Hi all and welcome to your weekend. (Thanks for spending a bit of it with us.)
Today’s project is a vampire comedy filled with sarcasm and critique of the genre.
Draculette by Ervin Anderson
What happens when a broken-hearted punk rock vamp falls for an ordinary girl and won’t take “no” for an answer?
Our world is introduced with two sexy female vampires, Summer and Lillian, feeding on a popular and busty B movie star, Zooey.
Cut to the not so sexy main character, Lucy, who’s trying to learn from the worst film teacher ever, in the worst film school ever, which is also in pretty much the worst town in California ever. By the way, the city is populated by a large number of vampires.
Lucy just wants to be loved, and is turned down by the cute classmate (who then gets eaten by Lillian), so she goes to her backup who only wants to be friends with benefits, kicking her out after sex.
Things change when she meets Paul. A guy who’s truly into her, and they have a quick romance, ruined when Paul explains he’s really a big shot screenwriter. Mad at the lie, Lucy throws him out.
Enter Lillian, who’s been dumped by Summer, finds Lucy in a park, and they strike a deal. Lucy will be Lillian’s girlfriend for a month and Lucille will give her the documentary of a lifetime…but Lucy will need to be turned into a vampire.
Struggling with her new persona, the hunger overcomes Lucy and she kills a few of her friends.
Fighting with Lillian, who’s still stuck on Summer, Lucy and Paul are trying to make a human loves vampire relationship work…
And that’s what you missed on Gle…er…I mean Draculette.
1.) Can we visualize the description?
Right out of the gate, we have too much.
INSERT – MAGAZINE
A magazine on a bedroom table, B-MOVIE JUNKIES. On its cover
is a picture of a pretty blonde smiling sugary sweet for the
camera, covering her surgically-enhanced breasts with her
hands. The cover copy reads: Zooey Franklin: Topless No More?
Below that, in quotes: “You don’t see Meryl Streep showing
her tits, do ya?”
BACK TO SCENE
ZOOEY FRANKLIN, late-20s, comes slowly into view. This is
girl who’s on the magazine cover. Her eyes are closed, mouth
open, in ecstacy.
Zooey is spread out on her bed, in a tight black dress. She
is not having sex. Two other women come into view, whom we
only see from behind, one with RED HAIR and one with BLACK
HAIR. They’re fully dressed, the one with black hair like an
old-time pin-up model, the one with fiery red hair like a
punk rock princess. They’re each feeding on an arm, SUCKING
Zooey’s blood from the wrist.
It needs to be cut down. Drastically, and in a lot of places.
Zooey’s a B movie star, which is important, so maybe have her on a poster in her room or similar. The magazine is information overload too early in the story.
Also introduce characters here, since Summer and Lillian are the ones feeding it could be:
Two women feed at Zooey’s wrists, Summer, 25, black hair 50s pin-up model and Lillian, 22, bright red hair punk rock princess.
Zooey writhes in ecstasy as they drain her.
Do we need to know Zooey’s in a black dress? Do we need to know the vampires are fully dressed? If it isn’t related to the plot, the answer is always, “NO!”
Not to implement the K.I.S.S. rule, but we do need to remember to CONSERVE WHITE SPACE when we’re writing.
Another exmaple from page 5, one more of many:
Dark, worn, lived-in, but bursting with culture, like San Francisco meets Gotham City, a place that may have once have been lovely but was overtaken with awfulness. The HOMELESS wander aimlessly, and might as well be the Living Dead. The PROSTITUTES litter nearly every corner, blatantly showing their goods. The glow of the moon seems somehow tinted by the city’s black aura.
This is the city Lucy lives in, which is also filled with vampires. I’d argue this isn’t even really needed, since the name of the town never comes up again after this scene, and we also have several scenes involving prostitutes and homeless people.
Trust me, we’ll figure out it’s not a great place to live in.
Besides you can’t give us backstory in description, “a place that may have once have been lovely but was overtaken with awfulness.” Cite specific examples, boarded up store fronts, houses with white picket fences now in various states of disrepair, that sort of thing.
Other examples of description gone wrong:
Page 2 – “Youngish teacher”? Just give him an age.
Page 6 – Too much focus on what Lillian’s wearing.
Page 12 – Handsome. Men all seem to be described as something, but handsome. Leave out the handsome, as it’s a movie. Chances are the actors will be good looking.
(There are more examples, but that’s when I stopped taking notes.)
Remember, we don’t need every detail of a character or scene, since chances are most of that stuff will be changed later anyway. Include only the details that are vital to the story.
3 out of 10 points.
2.) Does the author use an acceptable format?
Other than the extremely long description, this script was in decent format shape.
Need to remove the following though from page 8:
FADE TO BLACK.
SUPERIMPOSE: Nadja, California. Where vampires live.
As I said, naming the town adds nothing to the script, and a stunt like this only shows we’re nub writers. If we’re also directing this script ourselves, stuff like that isn’t important, but professional readers will laugh at us otherwise.
For that and the description being in long blocks:
8 out of 10 points.
3.) Is the dialogue free of exposition and rich in subtext? Does each character have a unique voice?
The dialogue needs a lot of work. As I said in my opening statement, it’s dripping with sarcasm. So much so that some characters all sound alike.
Lillian has her own voice, Zooey has her own voice, Mr. Leonard has his own voice, but the rest seem to shift like chameleons.
A lot of it is cheesy too.
Hey, can you give me a hand? I’m a
bit of a mess. I think I just
caught Bird Flu. Hope I don’t start
Sorry, Patient Zero. Can’t do
anything for you tonight. I just
Actually, I think my whole life has
been leading up to about an hour
What’s going to happen an hour from
I’ll be watching you climb out of
my bed to go pee, and I’ll think,
“What a cute fucking butt on that
And I’ll think, “Thank God I still
had that condom in my bag from my
failed attempt to score with a
stripper about a month ago.”
And I’ll think, “Thank God he
brought his own condom so I didn’t
have to open my dresser drawer and
have him think I’m bringing
different studs home every night
because I’ve got seventy-five
rubbers in there.”
And I’ll think, “I wonder if I
should have tossed her salad while
I was down there.”
(makes a sour face)
And I’ll think, “Thank God he
didn’t put his tongue in my stinky
(Dead horse, consider yourself beaten.)
More examples of cheesy I’ll just reference here:
Page 13 – Too much “spunk” talk.
Page 22 – From Sylvia Plath to Lillian talking about reality TV.
Page 37 – The final example of name dropping jokes (which people know I hate) that was too much. Let’s leave these types of joke to Kevin Smith or a Wayans Brothers movie.
There’s a few minor things, like on page 31, at the bottom there’s a small expo dump about Lucy’s first meeting with Lillian. This needs to go, as we already saw the scene. You’re essentially giving it to us twice.
There was a bit of “on the nose” dialogue too. Nothing too bad, but page 47 did make me write it down. Lucy arguing she’s not coming back. Watch out for similar isntance like that, especially in the end of the script.
When writing a comedy script joke should be kept short. Most of the comedy felt like the “dead horse” comment above which is never good.
However, there were two jokes I absolutely LOVED, and if the essence of those jokes could be captured then worked into the other dialogue of the script, readers would be talking about this script.
I gotta get the frak out of here. I
need to get back to my life.
I’m not sure what “frak” means, but
I’ll bet it’s something only dorks
This is subtle, funny, AND fits naturally into the conversation. (A lot of the other jokes feel forced in at times.)
I’ll assume you’re making reference to the overuse of the word “frak” in Battlestar Gallactica. It works and is funnier because Lillian’s line isn’t telling like a lot of her other lines are.
Page 92 (and easily Zooey’s greatest line) as she kills an annoying writer:
You’d just waste it on crystal meth
and sluts. It’s people like you who
wrote better dialogue for my tits
than my mouth.
Drop the first part, and this line is priceless.
That last example also reminds me that a lot of jokes seem to be compound jokes. Not necessarily over explaining the joke, but having two or more jokes in one block of dialogue to see what sticks.
Remember, we need to keep dialogue to as many effective single sentences as possible. Don’t say in three what you can say in one. If you’re not a good writer of dialogue (and I consider myself in this group) be cost effective with your words and keep it short.
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?
Yes. A lot of bloody and sexy scenes, reminiscent of B movies.
10 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?
The characters were watered down versions of Erik and Pam from True Blood or even more current version of Lestat from Interview with a Vampire.
Vampires stories are very popular now, which makes them a dime a dozen. Not exactly the scenario writers hope for.
The one thing I will give Ervin is Lucy’s reluctance to become a vampire and a lesbian. That seems a somewhat original concept, as she never becomes seduced by the sexiness of vampires.
3 out of 10 points.
6.) Does the script have a hook?
The first two pages definitely got me interested.
Ervin started with a sexy scene involving female vampires and a busty movie star, so I knew there’d be more of that, then switched over to Lucy who’s stuck in Film class with an obnoxious “I made one movie so I’m a success” teacher.
I will make a suggestion later how to make the first scene more effective, but as it worked and kept me reading, I won’t take off for it here.
Word of caution though, I thought Zooey was going to be the main character because so much time was spent establishing her. This was somewhat confusing when you then switched to Lucy.
13 out of 15 points.
7.) Is that hook effective?
A lot of stuff happens here.
We find out Mr. Leonard, Lucy’s film teacher, is a pompous ass who thinks big breasted lesbian sex scenes are the only way to make good movies.
Lucy isn’t what every man desires, and the hunk of the class is more into his art than a date with her.
That same hunk is then killed by Lillian.
Lucy has a friends with benefits situation with a guy named Brad. He promises to make her a sandwich after he bangs her but before he kicks her out.
Lucy meets Lillian, and then later Paul.
Now it was quick moving, an easy read, but for the story purpose, too much time is spent on Lucy being a loser with Brad and Hunter.
Get us to the action sooner, especially since Brad has such a small role that can easily be incorporated into another character.
10 out of 15 points.
8.) Is there enough to maintain the hook? Reveals, conflict, etc.?
The Paul and Lucy love story needs work. The way things are set up, it doesn’t make sense why he’s so into her, but it also doesn’t make sense why she’s so mad at him for lying about who he is. (If anything she should be excited since he has the chance to make her film aspiring dreams come true.)
One serious fix for the script would be to have them already dating. Lucy can still be dorky, and still be socially awkward, but that’s why Paul likes her.
And we don’t need a lot of build up on this either, we can come in late. Them gossiping about classmates (which can coincide with Hunter’s gory death, maybe even be a cool intercut) over burgers and then go back to her place. It’s then where Paul admits he’s been lying to her and she can get angry, because now she’s been seriously involved with a guy who’s not who he says he is. (What else is he lying about?) Maybe she’s even ANTI-Hollywood and now finds out he’s very much a part of what’s wrong with it.
Pair this with another change I hinted at earlier. Summer needs to dump Lillian from scene one. Don’t delay this. In fact Lillian should walk in on Summer feeding on Zooey and stuff hits the fan right there. The beauty in this is it lets Lillian be available earlier on, and can catch glimpses of Lucy right from the get go, and also makes Lillian’s rage feeding more plot related.
Once Lucy throws Paul out, that’s when she should meet Lillian in person. She’s down on her luck, and that’s where she enters her “new world.”
From there though, if the “deal” between the two of them is based on Lucy making a vampire documentary, we need to see more of that. Lucy should essentially be making a Beginner’s Guide to Being a Vampire type movie, as Lillian is teaching her. It should also disgust her what she’s become.
Around the midpoint is where she should decide it’s not working with Lillian. She doesn’t want to kill people, and she wants to be with Paul, in secret or Lillian would kill him. (Lillian’s jealousy needs to be more of an issue.)
I know what I’m suggesting is a major rewrite, but something drastic is needed. Right know there’s barely a skeleton of a structure supporting your story. I won’t lie and say it’ll be easy, but the structure and the dialogue need major work done, and if done correctly have the chance to be very original.
Right now it’s just a bunch of semi humorous scenes all sloshed together.
3 out of 10 points.
9.) Does the story play to a target audience, and have the elements demanded by that audience?
I think the audience will like the premise and how basic vampire rules are applied. As it’s currently written though, there’s a let down with the comedic aspect.
One of the problems I mentioned above, is that the love story between Paul and Lucy seems fake. Not enough invested by either of them to make an audience buy into it or even want to root for them.
The title. Draculette is silly. Lucy even says so, and it’s such a small and unimportant aspect of the script that it shouldn’t even by in there. If this is a satire on vampire stories, make it something sarcastic like, The True Interview of Lillian the Vampire.
Too much Summer and Zooey. It’s some of the funnier bits in the writing, which is unfortunate, since they’re not the main characters. I didn’t care about their story. The focus is the love triangle between Lucy, Paul, and Lillian.
We should catch glimpses of Summer and Zooey at most. A very clever scene of Zooey not working out could be Lillian teaching Lucy as they bump into Summer trying to teach Zooey. Hints like that, and they should never really be without one of the three main characters.
Flashbacks. The one for Lillian was alright, and shows why she likes Lucy initially, but the JFK/Marilyn one was very lame.
One last thing was Zooey being in Vampire Babysitters Club. Isn’t that a show on the Disney Channel?
5 out of 10 points.
As I said in the last question, there was enough in there to warrant vampire fans to initially take a look, but parts of the story need a major overhaul. It’s a tall order trying to accomplish a vampire rom-com, but not impossible. At 99 pages, I got through it quickly, enjoyed it for the most part, but felt there could have been more value added.
Total 56 out of 100 points.
I was recently in Forks, Washington, the small town on the Olympic Peninsula that serves as the bleak, ominous setting for a somewhat successful teen vampire soap franchise. I guess you could say I was in the Twilight zone.
Although I know nothing of the books, the movies, the faces, the merchandise, I was struck by two things: the author’s brilliance using such a visually dramatic backdrop for the teen angst she is peddling, and the fact that the series is just asking to be parodied.
From the title and logline, I thought that this script might proceed along those lines; instead the author sprays his sarcastic bullets in every direction. This is really a broad wisecracking R-rated comedy, full of topical and pop-cultural gags. There is little sense that the script respects any of its target genres as anything more than opportunities for extended repartee and clowning. Story, to the extent that it exists, is decidedly subordinate. In the end, Draculette is neither a vampire movie nor a romantic comedy, although the writer feasts on the conventions of each genre in his quest for fresh comedic blood.
This is also a film buff script, full of industry in-jokes and film school banter, and while these provide a few funny moments, this subject matter is death to spec scripts. In fact these kind of broad topical satires are usually written by formidable teams of established comedy writers, and rewritten continuously right through production to keep the references fresh. Many of the gags here, even the best ones, would not survive this process.
Hank’s thoughtful review nails many important points, and takes the story issues more seriously than the writer himself does. The observation about the compound nature of the jokes is especially perceptive. The writer needs to go with his best line in most of these cases, and not a slew of clever variants.
The energy, invention, and puckishness of the writer make this a quick and enjoyable read. But the script needs focus and structure, some sort of actual drink under that fizzy head.
Two final points. I don’t know that there really is a B-movie industry anymore, and indies aren’t often exploitation flicks ala the 50s and 60s.
And the feminine name is Zoe. Being named after J.D. Salinger’s male character Zooey Glass has worked out well for the daughter of cinematographer Caleb Deschanel. She has risen to be the CEO of Quirky, Inc., but as with KStew, sometimes one is enough.
Wow Walker…another great review.
If I wasn’t secure in thinking I was needed I’d be worried you’re going to take my job.
He’s not is he, Roy?…….Roy?
Well, Hanks alot, but the comments I have been posting do not really constitute reviews. I will find out over the next few days whether I am even capable of writing a review.
It was a great week of reviews for you guys though.
I appreciate the thoughtful review! I don’t agree with all your points, but there are some great suggestions to go on. I had a lot of fun writing it. Because of its subject matter, it’s certainly not going to be for everyone. I’ve had some wildly different reactions to it, from people who were grossed out by the blood and guts, to people who thought it was an absolute blast to read. So, all I can say is thanks for the taking the time to read it, and for offering some wonderful constructive criticism. Thanks, Hank!
Not at all a problem and thanks for giving us the chance to take a look at it.
As far as the blood and guts, I don’t think you’ll have any problem with that really, what with the success of True Blood which has vampires exploding all over the place.
Hell, even the intro is kind of graphic.