An excerpt from Reals’ script review for House of Mourning which will be available 01/06/22:
A happy New Year to each of you! My New Year started off with a big bang and a notable contest win, and I hope that your New Year is off to a great start as well!
In that spirit, Hank suggested we try something new: Two different readers reviewing the same script to show how subjective script notes can be!
I thought this was a great idea, as I (and I am sure you all have experienced this as well) have had vastly varying notes come from multiple readers looking at the exact same script.
The truth is that we, as writers, are creating art, a piece of fiction, and that art is extremely subjective. This means that we are working in an extremely competitive industry, and one with very few guarantees. You could have the best script ever written, but if it doesn’t fall into the right reader’s lap, at the right time, it may not get picked up.
Now, that sounds very discouraging and I do not mean it that way. Another way of thinking about this exercise is simply to consider that while notes are subjective, your response to those notes is also subjective.
What I mean by this is that you can get upset that a reader didn’t “get” your story, or you can accept that notes are subjective, use the notes that you find helpful to strengthen your story, and then move forward.
My personal suggestion is to take some time after you read your coverage to let the notes digest. I usually take a week after I am given notes to let those comments percolate, consider my options, do some outlining, and then start a rewrite.
Now, that is what works for me, and it may not work for you, but that is fine. The purpose of this is only to illustrate that every reader sees a script differently and that, ultimately, your script is your own. By this I mean that your script is your story, so don’t take script notes as gospel, but do consider the comments and then decide which notes you see as helpful and beneficial and which you don’t agree with.
With all of that out of the way, let’s get down to my notes on the Bloodlist script House of Mourning!
Before we get into the script, I wanted to talk about the logline, as it is what put me off of reading the script originally. That’s not good, as your logline may be the only opportunity that you get to hook a reader.
The logline reads as such (according to the Bloodlist website): After the suicide of her Jewish husband, an unfaithful widow must confront her sins, which have attracted a violent demon who threatens her and the other mourners as they sit shiva over seven days of escalating terror.
Specifically, “the unfaithful widow…” part of the logline immediately put me off of the main character.
I think the primary reason for this is related to this iconic scene from Scream.
As Jamie Kennedy says:
“There are certain rules that one must abide by in order to successfully survive a horror movie!”
Now, we have all seen horror films (especially recent horror films) that subvert these rules, however, I would argue (to an extent) that some rules are rules for a reason.
The only information we are given about our heroine in this logline is that:
- She was unfaithful to her husband.
- Her husband died of suicide.
- Her sins have attracted a violent demon who doesn’t just threaten her, but threatens all of the mourners at her husband’s funeral.
None of these pieces of information make her particularly likable or give me a reason to pick up the script to engage with her story. That is important, because, as stated above, this one-sentence description may be your only shot to get a reader to pay attention.
Before we go further, let me get in front of any criticisms of this note, as it would be the same note if the protagonist in this story happened to be a male character.
In fact, let’s see what that would look like:
After the suicide of his Jewish wife, a philandering widower must confront his sins, which have attracted a violent demon who threatens him and the other mourners as they sit shiva over seven days of escalating terror.
Still does not make the protagonist likeable and certainly doesn’t make me want to read the script, which is why I think this is a flawed logline and something that is important to pay attention to.
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