Dark Matter

  Media

© 2018 by Dark Matter Media LLC

 
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Logline: An actor simultaneously experiences a surreal identity crisis while attempting to look back on his rise and fall of success, with a particular focus on the relationships with the women whom defined his life. After all is said and done, sometimes the only thing we can be sure of... is that it happens.

Dark Matter Review

 

Overall Impression:

For romantic swashbuckler David Freeman, there are only so many hearts he can break before he breaks his own.  It Happens resides somewhere (perhaps in more than one spot) on a continuum ranging from Notting Hill, to Before Sunrise, to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.  We like the concept - highlights and lowlight from David’s life up to the moment it’s ruined; however, execution lacked on a few key structural components.  Overall, a very solid effort, but we felt the script is held back by an emotional highpoint that wasn't adequately justified, scene pacing tending toward sluggish, and that David’s journey lacked a tangible goal to keep us engaged.

What We Found Most Effective:

 

David and Peter’s shrink/BFF relationship is absolutely fantastic.  Great humor, honest writing and just a lot of fun.  We found ourselves looking forward to their scenes.

What We Found Least Effective

The dream sequences didn’t add all that much.  Early on, they acted as something of a catalyst, jumping the reader deeper into David’s emotional state than we might otherwise have achieved.  Later in the script, after we were fully in tune with David’s journey, at best they acted to reinforce what we already knew David was experiencing, which rendered them repetitive.  Would the script be significantly different if they were all simply removed?

Suggestions For Improvement:

Big Picture Suggestions

 

  • It Happens has a complex timeline and a chronology that jumps backward and forward within a 4-5 year range frequently.  For the first 5 changes, we diligently endeavored to place each new scene in its proper order and to keep the story structured in our mind's eye.  By the second half of the script, it became tedious and confusing, despite our continued effort to maintain a clear understanding of the timeline.  Is there something intrinsic to the story that would be lost if the story were told in chronological order?  E.g., in Memento, the  flashbacks are ingrained in the fabric of the story.  We would at least consider minimizing or simplifying the time changes.

  • We consistently found that scenes started slow, were occasionally repetitive, and ended fast and furious.  For instance, the hotel bedroom scene on pages 9-11.  The point of the scene is: Toni is pissed at David, believes he had an affair with Sharon, and is leaving.  The scene could have been more efficient by cutting out showing Toni’s packing, only showing Toni throw one thing at David, and cutting down to one crude joke from David (one is enough to show us he can be callous).  We encourage you to challenge each scene and trim what isn’t essential.

  • What is David’s tangible goal?  Not that you need a MacGuffin, but some objective to hook the audience and keep us invested is essential.  In a sense, the “It Happens” captions stand in for this device, but to us that wasn’t enough.  Without some goal for David to achieve, we felt adrift in his story at times.

 

Odds & Ends

 

  • Pg. 3-7. We like the playful dynamic between David and Peter, but the running couch joke wasn’t our favorite.

 

  • Pg. 10. Interesting premise to this scene: celebrity, breaking up with girlfriend, indicted by talk show clip.  It’s got a certain morbid fascination to it that paparazzi hustlers often elicit.

  • Pg. 13. The countdown to “It Happens” is jumping around a lot.  We suspect things will become clearer as the story progresses, but at this juncture it’s pretty disorienting.

  • Pg. 13-18. While there are a few fun nuggets, and we like the inside baseball look at film production, this scene drags a little.

 

  • Pg. 27. “You being a shitty actor.” Nice line – a good gut punch!

 

  • Pg. 29. The action entry indicates that Sharon “walks away…” but is immediately followed by a dialogue entry for Sharon, presumably meaning that she didn’t walk away.  Is she calling back over her shoulder?

 

  • Pg. 30-37. Another scene that feels a bit too long.  The dialogue is strong, humorous and acerbic. But the point of the scene – that David is a mess and struggling in his relationship with Toni – could have been conveyed much more quickly.

 

  • Pg. 38. Typo. “Toni asks the David a question.”

 

  • Pg. 39-44. The David/Toni meet cute is… cute!

 

  • Pg. 45-49. Best scene of the script so far.  Peter is hilarious.  Nice work.

 

  • Pg. 65-72. This scene is a microcosm of what works and what doesn’t work in your script.  The first 4 pages of the scene are repetitive, and somewhat bland.  The last three pages are really great writing – emotionally charged and intense.  Take another close read of every scene longer than four pages – challenge yourself to be more concise and punchy, as the last three pages of this scene demonstrate, you can clearly do it.

 

  • Pg. 72. Typo. “Derek” vs. “David”

  • Pg. 79. While we’re still curious to learn what “It Happens” means, really the only reminder of that concept we get is through the captions.  This deep into the script, it feels like “It” should have either happened, or been worked into the script in such a way that we have a pretty good notion as to a few things that “It” might be.  We’re also curious as to why the references to when “It” happened are growing increasingly less accurate – at this point we’re chalking it up to humor.

 

  • Pg. 85. Typo. “…side by side down a girt path.”

 

  • Pg. 90-97.  Great scene.  Our only issue is that it seems inconsistent with Sharon’s character.  She has been in complete control up until now, how could she have failed on something as easy as birth control?

  • Pg. 104. Typo. “Dzvid”

  • Pg. 105. Typo. “…you settled for the appearance of looking like you were looking help.”

  • Pg. 114. We don’t feel that Sharon’s feelings toward David are adequately justified in this scene.  While not a model human being, and certainly a womanizer, David generally comes off as affable, and – on balance – as a good person.  Even if he is a poor actor, Sharon’s outburst is at a level 9, whereas David’s transgressions against her are at a level 2.

  • Pg. 116. Typo. “seases”

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