions to agents and producers.

Green Softness by Ana Lasic 

Name twice on the title page, also ‘version 3.0’ – no need for this. Seems to have weird margins/centering on the dialogue. Something’s wonky anyway. Also uses bold sluglines (aka ‘scene headers’).

Blue Notes by Linda M James

Do you need the montage to start? Unconvinced – feels thematic and more of a production decision, rather than story-based. No need to reference CREDITS either.

A Somerset Spring by Allan Hill 

Watch out for all those words that are CAPPED UP, you only need them for character names the first time we see them in a spec script. 

The Collar of Freedom by Alex Isevski

Why is your name and title in brackets on the title page? Starts with ‘We see’ too – when sop many readers hate these two words, I don’t think it’s worth including them.

The Golden Voice by Daniel Ramirez

No need for scene numbers in a spec screenplay, plus it has the copyright symbol on the title page, as well as its case number. Some readers call the copyright symbol ‘the nutter detector’, so avoid putting it on your scripts!

Original Sins by Linda Duncan McLaughlin 

No need for sluglines (aka scene headers) to be in bold or underlined in the UK; no need for character names to be in bold either. Scene numbers not needed either in a spec screenplay, plus ‘Travelling’ for moving vehicle shots is now considered unnecessary.

We Can Be Villains by James Allen

Starts with the dreaded ‘this is clearly’ << avoid this killer filler word! Paint a picture so we know it’s the 1980s.

 2044 by John Morris

Scene description in capitals and bolded, neither needed; also avoid bolding character names. Try and avoid making submissions with demo versions of software too. If money an issue, try a freeware like John August’s Highland screenwriting software.

 The Pussycat of Essex Road by Nash Colundalur

Very ‘faint’ courier font, plus seems to be made with Celtx demo. Try a free software that won’t watermark if money an issue.

Go For It! By Wendy Jones

No need to reference titles.

 The Daisy Chain by Al Campbell

No title page, title on p1 instead. Uses ‘we see’.

Downing by Bobby Stevenson

Starts with a V.O from ‘Fran’, but then the next character mentioned is ‘Frankie’ – same person, or different? Unclear. No need to bold sluglines aka scene headings or underline them.

Faber by Susan Vermeer

Note to reader on page 1. Try and avoid these wherever possible, especially given there is no translation yet anyway.

Vital Signs by Richard Osborne

No need for scene numbers in a spec screenplay. Use of implied narrator ‘We …’ and even ‘you’! Flashback within flashback – we go back to twenty seven years ago, then within moments we appear to flashback another twenty years. How is this happening if that character is dead and someone else is remembering him? Takes me out of the story.

Crime, Drugs And Other Pranks by Florencia Dufour

Very heavy on the scene description on p1, which ‘feels’ extraneous. Plus the sluglines (aka scene headings) are a little confusing … Are we on the bus or the street? Need to pick one, because where is the television? Takes me out of the story.

Kiragi The Useless Girl by Justin Spray

Very dense scene description, especially at the beginning. Some good visuals, so try and bring those out and make description tighter. The sluglines (scene headers) are not formatted correctly. The courier font seems ‘lighter’ than usual, possibly MS Word? Try and use a screenwriting software if so. Free options include John August’s Highland – he’s a pro screenwriter.

The Republic of Dave by Vladimir Bern and Michael van Koetsveld

Do you need the montage on page 3? I’m not convinced it adds anything. It feels stylistic just to change from the past to present, rather than story-based – but the captions anchor us.

Holden by Nikhil Kamkolkar

Try and avoid putting the title and your name on page 1 – use the title page instead.

Small by Alex Davies and Arlene Leigh

I’m guessing you’re Americans, so just an FYI – UK readers tend to hate bold sluglines (scene headers). Also guessing this is a sample, because no one but Tom Hanks can actually be in it … Wondering if you would need life rights/permissions for this re: submissions, has Tom Hanks copyrighted his own image like Disney have Walt Disney? Might be worth thinking about if you haven’t already to avoid any potential legal issues.

Shrinkwrap by Tania Tay

There’s a title page, but it hasn’t been filled in. Got a lot of parentheticals here – do you need all of them? The ones you decide you do need to have their ‘own’ line directly under the character’s name, not as part of the dialogue.

The Creature by Maddie Marzola

You only need to capitalise characters’ names the first time we see them. Try and avoid parentheticals for actions and gestures, plus all but the most ambiguous of lines of dialogue.

Molly Wants A Baby by JC Lynch

Use of ‘We see’ and what feels like ‘lots’ of parentheticals. Also it feels very ‘late’ before we see Molly, given the title seems to suggest this story is about her. What if she was on p1?

Blood Sport by Steve J Butler

No name on the title page, only email address. No need to write the draft number. Sluglines aka scene headers seem ‘very long’, plus there’s no need for scene numbers in a spec screenplay.

Little White Lies by Ian Masters & Jon Smith

Bold, underlining (sluglines and scene description) and what ‘feels’ like a lot of capital letters throughout. Interrupts the flow of the read a bit, plus work experience kids might hyper-focus on this type of thing. Personally, I’d bow to Doctor Format himself, David Trottier and ‘reader-proof’ by taking these things out. But up to you!

Influencer by Marzio Valdambrini

Watch out for that ‘four line rule’ on scene description and ‘feels’ like there’s too many brackets – (O.S), parentheticals and ‘Cont’ds’. Do you need them all?

Graft: A San Francisco Story by Richard Koman

Filed in my Dropbox as ‘1-11 pages from LIVE pilot’. Who is this from? Unsure … No title page and no name attached!! Eek!! I can only assume this is the script I have assigned the title to, I can’t be sure … I have matched via the San Francisco reference on p1 and the spreadsheet I was given by the LSF admin team.

However, it’s important to remember I wouldn’t have done this detective work had I been an intern or agent’s assistant. Always, always name your files and include title pages. Remember this is the age of electronic submissions and Dropbox filing, with different people ’behind the scenes’ doing admin, so stuff can awry.

A Losing Game by Anita Tucker

No name or contact details on the title page. Always include unless you’re told specifically to leave it off. No need to reference credits. 

2) Visuals And Teasers

Great scripts need to start scenes with an image. They need to avoid chains of dialogue; or they may make too much reference to stuff we can’t really see. Scene description needs to avoid interrupting the ‘flow’ of the read, too. Great scene description …

  • … Reveals character
  • … Pushes the story forward
  • … Showcases your writer’s voice

More on great scene description, CLICK HERE. Now, on to my feedback …

Invisible Crime by David Laurie

Though I love it as a device, your vertical writing feels a little OTT in the first instance. I feel like you could get right to the heart of the matter with the murder on p1.

Nations by Harriet Riley

Interesting teaser, but as someone totally unfamiliar with the life of Dag Hammarskjöld, I am not really sure what it’s setting up in terms of the episode, especially as we then flash back to the Korean war.

 Silk by Oscar Wenham-Hyde

Again, not sure what the teaser is setting up story-wise, though this time because it’s rather familiar (next section).

How Heather Survived The Apocalypse by Amanda Graham

Teaser sets up the character and storyworld well overall, but ‘feels’ too long at 5 pages. I reckon you could get right to the heart of the set up in 3.

We Can Be Villains by James Allen

Starts with a bunch of crooks getting busted by a police character, then swaps to a classroom and another character altogether. What’s the connection? Even reading on I still wasn’t sure, sorry.

The Daisy Chain by Al Campbell

Uses the phrase ‘dandling the baby’ on p1. Thought this might mean ‘dangling’ and was YIKES! But apparently ‘dandle’ means ‘rock’ or ‘bounce’. Try not to use obscure words as they take readers out of the story.

Go For It! by Wendy Jones

Didn’t get why Mary would be signing ‘an eight track tape’ for a gas station attendant as the first image, thought maybe I misunderstood it was another word for a receipt or something … Then page 5 we discover Mary is a singer and the penny drops it’s an ‘8-Track’, but that’s ancient tech so would younger readers even know what this is? Also, why not open with the kid finishing his magic tricks and then see Mary sing on p1?

The Pussycat of Essex Road by Nash Colundalur

Starts with graphic images of a man trying to kill himself by hanging, which is not advised by mental health charities. Lots of dramas in the spec pile also ‘start’ with depressed characters trying to kill themselves too … what if yours just started with him befriending the dog? (Though if you do this, you may want to change it to a cat, or perhaps just change the title).

3) Starts with the ‘Familiar’

These are the scripts that begin with visuals, images, moments etc that feel very familiar, sometimes even clichéd. These familiar elements may have been recycled from produced content, or they may be things turn up waaaaay too much in the spec pile. Sometimes it’s both!

The great news is, the internet exists … So writers can research not only what audiences find stale and cheesy easily, they can find out what script readers are sick of too! For examples, CLICK HERE.

To Save One Life by James Jay 

Starts with the sky *and* a building contrast against it. Sky and cityscapes are ‘classic’ beginnings that don’t necessarily say much about their stories. Given your story seems to about past misdeeds, saving lives, what if the opening image was something historical or denoting guilt?

The Green Zone by Joanna Tilley 

Starts with breakfast/getting ready for the day. This is listed on my spreadsheet as a sports movie … how come it doesn’t start with sport?

Hen Party Massacre by Sam Kurd

Fake ‘jump scare’ on p1, friend scares the other & laughs. This was inducted into the Horror Cheesy Hall of fame well over a decade ago … Can you give us a sense of dread somehow instead?

Reasonable Time by Wyatt Lamoureux

Photographs and radio bulletins are ‘oldys but goodys’ in setting the scene – just be careful of overdoing it. You could probably cut the second bit when Nathan has to turn it off and it would do the same job.

 A Somerset Spring by Allan Hill 

Again, a radio issue – but do you need it here? Wasn’t sure of its purpose starting with it story-wise at the start here.

The Collar of Freedom by Alex Isevski

Starts with a woman looking in a mirror, a very very common introduction for female characters generally. She also is in a car and late, again very common in the spec pile, especially for female characters.

 Silk by Oscar Wenham-Hyde

Starts with a woman crying in a bathroom, another VERY common intro scene for female characters in the spec pile. She also looks in a mirror.

How Heather Survived the Apocalypse by Amanda Graham

Running girl, running late – another VERY familiar intro for female characters in the spec pile. Also combines with the ‘character V.O Freeze Frame’ chestnut.

 Go For It! by Wendy Jones

Starts with Mary running late: female characters are always running late it seems! Real working women and mums may meet themselves coming backwards, true … However writing-wise, the question is, do we want to the same as everyone else when first impressions count for so much? Only you can decide.

The Art of Revenge by Stephen Quinn

Has the ‘talking to the cat’ and the doctor’s surgery ‘life advice scenes’ AND another character telling a therapist all about her frustrations with their relationship ‘upfront’. I’d recommend avoiding these type of scenes in the first instance as it feels like it ‘delays’ the story from starting.

The Secret Life of Teenagers by Borna Arminini

Starts with the sky / waking up and getting ready. These are three things that turn up VERY regularly in the spec pile.

Green Softness by Ana Lasic

Starts with the sky and snow, yet your title is ‘Green Softness’ … so why not an image of something that’s both green and soft?

The Little Tiny Superstars by Niki Lambropoulos

I feel like there needs to be ‘more’ scene description than ‘a freezing Christmas Eve’ at the beginning. Not sure exactly what you meant by a ‘child’s exoskeleton leans against the bed’ or what a ‘Beatbot’ is. I was also not sure why Nova doesn’t think he is a ‘real boy’ – I wondered if this was a Pinocchio reference and he was an actual toy/gift for Christmas. I also felt I need to check back to see if he was the mouse rather than Marvin (he’s not). See the links at the beginning of this section for links to advice on scene description.

The Creature by Maddie Mazola

Starts with a man typing at a computer. Can you open with an image that gives us a sense of tone, genre and/or storyworld? Given the script is called The Creature, what if you started with it? See the links at the beginning of this section for links to advice on scene description.

Emerald Coast by Joe Gooden

No opener, starts with a character walking into a conversation. Since Davit is a chef, why not start in the kitchen with the shallots? 

M&M by Jean-Luc Julien

Is the montage at the beginning necessary, or even a ‘real’ montage? I am unconvinced on both points. Why not start with the real life heart / the M&M 4EVA!, with Marina leaving class and meeting Miguel outside? We can guess he is a blue collar lad from the rich guy telling him to get off his car. We can find out where he works later.

Jannu by Ash Kotak

Starts on a photograph, which feels a little familiar. Do you need to start with Mum and Dad, too? This seems to be about a young BAME gay man … Why not start with Sid on Grindr, then him in the club, before going to the hotel with the other guys?

Molly Wants A Baby by JC Lynch

Starts with quite ‘novelistic’ scene description – how do we know whose dog is whose? Or that it’s Christmas Eve? You also reference the grumpy customers before we see them, which isn’t needed. I would recommend checking out the article links at the beginning of this section for advice on visuals.

Blood Sport by Stephen J Butler

‘A shiny glass and chrome temple to algorithmic commerce’ is a fantastic first line and image, but puts me in mind of a story like The Social Network, rather than the ‘Action/Horror’ listed on my spreadsheet.

I also found it very surprising because the title puts me in mind of Jean Claude Van Damme!! I wasn’t sure why, so Googled and discovered THIS … It is an iconic JCVD film, which I must have picked up somewhere in my periphery. Are you sure you want to have the same title? You might be better off with another, but it is up to you.

My Flaw by Saku

Doesn’t start with an opening image, only references ‘no dialogue, only movements’ … even though there is medical imagery. What if you started with the blip of a heart monitor or similar?

Inked In Blood by Paul Corricelli

Starts with ‘Blood Spills’ above the slugline of the first scene, but we flash straight to the hospital and then back as a dream … What if your story opened with Jason (and by virtue, us) obliviously opening the door and GETTING PUNCHED IN THE FACE? Hell of an opener and would really make the story ‘hit the ground running’.

Stealing Christmas by Soneil Inayat

Some nice visuals here but wasn’t entirely sure what was happening or why, despite re-reading … So is Max ‘cleaning’ up the naughty list for Santa, with Owen a ‘cold case’ because he did something bad as a child? If so (or if I’m close), I love it, but I feel like I need it to start with Max and establishing what his job actually is upfront on p1, especially as Owen then seems to ‘disappear’ down the portal thing.

Graft: A San Francisco Story by Richard Koman

Nice opening image of the cable cars, but how come we hear about Virginia before we meet her? Why do we meet Kelly before she arrives on p3? Presumably the story is about her ‘hard graft’ in San Francisco as a woman editor, so why doesn’t she arrive on p1, causing the feathers to ruffle through her own actions rather than talk?

A Losing Game by Anita Tucker

The beauty of a boy riding a horse into the sea contrast against the violence of the gunshot is really powerful, but scene description is very ‘dense’ so its impact feels diminished in my opinion. Can you make your scene description leaner and tighter so we see this in say, half a page? This could make it much more shocking. This may also give you room in the second half of the page to give us a sense of ‘where’ and ‘when’ we are in terms of time period, especially for those unfamiliar with The Irish War of Independence.

The Dragon Whisperer by Mel Evans

Starts with V.O chants over black – feels quite old-fashioned/over-used as a device now, plus starting on the city and the arena is so visual and so cool, why hide it? Watch out for epically long scenes – that second scene runs from p2 to p11.

Downing by Bobby Stevenson

Starts with V.O on black screen, which feels rather ‘old fashioned’ as a device, plus that VO then seems to disappear for ages. Do you need it? Unconvinced. 

Sorry To Say by Graham P. Bradshaw and Dan Brusey

We think ‘the heterosexual couple are together … but actually the two women are the couple’ is a reveal I see very frequently in the spec pile I’m afraid! I do like the fact they’re having a baby, which is a nice way to update it … But does this mean Simon was the father/sperm donor, or was Abbi cheating with Ella?  Or is he with Gabriel? I wasn’t sure, sorry. I think we need more clarity here.

Also, stirrups in the delivery room feel quite ‘old fashioned’ (my midwife in the 90s wouldn’t use them) and not too sure about the hardcore kissing straight after labour! All I wanted was a cup of tea and a huge bar of Galaxy 😉

Don’t Rock The Boat by Stephanie Ginger

Good visuals here and the script looks pretty good on the page. Great idea to start with a boat given the title, plus I especially like the absurd image of a shell-shocked woman sitting on a sculpted boob! The Scottish ‘Mallory Towers’ beginning in 1961 is intriguing, but I was not sure how it links to the present though, or the death of Jeannie’s husband. It ‘feels’ like those beginning 5 pages is an extended introduction to Jeannie and Stella, but what if the story began in the present and we learned about their friendship as Jeannie deals with what’s happening *now*?

Crime, Drugs And Other Pranks by Florencia Dufour

Starts with newscaster/ Vox Pop exposition to set up the story. This is beginning to feel quite ‘old fashioned’ as a device now. I recommend finding a way to update this, or finding a different device/set up to establish the storyworld, tone and genre of the story.

Faber by Susan Vermeer

Starts with the ‘dying parent makes a revelation death bed scene’ – do you need it? Logistically it would require a hospital set/ location, plus an extra actress. What if you started with the siblings clearing the house, though that feels quite dramaery … Though it’s also listed as ‘thriller’ on my spreadsheet, so could you start with something more genre-specific?

 Malice Aforethought by Edel Corrigan

Your pages look good format-wise from the offset, but they start with the sky, then women running, then our protagonist getting in car/being brought breakfast, THEN running late. All of these intros feel very familiar when dealing with female leads. The pages also feel more like drama, yet the title is ‘Malice Aforethought’ and your genre is listed as ‘psychological drama’ on my spreadsheet – what if you started with something tense or mysterious to set up the storyworld and its tone/genre?

Shrinkwrap by Tania Tay

Nice diversity here, especially as British Chinese characters are so rare in the spec pile. Your story starts by journalists trying to interview the protagonist, a variation on the ‘newscaster’ exposition device … 9/10 this ends when the character freaks, which is what happens here too. Could we see your lead’s art and see her get in over her head at the show some other way?

 The Little Tiny Superstars by Niki Lambropoulos

Starts with the sky/weather. It seems important this is at Christmas, so why not open with the star at the top of a Christmas tree? Perhaps introduce us to Nova and his family opening Christmas presents, rather than via a photograph of them?

My Flaw by Saku

Your first scene ‘fades to black’ with a V.O which feels very familiar, as does our protagonist having breakfast ahead of the day. What if you started with your protagonist at work, helping the children with their cards?

Inked In Blood by Paul Corricelli

The antagonist is an albino guy, plus he has the name of a well-known philosopher/storyteller. 1990s Hollywood Horrors often made use of what I call ‘The Spooky Albino’ trope and Thrillers from the same period used ‘the educated psycho’ A LOT. Intriguingly, a lot of writers in the spec pile use the albino antagonist in their stories, including for LondonSWF submissions in the past. I would recommend changing yours, but up to you.

 Hood by Anne De Korte

Some lovely visuals here, especially the beginning with the arrows and the pheasants; the writing is lean and tight. I like the addition Robyn seems to be a kind of Katniss Everdeen type character in a post-apocalyptic or parallel universe in 2021. However you should know I see a LOT of female Robyn Hoods in the spec pile. It’s a concept that’s proved rather popular in the YA /MG category of novels, check out a Goodreads list of 83 ‘Gender Flip’ novels that has a lot of female Robin Hoods, HERE. Perhaps it’s because of Tony Robinson’s CBBC ‘Maid Marian’ series in the 1980s, I don’t know. Even the addition of diverse characters via Ewan is quite familiar because of Azeem in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) and Yahya/Little John in the 2018 film. I recommend ‘cementing’ the futuristic angle from page 1 somehow to counteract the high number ‘female Robyn Hood’ concepts in the pile.

4) Dialogue

These scripts have dialogue that might feel like it’s in the ‘wrong place’ or it even ‘says too much’. The latter refers to those moments where characters say what they feel or mean very overtly, or a secondary character reveals too much about a main character’s inner most issues ‘upfront’.

Remember, ‘an ounce of behaviour is worth a pound of words’. Veteran uber-screenwriterDavid Mamet said ‘pretend your characters can’t speak’, as this forces you to find actions instead. For more tips on dialogue, CLICK HERE. Now, onto my feedback …

Hen Party Massacre by Sam Kurd

Fatima says, ‘Always seems to turn you into a child, going back to your parents’ place, you know?’ Super perceptive and yes of course best friends might say this kind of thing in real life. Still feels a bit ‘much’ in fiction, though.

Nations by Harriet Riley

Repetition – the guy on the radio says they are going to shoot the plane down, then the woman relays that they are going to be shot down moments later.

To Save One Life by James Jay

It ‘feels’ like you need the dialogue on p4 when Masha tells her story on page 1 to help set this story up. The visuals are mostly good but overall I wasn’t sure what was happening before this.

The Daisy Chain by Al Campbell

It ‘feels’ like Fanny is what I call ‘an Expositional Jo’ … a character who explains the functions and actions of other characters. Try and avoid too many mentions of ‘husband’, ‘brother’ and ‘sister’ with this in mind too.

Hope by Matt Croft 

As with many shorts, two characters have a conversation in a restaurant booth (or a lift, park bench, etc). Rose tells it as she sees it, constantly. Why is Neve even there? Do you need her? What if Rose was by herself, could it be more visual? Or what if Never put up more resistance to Rose and she had to take her to other places and SHOW her the reality of what’s she saying?

The Art of Revenge by Stephen Quinn

Try and avoid devices like other characters to ‘break open’ main characters’ problems (ie. pets, doctors and therapists) via dialogue, especially as this ends up feeling like an extended introduction, rather than the story beginning.

Faber by Susan Vermeer

 Repetition – Mother asks the siblings to ‘punish him’, then they talk about this while clearing the house. Try to avoid talking about talking. (If you get rid of that first deathbed scene, this problem magically goes away).

Holden by Nikhil Kamkolkar

Conversation via computer, so story told almost entirely via dialogue. It’s tough to make these types of short film more visual, but it can be done … Maybe via flashbacks to his previous wife, somehow? Perhaps happy times could be contrast against what REALLY happened? Also the dialogue goes from 0-60mph very quickly and back again … Holden freaks out at her, then explains himself, then seems to vow he will kill her. Give us a sense of escalation towards that vow.

Emerald Coast by Joe Gooden

Your dialogue is good, but it tends to ‘lead’ scenes. At the moment Natia volunteers ‘too much’ about herself, make Davit have to draw it out of her and work stuff out himself. Don’t make it easy on him!

Don’t Forget …

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