“To make a great film you need three things: the script, the script and the script.”
After reading my stories in various places, people would often say they sounded like film. Naturally, I thought I’d have a go at adapting them into screenplays. Through untold trial and error, and in keeping with Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hours, you can see my progress through feedback received from contests and industry professionals. To date, I’ve written five features and four shorts.
THE GREAT ROCCO
Half-brothers pull off a big heist, but one kills his magician brother when the brother opts out of the business; unfortunately for the brother who did the killing, the dead brother and his magician girlfriend exact revenge from beyond the grave.
‘Everyone loves a good urban legend, some magic, a couple of feuding brothers and a cask filled with the blood and dismembered body of a murdered man. With the right director, such as an edgy auteur like Guy Ritchie this could be a violent but spooky romp with just the right amount of black humour.’
‘There is a certain satisfaction gained from a ne’er do well getting his comeuppance, and Jim and Charlie’s demise at the end of this script delivers just such a satisfying scratch of an itch. You have created some memorable characters. On the whole, this is an entertaining read and definitely the beginning of a fun and gory short film.’
‘You have a well-defined voice as a writer. In reading The Great Rocco, I thought it felt like one of Martin McDonagh’s early short films crossed with an episode of Tales from the Crypt. I happen to be a fan of both, so I had a lot of fun reading it.’
‘The Great Rocco has some very vivid characterization and visuals. Jim’s dialogue is bloody fantastic. The end point of the story feels proper and fitting as a standalone plot point.’
‘There has always been something spooky about magic, and combining the world of a failing magician with that of a couple of two-bit criminals is an exciting beginning for an action-packed film that is not short on attitude nor edgy and gory grit. The opening scene depicting Ronnie’s complete ineptitude as a magician is very funny, and it is easy to visualize these kids laughing at Ronnie’s feeble attempts at tricks. The fate of poor Billy immediately sets the tone for what is to be a bloody and darkly comedic film, and the whole thing reads like a ghost story that one might tell around a campfire to get children scared.’
‘You have a knack for creating colourful characters, and you have done an especially good job in crafting Jim’s dialogue so that he sounds authentically of his region, and this adds a great deal of flavour to the film. This script is filled with graphic moments as well such as Jim shooting Ronnie and the severed arm showing up at the door at the end of the film, and you do a nice job nevertheless keeping the film in a wry and over-the-top darkly comedic tone so that the violence does not overpower the film.’
A homicidal parolee wrestles with the ghost of a woman he loved and killed as he attempts to love again.
“Are ya, like, a real blonde — all over?” ‘Meat is not helping his case here but it is funny. Well done!’
Meat’s dialogue is very engaging because it’s so lyrical in its own way. Because I can see that he’s smart, I’m a lot more afraid of him than if he were simply a dumb hulk. Moreover, the dialogue in general is riveting because it challenges the reader to mine it fully for meaning, which I really enjoyed.’
‘There is very little ‘fat’ on this script. In other words, you avoid unnecessary or repeated information and never over describe action. This is the sign of a lean writer-definitely a good reputation to develop.
Strawberry Sunset would be relatively cheap to produce, which is important to a lot of investors and producers of short films. It has a limited number of easily secured locations, and there isn’t a need for CGI or a lot of special effects.’
‘A good short film with a twist is always a great calling card for a filmmaker and a writer, and you have a strong script here. This is a good start to getting noticed in the world of short films.’
‘The dialogue here is very authentic dialect, although it is never made perfectly clear in what region this film takes place. Meat’s chilling repeated line, “So damn cunnin” is genius in its simplicity. You have done a nice job writing dialogue that reflects the level of intelligence (or lack thereof) of your characters, and you have written a script that is not overly wordy or loquacious, appropriate for the genre.’
‘You have a natural beginning, middle and end to your story here, which is something tricky to achieve in short films.’
‘This is a highly effective short film with a major twist at the end that is both chilling and graphic in nature, and is sure to please festival goers looking for a twisty, gory little glimpse into the mind of a homicidal maniac. From the warped mind of Meat to the helpless, pathetic brother Wes’ feeble attempts to prevent his brother from going back to jail, this is a portrait of madness, rage and revenge and is therefore at times both terrifying and sad. You have done a nice job constructing this little story for a maximum payoff at the end, and themes of recidivism in the penal system, mental health as it pertains to criminals, and violence against women are all explored here in a shockingly frank manner.’
‘ Meat is clearly the standout character here, and it is fascinating watching to see how his mind works. He is clearly a menace, and it is shocking he was ever let out of jail.’
‘There is definitely a build in tension here to the final, gory scene. A good short film with a twist is always a great calling card for a filmmaker and a writer, and you have a strong script here. This is a good start to getting noticed in the world of short films. If you do a pass at the script with a focus on not ruining your ending by dropping too many hints, you will likely be able to attract some attention on the festival circuit, although casting the roles of Meat and Strawberry will be paramount to your film’s success.’
‘There is a raw quality to this script that might make an audience uncomfortable, but it is never a bad thing to get a reaction out of your audience.’
‘Your story is almost twenty minutes, though, so it’s in three-acts: we meet Meat and Wes in the first act and come to understand them and their situation. The first-act break occurs when Meat asks Strawberry home. From there, I became more and more worried about what Meat was going to do to Strawberry—just how you want your audience to react.’
‘This rising action brings us to the final trip to Horsenden Hill and the third act. Here, we definitely have a climax, but it happens exactly as I imagine it would. This is a very powerful narrative choice.’
‘Once again, your lean writing style is helping to keep the pace of your script very brisk. In addition, Meat’s simmering craziness really had me wanting to find out what he was going to do next, which is another way to ramp up narrative tension.’
‘You’ve done an excellent job of developing Meat into a scary character that I’ve never quite met before—and in only 19 pages!’
‘I really appreciated Meat’s dialogue. It was almost poetic at times, but always unexpected, which really helped to elevate your script above others in the same genre.’
‘The other characters all sound very naturalistic, which is very appropriate for what you’ve written—and even better, they all have unique voices. I was never confused about who was speaking. Moreover, dialogue never becomes on-the-nose.’
‘Your tone is very regular throughout the script and is appropriate for the subject and genre. Moreover, your lean writing style reflects this well and helps to communicate your skill at storytelling.
In Ibiza, a teenage coupl
‘The story starts right in the middle of the action which is interesting. Trinity is a strong lead and Iron Dread is a classic villain. You have created an interesting alternate world with a new language and new rules. The heist aspect of the script and the pace are thrilling. The story sucks you in and makes you care about the characters.’
‘Honeydickers uses its fascinating central characters to create a narrative filled with frantic tension. Iron Dread is potentially a brilliantly memorable villain, complicating the stakes for Trinity and Cage.’
‘HONEYDICKERS is a crime/thriller narrative with echoes of titles like IN BRUGES, LAYER CAKE and, given the focused narrative into which it evolves, mono-location narratives like BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE and RESERVOIR DOGS. The script’s real strength is its style. The dialogue is snappy, funny and dripping with character, which, coupled with a keen eye for visual description, does a fantastic job making the central players truly engaging. The story itself is effectively simple (helping those characters shine all the more), and the script proves particularly adept at using dramatic irony to build tension.’
‘The script is in a good place here. Though it has core genre elements we might expect to see in a typical crime/gangster narrative – most notably the twisted crime boss and the hapless leads who make the mistake of crossing him (anything from KILLING THEM SOFTLY to LOCK STOCK to IN BRUGES) – HONEYDICKERS does a whole lot to stand out. As above, a lot of this comes down to style. Despite how distinct it is in both location and character to their films, the script calls to mind writers like Tarantino or the Coen Brothers in its storytelling approach. Particularly the latter, in fact – just as they find this kind of exaggerated-but-effective poetry in the dialects of the American deep South, HONEYDICKERS does the same with the London dialect of its two (three if we count Migo) heroes.’
‘It’s complemented nicely by the premise itself, too. The script clearly