Script Note: Subvert movie cliches whenever possible

B. O'Malley

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logo for Free Script Notes on your first 10 pagesCourting Megan Cook by B. Podowski

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The script is breezy and easy to read. Lots of white space.  Descriptions can still be a bit leaner.

I missed the transition to present day.  Putting 2005 on its own line would help make it more clear. Even better, just put “FIVE YEARS AGO” on its own line, instead of 2005.

The first scene is about a dad on his death bed, which is obviously setting the stage for Trace and the situations to come, so  raise the gravity of the situation by making it more clear that he’s dying.  Put some machinery next to him; make him bald; rows of pill bottles and medicine; maybe he’s struggling to speak.

From the death bed and the football, we cut into the next scene and we’re with Trace in high school, being somewhat bullied by a jerk™, and having a crush on the cutest girl at school™, and having a nerdy best friend™.

Take those completely overwrought, overbaked cliches and invert them.  Or subvert them.  Just do something fresh with them or this script will be thrown at the wall by the first producer who reads it.  You may have a killer script in the pages to follow, but these high school situations you’ve presented are stale, and are a huge red flag for a script reader.

The Fried Green Tomatoes gag doesn’t work.  Treat every gag as a moment to KILL YOUR READER WITH LAUGHTER.  Don’t spend 1/8 of your page on throwaway, cutesy references when you can use that 1/8 of a page to cause a person in their theater seat to LAUGH LIKE CHIMPANZEE.

Shake this sumbish up.  A high schooler with flashbacks to the foggy, tree-lined road of his father’s funeral, seems a bit too troubled and/or mature to be concerned with the high school cliches you’ve painted.  Right off the bat, let’s see him swat those situations away like annoying flies so he can focus on what’s really troubling him.

By doing that, you kill your cliches (making the reader and audience love you for giving them something fresh and new), AND you reveal character (making the reader and audience love you for giving them someone they can relate to and enjoy for 2 hours.)

 

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