I submitted The City That Never Sleeps With Me to a pretty popular, high-volume competition this past November, and each entry comes with two in-depth analyses by a set of professional screenwriters/readers. The quarter finalists are being announced this Friday, but in the meantime, I’ve been dwelling over and re-reading the “what I liked” parts of my thoughtful reviews (they arrived this week), and feeling pretty damn great about my script. The “what needs work” section from both writers is also very fair and constructive and even more comprehensive than the praise, but of course I’d rather not share those weaker moments just yet… Let’s stick with the positives for a hot minute!
Norah’s introduction is memorable, speaking volumes on her character with the use of visuals alone, and the interaction between roommates Norah & Allie is a study in contrasts, with realistic dialogue and chemistry that entertainingly buoys their interplay. Norah’s flipping-off the cat gets a laugh every time she does it, and her page 12 blackout sex aftermath, with the strange guy being nice to her in the morning, is head-shakingly comical, especially upon hearing that all of these guys are named “Daniel” until proven otherwise. The writer injects many quirky bits throughout, and shows a real knack for detail in Norah’s offbeat and unpredictable world, such as the Naked Cowboy appearing on page 23. Page 35’s raunchy-witty exchange between Norah & Allie wins another laugh and the slight disconnect between Norah and her mom is presented well every time they talk. Margot seems perfect on page 52, like the friend/roomie Norah’s been waiting all her life for. When Margot starts getting weird, we detect that things may not work out well with their living arrangement when all’s said and done, and when their friends don’t mix on page 81, it’s all but assured. The party turning into an impromptu intervention, highlighting the striking generational gap between its participants, is another plot point well-handled here, in a screenplay that accomplishes the vast majority of what it sets out to do, all while keeping readers laughing and shaking their heads in equal measure.
And #2: (this review reads more like a theatrical trailer, but nevertheless…)
You quickly establish the defining characteristics of your
protagonist, Norah: intelligent, somewhat hedonistic, stuck in something of a career rut and struggling to live up to her creative ambitions. She’s a flawed character but (to an extent) the fact that her flaws tend to mainly thwart her own objectives makes her somewhat sympathetic.
The question of which character - if any - will be Norah’s romantic goal is a good source of dramatic energy. Is Jonah (an old flame who has suddenly reappeared in an unlikely guise) a worthy goal? Should Norah be concentrating on her writing, or can she strike some kind of balance between everyday/romantic life and her creative life? There are some amusing interludes with various one night stands or abortive flings.
Your dialogue, though sometimes overlong, is believably expressive of character; you capture a certain kind of urban interaction - a little jaded, or feigning jadedness for self-protective reasons; bawdy; flippant but affectionate - quite well, giving your secondary characters (Allie; PJ) distinctive voices.
It’s nothing ground-breaking, but it’s a start. Another round of edits and I think the screenplay will be ready for bigger and better things. Like getting Ryan Gosling to play Jonah.
SIXTY! Sixty pages!
DID YOU KNOW the average feature-length film is between 100 - 120 pages and 1 page is equal to about a minute on screen AND that this is the most accomplished I’ve felt (creatively) in a very long time?
But seriously, it’s no big deal. We’ll party when it’s finished.