Author Topic: First screenplay ever. Need some critique.  (Read 1351 times)

Offline afirsttimefilmmaker

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First screenplay ever. Need some critique.
« on: June 09, 2017, 07:09:03 PM »
I am a first time filmmaker, hence the username. I am writing my first screenplay and it probably won't be the best thing. I would just like some help on how I should write it. The screenplay is about a family who gets haunted after a nearby family wounds up mysteriously dead. This is just my opening scene- I have about 60 pages. I feel like I ramble on and on and I don't get too into detail. I feel like I'm doing the bare minimum and that I will change my screenplay as I begin filming. Here it goes.

FADE IN:
AN OLD APARTMENT BUILDING, MID 60S-EARLY 70S. VERY WORN OUT AND FRESHLY PAINTED. TAN COLORED WITH DARK AUBURN HIGHLIGHTS ON DOORS AND WINDOWS.BIRDS CHIRPING IN THE EARLY MORNING.
INT. APARTMENT OF JOHNSON FAMILY. LIVING ROOM
The father (Mike Johnson) opening the living room door. Heís tall, dark hair, mid 30s to early 40s. Wearing steel toe boots, gray jeans, and a black shirt. He walks in to see his wife (Susan Johnson) sitting on the brown couch watching tv.
MIKE
This job is just killing me! (he throws his keys and wallet on the shelf)(he looks at the tv) Whatís going on?
SUSAN
Theyíre saying that theres something going on in our neighborhood..(pause for news)

On Newscast:
MARY WALTERS
Breaking news: Another family has been found dead in an apparent murder-suicide. Police say that there was no forced entry. Neighbors have said that this is just tragic. Take a listen.
ASHLEY JENSON
The Garcias were such a great family. They would come for dinner every Saturday night. I went to high school with Laura. She was such a sweetheart and married a great man. And her kids.. They were just angels. I canít believe something terrifying like this happened.
MARY WALTERS
Such a sad sad story.. Police still donít know what happened. Reports say that the youngest child at age 6 committed suicide and what apparently is looking like she murdered her entire family. Weíll have more on this at 5.
END OF NEWSCAST
SUSAN TURNS OFF TV.
SUSAN
Thatís just crazy. I didnít know them personally but they live right around the block. Thatís just so sad. Poor kids. (Susan frowns and goes to hug her husband)
MIKE
That is just horrible. I used to work with Juan. He quit last month due to personal reasons. He was real quiet and a nice guy.
Mike lets go of hugging Susan. He looks at his wife.

MIKE
So, did you make breakfast? (Susan nods) And the kids?
SUSAN
Theyíre getting ready for school. Go sit. Iím just going to go check on them.
Susan leaves to the kidís room while Mike goes to the kitchen. Cut to kidís room. It is painted blue. You see a girl aged 6 named Carly with brown hair. She is putting on her shoes. You see a boy aged 8 named Martin. He is putting on his socks.
CARLY
Mommy, can you please tell Martin to stop taking the cover when we sleep? I was freezing at night.
MARTIN
No I wasnít! Stop trying to get me in trouble. (he looks at his mom) Mom, you believe me right?
SUSAN
I canít say for sure, but I do know that I love you both. (she smiles) Okay guys, ready for school?
(The kids grab their backpacks. They head to the kitchen with their mother.)
Cut to kitchen. Mike is eating buttered toast on the brown dining table. The kids run to their father.
CARLY
Good morning daddy! Did you have a good day at work? (she hugs him)
MIKE
Of course honey. I always have a good day when youíre around. (he smiles and hugs back) Did you do your homework?
CARLY
Yes daddy. I could have finished it earlier but.. Martin kept being loud on his freaking game.
MARTIN
Dad, I swear I wasnít even loud. She just lies dad! I swear!
MIKE
Martin, donít call your sister a liar. Did YOU finish your homework?

MARTIN
No, I didnít but I promise Iíll do it as soon as I eat breakfast at school.
MIKE
(sighs) Damn it Martin. Should I take away that game of yours? It seems like you pay more attention to that instead of important things like your homework. (he looks at him)
MARTIN
Iím sorry Dad. It wonít happen again. Homework is my priority now. (he hugs him)
MIKE
Alright. Get to school guys before your late.
They both give Mike a kiss and hug.
MIKE
Be good kids and make me proud today! (he says as the kids are starting to walk away)
SUSAN
Okay baby, Iím going to go drop them off at school. Iíll be right back alright?
Susan gives Mike a kiss and leaves.
Susan and the kids are walking outside. They pass a couple houses until they see the Garcia house. The kids are ahead of Susan so they come back.
CARLY
Mommy, mommy! Why is there yellow tape all around Jessicaís house?
Susan looks at the house.
SUSAN
Iím not sure sweetie. Letís just get you to school ok?

hillwalker3000

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Re: First screenplay ever. Need some critique.
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2017, 04:37:06 AM »
Some good, some bad.

The bad:

You spend far too much time describing your characters' appearance. Leave that to the casting crew.
Also, the bBlocked scene-setting once the newscast ends isn't taking this anywhere. Kids get up for breakfast before heading for school - siblings argue then wish dad has had a good day at work. We've heard it all before a million times - it's chit-chat at best.

H3K
 

Lin

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Re: First screenplay ever. Need some critique.
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2017, 05:35:31 AM »
Im not a scriptwriter, but one thing struck me that your dialogue in places was not very natural.  I do suggest that when you write it, you put yourself into the head of the character and become that person.  Write your dialogue as you would say it.  I feel in this respect this is far more important than if you were writing a novel.  The actor has to act out your words and if they are not very natural they can come across as being rather stilted.

Be more forthright in your dialogue, much more so than fiction writing.  I feel your dialogue is a for a novel (maybe) and not for a realistic scene acted out by professional actors.  

However, it's not all unnatural and there are many of the places where it's fine.  Here is an example of what I mean

This job is just killing me! (he throws his keys and wallet on the shelf)(he looks at the tv) Whatís going on?
SUSAN
Theyíre saying that theres something going on in our neighborhood..(pause for news)


This job's killing me.

I would like Susan to say
I dunno, there's obviously something going on in the neighborhood.

That's how I would answer the question in real life.  

So just a point you might like to pick up on.  Become Mike and Susan and you've got your natural dialogue.

Lin


« Last Edit: June 10, 2017, 05:37:03 AM by Lin Treadgold - Author »

Offline Oceaxe

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Re: First screenplay ever. Need some critique.
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2017, 10:01:25 AM »
Hi FTFM, welcome to site. Before I start, here's my first piece of advice.

https://www.writersstore.com/how-to-write-a-screenplay-a-guide-to-scriptwriting/

You have to learn how to present your work or it simply won't be read by people who matter. We're more lenient in here and will take time to help you, a producer won't.

Overall, you have some idea of using film language but I wonder if you realise how fast film moves and how quickly your ideas get eaten up? Everything you have written here could have been covered while the credits were rolling by using familiar techniques such as a framed picture of the happy family, the newscast in the background, the tired husband arriving home from work and collapsing into a chair, the mother in the kitchen (sorry to be  stereotypical). That's how quickly film devours your ideas.

As has been noted, you're too prescriptive about things that don't matter so much (clothes), while you aren't setting up tensions and intriguing things that will pull a viewer into your story. We get the happy family, but what if the father had blood on his boots?

Quote
the youngest child at age 6 committed suicide and what apparently is looking like she murdered her entire family.
- aged 6? This isnít feasible even if we are becoming used to the idea of child-killers.

I could go on but I'd prefer to encourage you to work at your talent and prove me wrong by winning a Oscar.

Good luck, check out the web site.