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Coverage Sample

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Coverage Sample

  1. 1. NOTE TO SELF  Coverage      WRITER:  Terry Hart  SUBMITTED BY:    PAGES:  37  ATTACHED:    GENRE:  Comedy  SUBMITTED TO:    CIRCA:  Now  COVERED BY:  PK  RECOMMENDATION :  Pass  DATE COVERED:  March 22, 2015    Logline​:  An old man gets a chance to relive the past 50 years of his life ­ except he doesn't know he's reliving them.    Overview​:  BEN (77), standing before his wife's grave, is visited by the quirky X, who gives Ben an opportunity to relive                                        the past 50 years of his life ­ except Ben won't remember he's reliving them. Ben hurriedly writes notes to                                        himself in his notebook to refer back to. Ben (27) exits the Portland Communications building after a                                  successful interview and meets up with his friends at their usual spot. He tells them about the job offer he                                        received from Portland. They all drink and celebrate. Next morning, Ben notices a notebook on his                                nightstand. He flips through it and is alarmed to read stuff about his life in it. One of the cautionary notes                                          implores him to "stay away from portland". After seeking his friends' counsel, he thinks long and hard and                                    chooses to decline Portland's offer. He and his friends drink at their spot when he spots a gorgeous woman.                                      He introduces himself to her. She says her name is Portland. Ben is shocked.    Plot Synopsis​:  50 years from now, BEN TATUM (77, well­dressed) stands before his wife's grave. He rues not spending                                  enough time with her. X (quirky) shows up and wishes Ben a happy birthday. Ben, having never met X                                      before, asks how he knows it's his birthday. X tells him he has a birthday present for him: a chance to go                                            back in time and relive the past 50 years of his life. Ben is no fool and walks away. X gives Ben a brief                                                demonstration of his offer. Ben is stunned. He excitedly asks whether he'll be at the same place, have the                                      same friends. X says yes, except he won't remember he's reliving his life. Ben takes out a notebook and                                      begins writing himself notes to refer back to.    Ben, on his 27th birthday, walks out of the Portland Communications building with a smile on his face and "a                                        bounce in his step". Meanwhile, at a local bar, his friends gather to celebrate his birthday: RACHEL (late                                    20s, attractive, single), a graphic designer; PETER (late 20s, divorced), a marketing guy; NICK ("perpetual                              Grad student"), a part­time cabbie. Ben arrives. His friends sing Happy Birthday. Ben tells them his interview                                  at Portland went great and he was offered the job. They continue chit­chatting, shooting the shit. Later that                                    night, as Ben sleeps, the notebook in which the 77­year­old Ben made notes to himself materializes on his                                    nightstand.   
  2. 2. Ben awakes and notices the notebook. He opens it and reads. He is alarmed to read some of the things                                        written. He is confounded. One of the statements reads: "stay away from portland". Ben shudders. He goes                                  to his office and asks Rachel whether he should take the Portland job. Rachel advises him against it. Peter                                      joins the conversation and vehemently argues in favor of Ben taking the Portland job.     Ben debates long and hard about the Portland offer. He keeps thinking about the comment in the notebook.                                    Finally, he calls the office and informs it that he won't be accepting the job.    Rachel is highly surprised to hear Ben turned down the Portland job offer. Just then, the office receptionist                                    informs Ben Bob Henderson from Portland Communications wants him to call him. Ben lands up at the                                  Portland office, where BOB (50), Senior VP, gives him a tour. Ben is offered a higher salary and other perks.     Despite that, Ben turns down the offer again. Ben and crew congregate at the same local bar. Everyone is a                                        bit stunned Ben turned down the offer again. The bartender agrees making that choice must have taken a lot                                      of balls. Just then, Ben sees a gorgeous woman enter the bar. There is an instant connection between her                                      and Ben. He introduces himself. She does the same, says her name is Portland. Ben is shocked.    Comments​:  This screenplay has quite a potential­filled premise that can be a springboard for significant comedy and                                complexity. However, the execution leaves the reader feeling rather underwhelmed. The phenomenon of                          time travel is introduced and treated in a fairly frivolous manner. This robs the script of the gravitas it needs                                        to be a believable story. Since the premise itself is so outlandish, I opine it would work in the story's favor to                                            dial down the wackiness and be a subtle, grounded comedy with wit and charm instead of being broad and                                      in­your­face. The idea is decent, but because of the subpar execution, this screenplay gets a Pass.    The first and biggest question I have after finishing the script is: if the same notebook that 77­year­old Ben                                      had materializes in the 27­year­old Ben's life, can't he simply read through it to know about himself? Even                                    ignoring the fact that he has the same notebook for a half­century, hasn't he written something in there over                                      the past 50 years that can provide some clues and/or context to the young Ben? How is it that the only thing                                            the young Ben reads upon opening the notebook is what the old Ben wrote minutes before becoming the                                    young Ben? The writer should consider this question and resolve the situation to strengthen the story's                                humor and impact. The way it is now, it strains believability.     I don't know what exactly Ben's profession is. Is he a communication advisor? A social media strategist? If                                    the San Francisco Governor and the Kardashians are among his clients, I’m not sure why he is leaving such                                      a presumably profitable business to work in corporate America. His motivations, wants, needs, desires are                              unclear. The writer should definitely take the time to flesh Ben out fully and make him as specific as                                      possible. Same goes for the other characters: apart from their names and professions, there is little there to                                    distinguish them from each other.    The conversations the characters have are rather childish and insignificant. They frequently go off on wild                                and needless tangents that subvert their supposed intelligence and acumen. I think a sharp focus on their                                  personalities in terms of their personal and professional stations in life will go a long way in helping the writer                                        craft appropriate and entertaining dialogue that moves the action forward. The way the scenes unfold now,                                all the characters sound pretty much the same. Homing in on each character's individuality and arming them                                  with specific, depthful lines will make the entire screenplay pop.    
  3. 3. Overall, the lack of specificity and sharpness left me indifferent to this work. It'sn't awful by any means, but it                                        is thin and unfocused. The idea is not bad at all, and can be milked to a great degree. But the existential                                            significance of traveling back in time and having the opportunity to relive your life from the age of 27 is not                                          given the reverence it deserves. It'd behoove the writer to not trivialize this premise and infuse the story with                                      truth and depth instead of coasting on superficial humor.      Excellent  Good  Fair  Poor  Premise      X    Structure        X  A Characters        X  B Characters        X  Dialogue        X  Writing Style      X (half)  X (half)  Plausibility        X   

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