Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I WILL read your f***ing screenplay!

Nary a week goes by when I don't get at least one request from someone to read their script. I always decline, for the reasons expressed in this earlier entry. I feel bad disappointing you guys, but that's pretty much the way it has to be.

Until now. One lucky reader will have the opportunity to get me to read their script - but there's a catch. I'm writing a piece for later this month, focused on the review of a flawed script. Yes, you read that right - "flawed."

I don't want to read the best and the brightest. I want to read someone's first script. I want to read one that includes many of the things I've railed against in my blog for the last year and a half. I don't want to give the whole ghost away, but trust me, there's a reason I need one that needs work.

So here's the deal, gang. For the next week, I will be accepting your queries for these flawed scripts. Send me a logline or a paragraph about your script and I'll weed through the premises and decide which script looks like the most fun for my project. Once I make my decision, I'll send you a release form and you'll have to email that back to me with your script.

The catch - you have to be cool with your writing being criticized in my article. I'm going to be brutal, possibly even biting in my criticism. If you know Mystery Science Theatre 3000 and how they used to mock the bad movies the characters were forced to watch, you'll probably have a read on the tone I'm going for

Why would anyone sign up for this brutality? Well, for one thing, after I post the article on everything wrong with the script, I'll also post an interview with the writer. They'll get a chance to talk about why the script came out the way it did, discuss how they've grown as a writer since then - and most of all, they get to pitch as many specs as they want.

Yep, if you want to promote your projects on a site with a readership that includes at least a few agents managers and producers, you can do that. The writer gets a free plug for their writing - or their blog, website or anything else of theirs they want to hype.

And all you have to do is turn me loose on your worst spec script. Don't worry, I'll make it clear in the article that this script isn't something the writer considers their best writing.

So who's game? Any takers?


  1. Respectfully, I'm not sure I see the upside for the "lucky" chosen one to be part of your "project".

  2. In theory, if they've grown as a writer and aren't above laughing at their own writing, they get a chance to get their name out there and plug any scripts they are actively trying to get people to look at.

    Though I guess I should add that if any interested parties would like to participate on the condition that they remain anonymous, I can accomodate that as well.

  3. Yeah, but get their name out there associated with bad writing. You know your review will get extended coverage so some poor schmuck gets tagged with it publicly forever.

    Surely you would never recommend a writer knowingly sending out a bad draft for the sort of exposure you propose? Under any circumstance ...

  4. Well, that's why I specifically asked for a writer's first script, because 90% of the time a writer's - any writer's - first script is crap. Many writers learn lessons from their first script and improve greatly from it. I know I did. I'm thinking there are plenty of writers out there who can cringe at their old writing in a "bad high school" yearbook sort of way. Also, as I said, if they don't want their full names associated with the script for reasons of Googling, I'm completely willing to accomodate that too.

    And I'm being upfront with one very important point - I will be hard on this script. I don't want any writer to give the impression that this review will in any way end with a RECOMMEND rating.

    Think of it as donating a dead script to the science of script critiquing.

  5. A full script? I still have to finish mine. What about a treatment?

  6. It might be nice to post the script a couple days ahead of the MST3K read.

  7. A diamond in the rough would be a nice lesson on showing how to screw up a nice concept. Don't say it can't happen. One of the best concepts I've ever seen was a rough script that I read as an assignment on Triggerstreet.

  8. I agree with "windmill" -- in order for this to work it has to be a fundamentally good concept that has been poorly executed.

    Not that you asked, but I would like to mention that reviews and notes come off much better when written as such, rather than as a dialogue with the writer. TS is notorious for this i.e. "what were you thinking, man??". That gets so old and comes across as unprofessional. Pros understand to critique the piece of work, not the writer.

  9. I'd actually be down for it, except I just looked through my files and I think I never transferred all my bad scripts to the new computer. So all I have is good stuff. Alas.

  10. How do I determine if my script needs work? I mean hey, I'd love for you to disassemble a script I really want to get moving.

    But I don't want to win, I want you to do it anyway. Maybe it could be recurring and you do multiple just because.

  11. If you want bad scripts, ask for good ones.

  12. I'd be up for this - since writing my first few screenplays back in 2000(ish), on my own website I've written something like 200+ TV-length scripts for a variety of projects, so I know I've developed a heck of a lot as a writer in the last ten years alone.

    However - nobody is ever so good that they can't get any better, so I submit for your approval my early script outlines:

    * TO HELL AND BACK (horror/fantasy)
    After a messy breakup, a depressed man is offered a unique tour of Hell itself by one of its representatives to tempt him into signing his soul away. Whilst down there, he discovers his ex has been murdered by an escaped demon, and he returns to Earth to capture the demon and free his girl from eternal torment.

    * BANDS ON THE RUN (road movie/comedy)
    Based on the old VH1 reality show of the same name, four unsigned bands embark on a record-company sponsored road trip, competing with each other to earn the most from their gigs with the winner receiving an exclusive contract.

    Autobiographical tale of a string of failed romances, after the most recent breakup forces our lead to question what the hell he's been doing wrong all these years.

    Now, I know there's a slew of things wrong with all three of these and as such have no qualms about them getting MST'd in the name of progress. So I humbly submit them toy our list :)

  13. Wow! I'm actually impressed by the response. I've already got offers to read six scripts and I honestly thought that after a week, I'd have two offers at best. I was even prepared to go to one of my friends and beg them to let me take a swing at one of their older specs.

    Monster Zero looks to be in the lead right now, folks. TO HELL AND BACK fits the "potentially good concept likely marred by bad execution" quotient. Road comedies have a lot of pitfalls that it's easy for a writer to fall into so BANDS ON THE RUN could be fun as well, and I've seen more than a few missteps in rom coms when people are clearly exorcising their own romantic demons.

    Best of all, on the off-chance I happen to LIKE one of those scripts, I feel like the concepts give me enough to have fun with. Plus, I like Monster Zero's attitude. Monster, can you shoot me a email so I will be able to respond directly too you?

    Some of you have emailed me directly and pretty much all of your concepts seem workable too. It's almost a shame that I have to pick just one.

    If the resulting article is a success, I could see it becoming maybe a bi-monthly thing but I want to see how this goes over before I commit to that.

  14. You never know. This may be your best blog ever, with the best turn out! This could wind up being a semi-quarterly call for scripts!

  15. OK, I actually just dug up my first screenplay and had quite a time reading it. Damn, I was full of myself. :)

    Self referential romantic comedy? I think.

    A self absorbed young woman journeys through bad jobs and bad interviews, which eventually lead her to the relationship -- and career -- that's been there all along.

    This script is basically nothing but dialogue and it's waaaaaay too autobiographical. There's even Cut Tos and screen direction!

  16. Wow. Susan, I'm practically salivating at the thought of taking on that script. Just from that short description I can tell I'd get a great article out of it.

    In less than a day I've been contacted by nine writers who have pitched a total of 11 scripts. This is going to be harder than I thought. I should let you know I'm leaning towards the writers who have written a few scripts since the "bad" one. I'd feel really bad beating up on a writer's ONLY spec, even if they know it needs work. Usually by the time you've written three or four scripts, you can look back on your old writing with a more objective "wow, I sucked" attitude and not take criticism of that script quite so personally.

    Or to put it another way, if the spec is that far in your past, I'm probably not going to stab it through the heart in any ways it hasn't been already. You all seem like nice people so I'd hate to really crush you emotionally.

  17. Too cool! And it seems as if Monster 0 has sold you. Still, if you can give me until Friday to rummage through some dusty old boxes, I'm sure I can find that floppy disc with my first screenplay (circa 2000).

    An artist is provoked by the devil herself to discover meaning in life and love. blah, blah, blah...

    There's a cast of way too many and a "ride into the sunset" ending. Come on! It reeks with gag worthy material.

  18. No worries. I'm tough.

    It says so right in the script. *laughs*

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  20. CHARLIE BAKER: An aspiring bicycle racer discovers that vermiculite insulation with asbestos has been poisoning a workplace for generations. He kills the hitmen that are sent to kill him and escapes to San Francisco to work as a bicycle messenger under an assumed name. But will the lure of bicycle racing destroy Charlie's new life?

    I know it sounds a bit like QUICKSILVER with Kevin Bacon, but I was a real messenger (aka #308 or Rocketman).

  21. You're In Luck:
    With his career on its last legs, on his way to audition for an Am Idol-type show, a forgotten, drug-addled grunge rocker kidnaps a bumbling, down on his luck copy editor in retaliation for downloading his music.

    An assassin turned school teacher works against the clock to stop his former partner-in-crime from committing a bloodbath of epic proportions.

    I can say with complete confidence that both scripts are actually worse than they sound.

  22. Isn't it great how a smartly-worded logline can make even the suckiest of all sucky scripts sound like something intriguing?