Monday, 22 February 2016

PANDEMONIUM, SPLENDIDLY MANAGED - DRAMA

LOGLINE: A local Phoenix newscaster at the pinnacle of local celebrity slowly descends into the depths of madness as he sees his world around him start to crumble piece by piece all while trying to become a game show host in Los Angeles.

WRITER: Brett Conrad

SCRIPT BIO: Finished with 15 votes on the 2015 black list.


STORY:

COLIN WESTON (43), is the biggest news anchor in Phoenix. As far as the rest of the US is concerned, that means jack-shit. 

Colin is in the running to be a game-show host in LA. This is his dream job. He wants the nation-wide fame, he wants the money... yeah, that's about it, he's in it for the money and the fame.

His agent tells him that if he wants to secure the position as game show host in LA, he needs to do something that will gain him notoriety - something that will go viral and make him an internet star. 

So in the opening scene we have Colin punch a councilman in the face. Not on live TV, but still while the cameras are running. He gets a hold of the clip and uploads it to the internet, where it quickly gains a million hits and counting... 

That's just the first of a myriad of crazy things that Colin does in the hope of securing his position in LA. 

Meanwhile in his personal life, Colin is up to his ears in debt, he owes money to the Sand Vipers - a bad ass gang of bikers. He is also cheating on his wife with his personal assistant, who he gets pregnant. 

From there, things only get worse, and Colin's life spirals out of control.

The question becomes, will Colin see the errors of his ways before his life completely falls apart...

INITIAL REACTION:

I loved this script.

It's great writing from the word go. There's no 10 page preamble to something mildly interesting happening. Bam! On page 2 he punches the councilman in the head. 

Right from there the script takes off and doesn't let go. 

That's a sign of good writing right there. 

It shouldn't take you a while to get into a story. Either a story grabs you right away, or it doesn't. The same goes when watching a film or a TV show. It should immediately grab you. 

If your opening shot is a long, slow pan up from the ground, over a scene, then up to a person's face and they're looking at something that doesn't really have anything to do with anything, you need to rethink WHY you have that shot. 

Likewise when writing a film you need to think WHY you're writing a scene. What does that particular moment do for the story. And if that moment isn't absolutely imperative to tell the story, you should cut it. 

A great example of lean writing in a film is THE DEAD POETS SOCIETY. There's not a scene in that film that doesn't NEED to be there. Every beat is a part of the story. Every beat is dependant on the previous beats. It's like a line of dominos. If you pulled out even just one brick (or scene) then the whole film will fall apart. 

Let's get into it... 

CONCEPT:

Concept here is pretty damn dull.

News anchor does crazy things to try and secure a job as a game show host. 

Firstly, that's a new idea - I've never heard of that story line before - but in the same breath, just because something hasn't been done before doesn't automatically mean it NEEDS to be made into a film.

There's pretty damn low stakes here. Who cares if a news anchor gets a job as a game show host or not? No one really gives a shit. 

But when you get down to the execution of this idea, that's when the story pops. 

Here you have a news anchor who SPEAKS HIS MIND.

That's something all human's long to do. (Well most - if not all).

I'm sure the majority of people have wanted to be able to say precisely what's on their mind but haven't for fear of breaking social taboos. 

So the execution of the concept here saves the story  but when we look at this purely on a concept level, it's not very strong. 

Can you imagine the reaction you'd get from your friends if you were to say, 'hey do you want to see this new film? It's about a news anchor who wants to be a game show host.' 

CONCEPT RATING: 5/10

CONCEPT TIP: Don't rely on your execution of your idea to prop up your concept. While the execution in this script saves the story, it could have just as easily failed. Start from the strongest place possible - ensure that your CONCEPT is something that people WANT to see. 

FORM:

Perfect.

Read this script for a great example of how to format a screenplay.

FORM RATING 9/10

FORM TIP: Screenwriting formatting is the EASIEST thing to learn in the world of film. Read How Not To Write A Screenplay, THEN start writing. 

STRUCTURE:

Structure here was great.

The hero has a very obvious flaw, so the story has focus. He has a goal, which again focuses the story.

It is lacking for a MAIN shadow. There is the side player of the Sand Viper bikers, but they're not in the story from the get go. They appear a third of the way into the story. 

Until then Colin is his own worst enemy. But that's cheating. 

There's a great sense of tension in every scene. In fact, in EVERY scene, there is conflict. And not just the 'two people yelling at each other conflict' - there's different types of conflict. 

I like the way this film wraps up as well. I won't say it, but it's not what you'd expect. 

This if a great example of a writer KNOWING when they are breaking the screen writing rules. (As apposed to novice writers breaking the screenwriting rules through sheer ignorance.)

STRUCTURE RATING 7/10

STRUCTURE TIP: If you choose to eschew the hero's journey beats, as so many writers do, then be sure that every scene has conflict in it. There is nothing more boring - cinematically speaking - than two characters agreeing with each other. 

CHARACTERS & DIALOGUE:

This is where this script explodes off the page. 

Colin is ACTOR BAIT! He is such an incredibly desirable role to play I can see this film getting made pretty damn easily. I can see many really good actors chomping at the bit to play this role.

Why?

Because the dialogue is sooooo freakin' good.

There is an intelligence behind the humor here. It's hard to explain.

I wasn't laughing out loud so much, as I found myself compelled to read on for the sake of the delicious dialogue.

CHARACTER & DIALOGUE RATING: 9/10

CHARACTER & DIALOGUE TIP: Read this screenplay and look at the way the dialogue is written. It's a great example of well written dialogue. And also look at each of the characters. They are ALL so well rounded and formed. 

VOICE:

Voice was strong here. Strong in a different way to yesterday's post - THE WITCH. 

Here you have a writer who has studied screenwriting and has a great ear for dialogue. They also have a great sense of timing and humor. 

VOIE RATING: 7/10

VOICE TIP: Subtly in humor. A lot of comedies go as far to the edge as they can to be funny. Here all the humor arose from scenario. But every offbeat moment was tempered within the bounds of reality. There's not a moment in this script that you couldn't imagine actually happening in real life.

PRODUCTION:

I wouldn't put money into this - simply because of the concept. 

I don't know many people who would want to see a film about a news anchor trying to get a job as a game show host. 

It just doesn't pop.

Which is a shame as this is a great story and script. 

To get this off the ground it'll need a serious actor at the helm. Which I could see happening. 

But no matter who you get leading this film - I seriously doubt it'll make any coin. 

SUMMARY:

Really simple concept executed incredibly well. 

Sadly, that simple concept will hold this script back from being a film that makes money. 

OVERALL RATING 7/10