Actionable Secrets of the Past More Images
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Rating: 2.9/5 (4 votes cast)

Actionable Secrets of the Past

Why would the CIA be interested in something buried in a Connecticut meadow for two centuries? Unlikely friends set out for treasure but find something much more important to them and America.

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  1. Brian@TE says
    September 4, 2012, 8:26 pm
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    I wont go into too much detail as I think the other eviewers ahve covered almost everything. I do believe your dialoge needs lots of attention. First try to come into a scene after it has already begun and leave before it is finished, this will really help hit the high points and leave people wanting to learn more.

    It is apparent that you’ve done your research but way to much exposition that does nothing for the story in the dialoge.

    The twist your place in with Mona and Chris can be good but maybe should be handled in a different way. Mona says she is dating “chris.” Then you have Chris discuss Mona in a meeting. This kind of ruins the twist, not dramatic enough. If this were my film I’d do it this way. Mona mentions dating a Chris. Chris mentions having a contact to glean information from. With the Leo vs Nick set up let the audiance believe Leo is the source. Then reveal the source is Mona when she meets up with Chris at the cafe. Just a thought.

    Lastly, I don’t quite understand the motives of the the two couples. Whats a stake for them if they find or don’t find the box. The way this is written they could simply place the nails in a shoe box and nothing of their lives would be different. There needs to be a reason they dog this issue. This gives your characters much more depth and a reason the audiance will care about what happens to them.

    Hope this helps, interesting concept so stick with it.

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    jusork says
    September 3, 2012, 10:16 pm
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    I think you’ve got a lot of reworking and development to do dramatically. You try to infuse a lot of drama in your wording, but it doesn’t come through in the story.

    Your scenes especially need to be stronger. A lot of the scenes aren’t that informative. They’re very ordinary and routine. Little drama on the surface or below. Most of the dialogue consists of three things: admiring something historical, commenting on something that happened, or stating a desire to do something. An example of one of your uneventful scenes is when you describe Dee and El drinking iced tea while remarking on the discussion that happened in the previous scene. What’s the point really? You really need to add more story to your story.

    A lot of your script as well is very by the book and based on social standards, for example, your tour guide at the Silas Deane House says her information, then you say how she opens the rope, steps out and turns to everyone, then asks if there are any questions, then there’s a beat as nobody says anything, then every one follows her out of the room. That whole little portion is completely unnecessary and could be cut completely. It does nothing on the page and would be boring on the screen. Try ending her speech at something noteworthy to your story then you can say they continue on. Continue this with other scenes so you only have what you need. You may need to ask your self, is this scene really necessary. If it’s not, cut it and replace it with something else that develops the story.

    Your characters could be better developed. Often they don’t do much substantial. So much so that as the script progresses, I can’t really tell Nick and Doug apart. I started to wonder if you really needed both of them, especially since you have their wives help out a lot too. All you really needed was a husband and wife duo. Anyway, you describe Doug and Nick very distinctly in their introduction, but in the script they don’t seem to follow their traits strongly. They seem to think and do everything the same. Make them come alive through their decisions and actions more.

    Overall, the story is too laid back and leisurely to get going. I think you need to vary the action with more drama or development of the mystery. By page thirty, I have no idea what this story is about. I get a lot of information and facts about people and their town, but conflict should start coming in by around then.

    I was confused about what Silas’ mission was for the first thirty pages. He is to go to France to try to get support. I think that’s all i know. Perhaps you’re writing to an audience who would know exactly what he’s doing, but I’d recommend writing for more of a general audience who knows nothing. It wasn’t until the CIA meeting that we learned everything. Try bringing that scene to the very beginning. I think it would pull in the audience better than the other humdrum stuff that happens.

    As someone else said, your chronology is confusing. I had to reread it to see how nonlinear it was. What’s the point really? For Silas, it’s just the first scene, which takes place after a first few scenes of him. Should it be clearer? I’m more confused about Doug and Nick. I think you’ve got your dates mixed up. Either way I think it’s confusing to show a flashback in a flashforward or whatever it is. The flashback to the Fourth of July isn’t even necessary. You could carry out the same purpose in the present and make it more economical. In fact I think you should’ve started with Doug and Nick when they help each other with the furniture thing. You introduce them, they talk and then they go on their adventure. No wives, no extra casual talk. Another timeline issue was on page 89. You go back to 1780, during an uneventful scene of Barnabas and Silas talking, then it flashbacks to 1775 for an uneventful moment where they read a letter that really didn’t need to be read. Make every scene meaningful, constantly pushing the storyline forward. It’s also strange for a character to nostalgically flashback to a scene he wasn’t even a part of.

    You often quickly describe characters in details that couldn’t be shown right away on screen. If that’s how the character is, then show it; don’t tell it and expect it to come out for the reader. You make a lot of implications with scenery, too. Two within the same page: “Interstate 99 in Pennsylvania is so new that it is does not exist on maps.” “The old AM radio has just died due to poor reception in the mountains.” Keep them simple and relevant. Another: “Old Wethersfield, the Red House is never locked.” ?? And “Andy is reciting facts but he can’t put them in context.” What does this mean? Also don’t include an
    extra description in your slugline unless you have to for clarity.

    Also don’t be overly detailed. You have a lot of unnecessary action and descriptive details. I don’t see the importance of some of it as it doesn’t add anything to the story or enlighten
    the characters or setting. A good example is the very, very specific description of the small country graveyard. I see no reason not to condense one paragraph into simply: the corn field and grave site are framed by a lush mountain. And insignificant details like the exact
    dimensions of the ammunition box.

    A lot of characters. Some of them are just unnecessary. The son is especially unnecessary. He comes and goes and is really just yet another person in the mystery. Chris and Mona’s relationship and where it came from is confusing and rather unnecessary in the end. It definitely came out of nowhere. And after all that drama you try to create with them, they get back together somehow? perhaps Mona didn’t need to be made so angry, especially when you cut right after it to something without knowing any aftermath.

    By page 60, they’re supposedly being monitored for suspicious activity. But there has actually been nothing going on except for a throwaway scene where one of the couples happens to look through the code book probably months before for no reason other than pure curiosity. The only reason they are further investigated is from pure accidental misdirection. We had yet to see them uncover anything except a few clues that have yet to lead them anywhere. It wasn’t until later that they learned they did have something, but it’s not what the CIA thinks they have. Before they think about decoding the nails, all they have are some nails and they don’t even have any reason to believe there’s anything to look for. Actually, they don’t have much reason to believe the nails are anything at all and it’s all a hunch they’re going on that they could be something else. So what’s the point? At this point, they’re being followed for nothing. It feels like an empty story. The story of the mission to protect historical artifacts doesn’t seem critical enough to warrant such drama. At one point the investigators actually literally break into one of their houses.

    As your drama unfolds, I think it becomes overly complex for such a simple case. The investigators go into this roundabout rouse where they are persistent on getting in contact with his daughter to find out information about something she’s not even home to be of much help for. Why do they have to be so secretive about it? Wouldn’t they talk to them first?
    Perhaps the CIA should know exactly what they have so that it feels worthwhile to go through all this. What exactly are the CIA people protecting and why is it so important to do so? Strengthen that information and it will add more drama. You even work in a romance
    between two side characters that really isn’t necessary to the story at all.

    You write a whole intricate mystery that they’re uncovering with the map and the nail that points them to find something that ends up being behind their house. Seems like inefficient writing really. It would seem very easy to just have them accidentally uncover the thing behind their house and then uncover the mysteries from there.

    On page 61, Paul calls Det Walsh ‘sir’

    We never really find out what was so significant in the box to uncover Silas Dean’s contribution to the country and to have revealed something so significant about history that it was deemed worthy to put his face on the $20 bill. And it was Mona’s idea? Wow! Actually I didn’t understand why he had to keep secret his contribution after the war. France had turned on his actions. So what? Were they out for his deeds? You establish his loss of honor and forced secrecy clearly at the end, but it would do better dramatically to establish it more throughout since that’s important.

    The climax with Mona cutting a deal was very anticlimatic, and i was very surprised they offered her a job for what little we saw. Although it looks like the impressive work she did was passed over in your story so it’s really not even significant that she got somewhere.

    I actually didn’t know they had Home Depots up north. I guess I should’ve figured though.

    Good luck with your rewrites.

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    artgecko says
    August 27, 2012, 3:35 pm
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    Years of reseach and trying to relate men of today with men of the revolutionary war brings this three act screenplay together. Each act begins with the men in both time periods doing the same thing. Act 1 Bonfire, Act 2 Picnic, Act 3 On a boat.

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  4. Profile photo of christopherandre25
    July 14, 2012, 6:34 pm
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    The concept of this story has a very promising premise. There are some things that can be corrected and change that will help strengthen the story. When doing character descriptions keep it very simple. For example leave out statements like “Young in Years” Show us that in the screenplay. A lot of the dialogue gives too much information. The audience wants to see more action. If a character is going to have rapid fire speech it needs to be a lot longer dialogue.

    In a script never include Cut To:

    Some of the scenes seem confusing. Doug and Nick’s relationship is hard to define. It is very unclear how they meet as one scene there good buddies in 2010. Yet in 2011 they are just meeting each other?

    Pg 48- should be changed to the first scene as that will give a great idea of what is happening in the script.

    It has a very promising premise like I said. Why would the CIA find something suspicious in a very small library.

    I would try and fine way to shorten some of the dialogue and speed up a little of the action.

    I hope this helps.

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    • Profile photo of artgecko
      artgecko says
      July 31, 2012, 9:18 am

      Thank you so much for your time in reading my screen play and I really do appreciate your feedback.

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