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COVERAGE REPORT
Logline: After being deported from his home in Israel, a teenager must survive in
America by lying about his Palestinian identity to attend a Jewish university.
Recommendation: Recommend Consider (x) Pass
Comments Summary: JACOB is a believable-yet-wacky story with a colorful setup, a
consistent heartfelt tone, and a strong-willed protagonist. However, its strongest
storyline—lying to be accepted—is brief and introduced late. Its structure, dialogue, side
characters, and subplots also need thorough revisions.
Excellent Good Fair Needs Work
Premise x
Storyline x
Characterization x
Dialogue x
Structure x
Writing x
Originality x
STORY: JACOB opens in the early 2000s, ISRAEL—which is occupied by unkind
soldiers and war. Palestinian JACOB (8) plays with TWO BOYS. Jacob tosses a rock
which hits an ISRAELI SOLDIER. Jacob is escorted to COURT, where a kind JUDGE
(60s) lets him go with a warning. Seven years later—Jacob (15) is arrested outside a
shawarma shop, accused of launching an aerial missile. He is brought to court again
and the same judge issues a final warning.
Three years later, winter—Jacob (18) works at a cafe. He tends to his Christian
American friend LEAH. He is about to clock out to enjoy an instant coffee with her, but
AARON, a boastful Jewish jerk, enters and sullies his opportunity. Jacob goes home.
His MOTHER comforts him with her wisdom, “by knowing your race, knowing your
place, its knowledge and power.” After dinner with his GRANDMOTHER and UNCLE,
Jacob purchases a white scarf to gift Leah for Christmas.
The next day at the high school library—Jacob gifts Leah the scarf. Leah loves his
Title: JACOB Author(s): NA
Received: October 13, 2023 From: NA
Circa: 2005 – 2014 Locale: Israel / Los Angeles USA
Genre: Comedy, Coming-of-Age Page Count: 218
Prepared By: Rachel Ochsen Coverage Date: October 16, 2023
thoughtfulness and cries with joy. Aaron watches jealously from afar. Aaron spurs a
fight with Jacob. Soon, TWO COPS arrest Jacob, unwilling to hear his defense.
After a horrifyingly unlucky ride in a cop car—Jacob stands in court with the same judge
from his childhood. This time, the judge must deliver punishment: either 10 years in
prison or deportation with Israeli citizenship revoked. Jacob chooses deportation in an
attempt to not break his mother’s heart. Jacob’s Mother and Uncle help him move to
America with the means they can. Mother pawns her jewelry. Uncle falsifies a human-
trafficking visa.
After an unlucky series of events at the Israel-Jordan Border—Jacob is lost at LAX
Airport. Jacob meets NOUR, a Somalian cab driver. Sympathizing with Jacob, Nour
connects him with the opportunity to become a cabbie.
Six months later—Jacob is a full-time cabbie. He lives in a shady apartment that he can
barely afford. His last slice of pita bread bursts into fire. The TV reminds him of his
failure to attend university. He cabs dreadful customers—who give birth in his cab,
shoot at him, and vomit on him. The least of his concerns is a Yamakah left behind in
his cab, which he brings into his apartment for safekeeping. One evening at a small
grocery store, he notices a necklace with the Palestinian flag. He purchases it to wear.
One routine evening cabbing at LAX—Jacob and Leah reunite. Leah now lives in LA,
operating a charity organization that supports various communities. Jacob begins
volunteering with Leah. One day after volunteering—Jacob cabs a JEWISH ELDERLY
MAN who soon chokes on a peanut. Jacob stops the cab to administer the Heimlich
maneuver, but his clumsiness makes the situation look like a mugging. The man grasps
Jacob’s necklace for dear life, choking Jacob. Jacob is arrested. His Palestinian flag
necklace is gone. He misses his interview to renew his visa. Deportation is imminent.
At Jacob’s apartment—Leah sees the forgotten Yamakah and gets an idea: Jacob can
pretend to be Jewish, attend a Jewish university, and stay in America with a student
visa! Jacob is averse to lying but desperately agrees. Soon enough, Jacob earns a first-
year scholarship to Chabad Private School. They celebrate, going to a hockey game
where they share a first kiss.
Jacob moves through an uneventful school year filled with studying, volunteer work, and
cabbing. He befriends BRIAN, an aspiring actor. By the end of the school year, Jacob
wins the Academics Supreme Scholarship for three years’ paid tuition.
At the school’s end-of-year award ceremony—Aaron is present, visiting his uncle DEAN
SCHWARTZ. Aaron threatens to expose Jacob’s fraud. However, during his acceptance
speech, Jacob admits his own fraud. Dean Schwartz puts Jacob on immediate
probation. As school board hearing will determine his expulsion and visa status.
Jacob gives up all hope of staying in America—until Nour shows him a video of his
speech going viral online, titled “CRAZY_ARAB”. Jacob gets an idea and regains
hope… Leah spreads the video and photos of Jacob’s charity work on social media.
They gain national attention.
At the school board hearing, all its members—ELDERLY WHITE MEN—are ready to
expel Jacob. At the last moment, the Elderly Jewish Man walks in and vouches for
Jacob’s bravery. Outside, news reporters interview passersby who argue whether Jacob
should stay or face deportation. The board members vote for Jacob to stay. The Elderly
Jewish Man returns Jacob’s Palestinian flag necklace. Jacob exits the hearing room and
cheers. Leah, Nour, and Brian embrace him. Americans nationwide, watching on the
news, cheer with him.
Weeks later—Jacob types on his laptop, writing for an online magazine.
COMMENTS: JACOB is an original, heartfelt comedy with a strong protagonist weaving
through strong story beats. Its wacky humor and emotional sentiment can be the
foundation for future revisions.
JACOB’S premise is believable, grounded in the reality of prejudice between all
ethnicities. Its use of comedy-genre conventions creates a suspension of disbelief for all
the crazy situations that JACOB (18) finds himself in—such as being arrested for an
aerial missile while eating a falafel sandwich. A heartfelt undertone is consistent.
JACOB is original in that its humor comes from Jacob’s naturalistic responses to his
outlandish misfortune—whereas other social commentary comedies use parody to
make light of a serious topic.
The story begins with colorful details about Jacob’s life—establishing him as a victim of
his Palestinian identity, with a loving family that dreams of going to America. The plot
moves through all the beats that any standard, successful screenplay should have.
Jacob is well-written and likable—reacting to misfortune with strong choices that drive
the story forward. Jacob chooses deportation over jail; chooses to become a taxi driver;
chooses to lie about his Palestinian identity to attend a Jewish university; and chooses
to confess to his identity fraud. He drives the story’s resolution, forming the plan to use
the ‘CRAZY_ARAB” video’s virality to gain public support to stay in America.
Jacob’s MOTHER is radiant. She poignantly explains “knowing your race, knowing your
place, its knowledge and power.” Unfortunately, after Act 1 she disappears—but her
message remains strong in that Jacob rejects his race and place in society. JACOB’s
choice to forsake his family’s culture for convenience drives the key turning point, rising
action, and climax. In future revisions, weaving his Mother, UNCLE, and
GRANDMOTHER in Act 2 can emphasize Jacob’s lie and cultural dissonance. Key
props can also highlight this. Jacob’s Mother has a vivid hummingbird broach. When
Jacob pawns his mother’s jewelry, the PAWN SHOP OWNER discerns “That’s a special
piece”. This prop is never mentioned again. In America when homesick, Jacob
purchases a Palestinian flag necklace. Jacob loses this necklace at the same time he
begins lying that he is Jewish. His necklace returns after he re-embraces his identity.
Although JACOB is easy to follow and hits all the right story beats, its pacing and page
count necessitate a rewrite. At 218 pages, this is more than double the expectation for a
production-ready comedy feature, which should be about 90 to 110 pages.
The setup runs long, with the inciting incident (Jacob sentenced to jail or deportation)
not occurring until page 46. Cutting colorful-but-unnecessary scenes can easily tighten
the setup—such as scenes at Bassam’s Café and with Jacob’s family. These scenes do
not succinctly establish Jacob’s world and thus don’t work well in a feature film.
(However, they could work well in a TV series.)
What feels like the midpoint beat, or turning point, occurs late in the story—at about
page 159. (Jacob’s visa expires and he chooses to follow Leah’s advice of using identity
fraud to enter a Jewish university). After this point, the story feels vague and rushed.
Time skips quickly reveal information. This jarringly mismatches everything before this
beat, which is long-winded and detailed. It seems like two different writers typed this
script, or the ending was rushed to meet a deadline.
Jacob’s choice to commit identity fraud stands out as the heart of the story. It sets up
the rising action of him admitting his fraud and the climax of the school board almost
expelling him. Future revisions should trim the first majority half of the script to allow this
storyline more page time to develop. Such cuts can easily include lengthy conversations
and comedy sketches.
Numerous scenes focus on characters discussing social justice. These scenes are
inefficient; they circle around the same messages with on-the-nose dialogue and no
subtext. They do not move the plot forward, seemingly existing only to advance social
justice messaging. In future revisions, these messages can be more artfully weaved into
other scenes where more action happens.
Several comedy sketches are written as full scenes—consuming valuable page time—
when they could instead group together in a montage. One group of sketches show
Jacob’s abuse from his cab passengers. Each punchline is similar—Jacob screaming in
angst—and can still earn laughs without showing each situation’s setup.
Turning to characterization and subplots—while Jacob’s authenticity is written with
thought and care, future revisions can better develop every other character.
LEAH is likable, sympathetic, and dynamic. She’s able to befriend both Jacob and
AARON who are always at odds. She misses her parents at Christmas time. She
supports Jacob’s story by encouraging his ambition for charity work. However, Leah
lacks conflict and accountability. Her role as the love interest is a prime opportunity for
B-plot conflict, yet she has none. For example, her idea for Jacob to commit identity
fraud is illegal and later fosters his internal conflict; but her morals are never questioned.
Whenever Jacob feels guilty, Leah justifies the fraud by saying white people lie all the
time. Jacob does not strongly react.
NOUR is a mentor figure at the top of Act 2, but disappears until he’s necessary for a B-
Plot climax to juxtapose against the A-Plot “all is lost” moment. (Nour’s taxi strike
intercuts with Jacob’s “CRAZY-ARAB” speech).
In future revisions, a strong B-plot can involve Leah or Nour. Their conflict can add
complexity to Jacob’s choices. It’s important to note that when increasing one
character’s role, the others’ roles should diminish for story clarity.
Aaron is integral in the inciting incident and “all is lost” moment—twice ruining Jacob’s
life. However, his only motive is jealousy, which makes him a shallow character.
Jacob’s Mother, Uncle, and Grandmother disappear after Act 1. Their arcs feel
unfinished, as they are essential to setting up Jacob’s identity. Even if they are an
ocean apart, they could still influence Jacob’s story through memories or phone calls.
Revisions can reimagine or cut more minor characters. BRIAN is barely a presence
worth mentioning, since he appears only briefly late in the plot. SAMAR (waitress), and
OMAR and YUNIS (childhood friends) help establish Jacob’s identity, but do not move
the plot forward.
At the line level—easy edits can amend screenplay convention faux pas and improve its
professionality. Throughout, there are typos; discontinuous character blocking;
mismatching slug lines; improperly formatted character introductions; and inclusion of
copyrighted material. There is one instance of voice over on page 30, then no more.
FINAL SUMMARY: JACOB is an engaging story with colorful characters, fun humor,
and a strong message about cultural identity. However, it needs thorough revisions, and
is thus a pass. The first majority half of the script lacks clear direction and is rambling;
the turning point feels late; then the last part feels vague and rushed. Key characters
can strengthen. Overall, the script can re-center around Jacob’s choice to lie.

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Ochsen Screenplay Coverage - JACOB - 10.16.23.pdf

  • 1. COVERAGE REPORT Logline: After being deported from his home in Israel, a teenager must survive in America by lying about his Palestinian identity to attend a Jewish university. Recommendation: Recommend Consider (x) Pass Comments Summary: JACOB is a believable-yet-wacky story with a colorful setup, a consistent heartfelt tone, and a strong-willed protagonist. However, its strongest storyline—lying to be accepted—is brief and introduced late. Its structure, dialogue, side characters, and subplots also need thorough revisions. Excellent Good Fair Needs Work Premise x Storyline x Characterization x Dialogue x Structure x Writing x Originality x STORY: JACOB opens in the early 2000s, ISRAEL—which is occupied by unkind soldiers and war. Palestinian JACOB (8) plays with TWO BOYS. Jacob tosses a rock which hits an ISRAELI SOLDIER. Jacob is escorted to COURT, where a kind JUDGE (60s) lets him go with a warning. Seven years later—Jacob (15) is arrested outside a shawarma shop, accused of launching an aerial missile. He is brought to court again and the same judge issues a final warning. Three years later, winter—Jacob (18) works at a cafe. He tends to his Christian American friend LEAH. He is about to clock out to enjoy an instant coffee with her, but AARON, a boastful Jewish jerk, enters and sullies his opportunity. Jacob goes home. His MOTHER comforts him with her wisdom, “by knowing your race, knowing your place, its knowledge and power.” After dinner with his GRANDMOTHER and UNCLE, Jacob purchases a white scarf to gift Leah for Christmas. The next day at the high school library—Jacob gifts Leah the scarf. Leah loves his Title: JACOB Author(s): NA Received: October 13, 2023 From: NA Circa: 2005 – 2014 Locale: Israel / Los Angeles USA Genre: Comedy, Coming-of-Age Page Count: 218 Prepared By: Rachel Ochsen Coverage Date: October 16, 2023
  • 2. thoughtfulness and cries with joy. Aaron watches jealously from afar. Aaron spurs a fight with Jacob. Soon, TWO COPS arrest Jacob, unwilling to hear his defense. After a horrifyingly unlucky ride in a cop car—Jacob stands in court with the same judge from his childhood. This time, the judge must deliver punishment: either 10 years in prison or deportation with Israeli citizenship revoked. Jacob chooses deportation in an attempt to not break his mother’s heart. Jacob’s Mother and Uncle help him move to America with the means they can. Mother pawns her jewelry. Uncle falsifies a human- trafficking visa. After an unlucky series of events at the Israel-Jordan Border—Jacob is lost at LAX Airport. Jacob meets NOUR, a Somalian cab driver. Sympathizing with Jacob, Nour connects him with the opportunity to become a cabbie. Six months later—Jacob is a full-time cabbie. He lives in a shady apartment that he can barely afford. His last slice of pita bread bursts into fire. The TV reminds him of his failure to attend university. He cabs dreadful customers—who give birth in his cab, shoot at him, and vomit on him. The least of his concerns is a Yamakah left behind in his cab, which he brings into his apartment for safekeeping. One evening at a small grocery store, he notices a necklace with the Palestinian flag. He purchases it to wear. One routine evening cabbing at LAX—Jacob and Leah reunite. Leah now lives in LA, operating a charity organization that supports various communities. Jacob begins volunteering with Leah. One day after volunteering—Jacob cabs a JEWISH ELDERLY MAN who soon chokes on a peanut. Jacob stops the cab to administer the Heimlich maneuver, but his clumsiness makes the situation look like a mugging. The man grasps Jacob’s necklace for dear life, choking Jacob. Jacob is arrested. His Palestinian flag necklace is gone. He misses his interview to renew his visa. Deportation is imminent. At Jacob’s apartment—Leah sees the forgotten Yamakah and gets an idea: Jacob can pretend to be Jewish, attend a Jewish university, and stay in America with a student visa! Jacob is averse to lying but desperately agrees. Soon enough, Jacob earns a first- year scholarship to Chabad Private School. They celebrate, going to a hockey game where they share a first kiss. Jacob moves through an uneventful school year filled with studying, volunteer work, and cabbing. He befriends BRIAN, an aspiring actor. By the end of the school year, Jacob wins the Academics Supreme Scholarship for three years’ paid tuition. At the school’s end-of-year award ceremony—Aaron is present, visiting his uncle DEAN SCHWARTZ. Aaron threatens to expose Jacob’s fraud. However, during his acceptance speech, Jacob admits his own fraud. Dean Schwartz puts Jacob on immediate probation. As school board hearing will determine his expulsion and visa status. Jacob gives up all hope of staying in America—until Nour shows him a video of his speech going viral online, titled “CRAZY_ARAB”. Jacob gets an idea and regains hope… Leah spreads the video and photos of Jacob’s charity work on social media. They gain national attention. At the school board hearing, all its members—ELDERLY WHITE MEN—are ready to expel Jacob. At the last moment, the Elderly Jewish Man walks in and vouches for Jacob’s bravery. Outside, news reporters interview passersby who argue whether Jacob should stay or face deportation. The board members vote for Jacob to stay. The Elderly
  • 3. Jewish Man returns Jacob’s Palestinian flag necklace. Jacob exits the hearing room and cheers. Leah, Nour, and Brian embrace him. Americans nationwide, watching on the news, cheer with him. Weeks later—Jacob types on his laptop, writing for an online magazine. COMMENTS: JACOB is an original, heartfelt comedy with a strong protagonist weaving through strong story beats. Its wacky humor and emotional sentiment can be the foundation for future revisions. JACOB’S premise is believable, grounded in the reality of prejudice between all ethnicities. Its use of comedy-genre conventions creates a suspension of disbelief for all the crazy situations that JACOB (18) finds himself in—such as being arrested for an aerial missile while eating a falafel sandwich. A heartfelt undertone is consistent. JACOB is original in that its humor comes from Jacob’s naturalistic responses to his outlandish misfortune—whereas other social commentary comedies use parody to make light of a serious topic. The story begins with colorful details about Jacob’s life—establishing him as a victim of his Palestinian identity, with a loving family that dreams of going to America. The plot moves through all the beats that any standard, successful screenplay should have. Jacob is well-written and likable—reacting to misfortune with strong choices that drive the story forward. Jacob chooses deportation over jail; chooses to become a taxi driver; chooses to lie about his Palestinian identity to attend a Jewish university; and chooses to confess to his identity fraud. He drives the story’s resolution, forming the plan to use the ‘CRAZY_ARAB” video’s virality to gain public support to stay in America. Jacob’s MOTHER is radiant. She poignantly explains “knowing your race, knowing your place, its knowledge and power.” Unfortunately, after Act 1 she disappears—but her message remains strong in that Jacob rejects his race and place in society. JACOB’s choice to forsake his family’s culture for convenience drives the key turning point, rising action, and climax. In future revisions, weaving his Mother, UNCLE, and GRANDMOTHER in Act 2 can emphasize Jacob’s lie and cultural dissonance. Key props can also highlight this. Jacob’s Mother has a vivid hummingbird broach. When Jacob pawns his mother’s jewelry, the PAWN SHOP OWNER discerns “That’s a special piece”. This prop is never mentioned again. In America when homesick, Jacob purchases a Palestinian flag necklace. Jacob loses this necklace at the same time he begins lying that he is Jewish. His necklace returns after he re-embraces his identity. Although JACOB is easy to follow and hits all the right story beats, its pacing and page count necessitate a rewrite. At 218 pages, this is more than double the expectation for a production-ready comedy feature, which should be about 90 to 110 pages. The setup runs long, with the inciting incident (Jacob sentenced to jail or deportation) not occurring until page 46. Cutting colorful-but-unnecessary scenes can easily tighten the setup—such as scenes at Bassam’s Café and with Jacob’s family. These scenes do not succinctly establish Jacob’s world and thus don’t work well in a feature film. (However, they could work well in a TV series.) What feels like the midpoint beat, or turning point, occurs late in the story—at about page 159. (Jacob’s visa expires and he chooses to follow Leah’s advice of using identity fraud to enter a Jewish university). After this point, the story feels vague and rushed.
  • 4. Time skips quickly reveal information. This jarringly mismatches everything before this beat, which is long-winded and detailed. It seems like two different writers typed this script, or the ending was rushed to meet a deadline. Jacob’s choice to commit identity fraud stands out as the heart of the story. It sets up the rising action of him admitting his fraud and the climax of the school board almost expelling him. Future revisions should trim the first majority half of the script to allow this storyline more page time to develop. Such cuts can easily include lengthy conversations and comedy sketches. Numerous scenes focus on characters discussing social justice. These scenes are inefficient; they circle around the same messages with on-the-nose dialogue and no subtext. They do not move the plot forward, seemingly existing only to advance social justice messaging. In future revisions, these messages can be more artfully weaved into other scenes where more action happens. Several comedy sketches are written as full scenes—consuming valuable page time— when they could instead group together in a montage. One group of sketches show Jacob’s abuse from his cab passengers. Each punchline is similar—Jacob screaming in angst—and can still earn laughs without showing each situation’s setup. Turning to characterization and subplots—while Jacob’s authenticity is written with thought and care, future revisions can better develop every other character. LEAH is likable, sympathetic, and dynamic. She’s able to befriend both Jacob and AARON who are always at odds. She misses her parents at Christmas time. She supports Jacob’s story by encouraging his ambition for charity work. However, Leah lacks conflict and accountability. Her role as the love interest is a prime opportunity for B-plot conflict, yet she has none. For example, her idea for Jacob to commit identity fraud is illegal and later fosters his internal conflict; but her morals are never questioned. Whenever Jacob feels guilty, Leah justifies the fraud by saying white people lie all the time. Jacob does not strongly react. NOUR is a mentor figure at the top of Act 2, but disappears until he’s necessary for a B- Plot climax to juxtapose against the A-Plot “all is lost” moment. (Nour’s taxi strike intercuts with Jacob’s “CRAZY-ARAB” speech). In future revisions, a strong B-plot can involve Leah or Nour. Their conflict can add complexity to Jacob’s choices. It’s important to note that when increasing one character’s role, the others’ roles should diminish for story clarity. Aaron is integral in the inciting incident and “all is lost” moment—twice ruining Jacob’s life. However, his only motive is jealousy, which makes him a shallow character. Jacob’s Mother, Uncle, and Grandmother disappear after Act 1. Their arcs feel unfinished, as they are essential to setting up Jacob’s identity. Even if they are an ocean apart, they could still influence Jacob’s story through memories or phone calls. Revisions can reimagine or cut more minor characters. BRIAN is barely a presence worth mentioning, since he appears only briefly late in the plot. SAMAR (waitress), and OMAR and YUNIS (childhood friends) help establish Jacob’s identity, but do not move the plot forward. At the line level—easy edits can amend screenplay convention faux pas and improve its
  • 5. professionality. Throughout, there are typos; discontinuous character blocking; mismatching slug lines; improperly formatted character introductions; and inclusion of copyrighted material. There is one instance of voice over on page 30, then no more. FINAL SUMMARY: JACOB is an engaging story with colorful characters, fun humor, and a strong message about cultural identity. However, it needs thorough revisions, and is thus a pass. The first majority half of the script lacks clear direction and is rambling; the turning point feels late; then the last part feels vague and rushed. Key characters can strengthen. Overall, the script can re-center around Jacob’s choice to lie.