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"A Place in the Ground" by Don Riemer ~ Honorable Mention

Logline: A bankrupt funeral director desperate to avoid financial ruin decides to rob the grave of a wealthy eccentric, whom he just buried with a fortune in jewels.

Genre: Drama - Thriller

Cast Size: 10+

Production Status: Available (Please contact the author to negotiate the rights)

Contest: Feature ~ Round 2 of 3: Ten Pages (Apr. 2009)

Contest Scores
PoorFairGoodVery GoodExcellent

Comments Made During the Contest

Adam Grage (Level 4)

I like this story. The dialogue is crisp and tight in most spots. It felt a little on the nose with the expositional dialogue between Frank and his wife. However, the visuals done well.

I like the scene of him pumping gas and the interaction with an old friend. The tension is built up nicely till we get to the bedazzled old lady in the coffin. I can't really note much else that seems to need any type of work. Good job.

Brian Wind (Level 5)

The pacing is good. Nice descriptions. The characters felt a little bit one dimensional to me. The dialogue was mostly good, but there were a couple points that seemed a little too 'on the nose'. I think the story you've got going here is a good one, although it feels a little familiar. I think you could have ended a bit more of a cliffhanger at the end of page 10 than him meeting the family. Overall, I felt like this has some potential and will be an entertaining read if it advances to the finals. Nice work.

Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus)

Good title. I'm not sure if I suggested losing the comma - but I will now. Otherwise, a good logline.

Opening sequence - why did you capitalise A LOVELY AUTUMN LANDSCAPE...? then not the rest? Perhaps, to say it was a slide show first?

I'm wondering if the opening 'pitch' is too long. It makes me want to shout Come ON...perhaps not quite right for the opening? Starts it off in a dip.

However, Gorman's dialogue is good fun. I'm wondering if he is an important member of the cast or just incidental?

Okay. Uh, my cell number is the
numeric equivalent of my first lay.
Big redhead? Sophomore year? In
case you’re ever feelin’ nostalgic. - I simply didn't understand this.

And who on earth was that guy?

I'm puzzling over this 10 pages. Whilst it was well written, with distinctive characters, I'm not sure that there was enough of a hook to make me desperate to find out what happened next. From the logline, I know that Frank will be tempted by the riches of his client, but from the 10 pages, that didn't quite come across.

Chris Keaton (Level 5)

Not bad for a beginning. I read through the whole thing without pause, but what else was I going to do. I love the ending set up with the crazy rich lady. I can see the gears turning in the funeral dude's head. I'll be interested in seeing how you handle this.

- I think your title is suffering from Giganticus Egoiss.
- What the hell is wrong with Fade In?
- Spell out numbers in dialog.
- Don't start a scene with dialog, at least give us litle hint at what we are seeing.
- Don't underline things.
- Double space before scene headings.

Chris Messineo (Founder)

Great title and the new logline is a definite improvement.

Wonderful opening. I love how much of the story you are able to tell through visuals. I really like Frank a lot. I should mention I'm not a fan of his wife, but I think that is intentional.

Your craft is excellent.

If I had one small complaint, it would be that there isn't a "big hook" in the first ten pages, but your writing style is so good and easy to read, that I definitely want to go on.

Very well done.

Dan Lennox (Level 5)

Your opening scene was great! I loved it. It hooked me right away and kept me involved in your story right to the end. Also, I thought your character descriptions were well written and thoughful.

I'm not sure if your intent was for this to be serious with this project, but I have to say, the whole hearse repo scene was funny. Poor FRANK, the guy just can't seem to catch a break.

Your first ten pages were well done, you introduced your characters, you presented the central conflict, premise, and theme of the story.

Very good job!

David Birch (Level 5)

has a lot of potential...enjoyed the "repo" scene...writing was well done...the dialog worked...was a little "slow" around page 8, but might pick up in the ensuing pages...good luck in the vote tally...

Dom Kullander (Level 3)

Cool concept- it has the makings of a great little comedy if approached correctly. Your characters well formulated, though I felt the Garrison character added little to your narrative in these early stages. Kevin was great- his interaction with Frank was a strong point of your script.

Erich VonHeeder (Level 4)

Here are the notes I jotted down as I read through your pages:
I like this opening a lot. “I recommend the Batesville Sierra.” Love that transition. Nice.
“ want the cheapest urn they’ve got. I want a damn Ziplock!” Great line.
“How about I tell you you’re gorgeous?” Wow, he got over that whole Gorman thing fast. If this is a statement on his character: the type of man who can shrug off a confrontation in a second, then maybe even one line of action to that effect would help us, as readers, make that transition with him.
Very interesting dynamic between the town undertaker and town drug dealer. Awesome. That’s the kind of relationship that great movies are made of.
The repo. Didn’t see that coming. And the “…I’m also a CPA” is a great twist of the knife.
“No need. I brought them with me.” Now that’s funny. You are really good at developing characters through SITUATIONS…I feel like I know a lot about this character simply by how he’s acting. (I know that sounds like kind of a silly thing to say…but it’s just worth pointing out that you’re not sitting back and describing the characters, you’re just letting them bloom in front of us…it’s all very organic and interesting.) I guess I’m just trying to say that I’m enjoying this a lot.

All in all, I don’t have much to say about this except that I am really looking forward to reading the rest of it, and there is NO DOUBT in my mind that I will get that opportunity.

These first ten pages are the best I've read thus far...and your title is STILL probably the best in this competition...and a lot of other competitions too. I’m hooked.

Rock on.

Faith Friese Nelson (Level 5)

Very good start. I think this will make a really funny movie!

Page 1: "... your father’s arrangements will run 19,495 dollars." In dialogue, always write numbers out fully unless the number is a date. So: "your father’s arrangements will run nineteen thousand four-hundred ninety-five dollars."

Page 2: When Frank and Gorman talk to each other, they probably won't use their names in the conversation.

I like the reaction to the funeral costs. Good work! Probably what my reaction might be.

I would suggest not underlining in the dialogue. Let the actor decide how he wants to emphasize his lins.

"A tapping on his window. Frank looks up to see a WHOLESOME BRUNETTE." Suggest something like this instead: "TAP TAP TAP. Frank looks at the window ...."

Page 6: "A web site:" Not sure what you mean here. Do you want a visual of the computer screen?

Funny scene with the lime being repoed!

"You need to pick out a casket, there’s usually a 3-day delivery..." In dialogue, when you have a number always write it out unless the number is a date. So 3-day becomes three day.

Felice Bassuk (Level 4)

Nicely done. Well-written, great dialogue, unique character descriptions, good pacing. My only comment would be about a technical thing: Don't capitalize for emphasis. Words like limousine, gleaming metal coffin, T-wrench, etc, shouldn't be capitalized. Only capitalize words that make a sound, usually a loud sound. Also, don't underline for emphasis. Let the actions and gestures "tell" what you want to highlight.

But overall, well done, and I'd like to read on.

Gabe Feinberg (Level 2)

I like this so far. My only hesitation is that your protagonist is a bit inconsistent at times. I realize that as part of his profession he is supposed to be somber, but as soon as he steps out of the official rooms of the funeral home, he is a filled with vibrancy, vitality and emotion. The gap between these two versions of himself is a bit startling at times, so maybe try toning down the "Frank in the real-world" part.

Jeannie Sconzo (Level 5)

The logline gives me more of an idea of what's coming after the first 10 pages which is just starting to get to the meatiness of the story. I wanted it to keep going. I think most people in this day and age and economic crisis will be able to relate to Frank. Very good.

Jess Flower (Level 3)

Great idea. I like a lot of your execution too. I found my "suspension of disbelief" wavering on a couple of moments (the repo and the rapid transition from "Mike the Griever" to "Mike the Offended" -- but I still bought it. I would like to see more, for sure. I can see Frank and Claudia much like the Nicolas Cage and Holly Hunter pair in "Raising Arizona." Very good.

John Brooke (Level 5)

Right off the top you have a wonderful gholish story concept that I you have hooked me to experience.

I’m not sure if this was your original title: “A Place in the Ground” is definitely grounded but as a title it sure doesn’t reflect the action and power of your scrip.

What a reveal, here I thought that the undertaking funeral business was the ultimate in economic stability safe from the booms and busts. I mean your customers are dying for the services offered.

From the opening introduction of Frank it is obvious that he is changing, being humbled by the state of business affarirs surrounding him.

Frank’ reversals are plausible and drive these first ten pages.

Gobsmacked, a wonderful and perfect word for Frank’s reaction to the open casket.

The dialog is a bit wooden but it does echo that professional mourner insincerity superbly.

I keep getting this eerie feeling that somehow Frank is being set up. Could be that I’m just suspicious by nature, maybe I’m wrong, and I sure hope I am, but I do detect a scam somehow.

Maybe the sudden arrival of Kevin Brogan with his mother already embalmed, laying in a top of the line casket packed with jewels and being attended to by another funeral home’s personal seems somehow just too damn weird and pat to be completely plausible.

No doubt about it, it’s a catalytic moment.

This is a movie, heck, maybe even a dark comedy.

Jose Batista (Level 5)

I like the pace at which this script moves. It is well structured and presents its scenarios well. I felt you were able to neatly pack in a wealth of information into these 10 pages. The basic premise of the story is already in place, but there is hardly any subplots in place. The whole script would work well enough if it is centered on the jewels and the ensuing fiasco behind it, but is is not foreshadowed in any way. I would hate to see the wealthy children go broke and that becoming the excuse to dig her back up. That would be painfully obvious. There needs to be an original angle to get the body back out the ground. So far, it is not apparent in any way.

Kevin Carty (Level 4)

Nice concept. I wish you used the word wreath instead of farewell arrangements, it just really doesn't sound or read well or don't use it multiple times in the It just really sounds wrong and almost disjointed as a sales pitch. First off the o.s. is just bad to me because I don't know if he's a salesman because he doesn't sound very convincing. Suggestion: Focus more the things you would like someone to say to you to make you buy funeral arrangements.Like:

Farewell arrangements are your final chance to show your loved ones how much you care and to let them go in the most beautiful way money can buy.

Frank is a salesman, right. Don't tell us who Claudia is show us what she's about. Dsecription, signs, dialogue and photos or let us come up with have faith in your readers and viewers instead of just stating the information.
Gorman is the only saving grace of that scene, also I don't sense any kind of disappointment on Frank's part or even a real feeling like he's bad at what he does. It's just there for effect apparently.
Your character seems extremely lame and stiff for the first few pages. Your descriptions even lag at around the 5th page. That sucks because I was praying it might get better. Man that dialogue with Garrison wasn't exciting at all, pharmaceuticals wth cmon chief.
STOP USING FRANK SO MUCH call him the mortician or something spice up your action.
Since its a drama sprinkle some comedy in there its already murose lighten it up. If I were an exec I would hate this. 10 pages have got to rock. Look at some dramedy scripts like Juno etc. They are talking about a serious topic of teen pregnancy but they do it in a charming way. The script isn't disturbing or anything just plain like cheap vanilla yogurt.

Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5)

It's a good ten.

I would definitely turn this into a comedy. Maybe it's just me. In the vein of Dick and Jane. Think about it. It would still be very much different than Dick and Jane and no less fun.

It's a lot of talk at the beginning. I'm thinking if you have so much of dialog, you could let your characters shine through it, perhaps.

page 2 "The phone RINGS" got me confused. They don't answer, do they?

You going to use Garrison, right. If not you don't need him in your first ten, I think.

I personally think that only a person with a criminal mind can do something like that (rob dead). So it would read so much better if it was a comedy. This way I'd suspend disbelief all I want. No, rather all you want:)) Again, perhaps just me?

Kirk White (Level 5)

I'm liking this! I think it has tremendous potential and you tell a lot in the first ten pages...there is no "filler" in's all action and story. I get a good sense of the history of the town, his situation, who his potential allies and enemies are AND a great tease as to the main story with the coffin reveal. Not bad at all for 10 pages!

KP Mackie (Level 5)

Entertaining, and an original idea. Enjoyed the surprise "repossession." Wondered where the encounter with Wholesome was headed. Fun little way to provide info about the status of Frank's funeral business. Clever.
Good job setting up all the characters and their relationships to each other. Provides all sorts of possible veins beyond page ten.
Much of the dialogue catchy. Who's "Tommy" that Frank thinks made the phone call?
The premise is a good one, but bothered by volume in Clare Brogan's casket. Not sure that a family with money, even as much as the Brogan's apparently have, would allow their young-deceased Mother (only 70) to be buried with so much "original," expensive jewelry. Sounds a bit far-fetched. Could see Frank discovering one expensive ring, for example, hidden or tucked in a pocket.
Really enjoyed this script. A super-easy read with a lot going on. Am hoping that there's more to the story of all the "gems" that Clare is floating in.

Kyle Patrick Johnson (Level 5)

Change the size of the font on the title page to good old 12 Courier, please.

Batesville really is a coffin company out of Indiana. You did your homework.

I'm really enjoying reading through this. The impact of a dying town on the local undertaker. Very interesting. With such a strange setting and characters, though, I found myself wishing that the dialogue was a bit more stylized: not quite Tarantino, almost like the Coen Brother's remake of "The Ladykillers". For this movie to work, it's just a nagging feeling that the whole feature needs to be draped in a slight aura of unreality, of otherworldliness. I know you want realistic, and that's fine, I'm just giving you my immediate impression.

Rating: Very Good

Margaret Ricke (Level 5)

Title page: Tone it down. The lettering is too big and too bold for my taste. Everything I've read or been told about the title page (that I remember) said to avoid being flamboyant here.

Page 1: Start with "FADE IN:" It's not as important to me in a five page script, but I think it's really important in a feature.

You start off by placing us in a room, but then narrow our focus to a computer screen. It's disorienting. Start out by telling the reader there's a computer presentation going on, then go to the room. I'm not giving this a lot of weight in my rating, but it doesn't feel right at all. Check what other reviewers say on this.

I really like your description of Frank, especially his voice.

Page 3: Personally, I don't like underlining.

Take out the "but" and leave "casually well dressed..."

Page 7: It was recently pointed out to me that "CONTINUOUS" in the scene heading means "happening at the same time." That came from Caroline, so I'm trusting it.

A heads up: You've got a lot of dialogue with little action here. It's probably okay in the office setting - the actors can fill it in. It's just a long stretch reading dialogue.

Page 9: Rework "Their wealth pours from..."

Page 10: I thought the term was "Godsmacked." Yours works great, though.

Overall I'm liking this. I'm thinking that Claudia is having an affair with Garrison?

Your scene headings are pretty elaborate. You might want to cut back on the words.

Good work.

Marnie Mitchell Lister (Level 5)

This is a very interesting and original idea. In the first ten we find out a bit about the town having some kind of financial troubles from something. Then we find out Frank is in financial trouble as well. Not sure what to make of Claudia except she doesn't seem to be fond of her husband anymore. Then in come the Brogans, whose mother's last wishes were to have her funeral through Frank's place.

It was just enough to where I wanted to read more but the next couple of pages would really have to pull me in because I'm on the fence about this one. There is no emotional pull so far. It's entertaining but flat at this point...especially Frank. Frank is a guy who is in financial dispair and about to resort to desperate measures. There is a way to show him having a cold exterior but still having some substance. And you can still keep it light while showing that he's emotional connected to something. What does the Funeral Home mean to him besides a paycheck? Was it his family's? He doesn't even need to show or tell anyone the loss goes deeper than just having his posessions taken, we just need to see it.

So I think with some more depth to the characters, especially Frank, this has my interest so far.

Martin Jensen (Level 5)

It was a little confusing referring to Mike by his second name in dialog, while all other characters went by their first names and called him Mike. Same with Calvin Garrison. An easy fix, for clarity's sake.

First impressions are important, and I think in the first scene audience sympathy and interest doesn't rest immediately on Frank, which means you need to add something to direct attention towards Frank. Because we're introduced to Frank doing his job and being generally (I thought) an obnoxious salesman, his character gets lost, or is reduced to what can be expressed in a few generic descriptions.

Characters often get introduced using shortcuts, but these shortcuts have drawbacks. We see him first in his job, now his character is defined by his job. Even though his job is an important point for the story, it might be better to show him in a different situation to start with.

(In "Independence Day", for example, all of the characters were introduced in different ways (mostly as family people), only to have their job or role in the story, be it fighter pilot, "exotic dancer" or the President, introduced later in the film. I could then identify with the characters when they were placed in peril.)

The story is set up very well, and it undoubtedly will be a very enjoyable and interesting movie. My only real criticism is that Frank's character is overshadowed through most of it.

Martin Lancaster (Level 4)

This is good, it does a decent job of setting up your story. I'm still a little unsure of the genre. It feels like a comedy, and there seems to be a lot of comic potential in the premise, but it doesn't feel like you're making the most of it from these pages.

I think this would improve immensely if you amped up the laughs in these scenes. The premise is strong and so far it seems like your structure is solid.

Melissa Mitchell (Level 4)

Nicely written. Solid set up. The flow is good, and the scenes are a good length. The main character's occupation is a bit different, which adds to the story. Kevin may be a bit too calm for just having lost his mother. The only other note I offer is that I haven't been hooked. These 10 pages, while good as far as they go, do not compel me to keep reading, to wonder about outcomes, or to want to spend more time with a particular character. I want a juicy tid bit. Why should I care about this story? What special thing does it offer to its audience? Perhaps it has a fabulous "Aha" moment at the end, but right now, that reward isn't promised to the reader. I suggest that you include in these pages whatever it is that gets you jazzed enough about this story to sustain your work on it. Why do you love this story? If you can show that, readers will see it and love it too.

I'm looking forward to the completed screenplay!

Micah Ricke (Level 4)

The format and composition are very well done.

From the logline, I thought this was going to be a comedy, but upon reading it I detect that it's a drama, though the situation seems rather preposterous.

The story comes along nicely though, and comedey or not, in my opinion, it could use some humor to pull the audience along.

Michael Heeney (Level 2)

Great, specific dialogue. I liked how Frank prefaced his sales pitch by invoking the father's good qualities and making it seem like Gorman had to buy the Batesville Sierra if he supported them, and then the reveal that Frank knew Gorman had been unemployed for two years. Excellent scene descriptions - "voice like warm milk", "blotchy winter hillsides", etc.

Garrison using the phrase "numeric equivalent of my first lay" sounds a little stilted for a drug dealer, but maybe that's intended.

"I want a damn ziplock!" Lol.

I wasn't sure why Brogan was underlined - to indicate he'll recur later? Each scene does a great job of setting up conflicts and illuminating characters in a witty, organic fashion. By page 10 we know what Frank needs, why he needs it, and how he's going to get it, and it's all rather original. Reminds me of Egyptian kings who would be buried with their riches. Theme would resonate in our current recession.

My only quibble is that Claudia's line on 9, "Look at those clothes!", is a little tame. Overall, my first excellent.

MJ Hermanny (Level 5)

Overall: A quick read. You capture the small town feel very well & succinctly particularly with the dialogue between Frank & Garrison. One very on the nose line of dialogue stands out and I would suggest removing it:

"I realize things have been tough since the plant closed, we’re all--"

I think the line would work without 'since the plant closed' and add interest and curiousity.

Characters: mostly great. Kevin and Garrison are very well drawn, brilliant descriptions and characterisation through their dialogue.

The repossessors are also strong because of their actions, great little reversal in that scene.

I feel Frank is quite weak. I'm not seeing enough desperation or anger in him. He's fairly bland and capable.

I like that the wife is having an affair and that he seems oblivious, but this seems rather cliched in the manner that you reveal it to us.

Dialogue: Excellent. Very natural and humorous.

Story: So far, so good. You've set everything up very well and I can't wait to see what Frank does next.

Suggestions: Give Frank an endearing quirk. I'm liking other characters more than Frank and as he's your protagonist I think the balance needs to shift.

Below are the notes I made as I read it first time. Well done and good luck with this.

I found the opening paragraph confusing and think it might be better having SLIDE SHOW up front.

Description of Frank is good but I'd have liked a bit more physical description & you give us nothing but an age for Gorman.

I love the ziplock line.

"Claudia couldn’t care less. She hands him a
message slip.

Kevin Brogan? Brogan Wire And

The dialogue jolts as it doesn't make sense until you realise Frank has read the message. perhaps a quick line: Frank scans the paper.

Funny. Who’d it sound like? Tommy?"

This is a weird line, doesn't make sense.

"him,Claudia and two lovely daughters. Better times."

Why better times? He's still with them right?? I assume it was when he's not bankrupt but we don't know he is just yet and the picture doesn't show anything different to what we've already seen.

Quick Mart scene is fantastic. Loads of inromation, well imparted and great characters.

Kevin Brogan is in your office.

Frank snorts, but Claudia doesn’t leave. He looks up.

You serious?"

Excellent writing., You tell us a lot here about Kevin Brogan and what his family represent.

Wonderful description of Kevin.

Pete Barry (Level 5)

The writing here is very proficient - a lot of clear description, dialogue that clearly defines the characters, and some witty turns of phrase. There's economy, too - a two-sentence phone conversation, ended before Frank walks in, tells us everything we need to know about Claudia's affair (and morals, if we couldn't already guess). There's a LOT of characters to juggle, especially if all five Brogans play integral parts in the screenplay. Considering how well you've done with the characters in ten pages, I believe you can pull it off. Still, it's gonna be tricky.

The best part is the repo scam. You see the theft coming, but the reveal that Wholesome is just doing her job made the scene very satisfying. It seems like we should see more of her later, but I'll wait.

Your logline interests me, and the first ten pages are written well enough that's I'd keep reading. That's enough, but I have to say, this isn't wowing me. It took me a while to put my finger on it, and even now I'm not so sure.

I think it's this: Frank is just like everyone else in this world - a scam artist. We're introduced to him with a scene about him trying to get $20000 out of an unemployed man. He's not likeable to start. So even though the hook is tasty (he's going to swipe jewels from a rich dead lady) it's not emotional enough, because it's going to come too naturally to Frank. Maybe there's a line between pushy salesman and grave robber, but in the world you've created, it's a difference in shades.

If Frank were truly unfortunate, a good guy struggling to survive in a town gutted by a horrible human being, then the moral dilemma he is facing would be REALLY interesting. He's also getting a sweeter revenge if he cares about the ruined town, not just himself. That will push your story into really emotional territory.

That may not be the story you want to write, so you can ignore this entirely. But for me, the story lacks a little bite, so it needs a little bit of spice. The suggestion about Frank is my $.02, but maybe there are other ways.

One way or another, I hope this helps, and good luck in the contest.

Pia Cook (Level 5)

I liked it!

Sure this isn't a complete story, but as far as the first ten pages of a feature goes, I liked it and wanted to know what was going to happen next.

I was intrigued by these locked and secure coffins. You seem to have the type of humor I can appreciate.

These pages also promises what your logline told me.

Not sure what else to say. The writing was good, I was hooked....

Wish you good luck with this one. My vote is Very Good. :-)

Rick Hansberry (Moderator)

Bravo. I loved this opening. It has all the elements that draw me into a film. A hero we can emphasize with, a situation we can relate to and a clear objective. The descriptions are engaging and visual. The characters are real and the transitions are exceptional. I loved the textured nuances you created with the script. It creates a 'small film' feel, like 'Waitress.' I appreciate the way you set the table here, not rushing to tell the whole story in the first ten pages. These are characters I'll enjoy riding along with for the next hundred pages and I'll bet, in your capable hands, it will be an enjoyable ride. I'd be stunned if you didn't advance but please contact me after the contest because I would love to read more of your stuff. Excellent read. I am ranking each script personally to arrive at my own Top 10. Your ranking is: In the Top Ten.

Rob Gross (Level 4)

Title's not bad. I really like the logline, and think it has potential.

The first ten pages :

The opening has us inside the Huntley Funeral Home, suddenly - A lovely autumn landscape. This threw me a bit. I had to read a couple of more lines until I realized it was a slide show. Now, I know what you were going for (when I got to that line), but let us know we're looking at stills. I thought that maybe we were looking outside of Frank's office.

I've never heard a voice like "warm milk".

That being said, I like the Frank Huntley character. You've described him very vividly, by his actions.

Can't see Frank staring at a wallet photo while pumping gas.

Garrison character was well introduced, but I felt the line about his "first lay" wasn't very good. These guys are 40 years old. I can't see any of my 40 yr old friends talk like that. Also, seems like you put Garrison in there to have success rubbed in Frank's face. You should have him be a respected businessman, someone who may be can be looked up to. It would have more of an impact on the audience.

Frank's car gets repo'd and Garrison picks him up. I'm wondering what happened after Garrison told Frank to get in the car. Did he just offer a ride. I didn't get the sense from your descriptions of Garrison's mood. Did he feel sorry for Frank? To me it sounded like they were gonna get the s.o.b.

Kevin Brogan's description is very well done.

Pages 6 through 10 moved much faster than the beginning.

Good dialog between Kevin and Frank.

I think the first ten pages are pretty good. This is a very solid entry and one that should probably advance.

Well done.

Rustom Irani (Moderator)

I love a dark comedy. And your characters and premise do just the trick.

There are a few scenes that end on dialog and that element of a description or action leading into the next scene is lacking.

However you more than make up for it with your drama and timing. My only concern would be whether it has legs to last a feature, as you've already given me such a rich story in ten pages.

Definitely one of my favorites.

Sarah Daly (Level 2)

The writing here is flawless, beautifully visual and flows wonderfully. you set the tone very well from the get go and create some great visuals using clever phrasing: the gas pump nozzle for example. Your descriptions of the Brogans were particularly great - I could almost smell the money!
My main concern is that Frank, your protagonist does not evoke enough sympathy - we need to really care about him to stick with him throughout a whole feature and I didn't quite get this. There is plenty of potential to create empathy, you just haven't quite realised it - he can be annoying, have bad traits but there needs to be some likeable elements too or you'll lose us.
Otherwise this is slick, pitch perfect; a nice, simple concept with a narrative that moves along nicely and it certainly left me wanting more!

Sasha Clancy (Level 4)

The two areas that I rate in this contest that carry the most weight are whether or not the first 10 pages are a compelling beginning and does it deliver on the promise/premise of the logline.

Does it have a compelling beginning? Yes, I definitely want to read more. You have done a good job of setting up the conflict that Frank is in desperate financial straits. Also, you have set up mystery surrounding his wife - who is she talking to, who's side is she on? Also the relationship with the drug dealer is intriguing and you allude to a history with the rich Brogan family that could be very interesting.

Does it have an inciting incident? Yes.

Does it delivery on the promise/premise of the logline? So far all you've shown is that Frank has financial (and probably marital) problems. You allude to him thinking about the jewels but if I hadn't read the logline, it wouldn't have struck me because it's very subtle.

Is there a theme stated? None so far. It seems that there are a couple that you could be building.

Other notes: You have a good first 10 pages, you've set up a lot of intriguing story lines and kept things moving forward.

Scott Merrow (Level 5)

This is great! Very nice pacing and character development. All the various sub-stories are already bubbling nicely under the surface. I can't wait to see what happens. You've done a great job painting a picture of Frank, the protagonist, starting with his voice, "like warm milk." A perfect funeral director. And a nice job with wife Claudia and the Brogan family. Really great characters. So far, this is an excellent screenplay, and I'm really looking forward to reading the rest. One VERY small comment: on Page 4, Garrison's line about "My cell phone is the numeric equivalent of my first lay..." I have no idea what that means. (Maybe I'm the only person in the world who doesn't get it...but, maybe not.) Anyway, that's a small thing. Overall, great job! Excellent!

Shaun Bragg (Level 4)

Aside from a few mirror faults A Place in the Ground" has much poetential.

The dialouge was swell. The Repo scene was funny and without too many details clouding the viewers mind. It was a tight and easy read. I believe that the rest of the script will develop Frank's inner self more. He seems like a pretty decent guy, just going through hard times at the moment.

Overall I dig "A Place in the Ground". Kudos.

Shedric Bragg (Level 3)

Its has a very good pace to it-not to fast its even got a good story to go with it. Everybodies going through hard times and it seems like Frank can't catch a break for nothing. The formatting is the only thing I believe might need some twisting and altering.I was won over by the story.

T. James DeStein (Level 5)

I like the title/story connection. I was expecting something more dark humor-ish, but I guess not. The dialogue feels a bit forced, like you're trying to fit too much exposition. You got 100-some pages, I figure you don't need to condense it too much. There were several moments between Frank and Gorman that were well-written, though.

Tim Westland (Moderator)

I really like the title. I also like the concept, although the logline could use some work.

Your opening paragraph seemed backwards and hard to read. It seems like you're trying to surprise us with it being a slideshow. Odd.

Voice like warm milk - awesome phrasing!

Unfortunately, the first scene seems to me to be a lot of 'blah blah blah'. The rule for writing a scene is to "get in late, leave early". We don't need all the build up and explanation.

I would start with Gorman shifting nervously in his chair as Frank taps a calculator, jotting figures on paper. The room might be cold. Gorman asks, "What's the damage?". Frank's dialogue then begins where it does at the end of Page 1.

BOOM! We're in the scene and you hit the ground running.

The rest of the scene works really well as is. Some good setup in a very short, natural dialogue. Well done.

Franks first line of dialogue with Claudia is WEIRD. He's just gotten the big "FU" from someone who used to consider him a friend and the first thing he does is come on to his wife with a really bad, cheap and cheesy line? Made no sense and made me hate Frank.

In fact, the entire scene with Claudia seemed disjointed.

Overall, the dialogue just kind of lays there. You have some great opportunities for more, but you let them pass on by. For example, the first interaction between Frank and Calvin should emit sparks, but it's dead. How about something like this:

Hey there, Frank. Still in the
stiff business?

Frank permits the barest smile to cross his face.

Still in the business of supplying
me with dead people, Calvin?

Something like that, anyway. You can do better is my point. The dialogue above speaks volumes about their history. But the rest of the dialogue meanders.

The opening on page 6 - A web site... That's weird. You're taking too many shortcuts. It should be more like, "Claudia sits at her computer, types in a web address:". It's gotta make sense. If you're being choppy like that to be stylistic, it's not working.

Also, things like "Talking on her cell phone, Claudia scans it." That literally means Claudia scans her cell phone. It might seem like I'm nitpicking, but these things are important.

Things start to get interesting when Kevin shows up. All of that is good. But most of what happens before that is, well... the best word I can come up with is "filler". You can easily tighten it up and provide more interesting interactions.

Tom Shipley (Level 4)

I like this one. You certainly get a lot into the first 10 pages, but perhaps a little too much. Some of the scenes seemed a little too transparently a set up. Like the opening scene where the client talks about the plant closing. That seemed more like a screenwriter trying to set the scene rather than an organic conversation, if that makes sense.

But, you do set the scene pretty well. You definitely establish the main characters motivation for stealing the woman's jewels. One thing that seemed a little "off" to me was how quickly the family showed up at the funeral home and had the viewing (especially since they didn't talk to anyone there prior). That seemed a little odd and rushed.

Overall, the strong premise and the good first 10 leave me wanting to read some more.

William Bienes (Mod Emeritus)

Impressions while reading:

The first two pages -- should get the story going, and if anything, they hold the story back, not allowing it to be told.

1/2 way in and I still don't see the story coming together (and I don't want to sound harsh) but it is beyond the first choice definitions.

I'm waiting to see this come together, but I'm just not seeing it happen here by page 5 1/2... the logline is not setup by page 10, which I feel is a problem.

We have a funeral with a non-committed son.

There isn't a story here, not yet at least. The logline is still a possibility according to what was written. At this point, there has to be more of a concrete definition as well as the story being apparent. I don't think it's there yet, but the writing has quality which is why I marked it accordingly.

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