Dark Matter

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The Rewinding

Logline: When awakening from a coma a man, having lost memory, lives both forwards and backwards, experiencing future and past “for the first time”, simultaneously. As both “realities” unfold and mingle he follows his own character into the past in order to understand his role in the present, while he’s trying to save a wife he doesn’t remember that might be dead already.

Dark Matter Review

 

Overall Impression:

The Rewinding explores one man’s ability to maintain his grip on sanity as all of his precepts of time and memory are fundamentally transformed.  At its best, The Rewinding conjures some of the mind-bending mystery-within-a-mystery story layering first pioneered in Memento and expanded upon in Inception.  The concept itself would score an 8 or 9, but execution of story, scene, character and emotional structure did not deliver on that promise.

 

What We Found Most Effective:

 

The Rewinding included a number of ingenious moments of pseudo-interaction between Past Bob and Present Bob.  For example, we loved the unique take on the old taxi-chase trope beginning on page 38.

 

What We Found Least Effective

​The scenes of Past Bob (which take place in reverse) are devilishly difficult to follow.  Once they exceed a few paragraphs (30 seconds or so of screen time), our comprehension quickly deteriorated.  Compounding this problem: If a scene takes place in reverse, the emotional and plot punch lines are both delivered first, and the build up and explanation naturally come second – but since we already know what happened, the build up and explanation are much less interesting than they might otherwise be.

Suggestions For Improvement:

Big Picture Suggestions

  • Not enough happens in the first 20 pages.  Yes, it’s a complicated concept that requires some introduction, yes, there is some intrigue surrounding the opening shooting, but we think you could get through the exposition much more quickly.  Bob’s goals (emotion and tangible) need to be firmly established by page 20.

 

  • You’ve set yourself an incredibly challenging task, with the film taking place on 3 temporal planes simultaneously. A quick breakdown on our impression of each plane, and how you might improve them:

1) In the present, Bob spends his screen time trying to understand the visions he is having, and watching his past self.  Fundamentally, not much is happening (he is an observer).  We would love it if the present were its own story by itself, with a beginning, middle and end, its own emotional and tangible goals and all of the other accouterments of a complete story. 

 

2) The past is confusing, which, to a certain extent, is only to be expected since Bob is actually watching it in reverse.  It worked best for us when these sequences were short (less than 1 page).  Beyond one or two dialogue entries, and the conversations are almost impossible to follow (even with the advantage of getting to re-read it backwards, which the audience won’t have).  We recommend tightening all of these. 

3) The past/present together moments are the most fun.  We enjoyed all the little tricks you deployed (e.g., when the cell phone rings in the past and Present Bob is worried it will give up his position on page 26).  But here again, we recommend that you keep the past elements very short to give the audience the best chance of actually following them.

 

  • Story, scene, character and emotional structure are paramount in any script.  Our impression is that the primary focus of the script is on dealing with the intricacies of integrating the three temporal planes, rather than on the basic building blocks of story, scene, character and emotional structure.  Of these building blocks, the most clearly conveyed is Bob’s tangible goal, which is to find his wife’s killer (although we think it would be helpful if this goal drove the action more directly).  The least clearly conveyed is the emotional goal – a strong emotional goal would be very helpful to further engage the audience.

Odds & Ends

  • Pg. 2-3. The blank space on pages 2 and 3 is not necessary.

  • Pg. 6. Typo. The sentence starting, “Just before indicating 12…” appears to be cut off.

  • Pg. 9. The action entry is, “We notice that some kind of battle is taking place.  But it’s more heard and felt than seen.”  We found this too vague.  What is the battle?  A physical altercation?  If so, between whom?  If not, then what?  A shouting match?  A video game?  Film is a visual/auditory medium, so how do we feel it other than through sight/sound?

  • GENERAL NOTE: We recently read about early experiments in vision inversion by George Stratton, a turn of the 20th century psychologist. He studied vision/perception by creating some contraption (like goggles) that inverted vision with mirrors.  While at first the wearer saw things upside-down, the human mind eventually corrected and allowed the wearer to “see” things right-side-up.  According to Wikipedia, when Stratton first wore the glasses, he reported that on day one he felt nauseous, on day two only his body position felt weird and by day seven his sight was completely normal.  Your script made us think of that study.  It might be a nice nugget to work in to aid in suspension of disbelief.  Maybe the Dr. refers to Bob’s condition as the “Stratton Effect” (we have no clue whether that is the correct term).

  • Pg. 17. We didn’t buy that a cop on guard duty would fall asleep with his gun in his hand/lap.  Even if he fell asleep, why would his gun be un-holstered when Bob is in a comma?

  • Pg. 18. Typo.  “…of which only the last two letters are readably…”

  • Pg. 20. Does Bob change out of his hospital gown before escaping?  If it happens, we missed it and were left wondering if he was in street clothes or a hospital gown.

 

  • GENERAL NOTE: Almost every dialogue entry ends with an exclamation point.  It’s great that the dialogue entries are laden with passion and significance, but dialogue can be excited and expressive without the aid of an exclamation point; moreover, when every dialogue entry has an exclamation point, it devalues the punctuation by desensitizing the audience.  We suggest saving them for when you really need them.

 

  • Pg. 30. Spending an entire minute with the camera circling a sleeping character would probably result in a pretty boring minute.

  • Pg. 37. Note this action entry: “Present Bob sees Past Bob from afar.  Runs in order to come close.”  Throughout, we were confused as to whether, in order to see Past Bob, Present Bob needed to be in the same physical space that Past Bob had occupied, or if he just saw Past Bob’s actions, irrespective of where they took place.  For most of the script, it seemed to be the later, but action entries like this one confused us – if Present Bob sees Past Bob (without regard to their relative locations), then why would Present Bob need to run (or move at all) in order to see Past Bob better?

  • Pg. 41. Hard to believe a taxi driver will break traffic laws at his passenger’s request.

  • Pg. 42-49. The numerous, lengthy song quotes bog down the script, and left us confused.  What are you trying to convey with them?

  • Pg. 54. Typo. “Notices that Arora isn’t deade yet.”

  • Pg. 65-77. This is a long usage of the “rewinding” past.  We found the sequence confusing.  Also, consider that since it is a fight scene playing in reverse, we see the end first.  If Bob is fine at the end of the fight scene, then all the tension is gone from the rest of the action playing out in reverse (because we know Bob will be fine at the end of it).

  • Pg. 77. There are a lot of references to the “very annoying tinnitus like sound.”  If it is really annoying, the audience will be subjected to it over and over (and, presumably, will find it annoying).  Perhaps there is a way to signal that Bob is experiencing the sound, without subjecting the audience to it?  E.g., the first time he hears it, the audience experiences it and sees Bob pull at his ear.  After that, if Bob pulls at his ear, the audience knows that he is hearing the sound, but doesn’t actually have to hear it.

  • Pg. 88. It almost seems like Past Bob and Present Bob are interacting now, a very interesting sequence!

  • Pg. 92. We’re confused, are Past/Present Bob interacting?

  • Pg. 96. Now that Past/Present Bob are interacting, it doesn’t seem like Past Bob is “rewinding.”  Is this an intentional change?  If Past Bob is still rewinding, how is he interacting with Present Bob?

  • Pg. 100.  The past “rewinding” action on this page appears to be written in regular chronological order (Here’s the sequence: Past Bob wakes up, takes a shower, puts on clothes and watches the news).  Should this be reversed?

  • Pg. 124.  We didn’t buy Agent Salas’s explanation that he simply didn’t know what to tell Present Bob after he lost his memory.  Surely he would have said something?

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