MONKEY PUZZLE TREE

MONKEY PUZZLE TREE
* Finalist Cordelia Award, LA, 2012
* Semi-finalist, Bluecat Screenplay Competition, LA, 2012


UPDATE: rehearsed reading of the script...

Had a fantastic night hearing the script read at the Attic Studio, Dublin last night. Brilliant cast - Padraig Murray, Carla McGlynn, Killian Sheridan, Gail Brady, Philomena Fitzpatrick, Clodagh Downing, Mark Donaghy, Patrick Bridgeman and Camille Donegan.

Huge thanks to you all.

Very positive feedback - basically, the script buzzes, the characters absolutely work but I can tighten it up in parts - can't we always? - and draw out one of the of the secondary characters a little.

There's one important scene that didn't work - too corny, they said, too American! And they were right. It doesn't fit. It isn't necessary and it's too saccharine. I knew it the minute I heard the scene read. In a way I hadn't seen when I was writing this draft.

A few other scenes felt the same. Others can be tighter, more nuanced, less wordy. And I LOVE discovering scenes or swabs of dialogue I don't need in a script because every cut allows space to expand a character somewhere else, improve the pathos of the story being told or make the script pacier.

But I also need to tighten up the first quarter and I haven't a clue how to do that.

Yet.

Mind you, at 3am last night I had a FANTASTIC solution. I was just too tired to get up and write it down. Sometimes I am. I always know I'll regret it. Mid-slumber snippets are nearly always gold. Or lead to gold eventually.

I'm hoping that solution will sneak back out of my subconscious somewhere between the next dog walk and chocolate break. I may have to eat a lot of chocolate just to make sure.


- 29 August 2012

MONKEY PUZZLE TREE - FEEDBACK


A script in need of production... One producer already attached willing to do the Section 481 aspect


To give you a taster, I've pulled together some of the feedback from readers in the UK, NI, US and Ireland. I'll be bringing it to the Galway Film Fleadh Fair.

Let me know if you want to have a read...


* Finalist Cordelia Award, LA, 2012
* Semi-finalist, Bluecat Screenplay Competition, LA, 2012

Some comments from readers :


First, from Hollywood:

... Abby is a wonderfully well developed main character. You did a great job with the awkward teenage aspects, the family burdens, the boy trouble, school, friends, etc. She has a fully created life.

“Three dimensional” comes to mind constantly as I read her behaviour and choices. This is a huge boon to your screenplay because so much of the focus is on character.

One of the best things you have going for you is your ability to tackle a difficult subject without making it cliché or trite. This is not a genre picture. There’s no set of conventions to follow here. That’s a challenge. But then you add onto that a Down’s syndrome child. This is subject matter that could have easily been taken lightly or presented in an offensive way. But you don’t fall into that trap.

You don’t exaggerate or pick and choose aspects of the disease at will. You paint the character in a very believable way. I don’t know anything about Down’s personally, but that’s not important. What’s important is that you didn’t break the reality of the film. I buy it. I believe that she’s a flesh and blood character. And while I’m complimenting you on Leonie’s character, let me emphasize that I thought character work was the best part of the script.

This is a well-written family saga with a strong central protagonist. You establish Abby as a sensitive girl dealing with mixed emotions regarding her sister (she loves her and feels protective of her; she’s also sometimes embarrassed by her and resentful of the way Leonie’s needs overshadow hers).

Your action description is concise but evocative and your dialogue is strong.

....suitably stirring (and funny)


From Northern Ireland :-

...A script that I couldn’t stop reading...

The dialogue, especially between Abby and her father is superb. It never slips into cliché or awful cheesiness. It doesn't purposefully tug at the heartstrings, as the audience you are shown her life and are left to decide yourself whether she is just a selfish young madam, or is genuinely mixed up in her feelings. The latter being the truth.

Definitely one worth thinking about.

From the UK:-

...I just read your script. It’s good. It’s really, really good. I mean --- yeah – you did a miraculous thing. From where you were when we met—It’s lovely; really, really lovely. It was a delight to read.

The difference between this and your last draft is stunning. I thought, ‘My God! This is the writer I know’. It’s huge. The changes are so strong – it’s grown leaps and bounds --it was really exciting to read. I’m so glad I didn’t try to fit it in around something else. Everything about it works – structurally it works and that’s a huge thing. It was really fun. It was a joy to read. You should be thrilled with it. You’re proud of it, aren’t you – well you should be!

The characters, they felt real. I love the way it happens that Leonie thinks she’s pregnant. All of the characters are well rounded and good. And you’ve made Maggie sympathetic. She wants to give these girls what she thinks they need and she’s lovely with Leonie and she understands Abby. She’s not trying to hurt her.

You can’t imagine how thrilled I am. It’s so nice when you’ve done two hours of something and thought, that was a fantastic use of my time. You’ve made my week. I cried. I laughed.


From Ireland:-

... Very sensitively drawn and overall one would think far too sensitive. It has a quirkiness and a colour about it that is rather endearing and its presentation of characters who are a bit lost in their lives and discovering who they are sexually is a rather interesting theme.

The premise of a pretend pregnancy is appealing and there’s potential for a commercial arthouse film.

...Abby is a very well-drawn character. She’s a teenager, and is facing all the usual teen issues, such as fancying a guy and anticipating that first kiss, but she’s also got much more serious problems, as she has been forced to take on the role of her sister’s carer, and the time has come for her to assert her own identity and independence.

If Abby had suddenly decided she’d had enough and started acting out, her behavior would be completely understandable, but she is especially impressive in how maturely she’s handling her crisis. Instead of lashing out at Leonie (her putdowns to Leonie are very mild and restrained) and being horrid, she internalizes everything, and even more touchingly, she staunchly defends Leonie in public, even if it means ruining her chances with the boy she fancies.

Such strength of character is rare at this age, when peer opinion matters so much. When she seems to be excluded out of the new family dynamics, it’s heartbreaking, and because of all this, Abby’s lie is not harshly judged. Instead, we deeply empathize with her."

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