Thursday, 10 March 2016

ATLANTIC WALL - WAR (WW2)

LOGLINE: A lone American paratrooper, stranded behind enemy lines hours before D-Day, is tasked with delivering intelligence critical to the outcome of the war and compelled to fulfill a promise to protect the young son of a murdered ally.

WRITER: Zach Dean

SCRIPT BIO: 8 votes on the 2015 black list

STORY:

We meet Lowry Scott at the tender age of 13. He's sitting beside his mother in a hospital bed. She's just been beaten to a pulp by her husband. Literally to the verge of death. 

Oh, the year is 1921 - when you could beat the living hell out of your wife and no police would come and do anything about it. 

Back at home, Lowry's father challenges him - he says, unless you stop me, I'm going to kill your mother.

Later that day Lowry does something about it - he shoots his father in the head with his father's service weapon. Thing is, his father actually wanted him to do it. 

Then Lowry runs away from home.

That's possibly one of the best opening hook scenes I've ever read.

It sets up the hero in such an incredible way. Especially now that we're going to watch the adult version of this character go on a killing spree - single handedly - behind German lines. 

It lends an authenticity to his character. 

Nailed it.

On to the story proper...

Lowry is now CAPTAIN SCOTT - (30s). He's the leader of a regiment of para-troopers who have an incredibly important mission.

They're to be the very first allied soldiers to jump into German occupied France - near Normandy. 

Their mission is to get a MAP from the French resistance that has all the german artillery positions precisely plotted. Their locations are not just guessed, they've been painstakingly measured and plotted over many years. 

This map is of up-most importance - having it will save thousands of lives and could possibly be the deciding factor in whether or not the D day invasion will be successful or not. 

Scott and his men suit up and are flown into occupied France two nights before the invasion. But as their glider floats down silently to their LZ - a german antiaircraft shell cuts their aircraft in half.

Scott is sucked out of the aircraft - but he manages to get his parachute to deploy in time. 

He soon discovers he's the only soldier to survive the crash. He is alive, alone, surrounded on all fronts by the ENTIRE French occupying German army. 

The question becomes - will he be able to complete his mission in time and help win the war..?

INITIAL REACTION:

This is a really well written script. It's a great story that works really well for the screen. But I can see why it's only got 8 votes and not 44 votes. 

There's no inner journey for Scott. He doesn't seem to be fighting any inner demons. If they'd developed the character further you could have a story akin to Saving Private Ryan here. But where it stands it feels like they've green-lit the first decent draft of the script. 

Not to say this draft won't work - but when you have something really good - why not push it that one step further and create something incredible - like Saving Private Ryan. 

CONCEPT:

The concept here is really good. It's a WW2 film - but it's an action WW2 film. There is a clear goal with clear stakes and a ticking clock. That drives the story forward at all times. Often WW2 films seem to think that so long as you're focusing on the relationship between two characters while this crazy war is going on around them that will be enough to fuel a story.

It's not. 

I love that this is a story about one guy. When you have a story about several guys in a war it can be very difficult for that to work as a film. TV show - no problem, as TV is the world of ensemble. Film, you should try to keep focused to one main character. 

This is also a story I've never heard before about WW2 - and I've read a lot of history books on the matter. 

CONCEPT RATING: 8/10

CONCEPT TIP: If you're searching for a good WW2 story to write - setting it just prior to D-day is a great idea. There is an automatic ticking clock - the invasion is happening on the 6th of June. Your hero must do X before that time or D day could fail. There are several pre-D-day stories that haven't been told yet. Start reading your history books for great ideas. 

FORM:

Form here was messy. 

CAPS LOCK WAS USED FOR ENTIRE PAGES AT A TIME. 

The idea behind CAPS is to use it very sparingly so that when you have an ITEM or an OBJECT that is important to the storyline - you put it in CAPS so the reader knows it is something to keep in mind. Odds are that GUN or that MACHETE or that DOLL will somehow be used in the story later on. 

Underlining is used to highlight an event that is important to the reader. 

Never use bold.

So while this script was well written and easy to follow - the form was allllll over the place. 

FORM RATING: 5/10

FORM TIP: Read -- How Not To Write A Screenplay. 

STRUCTURE:

Structure was okay here. We had the ordinary world where Scott and his men are in England waiting to be deployed. Then he goes to Germany and he attempts his mission.

Thing is - that's all outer journey stuff. 

Here - there was no inner journey going on. With no inner journey there's no inciting incident. 

I can imagine someone trying to argue that when his glider got shot down that's the inciting incident - as it's an unexpected event that sets the story in motion.

But no - that's not what defines an inciting incident. 

Scott's a soldier - he's going to war - having his plane blown apart is just part of his every day existence. 

An inciting incident TESTS the hero's FLAW.

Now - here - it doesn't seem like Scott actually has a flaw. There's no personality trait holding him back from being who he needs to be. 

IF (by way of example ) Scott was not the leader of the paratroopers - but he was the oldest by 15 years - and his commanding officer was 10 years younger than him - and this was the case because of his inability to follow orders - or work together with his fellow soldiers - THEN WE HAVE A FLAW.

Then the inner journey of this story could have been about Scott learning to WORK WITH OTHERS. When he gets into Germany he is forced to work with the French resistance or he will surely die.

There we have a great inner journey. 

When you have a clear inner journey - you then have a clear structure. 

Until you have that - you just have stuff happening. Which is what we have here. 

CHARACTERS & DIALOGUE:

Characters are well developed. The dialogue just passes muster. 

Dialogue is really a bit of a let down. When you have a great story as this is - but the dialogue is just so-so - it feels like the writer isn't trying hard enough. 

Characters are better developed than the dialogue here - but again - it feels like as soon as the writer got the characters into a good place - he stopped developing them. If he'd developed them just one step more - they could have all really popped off the page.

CHARACTERS & DIALOGUE RATING: 6/10

CHARACTERS & DIALOGUE TIP: Once you've got your characters and dialogue into a good place. Pat yourself on the back. Celebrate that mile stone. Then do another pass. Push them even further. Make them REALLY explode off the page.

VOICE:

Voice was okay here. Wasn't exceptional - but the script was really cleanly written and easy to follow. 

The messy writing in the FORM of this script held the voice back. As did the lack of inner journey for the Hero. 

PRODUCTION:

I wouldn't put money into this until there was a clear inner journey established. 

There is also a MAJOR POV problem late in the second act. 

We leave Scott for about 10 minutes and focus on one of the French resistance fighters. 

That's bad writing. Always tell your story (in a film) through the eyes of your hero.

ALWAYS.

You can cut away from your hero for brief moments when telling the antagonist's storyline - but if you're not doing that - then STAY WITH YOUR HERO. 

Watch MY WEEK WITH MARILYN - you will see the best execution of POV in a film ever. 

We meet Marilyn Monroe through the EYES of the main character. In fact EVERY SCENE is seen through his eyes. Even when the scene doesn't necessarily involve him as a pivotal contributor to the discussion taking place. We still see that discussion through our hero's eyes.

As this film is period - and war - the budget will be at least 30 mill - could easily get up to 50 million.

When you're dropping that much coin on a film - you want to be really sure of the story.

SUMMARY:

A really great story that is 70% of the way to being developed into  an exceptional story. 

OVERALL RATING 7/10