Editing "I Shall be Released" and "42 Days"

May 14, 2016

In a late night editing session, we took a look at a script from one of our awesome Twitch contributors, Gregory Mandarano (@majinbuu1831).  His script is a biopic of the well known musician, Levon Helm.  After that, we read over the first page of "42 Days."


Here were our screenplay takeaways: 

  • Stating your theme in the story, and having it come authentically from a character gives your story weight and your character a MORAL flaw or goal.

  • Lots of flashbacks early in the story are risky.  If you DO have a flashback, be sure that its presence CHANGES THE OUTCOME of the current scene.  

  • If one scene expresses a point, don't write another one showing the same point. Trust your reader and keep developing on top of that foundation. 

  • If you're writing a script with minimal dialogue, spend extra time developing the action lines of the story since they will carry the narrative.


Here's the video: 



And here are our "quick edit" line-by-line notes:


I Shall Be Released: 

Logline = Suffering from a cancer that threatens his voice, Levon Helm reflects on his life with The Band, and how their meteoric rise to fame comes with the heavy cost of his best friend's suicide.

P1 - Body implied in first line? 
P1 - like the stylistic music coming in - nice effect 
P2 - he's ready to see = good suspense, but be sure it pays off 
P2 - reph the Levon / Levon in oncologist intro 
P2 - How does he look when he doesn't know what to say -- hang head?  etc. 
P2 - in your setup you wanna see the character in PUBLIC / PRIVATE (family)
/ ALONE - so well done for doing that here 
P3 - mandolin 
P4 - great meditative tone, but hoping it develops into a strong narrative
P4 - "staring down at what you've done" = BAD = clarify the mandolin breaks 
P5 - I don't know this band, so this seems like a list of names 
P6 - A lot of flashbacks that seem to be CAUSED by the scenes we're in
but don't CHANGE the outcome of them
P8 - Richard's jump to "this is BS" seems a bit abrupt -- I'm not sure
why he's so angry. -- could be my reading here -- consider adding action
to show he's growing more heated 
P9 - GOOD Hero belief - they only need to know our names 
P10 - parallel action line starters / consider adding some dynamic action like
moving speakers or something 
P12 - good new statement of theme - now that he CAN'T make music 
the reader wants to know whether he can still feel accomplished 
P13 - good contrast here with the Gold corvette 

--Characters are SUPER well developed especially Levon and Robbie - 
I LOVE The fact that they have TRUE thematic BELIEFS And goals coming 
from the character
--Writing is overall very solid. 
--The ED sullivan show is when the story picked up for meditative

--A few of the sick old man who can't sing scenes grow repetitive 
I'd consider picking the best and using that 
--In some of your scenes, keep it dynamic -- have them DO stuff while they talk 
--BE RIGOROUS in your flashbacks -- ENSURE They drive the CURRENT 
scene forward -- only keep 2 that don't 

42 Days 

P1 - mirror words - side
P1 - chasing a butterfly is GENERAL so risks cliche - what's SPECIFIC 
to THIS dog's character?
P1 - chasing / chasing 
P1 - beware the punchy stacatto sentenses in action when acion will 
carry the story in a piece like this -- invest a little extra in 
the description in a story like this 
P1 - Check up on how to do POV - you may want to break into a new SLUGLINE
P1 - NOOOOOOOOOOOOoowoef300220 not alone! 

--ensure your action lines are ON POINT in a script driven by 
a dog which means it will have less dialogue 

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