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Rating: 3.8/5 (17 votes cast)

Shades

A pair of sunglasses passes between characters in Southern California, causing a dramatic intersection of their personal stories.

2012 June User of the Month

Monologue: 98-107 (interrupted)

31 Comments

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  1. August 26, 2017, 11:03 pm

    I like your concept. It would also be pretty cool from the directing perspective.

    Don’t forget to consider how you formulate your plot and characters. I know it’s just a pitch so I don’t know what you might have in mind.

    I’m also curious about what “dramatic intersection of their personal lives” is suppose to mean. Does putting on the sunglasses suck them into a collective story?

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  2. March 17, 2013, 8:51 am
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    This is a good draft. I’d see to it that you focus more on dramatic aspects and keep the story moving forward at faster yet still comfortable pace.

    I liked Katherine, Bradley and the 9 year old boys characters. It’s definitely one of those scripts that I would have to read twice to fully grasp everything that’s going on, which I appreciate. I, personally would like a more compelling read, which based upon your writing I’m sure you are more than capable of producing.

    Good luck

    Ron

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  3. February 17, 2013, 11:25 am
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    You are a very unique writer and you have style. As a reader I love to be included in the journey and you delivered. Best wishes to you as you continue to grow!

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    bsouls4 says
    January 31, 2013, 1:33 pm
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    I like the concept, but I’m not sure how well it works. I understand that the sunglasses are a vehicle to switch between characters, but it doesn’t really work for me because why would anyone be like, “no, those sunglasses are something special, they have a mission in life.” It just seemed to be a reach.
    I think this would work better as a bunch of shorts instead of a feature because there’s not really any structure with the story, they are all really self contained stories that sometimes feature the same characters.
    Spoilers ahead for anyone who hasn’t read it, but I don’t understand the ending with Lavis and Mama Ester being the homeless killer. Maybe I missed it, but I don’t know what the significance of it is. It feels like it was just thrown in there to have a shock at the end.
    This could definitely work, but it needs more structure. I really think making it into a bunch of shorts would really benefit this script.

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    vmeakin75 says
    January 3, 2013, 4:21 am
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    Really enjoyed the dialogue and the concept’s great. You’re a powerful writer.

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    maxradbill says
    December 9, 2012, 3:12 pm
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    I like it. Subtle yet interesting.

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    iritu1021 says
    December 2, 2012, 10:37 pm
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    A well crafted story with a unique artistic concept at the center of it. Great dialogue and a nice cast of interesting, diverse characters. This could make a great Sundance type movie.

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    October 23, 2012, 5:14 am
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    I read for enjoyment purposes only and I must say, you’re a good writer and this is a really fun script!

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  9. September 1, 2012, 12:05 pm
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    There were several format/parenthetical/narrative issues..I didn’t get into the whole boring, actress, director, GQ/Pilates/L.A./Polo lounge stuff. Too cliche and boring. I think concept needs work.Pacing really slow..Id like to see the director /rape/fight,…as a clip on pg 1..or blood spattered homeless cart pg 1/clip and back tracked..the setup didn’t grab me.. Catalyst pg 20

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  10. wardparry says
    August 29, 2012, 8:21 am
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    Charming story. Having lived in LA and surrounding areas, it felt a very personal story to me. I think it will hit a lot of people in the same way. What is a massive score for you is your dialogue. You’ve got poetry in your veins, man. It sizzles, and has this delicate rhythm to it. The character of Seth is profoundly moving. You’ve written him with such skill, playing up the opposite emotion in scenes that ache with sadness.

    Looking at the contrasting opinions about your use of directing slugs, I was expecting a Mann esque overuse of the descriptive camera voice. I don’t think you have anything to worry about. Without the clear direction it would get messy, it helps ground the reader in this. You just have to take a read of the opening of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly script. Very similar. Formatting needs to be rock solid with material like this and you have it nailed.

    Some thoughts for you;
    Too many characters disappeared for long stretches for me. Katherine and Roger being two of them. I’ll echo some of Jusork’s comments here – too many of the characters felt like they were set up for a great ride, but the ride kinda stopped short. You have got some wonderfully rich characters ready, let the handbrake off with them as you do with Seth. Give them more. These multi-character narrative typically need one or two stories to really drive the narrative with other stories branching out from the central dynamic. I, and this is a personal preference, really wanted more from Katherine’s and Roger’s narratives. As it was you opened up Bradley’s story in the last 40 pages, returning to Roger and Katherine as a foot note. Structurally, these kinds of narratives are tough to pull off precisely because it’s hard to deliver all the beats to all the characters. But the structure is the key to accomplishing it. I think Traffic is a perfect example of one that achieves it, whereas Crash doesn’t deliver, for me, on the same merit.

    Going back to your dialogue. Whereas you have an outrageous talent for scripting diallogue, my only note here is that the rhythm and voice of each character sounds quite similar. You write intellectually verbose people really well. Everyone has something insightful, witty or smart to say. I think there’s some texture you can find to the verbal characteristics of your characters.

    I felt some conflict regarding Katherine’s choice to take Mitch home. I just realised what that conflict was, as I was writing this. I think you could have taken it further. I thought you were heading down that route when she took Mitch home. Despite having seen what he’s done, she still doesn’t care and takes him home anyway. An inner rejection of both herself and LA rather than the physical retaliation. LA is a city that swallows souls and I felt you could have gone further with this.

    All that said, you’ve got something really great on your hands. The only thing I would suggest you look at working is the overall structure to keep all hands on deck for the full story. The rest of my thoughts are just opinion, and will vary from reader to reader. The beauty of our industry. WP

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      tserlin says
      August 29, 2012, 4:36 pm

      Thanks, Ward. Great comments and I am thrilled you enjoyed it. I agree that the structure is the next issue to tackle with this one. :) Thanks again!

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    • wardparry says
      August 29, 2012, 7:45 pm

      For Admin, I just saw that the ratings is indicating 3 stars for “overall”. I actually selected 4 stars. Perhaps the page hadn’t loaded and i accidentally scrawled the mouse over 3 stars. Can you please correct. To confirm, I rated this 4 star overall. Please change. WP

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      • admin says
        September 17, 2012, 10:09 pm

        Correction 4 stars for overall rating from Ward Parry.

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  11. Profile photo of
    says
    August 28, 2012, 9:14 pm
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    I really enjoyed this script. I liked the way it flowed and how it all connected. I especially liked the scene were Bradley stands up to his father. The ending tied it all together. It was great.

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      tserlin says
      August 29, 2012, 4:37 pm

      Thanks, Steven! Glad you enjoyed and I appreciate the read.

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    jeffsal says
    August 11, 2012, 7:59 pm
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    A good read and clever story. Very impressive transitions (I get the “Crash” comparison although not racially-charged). At times it felt like I was reading a movie, not a script, which doesn’t happen often. BUT, I had to pay attention to catch some of the nuances and details. This should me called POV! On that note, the POV adjustments and color changes were strange at first, but I like the risk-taking and it worked for me. Clean, concise, and descriptive writing. I could see this catching some obscure director’s attention. And talent.

    A good mix of characters. I enjoyed Seth and Ester and the coming-out scene had pretty amazing dialogue and unexpected in how it twisted to the mother.The tone was a bit misleading at first, which sort of added to the read. I was pretty invested in the characters, even though some of them seemed more developed than others. You might consider this in any rewrite, because the series of stories should feel balanced. The August reveal was dynamite! The dark (O.S.) moments at the beginning bothered me a bit as it took time to reveal the object. It might work better onscreen, but for the reader, it’s a jump.

    Generally, I’d say the writing and structure are excellent. However, you could trim some excess in dialogue and prolonged moments. This isn’t a long drawn out dramatic piece, it is a series of shorts mashed together with a connective plot line. Shorter may be sweeter in this case. Good luck!

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    jebcchris says
    August 7, 2012, 7:26 pm
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    Shades reads well and has potential. Each character is fully fleshed out and unique. No two are alike, which is really important for this kind of storytelling. Having said that, some characters do get lost in the shuffle. We follow August and his sister throughout act 1 but lose their story after the concert.
    It is a bit long, especially for an artistic/experimental piece. Some scenes, for all their excellence in dialogue, go on too long with the back and forth carried on an extra beat or two. It wouldn’t hurt to trim scene length, have some characters talk a little less than they do. Basically, the whole would benefit from a little tightening.

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      tserlin says
      August 29, 2012, 4:40 pm

      Thanks again, Chris. Seems the structure will be the next element I focus on and maybe trimming the fat and lengthening the individual stories. Much appreciated! Todd

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    jusork says
    July 31, 2012, 9:09 pm
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    I still wouldn’t recommend the directing. You could leave it out to focus more on story and streamline the narrative. At the beginning, you choose to put off mentioning the sunglasses until after page 10. We have no idea what it is so the reader has no idea what the point is of following something we only know as an object. The idea that we see from the glasses perspective is interesting, same with the colors, but it also makes for a difficult first ten minutes. It becomes a part of the script eventually, but would work better for your shooting script only, which I believe you said this was. I’m going to keep this though since this is a script review, but will take the fact that it’s a shooting script into account.

    Some of your details I feel are rather extreme. For example, almost every person’s clothing is described in detail, even when it’s not important to the story and even for very minor character. Auxiliary characters really shouldn’t be described in detail, even if you have an image of them in mind; they aren’t important characters so unless the detail is important to story, leave out any descriptions of them.

    I actually disagree that the characters aren’t distinct. I think they are, but some of their characteristics could come out better through the decisions they make and less through off-hand dialogue. A lot of the characters seem to talk to each other so sarcastically and playfully, sometimes they’re very fiery with all their comebacks, then other times very polite with each other. I really don’t get some of their comebacks at times, especially August’s. I think August and Debrah could at least say their sarcastic name calling with a smile or a friendly punch to the arm. I got lost in their up and down conversation in particular. I know they have a sarcastic sibling relationship, but it sounds unnaturally antithetic. And repetitive. They are a mix of playful and thankful for each other multiple times in their dialogue.

    You put off explaining important story details a lot. What did Roger mess up on? Why wait to say it? I didn’t know August was blind until I think their next scene. I had no idea why Katherine suddenly called rape after that drunken foreplay. It was only twenty or so pages later that we learn she staged the whole thing to get back at him. With Brad’s storyline, I feel very in the dark. We get to know him a lot. Then out of nowhere he meets with his parents in a very dramatic scene. But there was no build up or set-up for it, except for a little hint that he’s about to go to hell, which at the time I was very confused about since I had no idea what he was referring to. Anyway, in each main character’s intro scene, you should hint at the details we need to know about them that will play a part later. Also make sure their goals are clear and not too complicated. For some of them, I have no idea what they’re trying to achieve in the story.

    I liked Roger’s intro. It was active and smooth. All of his scenes are very consistent with the kind of character you want him to be. But I think you could find ways to make his character traits a part of his character. I get the impression through the dialogue that he’s nervous and playful, to the point that he’s clearly the comic relief of the story, but I don’t see why.

    I think sometimes a character’s attitude at each step gets lost in all subtle facial expressions and reactions that most of your characters give. Maybe they went over my head but it’s best to be clear. This is a drama about people so you need to focus on these characters mental states and be as thoroughly clear as you can about how they change or respond to their situations. For example, on the bus Bradly for some reason gives a shaken expression. I had no idea why.

    It takes a while to really get to the heart of the story. At the half-way mark, 45 minutes, we still haven’t gotten into any conflict, which should’ve ideally been in by 30 minutes. I felt like we were still in development mode at that point. I recommend adding in more conflict/goals/motivation into the stories, introducing them early and touching on them often.

    I think you also need to add more actual storyline to each character. Consider story arcs. A drama is more than just dramatic moments. It’s about character. The only character with much of an arc at all was Katherine who seemed to see the world differently after the homeless man died, but that was only because you spent so much time on her. Even then you could’ve spent more time on her and less in other areas. Her backstory with her dead brother went nowhere.

    Be careful with the way you’ve organized your character’s scenes. Looking over it all, it seems kind of a mess. You introduce August and Debrah early, then intertwine Katherine and Roger (at one point, they were back and forth as if they were about to meet, but there didn’t seem to be a point to that juxtaposition). And Brad doesn’t come in at all until way late.

    Seth is more than just precocious, he seems like a big awkward nerd. I think you should describe him more along those lines, and if that wasn’t what you were going for, you really need to work on his dialogue. His semi-omniscient ability to know people is kind of annoying. Why does he have this ability? And what is its purpose? Same with Mama Ester and Lavis’ omniscience. In the end they know they found their owner. Why can’t they just be like, ‘wow, so they finally found their owner.’ Why do they have such magical knowledge as if they knew all along that they’d end up in the “right hands” after all that? The whole time they were talking about this idea and I had no idea what they meant. And what does that mean for the other carriers? I think you need to go into some more hinting about what’s so special about the glasses so we understand Ester’s deeper understanding of what it all meant. As far as I can tell, glasses seem unimportant to the story really. They come in so little and have little influence. They’re basically a fly on the wall to the story.

    As for the big reveal with Ester and Lavis, wow. I think you could’ve hinted at it at least. Her explanation was very vague and empty I felt though. It was like when people say things that are basically just common, well-worn quotations on life. They make you think, but they didn’t really say anything, especially about her thinking.

    Thanks for the read. Hope this helps.

    Ps. I don’t believe Annie Lennox did Sunglasses at Night, not unless she did some rare live version.

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      tserlin says
      July 31, 2012, 11:49 pm

      Awesome comments. Thank you!!! The subtle hintshidden the hidden bowl of hair locks in her booth. It’s very subtle but we see locks from — former “people.” Don’t want to give it away. The dramatic emotional elements are expressions more than action — and I thought teasing the opening elements (blindness) would be a more potent visual reveal. The omniscient kid plays into the spiritual theme running through this (Seth and Esther have this unique connection). Having said that, your notes are all excelllent and very well taken. The Annie Lennox note — thanks!! I was thinking into the mix – sweat dreams. :)

      Thanks so much for really taking the time to read and think about this. Greatly appreciated!

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        jusork says
        August 1, 2012, 2:10 pm

        No prob.

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        jusork says
        August 26, 2012, 9:36 am

        Quick clarification, I did catch the bowl of people’s hair. The hints that I wanted was any other hints that would support this big reveal. I didn’t feel like there were any and for that, it’s kind of a cheap surprise. It came out of nowhere. We’re supposed to be surprise by this extreme reveal that was never developed except to show homeless people being murdered. I’m sure you hinted at it in her vague, cryptic musings, but, well, I didn’t like her philosophizing much. It’s a pretty small part of the story, but I think if you keep it, you should work on it and I didn’t want you to think I just missed the surprise.

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    sethm says
    July 28, 2012, 2:58 pm
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    This script is very different from what I imagined it would be.  The way you visualize the narrative in your writing is definitely unique and skilled. Camera direction is never recommended, but you handle it very professionally, and might actually appeal to directors with the visionary aspect.  
    I couldn’t stop turning the pages on this one as I felt invested in the characters, which well very nicely fleshed out.  There could be a little more emotional weight, but it still worked for me. The “dark side” tone is subtle, but it works and the ending is shocking.  Super job with dialogue and transitions.  Your structure is nailed down very effectively.  I really felt as if I were there, sharing these moments as the POV changed.  Definitely not your average script.  I’d love to see more you your stuff!

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  16. rickemg says
    July 28, 2012, 1:54 pm
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    I enjoyed the script and the prose. Knowing that directors normally don’t like to have camera angles and such in a spec script, but it lends to a fuller experience. Well done Todd. I guess my only question is if you’ve any other scripts that are available for a read.

    Loved it.

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      jusork says
      July 28, 2012, 2:08 pm

      The camera angles are creative, but I still wouldn’t recommend having them in your script. It could negatively affect your sales and you wouldn’t want that.

      I’m still working through the script right now and will get back to you.

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      tserlin says
      August 29, 2012, 4:42 pm

      Thanks again, Rick. Definitelty a departure from the other script I sent you. I have my work cur out for me with this one. :) Much appreciated! Todd

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    July 27, 2012, 8:41 am
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    The Concept to this story is very promising however there are some major issues that made me have to re read again to try and follow along.

    First off the descriptions. While reading this I was able to get an okay sense of the characters yet, if I were to watch this I would have no idea that a character was bitchy or so on, unless I saw it. I had a hard time visualizing through this.

    Also there is a character of Seth, who speaks like he is twenty one and not nine. No nine year old speaks like that.

    While it is okay that the characters have issues, there was only two characters that really were memorable from this story and that was Lavis and Mama Ester. The rest of the characters felt exactly the same, I would of like to see more variety in the characters. Do more showing of the characters and less telling. Debra is a perfect example of this. If She is Self-conscious, Protective, and Trapped how can you show that to us and not tell us. You show us her trapped side, but not really her self-conscious side.

    The twist at the end is great however.

    Start with this.

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      jusork says
      July 28, 2012, 2:10 pm

      I’ve been trying to figure out a way to say a lot of what you just said. Especially the characters’ emotions not coming out clearly. I think they mostly seem flat because of this.

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    mark123 says
    July 19, 2012, 6:25 pm
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    Heard about this and was curious if it was different from the other “found item passing through friends” concept. I’ve got to say, it certainly is. And it’s nice to see the characters are not related in any way, but the sense of the few-degrees of separation is nicely handled.

    There are some extraordinary character moments in this and twists that I never saw coming. Some readers may be tempermental about your choices and the big flip in act three, but, this was a page-turner for me and you managed to treat each main character with a sense of core elements that bloom in a good way. The dramatic moments are pretty freakin’ dramatic.

    There are several characters, but you manager to invest us in each one appropriately. The technical elements are handled well and once we get going, the script sails along.

    I could see this movie getting made, although idependently. It could actually attract a nice ensemble of talent. This is a strong character piece, could get a cult-like following. I’d say you made some distrinctive choices in directions – but the whole of the collection of stories really balances out nicely.

    The whole POV changes were a little jarring at first, but once I became comfortable with the consistency of this technique, everything became more interesting, and it felt as though I was being taken on a cool, dark ride. I’ve never seen anything quite like this, and hopefully people agree. Quite a creative piece of work and the writing is exceptional. Good luck!

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      tserlin says
      August 29, 2012, 4:43 pm

      Really appreciate the feedback, Mark. Thanks for the insight and taking the time. -T

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