Hope you’re all enjoying your Saturday, with the kids watching cartoons, and spilling milk out of their cereal bowls. (Or maybe you’re the “kid” doing that as you read this.)
Today our script ships us off to the lovely and romantic isle of Santorini, where our main character Michael falls for a beautiful dark haired Greek named Sofia.
There’s only one problem, he supposed to get engaged to his long time girlfriend Pamela.
3 Days on Santorini by Michael Piccard
Logline: A young man about to be engaged to his boss’ daughter rejects his mind-numbing future after being marooned for three days on a small Greek Island and falling hard for the owner of a nearly bankrupt sightseeing company.
Uh-oh. Romcom ahead.
1.) Can we visualize the description?
The description was moderate. Here’s our opening image:
MICHAEL WILLIAMS (23) sits quietly on his couch and glances
at the clock. By the front door sits a small duffel bag and
a medium sized suitcase.
Michael reaches into his pocket and pulls out a wad of
tissue paper. He carefully unwraps the tissue and reveals
an engagement ring. He places it on his left pinky finger
up to the first knuckle and stares at it.
A KNOCK at the door jolts him from his daydream. The DOOR
It does a good job of setting up the story for us, Michael getting engaged, but it doesn’t grab us like a first image should.
Let’s compare this to our Inception review from Thursday:
DAWN. CRASHING SURF.
The waves TOSS a BEARDED MAN onto wet sand. He lies there.
A CHILD’S SHOUT makes him LIFT his head to see: a LITTLE
BLONDE BOY crouching, back towards us, watching the tide eat a SANDCASTLE. A LITTLE BLONDE GIRL joins the boy. The Bearded Man tries to call them, but they RUN OFF, FACES UNSEEN. He COLLAPSES.
See the difference? I’m not saying we should all be Christopher Nolan, but we need to grab the reader’s attention from page one, so they’re looking forward to the rest of the script.
Then we need to include description like that whenever we can.
All of the description in this script was very matter of fact, especially the sunset which everyone kept going on and on about. It needs to be better.
Here’s a quick example from the script that I think could be improved.
Michael sits against the rail of the boat and looks at the enormous cruise ship in front of him.
He looks back at Santorini Island.
What about something like:
Michael looks from his water taxi up at the giant floating prison that will carry him home.
Over his shoulder, he glances back at Santorini, his eyes reach out for the island.
Now obviously I’m no Nolan, but as writers, we all need to get away from the matter of fact, and use the words that inspire us so a reader feels EXACTLY what we want them to feel.
On page 2, I did like Kathleen’s description and intro, though.
5 out of 10 points.
2.) Does the author use an acceptable format?
No oddball directing.
The one note I will put in here is when Michael’s at the airport an “African American man” takes his bags. Why does it have to be a black guy? Does he shine your shoes for you too? Sing and dance?
I don’t think Michael put this in to be racist, but there’s no need to signify the race of such a minor role. We actually shouldn’t cast parts at all aside from age, unless those factors we’re including are important to the story.
I only mention that last part because you never know who’s reading your script and what they might take offense to.
Case and point. I have a buddy who’s black, and when we were in college someone said to him, “Hey you’re not smiling.” To which my friend pantomimes a little tap dance and replies, “Sorry suh, you want me to sing an’ dance for yah too?” Now my buddy was joking, but it was a very uncomfortable moment. He didn’t mean it to be, but it was.
Things unrelated to the story that will make you or the reader uncomfortable should be left out.
9 out of 10 points.
3.) Is the dialogue free of exposition and rich in subtext? Does each character have a unique voice?
Alright. This’ll be a rough one.
Michael’s lines, especially with Sofia, were flat, and too many one liner jokes.
So do you know how to ride one of
I think so…wait, where’s the
Sofia giggles. Michael again notices her smile.
Yes I know how to ride one. So
where are we going?
We’ll start by going around
Oia. Have you been to Greece
No this is my first time. This
place awesome though. It’s one of
the most beautiful places I’ve ever
Our little town is known for it’s
sunsets. We have the most
beautiful sunsets in all of
Greece. Maybe in all of the world
for that matter.
You’re the second person that
bragged about the sunsets. Shame I
won’t be able see it.
Now is it bad? Not entirely, but each line is long, and it sets up the first of many instances where we just have to watch them sit and talk.
This point of the script is meant as the “fun and games” section of the script, so get them out there with the doing and less chit chat in between.
Another example of the flat dialogue from later on:
Under this rooftop there is a huge
Can we go in?
No I’m afraid not. There was an
accident several years ago and it’s
been closed to the public ever
This is not boring to you?
Michael locks eyes with Sofia momentarily.
Boring? Seriously? Sofia I can’t
imagine wanting to be anywhere else
in the world right now. This place
I’m glad, because this place feels
almost sacred to me. Like the
ghosts of ancient Greece are alive
Ok, that’s a little creepy, but I
know what you mean. It is very
You’re right. It is very spiritual
They walk in silence and take in the surrounding beauty.
C’mon, I want to take you to to the
best place to eat in Akrotiri.
Michael points to the ruins.
I thought that was Akrotiri?
This is ancient Akrotiri. I’m
talking about the regular one.
This is a confusing place.
Again, every word needs meaning, so they can’t just be talking about what they’re seeing. They need to FEEL something, and that feeling has to draw them closer to one another, and more or less surprise them as they do it. (i.e. Sofia has to be falling for Michael, but knows she can’t because of his girlfriend.)
Michael has too many of them. And one on page 34 he gets no reaction to. I’d say eliminate some of the less interesting ones, and the ones he does have, make sure he gets a reaction to, either from Sofia or the crowd around them. It either has to produce a chuckle, or fall completely flat so we chuckle at his expense.
And in the final “I love you” scene at the end, Michael can’t say a one liner. He loves her, and doesn’t joke over it.
Loved them. It was a great joke that carried through the whole story.
The first day Sofia and Michael are together, their dialogue needs to be more playful, essentially flirty. They need to be walking a fine line between acceptable flirting and cheating flirting, because as far as they know, they’ll only be together for the day, so nothing real will come of it.
A good example of what I mean is page 40, when they’re talking about the problems in their lives. Sofia says, “I’m not telling,” after she promises too, but this needs to be more. Have her dare him to catch her to find out, as she sprints through the rain. Then he tackles her in and embrace they both know they shouldn’t be having. Stuff like that.
Remember, their relationship building will be more in the actions we see then the words they say, so show us, and fill the dialogue with playful subtext.
Page 51 – I liked them telling each other not to settle, but this needs to be their “goodbye” right as he thinks he’s getting back on the boat. In fact they should both say it, and as he turns the gate shuts with a, “Sorry sir the last boat just left.”
Overall though the dialogue is one of the two major problems in the script. It needs to be more effective where possible, and trimmed to be more economical in others.
2 out of 10 points.
4.) Does the writer understand the challenges and rewards posed by the medium chosen in which to tell his/her story? Shorthand version of this is: Is it a movie and not a play?
The story felt like a romantic comedy, and all the touring of the island felt like a movie, and I could see the trailer in my head.
I’m not sure if this is the case or not, but it felt like it was based on a true story.
I wrote a similar story about a previous relationship one time that felt very much like this.
Now Michael’s story wasn’t boring, it was cute and I felt for the characters, but the problem is, stripped of the fantastic scenery, it wasn’t a movie.
So I’m left somewhere in the middle, because of the lack of anything really happening except Michael falling for Sofia.
5 out of 10 points.
5.) Is there anything unique in what the writer presents? Are the writer’s ideas, based on this sample, likely to continue to be original?
As I mentioned above, it felt like Michael (the author) had done this before, so the various towns, beaches, and landmarks felt authentic.
Not sure that fact has a lot of staying power though, as how many movie can we set in Santorini before that feels old?
7 out of 10 points.
6.) Does the script have a hook?
Michael’s getting engaged. His mom wants him to be married and have babies.
There’s a bit of comedy there as Kathleen, his mom, embarrasses him, but it’s completely irrelevant since we never see her again.
This is where we need a hint that something isn’t right with Michael and Pamela’s relationship.
A perfect example of cleaning up the dialogue:
Mom, mom…calm down. I haven’t
even asked her yet.
I know baby, but you will. I just
can’t wait to have a daughter.
Oh and grandchildren. I want lots
Let me know if there’s anything
else I can do to make your life
Instead of that last line he should reference the fact that Pam might not be the mothering type, or she doesn’t see kids in their future, and do it in a way that the subtext suggests he’s not okay with that.
I kept reading, but again, I promised to. I think we need a bit more here that hints at trouble on the horizon.
8 out of 15 points.
7.) Is that hook effective?
Ditch the baggage scene and get right to the airport.
Here’s where we see what a princess Pamela can be. We get everything we need to tell us Michael and Pamela aren’t living a fairy tale relationship (which will be the exact contrast we need for how Michael interacts with Sofia).
It’s also everything I mentioned that was needed more in the first part, and since Kathleen never shows up again, you might consider starting your script right there in the airport.
Your starting image could easily be Michael fixing his hair in the bathroom mirror, when Daniel crashes out of the stall and says some line referencing his dad is Daniel’s boss, Michael’s banging his sister, and no matter how hard he tries he’ll still look like an asshole.
Then you’ve reduced the time it’ll take Michael to hit that inciting incident which is him booking the scooter tour which will change both he and Sofia’s life.
In an effort to get there faster, eliminate what you don’t need, like the scene on the plane, this adds nothing.
12 out of 15 points.
8.) Is there enough to maintain the hook? Reveals, conflict, etc.?
No. Michael and Sofia fall for each other with minimal problems. More challenges need to get in their way.
Part of getting to that inciting incident faster is that you’ll need to make room for more plot later on.
A Day with Sophia…
As I said above, it should be more playful, and almost perfect. Everything needs to contrast to how things went with Pamela.
Show us the sites in almost a montage, and think of each scene as minimal dialogue, but each brings them slightly closer to a relationship. There should also be something small during this first day, like a squeeze of the hand, or an unintentional embrace.
I liked later on how Michael asks to hold her, but I think there should be something subconscious like that earlier on. Maybe he slips an arm around her looking out at the ocean, then they suddenly realize what happened.
Again though, they MUST treat this day as it’s the only one they’ll get together, but no kissing. Let them think they’re leaving things telling each other not to settle, like the line from page 51. Because the ship leaving is their midpoint, and now instead of leaving it as this wonderful day, they’ve more or less admitted they have strong feelings for one another, and will be forced to deal with them.
Missed the Boat
There needs to be a more realistic excuse for him missing it. I think it should leave like I said above, but maybe the boat leaves at 4pm, but the last taxi leaves at 3:45pm. Something that sets up for us that we think he’ll make it, but then totally throws us for a loop.
Sofia not knowing when the last taxi leaves is a good way to introduce Michael to Petros officially, as he can chastise Sofia for not knowing.
(How did Pam leave a note and know he wasn’t going to make it?)
Save Daddy’s Business
The B story should be getting Sofia’s tourism business back up and running.
Petros should be introduced earlier, and maybe even be the excuse for Michael’s scooter breaking down. (Perhaps they stop at the same attraction as Petros’ tour and he sabotages it.)
I liked Michael fixing the scooters, but this should make more sense AND help the story, like maybe he likes to work on old cars, a hobby which Pam and her family don’t approve of.
Lastly, Petros CAN’T lose his business on a lie. That makes us dislike Michael. Sure he’s doing it for a good reason, but he’s still cheating. Also, there needs to be someone else that tells the cruise line. You can’t make Michael a rat, because no one likes a rat.
Bring Back Pam
Sofia and Michael have a perfect second day, and they should kiss in the water, which Sofia will then feel uncomfortable about, but kind of like.
Then they go back to her place for dinner and BOOM, there’s Pamela, Daniel, Phillip and Diane.
I think you’ll see the world of possibilities this now opens up, especially with Pamela doing her “pookie bear” routine and Michael having to go along with it right in front of Sofia.
This NEEDS to happen, as I mentioned before there’s no real challenges to Michael and Sofia’s blossoming relationship.
These are just personal suggestions (I guess the others are too, technically), but I think Aurora needs to take Michael to the docks at the end, because Sofia won’t want to. Plus she can tell him how he really blew it.
They need to almost miss each other at the end, too. Her going to the docks, him going to the house, then they meet in Sofia’s thinking place.
The Engagement Ring
Now, this is one last suggestion that I think will enhance the story. He should buy the engagement ring on the island.
Michael is so in love with Sofia that he’s ready to commit, something he wasn’t ready to do with Pamela even though she blabs about it on the ship.
This also makes the end worse because then it will actually be for Sofia, and she’ll naturally think it was for Pam.
Good times, right?
Anyway, go back through the story and ask, “How can I make this more difficult on my two characters in the style of a romantic comedy?”
3 out of 10 points.
9.) Does the story play to a target audience, and have the elements demanded by that audience?
Is it Sofie or Sofia? It bounced back and forth both in the dialogue and the description.
The script could use a good proofread, especially near the end, there were some typos.
Lastly, and I can’t stress it enough, an audience or a reader is going to want more than a tour of Santorini, while two characters experience puppy love.
5 out of 10 points.
As I said, it very much felt like a true story, or “based loosely on” as they like to say in Hollywood.
Two major problems with the script.
The first being the exchange of one liners between Sofia and Michael that builds their “relationship.”
The other problem was is there’s not enough to constitute a movie right now. Sofia and Michael’s romance should be challenged at a few high points of the story, so we know that they’re meant to be together, and just not in a honeymoon phase.
Side note, and one of the problems I have with romcoms, is that these people always experience puppy love. I know Michael and Pamela’s relationship isn’t perfect, but it’d be interesting to view Sofia and Michael five years down the road. Hollywood glosses over this fact, and it startles me that with almost 50% of marriages ending in divorce, should we be promoting this “happily ever after” scenario? That’s just one reviewer’s ramblings, but relationships aren’t easy, and nothing’s going to be as fun years down the road as a romantic scooter ride with a dark haired girl in a bikini.
Total 56 out of 100 points.
So, apart from the plot, dialogue, hook and essential elements it was pretty good huh? No seriously I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to read and review this story. As a total amateur there’s not a whole lot of places where you can go and get such crucial feedback. THANK YOU!
I just read the scropt again with your comments in mind and agree with almost everything you said. So, back to the drawing boards I go.
Not sure if it’s the total optimist in me, but I took it as a compliment that you mentioned a couple times that it felt like the story had a feel of personal experience. I’ve never been to Greece, nor have I ever met anyone like Sofia. BTW…her family calls her Sofie.
LOL, not a problem Michael, and thanks for the read.
The story was good, but the main two problems are spicing up the dialogue (and trimming it back) while also adding in more plot points for a story.
You got me, and I felt like you had been there (although I admit I’ve never been there myself) so grats on that.