Headed back to Amazon Studios to check out another script that they seem to be excited about.
Today’s pick is Touching Blue (which I thought was about someone jumping high and touching the sky initially) by Scott Mullen, and the version I read is here.
Overall all, decent idea, and a quick read.
1.) Can we visualize the description?
Yes…BUT, and I’ll go into this more later, there wasn’t enough action. The descriptions were easy to see in meh mind’s eye, but it was mostly when Blue was just touching objects, or sitting in one of the many modes of transportation glaring at other characters.
9 out of 10 points.
2.) Does the author use an acceptable format?
Yep here too. Although, and I know I sound like a frickin broken record, but there’s a few instances of “we see” and a few references to how a scene should be shot. Again, 9 out of 10 professionals giving you notes are going to nail you on this, so avoid doing it. They’ll tell you it’s the director’s job to say what gets shot how, so instead of giving them an excuse to leave your story, just rephrase action into an accepted format.
Since there wasn’t an overwhelming amount of it in Mullen’s script, I won’t take points off. (A few instances actually helped me visualize too, but before that qualifies you to include shot angles in your script, use them sparingly if at all.)
10 out of 10 points.
3.) Is the dialogue free of exposition and rich in subtext? Does each character have a unique voice?
First off, and most annoying…
Spencer’s dialogue…fix it. Mainly after the first exchange he adds nothing but, “Are you okay?” “It’ll be alright.” “You’ll be fine.” I wondered why he even came along for the ride, other than to drive and steal a quick kiss from Blue near the end. He’d be WAYYYY cooler (and more dynamic to use a Roy word) if HE didn’t talk to Blue initially. She should try to get him to open up a bit, and let her know if she’s being watched or not. Have him answer in a word or two. This way, little hints can show he cares, and still have the payoff near the end where he wants to bring her back, by really opening up.
Also, Blue needs to be reworked in some areas. I get she wants to live in solitude, and fears the outside world, but she really hits us over the head with her point of view. Mary Alice had a much better way of showing us how she views life.
7 out of 10 points.
4.) Does the writer understand the challenges and rewards posed by the medium in which they have chosen to tell his/her story? Shorthand version of this is: Is it a movie and not a play?
As I said above, clocked in at 111 pages in pdf format. Was it a play? No, but I also saw a lot of examples where it felt almost like it could be a show somewhere in between CSI and Fringe. Not going to deduct points though, as that seems very objective.
10 out of 10 points.
5.) Is there anything unique in what the writer presents? Are the writer’s idea, based on this sample, likely to continue to be original?
The initial idea was cool. After that though, the powers were all too similar. Imagine reading X-Men where most mutants fell into three categories. Three of the main characters had unique abilities, then it felt like Mr. Mullen got lazy and just gave them all a choice of a, b, or c.
It was cool how he took the idea of police using psychics to the next level, but I would have liked to have seen some different powers on the “screamers” being killed, or at least different ways they located people.
4 out of 10 points.
6.) Does the script have a hook?
Initially, yes. As I mentioned above, it’s like Mutant CSI: The First Class. The first few pages were confusing though when trying to figure a setting. We’re set up by seeing a screamer able to touch a wall a criminal is leaning against and find out where he buried his dead wife. Not totally unique, but I’m curious how she can do that.
13 out of 15 points.
7.) Is that hook effective?
Continuing from above, so far so good.
Then she’s killed, and the room goes dark. Blue turns on a light and it took me several pages to figure out this was a different room. I kind of got what she was as she was going through her motions of touching objects, but I thought she was there trying to find out who killed the woman from the previous scene.
Another problem I had is Blue initially chases a bad guy that gets away, but I wasn’t sure if he’s the main bad guy, or someone else. If he’s not the main bad guy, him getting away has no payoff. (But Spencer says it’ll be alright, like he always does, so I guess we as the audience must take his word for it.)
Why can’t this be Jack from the get go? Makes more sense for Quinn to come in and takeover the case from Meyer. Also lets Graham get what he wants, by forcing Blue to help as it isn’t an isolated incident. Both instances can be a chance to really turn up the conflict
5 out of 10 points.
8.) Is there enough to maintain the hook? Reveals, conflict, etc.?
Alright, here’s where my imaginary red pen ran out of ink.
Ever read The Lord of the Rings Trilogy? The books, not scripts from the movies. If you did, and compare them to the movies, you should get what I’m talking about here.
There is a lot of dramatic talkie talkie, but when we finally get to a good part, like Blue almost catching the criminal, it’s sped through so we can get back to more talking during forensics.
This is what I was referring to when I asked about Lord of the Rings. Remember the epic battle scene at Helm’s Deep? Awesome ending to the second movie right? In the books it was, and I’m drawing on my aging memory here, like one and a half pages.
What?! That’s right, Tolkien wanted to get back to the talking and debating.
Now, unless you’re genius enough to create an entire world with THOUSANDS of years of descriptive history and various ages, you probably should avoid this, which would be my advice to Mr. Mullen.
There are numerous cliché scenes, whether riding in a plane or a van, or sitting in hotel rooms, that need to be jettisoned for ACTION.
I didn’t really care what happened next as I went through the script, and had a hard time initially understanding why. This is it though, the few times I did get excited, it was over before I could do anything with it.
LOVE STORY PROBLEMS.
This is beginning to be my pet peeve as I read these scripts. If you’re going to have a love interest for the main character that they end up with in the end, introduce them early. (Most professionals advise RIGHT AFTER the inciting incident, but again, the earlier the better.)
Taylor was introduced halfway through, besides a reference or two in the beginning, but when we find him, we’re playing catch-up. Blue’s all over the place with him, and although I liked her being selfish because she could finally touch him, I found myself asking, “Does she really love him?”
That whole “bringing him back” segment needs to be cleared up to answer that previous question. If she’s selfish, fine make her selfish, but if she truly loves him, she won’t want to touch him regardless of how good it feels.
He needs to be reworked. He mainly needs more depth. My suggestion would be like a Professor Xavier, but with a really dark side. The older screamers from the Barn know he’s selfish, but he should be very gentle and nurturing with the younger folks like Emma. That way we’re left wondering if maybe he isn’t somehow connected to the murders.
1 out of 10 points. (Unlike Roy, I feel mean giving zeros.)
9.) Does the story play to a target audience, and have the elements demanded by that audience?
Another problem is the target audience is kind of undefined. If we’re shooting for sci-fi buffs, I think the lack of unique powers and all the sitting around will leave them wondering if they need more popcorn.
If it was meant for the dedicated, and they are, CSI type viewers I think the slight sci-fi stuff will weird them out. (It’s why my mom loves CSI, but dad watches Fringe by himself.)
5 out of 10 points.
I liked it, but mainly because it was a fast read and didn’t take up a lot of my time. I can very much see it as a cable TV series more than a major motion picture. And if with current trends, that might be a better strategy to get it going, what with the original programming successes of HBO, Showtime, and even Scifi.
My favorite character was Norman. I loved him being able to know when people were lying or not, and once I figured out the finger thing I thought it was very cool. If more characters could have little unique characteristics like his, I would have been more worried about them getting bumped off.
The ending was a nice twist. I knew Sandra was in on it, but how it was presented was different than how I imagined, and had me thinking I was wrong right before the conclusion. I think this scene could have also been drawn out more, but that falls under #8, but I remembered it here.
64 out of 100 points.