Under The Stars
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Under The Stars

Bill Monroe reflects about his life running a drive-in movie theater.

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  1. February 13, 2014, 5:56 pm
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    It’s not easy to put your heart and soul into your first script to find it’s not working. But please feel some comfort that very writer has been there. Unfortunately, I basically agree with sabatino’s comments.

    Having said that, there is the basis of a good little story here. To begin commenting and passing on to you all the constructive suggestions required is such a big job, on this draft, that in this forum it is impossible.

    The very first thing you need to is invest in some screenwriting software like Final Draft. if you don’t wish to do that, then, really, stop trying to write screenplays. No reader will bother to read a draft that is not in standard format. if it is great story and beautifully crafted in every other way… they will never know, because the first page won’t even be read. Brutal I know, but reality.

    You need to find a writers’ group you can work with. if you don’t have any writer friends, and depending on where you live, you can contact The Writer’s Store. Or contact the local college that has a film and screenplay course. You can source a group from the internet, a script editor or writers looking for some pocket money by editing scripts. Google ‘writers groups’ in your area.

    Every writer, even the very best and most experienced, needs feedback and this is the best way for you to find it.

    Read some books on screenwriting. Read the screenplays of films you like. Any films that have been successful. Rent ‘The Last Picture Show’ by Peter Bogdanovitch. Different story, but I think there are some parallels.

    A couple of specific comments.

    As a reader, I don’t know the age of Bill when I first meet him. Nor Kate.

    Let the action tell the story, not the dialogue. That is not dialogue. The term is exposition and has to be avoided.

    Bill seems somewhat enlightened, so why does he suggest such a cliche and sexist role for Kate as going to secretarial school?

    if you Google ‘Blake Snyder’s Beat Sheet Explained’ you will find an interesting resource. it is a basic story structure for films. Not every film follows this. But most do and it will be a help.

    And the best note I can give you… work out what your story is.

    You have an opportunity to make comment on changes in society over a period of time.

    You need to make more of Bill’s time in New York. Finding out that his integrity is more important than the ‘big’ job is a great character moment. Let the audience know it is a lot he is giving up.

    Decide, do you want to do a parallel following of Kate. She should go through more stuff than that some guy tires to grope her.

    These type of stories work best when the two main characters suffer on the way to finding each other.

    Don’t spend so much time on the old film-cowboy-cowgirl thing. it should just be there. The emphasis should be on who these characters are and setting up the story and the arcs.

    Lose most of the minor characters. You don’t need them. it’s confusing with all these people coming in from nowhere and then disappearing.

    Maybe the drive-in is just a bunch of weeds when Bill returns. That could be the big challenge that he takes on.

    How do you tie in the real estate thing? Maybe a corrupt real estate developer is trying to steal the land for a development that will be bad for the community. Kate’s mom has been fighting against it, but is losing way.

    Lose the flashback thing. You don’t need that either. Just tell the story from when Bill is 19 and he goes to get the summer job.

    Basically, up-the-stakes! and simplify.

    Good luck with your rewriting.

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  2. ssabatino says
    January 20, 2014, 10:57 pm
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    I’m going to give it to you straight. This piece should have never been placed at this level of the competition. I would not have read past page 4 if I hadn’t been assigned to review this document. Aside from grammatical errors, you have huge formatting errors. So much so, you need to buy yourself a copy of The Screenwriter’s Bible. You also need to purchase script writing software. There is an industry format and font standard that is basically mandatory if you want to be taken seriously. Once you have done your homework and read a few “how to” books, you will see what I mean. In fact, just look at the formatting of the majority of scripts in this competition to notice the vast difference between them and yours. Don’t get caught up in direction, writing in camera shots, etc. You have bigger fish to fry here. What you have is a time line, a bullet presentation of a man’s career, a backdrop at best – not a story. Your logline stated Bill Monroe reflects on his time running a drive-in theater. Well, you didn’t write about that. You wrote his biography – a sketchy one at that. At first, I thought Bill Monroe was a well known person. I was going to Google him. Why would you pitch it that way? At the very least, I was anticipating an array of vignettes allowing glimpses into the interiors of the cars, creating an intimacy between the audience and your characters. By the way, you target an adult audience, yet the lines seem to have been penned by a juvenile. There is a maturity, or pithiness, missing from the gestalt of your dialogue. For example, when the characters talk about showing the “sex” movies twice a week they could have easily been discussing gas prices. My advice for you is to focus on one aspect of the drive-in theater business and how it impacts your main character. Forget about Bill’s life story and how he met his wife…yadda yadda yadda. By the way, a buckaroo is a cowboy, not a cowgirl. Your use of that endearment sent me over the edge.

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    craighorst says
    October 7, 2013, 7:30 am
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    A very sweet, nostalgic story, well structured but needs some alterations in the formatting. Still, it was relatively consistent and easy to follow. The characters are well developed. A great “feel good” film. Some times the dialog seemed a little too simplistic. Probably not a script for today’s market, but still a lovely story.

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