I know we said we’d be switching to pro scripts, but as I promised Sly I’d get this done, I didn’t want to leave him hanging.
After reading it, I’m glad I kept my promise.
Overhaul by Sylvester Ada
LOGLINE: A down on his luck cop makes a drastic choice in a bid to save his daughter from the clutches of a drug addict leading to a domino effect of violence and murder.
Officer Victor Veller, early 50’s, executes a druggie after making a painful discovery in the druggie’s house.
This incurs the anger of Vincent, late 20’s, brother to the druggie and also part of a 3 man drug mule operation headed by LOGAN, late 20’s, suave and cunning. Logan instructs Vincent to refrain from any questionable activity due to the surveillance squad Logan attracted after a run in with the law earlier on.
The surveillance squad turn their attentions to the third man in the group, RIEL, early 30’s. Under the influence, Vincent enlists the help of a criminal client to exact revenge on the police officers responsible for the death of his brother.
Victor gets diagnosed with a risky smoking infection. In order to get to the top of the operation list, he sets out to blackmail the doctor, AARON BEN GURION, an ex Israelite soldier wanted for war crimes. Victors family gets wiped out, forcing him into hiding after re-evaluating the terms of the blackmail with Aaron.
Machinations of murder and assassinations are set in motion as Victor and Vincent face engage each other in a stand off.
And away we go.
1.) Can we visualize the description?
Nothing SUPER special, but I’m glad we’re getting this out of the way first.
The main focus that needs to be taken care of is CHARACTERS, especially their introductions.
If someone only has a MINOR role, there’s no need to really even name them, let alone spell them out.
A perfect example of this is the ending, where we have all the folks involved in transferring the drugs.
Keeping the names generic is fine, ESPECIALLY since it tells us to focus on WHAT’S HAPPENING and not who’s doing it.
Other than that, main character descriptions were too detailed.
Sorry to sound like a broken record, but keep it simple.
NAME, age, brief description.
For instance, and using a quick line EXACTLY like you did for Vincent is great.
VINCENT, 28, a poster boy for blunts “r” us.
It’s simple AND it’s witty. Readers will like that, and you’re making specific casting calls, which is a typical amateur move that could flag you.
Things to watch:
Victor heads around to the left side of the house.
Every where’s quiet.
He stealthily creeps forward, wary of any sign of movement.
He glides along the wall, heading for the backyard.
He stops at the corner, taking a moment to ready himself.
He peers around. No gunman.
He rounds the corner, sliding along the wall towards the
It’s ajar; he heads in.
Too much play by play here and a few other places.
It muddles the action. You could probably cut out half of it.
I mention this particular point, since it slowed down something that I very much enjoyed from the previous page:
Still no answer.
Victor motions for Lucas to stay put and is about to head
round the back when…
A SHOTGUN BLAST rips through the front door.
Victor and Lucas crouch for cover.
Victor motions to Lucas to stay down.
The dust clears, movement is heard inside.
Victor speaks into his radio com.
we’ve got shots fired, requesting
Victor returns fire through the already riddled door.
A voice emanates from within the house.
Fool me once motherfuckers!
I can’t stress enough how well I thought this particular bit was done.
Reading it painted an exact picture in my head, which is what we’re all trying to do as writers.
There were a few spots like this, but I think it’d be great to have more.
Don’t force sound effects in, but try to create that easy description in other key action sequences.
This was the biggest problem in the script though, and not even a major problem, simply in need of being dressed up.
6 out of 10 points.
2.) Does the author use an acceptable format?
Format was good.
Two problems though.
Page length and directing the reader.
I’ll start with the second.
Most of the Close Ups and such should be left out. Not because they don’t fit, just that’s they’re distracting.
It took away from the reading for me. If this is a spec to be sent out, let the reader see it unfold in his mind, don’t force her to see it a certain way.
For those few instances, take a tip from a guy who’s not visited our site for a while. (Probably because he’s off optioning scripts.)
Direct the camera without seeming to. (Few tips in there on how to do it.)
The page length was 122 pages (leaving out the title page). I think this should get closer to 115, and I’ll make a few suggestions in the other questions on how to do that.
Lastly, and I guess this is technically the third problem, was a decent number of typos.
1.) Using “passed” instead of “past” on multiple occasions.
2.) Not capitalizing a few names and A LOT of words at the beginning of sentences.
This section should be easy fixes.
7 out of 10 points.
3.) Is the dialogue free of exposition and rich in subtext? Does each character have a unique voice?
I’m just going to say it.
Most of the dialogue was GREAT, especially Logan’s.
What do you do exactly?
Uh…I’m freelance, a little
negligible dot on our country’s
backdoor occupational blueprint. I
do what I can to get by, try my
hands in different places. Today I
might be producer, tomorrow a
middle man and next week nothing.
Hmm…way to coat the flesh wound.
You’d be surprised at how far a
gentleman’s elocution would take
you in this world.
God bless capitalism huh?
Sounds like you’ve had a bad
experience with men of my caliber.
I think that’s something we
probably have in common. you
couldn’t have come this far without
paddling up the shits creek.
You know, I blame the media for
your one sided, dare I say…uh…
misaligned view of hardworking men
in the business world…
Oh trust me, television had nothing
to do with it.
Are you sure about that? Take this
salt for example…
He picks up the salt vial.
Its a condiment correct?
It possesses the very same
addictive potentials as does its
identical physically structured
albeit illegal alternative. It is
legal, non prohibited and worst of
all, cheap. Be that as it may, that
takes away the value from it. It
can be abused yet nobody frets,
nobody cares because nobody knows
the truth. It is just what it is to
everyone sitting in this room. A
simple condiment with a simple use.
Just like dust, Observe…
There was even SUBTEXT in there. (Although I’m not sure I caught it all.)
Sir I’m going to have to ask you to
take your hand out of your pocket,
I’m afraid I can’t oblige to that
If you don’t, I’ll have no choice
but to use deadly force.
Go ahead. By the looks of all this,
it was quite a rather extensive
operation. I’m more of an asset to
you right now than a threat so if
we’re going to make progress here I
suggest you do it on my terms.
And just what might that be?
You let me walk out of here.
Oh you don’t say…
…I’ve got a .38 pointed right at
my heart. Might as well just shoot
me now or let me do it for you…
…Danny don’t listen to him, he’s
CLICK! logans hand fiddles with the bulge in his pocket.
Can I call you Dan or just Danny?
Danny doesn’t respond…
Mr legarde do you pay taxes?
Logan. Call me Logan.
Okay…uh Logan…do you pay taxes?
I’m sorry I didn’t get your name.
Detective bocce robins.
Uncommon, big difference. As I was
saying do you…
Yes I do. Is that a felony?
I’m just trying to understand why
you decided to resist if you
believed you didn’t commit any
crime. Maybe you just felt like
wasting our resources I guess.
By your resources you mean tax
payers money? Sure why not, after
all I put some in the pot didn’t I?
Fair enough. you do realize all you
had to do was come down here,
answer a few questions and go home
Now where would be the fun in that?
(looking through pages)
Says here you have a bachelors in
yes I do.
Then you should be good at math. By
fleeing you not only gave us the
legal obligation to hold you, but
also incurred mandatory fines. Got
so much money do we?
I never said God wasn’t good sir.
Logan was very well crafted, as was Victor. All the other characters were good too, but those two stood out.
Especially Logan, who reminded me of a common day Humphrey Bogart with his quick jabs.
My one critique is that some of the dialogue runs long.
I wouldn’t cut all the long bits, but go back and see if you can trim some.
A perfect example of this is around page 54ish. There’s a scene with Logan and Vincent where they both seem to drone on along with the following scene between Victor and Rose where thay do the same.
Can more subtext be added to replace this long windedness? I hope so, since the author was able to do it in other areas.
Two small things.
1.) (Hebrew) under the name of the character in dialogue is a simple way to tell a reader, “Hey, they’re speaking Hebrew.”
2.) Some, not a lot (but enough for me to mention it), of the dialogue starts with, “Oh…” Drop that.
Mainly clean up those long parts.
8 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?
It’s a movie.
From beginning to end, this script really didn’t slow down. Even as I was writing stuff down thinking it was just filler fluff, that stuff turned out to be important to the ending.
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?
Logan’s witty banter alone should be worth full credit here.
But since I’m a huge fan of The Big Sleep I might not be being completely unbiased.
Not only did Sly have a lot of good dialogue, but as I mentioned above, the script didn’t slow down.
Couple that with the way he tied it all in, and I think he’s a pretty good writer. Even if someone wasn’t looking for this script exactly, I bet they’d ask to see some of his other work.
(Plus he sets the thing in Ontario, and if he’s Canadian himself, the chances of him getting it made increase, since the Canadian government likes domestic made films that help their economy and can sell in international markets. Just a thought.)
10 out of 10 points.
6.) Does the script have a hook?
A few points off here.
The beginning scene is also the ending.
Now usually I would say that’s cheating, but not in this case.
The problem for me here is Sly lead’s with a mediocre scene that doesn’t do much, but follows it up with a GREAT scene and the main bad guy, who’s ruthless by the way.
That scene is a MUCH BETTER start, since it’s more exciting, and sets a perfect tone for the rest of the script.
Not to mention dropping the first scene cuts a whole page, bringing us closer to that 115 number.
13 of out 15 points.
7.) Is that hook effective?
Anyway, page two we meet Pearson (Old Man) who’s the bad assed bad guy, OH who dresses like an old professor.
Then we get to meet easily the most charming character in the script, Logan.
He’s trying to set up a drug deal, with all sorts of coded messages.
What he doesn’t know is his conversation’s being recorded, and OH NOES he’s caught, but he talks his way out of it.
(He’s THAT smooth.)
Then he gets away and JUST when we think he’s outsmarted the cops, he’s pinched.
All really good. ESPECIALLY when I was fooled and thought he’d get away.
(Then I liked how Logan tricked them with a lighter so they had nada on him.)
The one problem I have is that we don’t meet Victor until much later in the script.
I think he needs to be a part of this initial sting operation. Even if it’s him chuckling at the rookies when they all realize they have nothing concrete to keep Logan on.
The reason for this is that it ties them all in better, and makes for a better story.
It’d almost be perfect if in some way Victor’s the one who let’s Logan go, and doesn’t push him on the entire operation and who he works with, as some of the other cops might want to.
This way he later cause his own demise. (Tragic Greek drama cause and effect.)
That’s powerful storytelling.
Now you don’t necessarily need to use it, but as Victor is a pretty major character, he needs to be tied in earlier.
(You might even consider bumping Victor’s intro and the scene with Jerry up to right after Pearson’s introduction. The way it is now, Logan is presented as the protagonist and it feels awkward when jumping to Victor later.)
13 out of 15 points.
8.) Is there enough to maintain the hook? Reveals, conflict, etc.?
The rest all played out well too.
I liked the consequences once Victor off’s Jerry.
It’s all a very unique chain of events.
Even the midpoint was good where Lucas pays for his sins, and we tie Pearson into the main story.
The one problem I had, and I want to focus on is the ending.
A LOT is happening.
I couldn’t keep track of it all.
It wasn’t bad, just that I didn’t know where to focus, and the ending really didn’t explain what happened.
The problem was I didn’t know who Aaron was sending Victor after.
I thought it was Vincent, but the GPS stopped at the ambulance crash, so was he tracking Pearson?
I didn’t know how Aaron knew all this.
Plus who sent the Arab folks after Vincent?
What I thought did happen, and makes the story VERY cool if it’s clear by the end is:
1.) Aaron sends his old war buddies from the photo after Vincent, wrapping that up for Esmeralda.
2.) Instead of sending Victor after the guy who ordered the hit, he’s actually sending him after his old cronies, wanting to erase links to his past.
3.) Then this can be cleverly delivered with the line at the end where Aaron thanks Victor for tying up all the loose ends, and then kills him…two minutes ago…(I really liked that.)
I also liked how Logan got it to, but the Riel vs. Esmeralda thing was a bit confusing on what happened.
I kind of wanted to see Riel shoot the she and the other fellas, and then the cops shoot him. That way all bad guys die. Yay! Happy ending!
(By the way, I understood HOW the bags were being traded at the airport, but was confused as to WHAT was in them exactly.)
7 out of 10 points.
9.) Does the story play to a target audience, and have the elements demanded by that audience?
No major point deductions here, but I do want to reference a few small things.
Along the lines of that last thought from the previous question, why did the guards first detain Logan and then let him go? What was in his initial bag? Clear that part up.
Page 45 – Wouldn’t “saving” his daughter be kind of suspicious with the bad guy ending up dead? I’m pretty sure Victor would be investigated for that, not given a medal.
Page 2 – What’s a Barton tract house?
Page 72 – You call the Old Man “Pearson” finally as the reveal, but it wasn’t much of one. Since he doesn’t show up until the end, why not call him Pearson from page 1? I was expecting his identity to be someone closer to Victor.
On a note similar to this one, don’t tease readers by keeping the identity secret unless it is IN FACT a big reveal at the end. “A-ha! The villain was actually the BUTLER all along!” That sort of thing.
If the character is just the character, call them by name. This was a decent sized let down for me, with Pearson turning out to be unique and unattached to the main character.
Page 67 – How did Riel have time to order shots? And Kayla should take the shot without thinking, then rush out after him. Not hang out for happy hour.
Lastly, this nugget from page 23:
Says here you have a bachelors in business management. Then you should be good at math.
Business majors AREN’T good at math. That’s why they go into business instead of engineering.
I can say this as a graduate with a Bachelors in Business. Logan should make a similar comment.
(I understand the one exception is accounting, but even they’re not really that good at math. They just learn what numbers to plug in where then use a calculator.)
8 out of 10 points.
Overhaul was a script that from page 1 pretty much hauled ass.
I enjoyed it.
What the author needs to do now is go back and take a look at the run on dialogue, and see if he can’t edit in some subtext to make it feel more like the great dialogue that’s present throughout the rest of the script.
The page count is a bit high too, so after editing out the above and the first scene/page, it should easily clock in under that 119 page mark which will work greatly in his favor. (Still be BETTER to get it around 115!)
I’d hate for a reader to look at this one just over that 120 page mark and toss it into a pile of random spec scripts to be lost for all eternity. It’s not fair to this good writing sample.
Total 82 out of 100 points.
PS – I like making lists because:
1.) Roy loves it when I do.
2.) This famous actor enjoys making lists too.
PPS – One more Big Sleep bit for Walker. I LOVE that dialogue.