This script grew on me. At first, I wasn't so keen on it. I read it in two sitting. The first 50 pages were ok, nothing too exciting, then in the final 50 pages the story really came together and I ended up thoroughly enjoying this script.
Let's look at what was done right and what could have been done better.
Maggie is in her 30s and works as a PA for an ultra famous fictional singer called Suzanne. Suzanne is in her 50s and hasn't released a new album in over 20 years. She still tours and works really hard, but creatively she is stuck in a rut. Oh, and she is a complete bitch. You can't imagine a more self-absorbed person.
Maggie works really hard, like reeeeaaalllllyyy hard. She does all the shit jobs for Suzanne while being treated like a piece of shit.
What Maggie really wants is to be a producer. She knows everything about music and she even writes lyrics and can sing quite well herself.
She works her ass off mixing one of Suzanne's live albums but when it's all done she doesn't get any credit.
Maggie decides to go out on her own and try to become a producer, looking for the next Justin Beiber but she discovers there's a lot of really mediocre talent in the world. Nothing that she is really excited by.
Then, as chance would have it - she stumbles across a young man playing a free gig at a supermarket who has an incredible voice. Like, an exceptional voice.
His name is David.
David and Maggie don't really click. They're polar opposite people. But there is a dangerous chemistry between the two, and Maggie sets out trying to produce him.
Without ruining the story for everyone, she sets up a huge opportunity for David, only to have him bail on her at the last moment.
Maggie loses her job with Suzanne and goes into a downward spiral, but then...
... the twist happens.
I didn't see the twist coming and the twist is what saved this film. It left me on a high note.
The concept here is great. Remember, when you're setting out to write a film you should think about the end result. Will this film play well in cinemas? Is there a large audience that would like to see this film?
The answer here is a resounding yes!
People love musicals. While this film isn't a musical per se, it does have a lot of singing in it and people love singing and songs in films.
This story is also female-centric - which is a huge bonus. Female centered films are becoming more and more popular and producers are looking for female empowerment stories.
CONCEPT RATING 9/10
Think about when you're browsing movies on Netflix to watch - or what's on at the cinema. What are the type of films that jump out at you and you say, yes, I definitely want to check that out.
You need to work on a concept that will become one of those films. Too many people spend months if not years writing a screenplay that doesn't have a great concept behind it.
Don't waste your time on a weak storyline.
The empathy was good in this script. But it could have been better. Maggie leads a hard life and she works really hard. These are examples of PASSIVE POSITIVE EMPATHY. I like Maggie because I feel sorry for her.
While this kind of empathy works, it is not as strong as ACTIVE POSITIVE EMPATHY - this is where Maggie goes out of her way to help other people. And while Maggie does help Suzanne - it doesn't count as it's her job, and Suzanne is a horrible person.
If this story could have injected a few active positive empathy beats in the first 30 pages I would have been far more engaged.
Active positive empathy is the strongest type of empathy there is. Make sure you inject several beats of this kind of empathy throughout your script.
Having ONE beat of active positive empathy at the start of your script isn't enough though - you need to constantly make the audience LOVE your hero.
In every scene, you should try to add some kind of empathy beat. No matter show small, every beat keeps your audience engaged in the story and your hero.
They were well done in this script. My only critique would be that all the characters other than Maggie were a little too cliche for me. There was the megalomaniacal super famous singer, there was the asshole manager. Even Maggie's job seemed cliche. Her work for Suzanne was TOO HARD.
I just wanted a touch more realism for this story to feel more grounded.
Was good, but not exceptional. It had its moments, but most characters spoke exactly the way you would expect them too, and they all sounded quite similar.
It would have been great if there had been more variety of dialogue styles.
CHARACTERS AND DIALOGUE TIP
Make sure all your characters feel very different from each other. When your characters all speak with a similar wit and a similar style then they start to bleed into each other.
Also, don't write cliche characters. Don't make your 'bad guys' too bad. As they will come as unrealistic. Even the most annoying people you know in real life have a pleasant side to them. Make sure your audience gets to see this side every now and then.
At first, I wasn't so sure about this story as it isn't a biopic. Suzanne isn't a real person. But something this script did really well, was to inject other REAL celebrities throughout the script.
Suzanne is working with Billy Joel on a regular basis in his story, which is great. Even if Billy didn't want to do a cameo in this movie, then there would be countless other famous singers who would likely be up for the job.
When you have real-life celebrities playing themselves in your fictional movie it really helps to sell the world you're creating.
One of the great things about this script is that there are INNER JOURNEYS for all the main characters. Suzanne goes through a small journey of self-discovery, but it's not too much so as to feel forced. David has the biggest breakthrough, and Maggie finally learns to go from being walked over by Suzanne to standing up for herself.
Write an inner journey for all your main characters. A lot of scripts don't even have an inner journey for their hero. But when you make sure that ALL your main players are learning something throughout their journey and changing within, your film will come across as having 'layers'. It will feel that it has depth and it will connect with your audience much better.
Was great here. When you have a clearly defined inner journey going on for your hero then it is easy to create a well-defined structure.
The inciting incident here was when Maggie meets David. The end of the first act was when she decides to break away from Suzanne and produce David.
There is the second act kiss, there is the dark night of the soul when Maggie feels that all is lost - only to rebuild herself and bounce back stronger than ever before!
If you don't know the Hero's Journey back to front - stop what you're doing and spend the next 6 months learning it until you know it by heart.
Another thing that this script does really well is to set up expectations and then to break those expectations. There is nothing worse than expecting a scene to go a certain way - and then it does.
It gets boring very quickly.
When you set up a scene to look like it will finish like X, but then Y happens - that keeps your audience engaged.
Never end a scene the way your audience would expect it to end. It's a death kiss of boredom.
Great concept that is executed well. It's not in shooting mode yet - this script could use a couple of more drafts before it's really ready to be shot. But at least here we are polishing a rough diamond. A lot of the scripts I've reviewed recently have been really weak, not even worth polishing or re-writing.