Please critique my screenplay that I wrote for college apps

D

DrMagnificent

Guest
This is a screenplay I wrote, which I am going to make a film with and submit with a couple college application. Sorry that the formatting is off. I wouldn't figure out a way to maintain the formatting when I pasted it in.

We start out with a black screen. We hear an alarm
clock buzzing again and again. Bed sheets ruffle
and a reluctant early riser is heard grumbling.

TITLE CARD: The Adventure

We hear the figure slap the alarm clock a couple
times and the buzzing stops.

CUT TO:


INT. BEDROOM - EARLY MORNING
TIM, our hero, sits on his bed, rubbing his eyes. He is very miserable
for he cannot believe his six hours of sleep are already
over. He gets up and we see him start to throw on a pair of
jeans.

CUT TO:


INT. BATHROOM - EARLY MORNING

A medicine cabinet closes. Tim looks himself in
the mirror with the same look we saw when he woke
up.

CUT TO:


INT. BEDROOM - EARLY MORNING

We see Tim standing over his desk. CUT TO: CU of
text book with some notes it it. Tim closes the
book with the notes inside and picks up the book.
CUT TO: Tim zips his backpack up and picks it up.

CUT TO:


EXT. TIM'S HOUSE - EARLY MORNING

We see Tim emerge from his front door. He shuts it
and locks it with a key. We then watch him make
his way down the block.

CUT TO:


EXT. JAKE'S HOUSE - EARLY MORNING

Tim knocks on the front door. The door opens and
JAKE appears.

TIM
You ready?

JAKE
Just a sec.
Jake quickly retreats back inside. He comes back out a few seconds
later with his backpack.

JAKE
Aright let's go.

CUT TO:


EXT. PARK - EARLY MORNING
Tim and Jake walk through the park on their way to school.

JAKE
You study for bio?

TIM
Yeah, sort of.

JAKE
I really need to do good on the test
since it's the last one this marking
period. I got an 81 so I should be able
to bump it up to a B. What do you have
in that class?

TIM
Like an 89 or something. I dunno. A B I
think.

JAKE
That's pretty good. You might be able to
get that up to an A if you get like a
hundred on the test.

TIM
Yeah...

A few seconds pass...

JAKE
So you know where you're applying yet?

TIM
Nah, I dunno yet.

JAKE
Yeah I've been looking at a few. I'm
going to some open houses soon.

Tim spots something.

Walking away towards a tree:



TIM
Hey what's that?

JAKE
What?

We see Tim approach a tree that has a note of some
sort nailed to it. Tim examines it.

Chuckling:

JAKE
What is it, like a hobo sign or
something?

Tim rips the note off the nail and gets a closer
look at it.

TIM
It's just a bunch of lines...oh wait,
there's something on the back.

JAKE
What's it say?

TIM
"Nine A.M. S-PAV. Your adventure
awaits."

JAKE
What does that mean?

TIM
I think nine a.m. means nine o' clock
a.m., as in 9 in the morning.

JAKE
Very funny. What's S-PAV?

TIM
I'm not sure.

JAKE
Well whatever, let's go, the bell's
gonna ring soon.

TIM
You go ahead, I think I'm gonna go check
this out.

JAKE
What, that? Are you serious?

TIM
Yeah...


JAKE
You don't even know what the hell it
means.

Starting to walk away:

TIM
I'll figure it out.

JAKE
You're gonna be late, man.

TIM
Whatever.

JAKE
Should I tell them you're sick?

TIM
Nah, don't worry about it.

FADE OUT:


We hear the school bell ring.

CUT TO:



EXT. BENCH ALONG SOME STREET - MORNING

Tim sits on a bench staring into space, thinking.
His backpack lies at his feet. He takes a few
glances at the note. Then takes a look at his
watch. 8:47. He takes a long look at the note and
comes to a realization.

TIM
Stone pavilion.

Tim quickly gets up and grabs his backpack and
walks off down the street.

CUT TO:


EXT. STONE PAVILION - MORNING

Tim approaches the stone pavilion and walks
inside, drops his backpack on the floor. He scans
the walls, looking for something written on them.
He then spots the fireplace and walks over to
examine it. Under some sticks he finds another
note. Tim snatches it and holds it closer. The
same marks on the front of the other note are
found on this one. The back reads "1:30 P.M. The
Well." Tim's expression tells us he knows exactly
what "The Well" is. He picks up his backpack and
heads out.

CUT TO:

EXT. SIDEWALKS - NOONISH

We see Tim walk down streets around town.

CUT TO:

EXT. BENCH ALONG SOME STREET - NOON

Tim sits and eats a sandwich (like from Wawa) and
drinks a soda of some kind.

CUT TO:

EXT. WELL THING ON SOUTH PARK DRIVE - AFTERNOON

Tim walks up the stairs around the well(showing
some fatigue), looking for another note. He has no
luck at first and becomes a bit frustrated. Then
he looks into the hole, reaches down and grabs the
note taped to the inside wall. He sits down to
read it. The back reads "6:00 Your journey comes
to an end - [some street corner]" Tim gets up and
walks down the stairs.

CUT TO:

INT. TIM'S HOUSE - AFTERNOON

Tim enters his front door, tossing his backpack
aside. He enters the living room and plays the
message on the answering machine. Then proceeds
into the kitchen and rummages around in the fridge
looking for a can of soda.

SECRETARY(ANSWERING MACHINE)
Good afternoon. This is Ms. Williams
calling for Mr. and Mrs. Phillips from
Principal Richards' office. Your son,
Tim, was not in class today. He was not
called out and we didn't receive a
doctor's note. According to our
attendance policy, Tim will receive a
one Saturday school penalty, which he
must fulfill in the next three weeks.
For Tim's sake, we would appreciate it
if this did not happen again. Thank you.
Have a nice day.

Tim walks back into the living room, deletes the
message, and heads upstairs to his room. He sits
down at his desk and opens his can of soda. Then
his cell phone goes off. It's Jake.

TIM
Yo, what's up?

JAKE(ON THE PHONE)
Not much, you find any burried treasure?

TIM
Not yet, but there's somewhere I'm
supposed to go tonight at 6.

JAKE
Yeah good luck. I was just calling
because they were pretty pissed you
weren't in today. The office probably
left a message for your parents.

TIM
Yeah it's cool. I deleted it already.

JAKE
So was your little adventure worth the
Saturday school?

TIM
I don't know yet. I'll find out at 6.

JAKE
Yeah well let me know how that goes.
I'll talk to you later.

TIM
Yeah, later.

Hangs up.

CROSSFADE TO:

EXT. STREETS - NIGHT

We watch Tim walk down a few blocks. He makes it
to the street corner and we find someone waiting
for him. Tim approaches him.

UN-NAMED
Hey.

TIM
Hey.

UN-NAMED
You're Phil, right?

TIM
...yeah

UN-NAMED
So you were able to find the notes.

TIM
Yeah I found them.

UN-NAMED
Yeah sorry if that was a bit of a
hassle. I don't like doing business with
idiots, knowumsayin'?

TIM
Yeah I guess so.

UN-NAMED
So what do you need?

TIM
What do you mean?

UN-NAMED
What do you need, speed, grass, yay,
what?

It is immediately apparent that Tim is crushed by
this disappointing outcome. We see the same
demeanor in him that we saw when he got up this
morning.

TIM
Actually I don't think I need anything
right now.

UN-NAMED
You sure?

TIM
Yeah, sorry to bother you.

UN-NAMED
Aight, well you just talk to John and
he'll get you in touch with me.

TIM
Yeah see ya.

Tim walks away in a depressing swagger.

FADE OUT:
TITLE CARD: The Adventure





One thing I think I need to improve is the opening as it is very cliche and doesn't say much about the character. I also think there is too much of just the main character walking around.

My main goal was pretty much to make something simple that demonstrated what I can do with a camera(I know how to not have the camera shaking, I know how to shoot a dialogue scene, I know how transitions should be used, etc) so that what they, whoever is reviewing my appliction, would get out of it is "Ok, this is someone we can teach." My art teacher was telling me that with a lot of films made at the high school level a common thing people will do is to try to do too much with it, and it just ends up looking ridiculous. So I'm trying not to bite off more than I can chew with the script.


Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
 
H

humptydude04

Guest
I think you've got the right idea with a simple script. Wouldn't want to mess up royally on your application. I can't really offer up any advice that you haven't covered. The dialogue sounds natural, but once again, you already know that characters are a bit two dimensional. I'd be impressed if you could develop deep psychologies for two teens in a seven page script. Good job. That's all I can really offer.
 

Lazlo

New member
I agree that the beginning is full of clichés. It feels very plot driven as opposed to character driven. I do think the dialogue is natural which is good, but to what end? Every scene should advance the story or our understanding of the characters in some way. In the dialogue scene for instance between Jake and Tim, it reveals they're in high school, but sort of feels like filler until he finds the note. That dialgoue scene could be used to tell the audience much more about who these people are. Also in "climax" where he finds out that the notes lead to a drug dealer, its unclear how Tim feels about this. By your script, he seems disappointed by the end result, but what were his expectations? Is he indifferent towards his end? Just disappointed? For something like this, my expectations are for a stronger response/reaction by the protagonist. Because as it stands, he sort of doesn't seem to care beyond being a little disappointed. So what will make the audience care?

The structure is pretty solidly based. Which is good. I just think that in something like this there really needs to be reasons for a lot of things, otherwise it comes off as kind of vague.

why does he want to skip school to follow notes?
-bad student?
-hates school?
-found a note the day before sort of like it?

what are his expectations in following the notes?
-finding treasure?
-money?
-girls?

How does he feel about the drug dealer?
-indifference?
-contempt?
-dislike?
-jealousy even?

Did something happen to him the day before that would make him want to skip school and follow notes? Why didn't jake go with him (besides the predictable he wants to be a good student or something)?

You always want to strive whether its in plot or character motivations to not give predictable responses (at least not regularly). Like Alfred Hitchcocks films.
 

Matuso

New member
To be honest, the dialogue came off as fairly flat. In the beginning, the characters were not doing anything interesting, nor were they discussing anything interesting, and this basically carries on through the whole thing.

The first scene is pretty good, where he's waking up, but the bit where they're talking and talking and talking about school before they find the note could be reduced to three or four lines. Then, when they see the note, Tim says, "HAY WATZ THAT". Then there's some vaguely funny filler, and then there's a little plot point (S-PAV), and then some flat dialogue about school. Then, the chase begins.

There are some filler shots here that should be cut, then he finds another note, and then there's a bit where he goes home and erases the answering machine message; this should probably be done so that the secretary only says a few lines before he presses the "Erase" button, so you can save the audience from having to listen to incessant attendance chatter.

Then there's more loose dialogue, and then the final scene where he meets the drug dealer, which is pretty good, but the dealer's reaction to Tim's telling him that he doesn't really need anything is pretty unrealistic, to be honest, but otherwise it's okay.

THe overall problem with this movie is that very little happens, and there's very little reason for the characters to go along with it. Maybe if you hinted more that Tim needed an adventure because his life was so dull (ie, repeated shots in which Tim's expression is exactly the same in every one, marking boredom and apathy), it would be okay. Also, quite a bit of the dialogue could be edited out, or repalaced by more interesting dialogue.

Overall, I like the idea, but there's just not enough substance to it.
 
M

MRoytman

Guest
I haven't read all the criticisms above so I don't know if its been said...

Saying lines like "We hear" and "We see" can be done in a professional script, but its never the best way to say it. Rephrasing the sentence to not have those words is usually better.

For instance in your script:

"We hear the figure slap the alarm clock a couple
times and the buzzing stops. "

Now if you eliminate "we hear" your sentence sounds a lot more powerful, just by that omission

How does this sound?

A figure slaps the alarm clock a couple of times and the buzzing stops.

Thats because in a script you want to always be stright to the point. Its a movie the reader knows he will hear and see, so you don't have to say it.
 

Vaare

New member
Probably going to repeat some stuff here, FYI. Just want to say everything I feel.

Pros:
-I like the simple concept and it's execution. If you just refine it a little it could be great.

Cons:
-I agree with the others in saying that the opening is dreadfully cliche. Although admittedly I can't think of a much better way to start this type of story. Cliche isn't always bad though.
-Dry dialogue. I'm no expert, but the dialogue doesn't seem natural to me either. Like Matuso said, the beginning scenes seem more like fillers until the note is found.
-I think Tim decides to skip school and go off on a wild goose chase a little too quickly and with no internal conflict it seems. I mean, it doesn't have to be a brutal struggle with his soul or anything deep like that, but it has to be there.
-No motivation present. What makes him decide to run off and follow a note not meant for him? What does he expect to happen? Surely he must experience some fear that what he finds at the end might be bad.
-Flat characters. Spend a little time developing your characters. Spend some time thinking about their back stories. Details like his famly makeup (both parents, or just mother, any siblings, etc). His past life. Even if you will never use any of that junk it can help immensely with creating believable characters and dialogue. Do the same for Jake. Right now he just feels useless. Tim would have seen the note with or without him so why is he there? Make him the comic-relief at least. Give him an affliction like ADHD or add in some strange habit he has. He has to earn his keep.
-The drug dealer doesn't act like a drug dealer. You don't have to use cliches, just make him interesting. I'm pretty sure as on-edge as those people are most of the time they wouldn't appreciate someone wasting their time 'setting up' a meeting and then not buy anything. He'd at the very least pressure Tim to buy something. At the very most he might kick his @$$.

Suggestions:
-On formatting, I think when you use (ON THE PHONE) and (ANSWERING MACHINE) You can just use (O.S.) or (O.C.) for Off-Screen/Camera. The former just take up space and looks kind of unprofessional.
-Work on more descriptions. I for one have no clue what a stone pavilion even is. (Actually I just wiki'd it).
-Like MRoytman said, try to avoid using "We" as much as possible. Change "We hear the school bell ring" to just "The school bell rings" I'm sure they'll get the point. When in doubt, simplify.
-Don't use generalizations. Like "SOME STREET" or "SOME CORNER". Make something up. Even if you won't ever shoot at the that location it makes it sound much more authentic if you actually name places.

Well... that's all I have. I know it seems like a lot more cons than pros but I did enjoy the reading, and it would make for a pretty decent short.
 
Top