Comments Made During the Contest
Amanda Sidorowicz (Level 4)
First off, this was pretty good. I like the main character, Opal. The opening description was well written too. The only part that could use a bit of re-working in those first sentences are when you say "pulls her arthritic body from the table." I would get rid of arthritic and explain how she's pulling herself. Does she stumble or move slowly? The twist at the end was interesting, but I still don't understand how Opal can be so forgiving of the man who killed her son -- even if they were best friends. Opal's an unique character, but even so, it's very hard for me to believe she travels so far to visit the man who killed her son -- and make him a scarf.Overall, though, your writing is very good. It was a quick read and kept me interested throughout. I also like how your title comes into play.
Ammar Salmi (Level 5)
I loved the story, the characters, the twist, almost every thing about this short. Now, let starts with the basics1- Don't use description that only clear in your mind not the reader mind, like"his eyes is soul-less"I'm sure that you believe this description is as clear as the sun. That's true, but only in your mind. The reader doesn't know what you know, doesn't see what you see. Before finishing you script, always make sure you get ride of this suspicious descriptions.2- The let your actions blocks feel mechanical. She sits. She puts. She stands. You have to bring those blocks to life using language tools.A last thing to say, don't give your character a confusing personality. Opal gives the man a gift, then she's happy that he's going to be hanged. I couldn't understand this behaviour. It felt confusing.
Bobbi Burton (Level 2)
This script is very well written. It has a certain tragic resonance that touches the heart. The characters are believeable and the reader quickly becomes invested in them. The twist on the woman visitor not being there to visit Tyrone for the reason that we at first believe is excellent and makes for a much more interesting situation. I can think of no way to improve on this script. Job very well done.
Brandyn Bullock (Level 1)
"Mea Culpa" is a fair short that has a twist and turn. It ended a lot different from what I was expecting and I found Opal and Tyrone to be intriguing characters. And the connection between the two was quite interesting. I was assuming that the two were mother & son but realizing what their true connection was interesting. The only thing that I didn't like about the script was it's writing. I think that it could've been written a lot better.
Brian Wind (Level 5)
Wow, this was great. Nice, tight script with a great twist and a powerful and emotional story. I've only read 5 scripts so far but I can guarantee that this is a serious contender for Top 3. The only thing I wasn't crazy about was the title, which I assume is Latin, but have no idea what it means.Anyway, I really have no criticism here. This was a superb piece of writing. Excellent work!
Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus)
Good title.I liked this a lot. A good story and I really felt I knew the characters by the end. Good twist. I had a horrible feeling the scarf would become a noose.Very well done.
Chris Keaton (Level 5)
Can't complain about anything. I like the story and the twist was satisfying and some how right. Good job, actually you get a VG from me.Notes:- You need another space before the scene heading, it's too crammed.
Chris Messineo (Founder)
I loved this.So much weight and gravity here. So much depth in the things left unsaid. The twist is wonderful. It elevates the whole story before it and makes us think about things like loss and forgiveness.Very powerful. Fantastic writing. Excellent.
Dan Delgado (Level 5)
I've been going on and on on some of my reviews, probably making a fool of myself, but when someone nails it, the reviews are short and sweet.You nailed it with this one. No comments needed -- I'll just shut-up and enjoy it.(And to think, when I first opened the PDF file I thought: "Thirteen scenes in a script barely over four pages long? This might be bad." I got that wrong.)Great job. You got my first "Excellent" this month.Thank you.
Dan Lennox (Level 5)
This was very good. I started to figure things out a bit perhaps a bit sooner than you might have intended, but I don't think it took away from the story. I like the play in your dialogue between Opal and Tyrone. It was paced well and kept my interest in the story.Very good job!
David Birch (Level 5)
i would suggest tightening the opening...you open by having opal getting on the bus and any backstory you want to be done through her chatting with the bus driver..i.e. "going to see your boy again?"...plus you set the reader up to thinking that she's visiting her son's house only to surprise the reader by revealing he's incarcerated...also, i'm not sure whether they would allow someone to bring knitting needles into a prison...so you might want to check that out (if you were doing this as a feature)...but the twist at the end worked...a tighter opening would give you more space for a little context...but a nice read...thanks...
DW Pollard (Level 4)
Interesting story. It did drag on a little long getting on the bus and getting to the prison.A little bit of artistic license to think that she could hand him a scarf on a visit; what would keep her from slippng him a weapon or drugs? (Yes, I know Opal would never do that, but it's just an example to show that it wouldn't be possible to pass an inmate on death row anything.)It was an interesting twist, the audience thinking Tyrone was her son and instead realizing it was her son's killer.
Elias Farnum (Level 5)
I thought this story, though written very well, was kind of flat. An old African American woman visits the killer of her son who is on death row - where's the conflict? It is certainly a compelling subject, but nothing was done to paint a complete picture - she might as well have been going to the store to buy a loaf of bread - meh. I get that her son and Tyrone were best friends, but what happened that Tyrone killed him? You could have used that unnecessary first page. To me, that would be compelling, and then to see her visit this man that killed her son, could have added another layer and made this story into something very interesting.Perhaps others will see what I did not. Good job anyway, Opal was a visual, live character that had an undertone of the wise, and I would have liked to see a wider variety of emotion from her.Not sure I understand why the title is in Latin.
Faith Friese Nelson (Level 5)
I saw the ending coming but I still enjoyed this SP. Well written. Just one comment..."Opal pushes the scarf through an opening in the glass." This does not sound "real" to me. In prison, I would suspect all gifts would have to be thoroughly examined by guards before a prisoner can have it.
Herman Chow (Level 5)
I think it's quite long drawn before reaching the final punch line. The script can be tightened up to three pages because you don't really need the scenes where Opal walking down the street, waiting for the bus, and finding a seat. Just cut from her home to where she was knitting the scarf on the bus.Story-wise, I don't understand the purpose of the scarf. Why did Opal give Tyrone a scarf? Did Tyrone kill Opal's son with a scarf? And are there really openings between the glass so Opal can hand Tyrone the scarf?I also think you can have some more things to happen in this story. Maybe more conflict and anticipation to engage the audience.The ending is a surprise for me, but it somehow didn't connect or bring the story to a higher level. If Tyrone is the murderer, then what just happened for the last four pages? The reveal kinda dampened your story because it confused us rather than enlightened us.Technical-wise, I didn't catch any typos or grammar mistake. But the sluglines can be less ambiguous. For example, you have two INT. PRISON scenes but one is actually in the visitation area and one is inside the prison cell.Nevertheless, it's a GOOD for me.
James Hughes (Level 5)
The amount of times the script breaks to give location is distracting, especially on the first page. Every other line sets the location. I am not sure what proper technique is for this kind of situation, but I wonder if there is a different way to write that first page and the last part to allow the story to flow.I could tell what was happening once the conversation at the prison started the way it did. I think once that part comes, the back and forth has to be more close to what you would expect between a child and mother in order to make the ending more surprising. However, I would rather see the script be more about exploring one of these two characters than to be about setting up this ending. It seems like the script is set up just to have this payoff. This leaves me feeling let down that I didn't get more into the story behind either one of these people.The story was more from the mother's point of view or at least followed her, so I question the title mea culpa when she isn't the one that needs to apologize.
Jeannie Sconzo (Level 5)
Very good!I have mixed feelings about her using the curse word. She's such an upright woman I feel like I'd rather her find other words. Was the name Tyler used at times in place of Tyrone? Did you change his name after one of the drafts?I like that it was never told specifically who she was. In a way, I wanted the answer, but not having it leaves open lots of possibilities and I do think that that's better. Their dialogue seems very natural.
JeanPierre Chapoteau (Moderator)
I'm assuming Tyler is Tyrone. I like how you revealed he was on death row. I'm glad you didn't add it in Opal's dialogue.I thought it was a pretty good story. I didn't see the ending coming but it wasn't such a shocker. I thought something was going to be in the scarf to poison him. There were a few typo's and the action was a bit bland but overall it was okay.
Jeffrey Slocum (Level 4)
I read this a few times. I thought it could be a really good feature length movie, with a few twists and turns. I say feature length because I had a lot of questions; regarding how the death of his best friend plays into it? And him saying she's not his mother to the guard? Either I'm missing something or the script is.
Joel Davis (Level 5)
Nice description. Despite the opening imagery being very strong, I think it got in the way of the pacing a bit. Well done, though.The biggest problem for me was that the tension of the story -- the question that Opal isn't Tyrone's mom, so who is she? -- isn't introduced until pg.4, just before it is resolved on the next page. Set that up earlier. On the other hand, it is a really strong dramatic engine, and works well with the tone you've chosen.I also think that using the newspaper clipping to reveal is a bit overdone. If you could find a more unique way to show this, it would really give your ending more punch.
John Dale (Level 1)
Opal is an excellent character, really hooking and very easy to visualise, to hear the way she speaks. The narrative offers something very simple but intriguing and is entertaining solely by the way that Opal drives it forward. I am unsure about the ending, it just seems more like a cliffhanger to the end of the show, maybe you should finish as he is taken from his cell to his death, dropping the scarf as he goes.
Jose Batista (Level 5)
Excellence. What a powerfully moving short film this would make. In so little time, with the most minimal of words, the script masterfully conveys the pain and suffering of Opal, as well as her strong reserve, big heart and method of coping.Visiting Tyrone and bringing him a scarf shows a level of forgiveness that is unattainable by the majority of people, including myself, but I respect and admire someone like Opal. The way you started off the script - her journey to prison, out of the city into the country, was simple and perfect. Not saying that the ending was bad at all, it wasn't, but I do wish you'd fill up the remaining white space with something. Perhaps that would've messed up the ending, perhaps it may have not. I just see the empty space and am left wondering what's next? Will she be there for his execution? I would have liked to get a glimpse of her reaction to that. However, the script stands solid as it is. Excellent writing, dialogue and visuals, along with an even pace made this an enjoyable read. Cheers to you.
Kenneth Goorabian (Level 2)
Forgiveness is a strong subject, and under Opal's circumstances very hard. You handled it with aplomb. Characters well drawn. Your description of Opal made her alive for me. Very good dialog. Story concise and to the point with little waste. Bravo.Simple, true to life stories that elicit strong emotion in the reader are not as easy to write as tossing buckets of blood across the page just for the shock value.Sad, but at the same time truly shows that to 'er is human, to forgive, devine.Two thumbs up!!
Kevin Carty (Level 4)
Nothing really special about this for me but it is written well. Black woman and her "son". Oh well everything runs so rapidly. I thought that everything was predictable. I think that she is the best friend's mom but it felt pushed in and was the only twist but I didn't really feel the tension in their conversation.but vg
Khamanna Iskandarova (Level 5)
Good job on your script! At the beginning I thought it was going to be about her boy and why he's a pain in the ass. I know you wanted to mislead us, but if you said "you're always been a pain in the ass", I think, you should provide us with why so. I did not understand the importance of the scarf. I know that Tyrone is on a death row - is he going to escape his punishment by killing himself? Written well, I think.
KP Mackie (Level 5)
Love the title. Perfect example of a title with irony.Anticipating a predictable prison story and surprised by the twist of Opal's connection to Tyrone. The characters are distinctive and complete. Description is concise. Nice variety of locations. Dialogue is sparse and relevant. Particularly appreciate the clear, simple, and tight writing. So easy to read.May not need the reference to Tyrone being on death row. It's enough that Opal, the mother of his victim, visits Tyrone in prison regularly. Might carry even more weight if there's the inference that she'll be making this trip indefinitely. Also, this story could end with Opal at home closing and locking the box -- the sound of the box clicking closed could provide some punctuation.Excellent writing.
Kyle Patrick Johnson (Level 5)
Would Opal be allowed to pass an object across the glass to a prison inmate? Something tells me no.This is a five page vignette, probably better suited to one or two pages. All it really says is that a woman is being kind to the killer of her son. Now, this is an extraordinary theme, of course, and I'm glad you went for it, but there's really no character arc anywhere. For it to justify so many pages, for it to be called a story, something has to happen, or the symbolism needs to pop even more, or someone has to learn something, etc. Might I suggest on a rewrite: have Opal be considering taking her revenge on Tyrone with her knitting needle while giving him the scarf, but pulling back at the last moment or something. Certainly not perfect, but at least it might add some drama.
Margaret Ricke (Level 5)
Top of page 2 - You'll probably get this from everyone, but you used the name Tyler instead of Tyrone here. This is an easy review! Everything works. The formatting is good - though I prefer two spaces at the bottom of each scene as it's easier for me to read. The name is the only error I found. The story is exceptional... So much said. I love this. It's one of those stories that I don't think I'll ever forget.Excellent work!
Marnie Mitchell Lister (Level 5)
Whats up with that title? What does it mean? Are we supposed to know?This was a good but sad story. Very well written. Great dialog. We don't learn much. Like what were her reasons for visiting him? You have her mention it but then never explain it. I think that would have fleshed her character out more if we knew. I did really like this but I think it needs a touch more to make it feel complete.
Martin Jensen (Level 5)
Wow, great ending. I love how you call back the picture from the very first scene. Some of the emotion is a bit overdone, especially from Opal, who generally comes off as quite restrained. I wouldn't beleive her eyes would 'fill with tears'. There's some great visual description of Opal's bus ride and the other scenes that take place outside of the prison. It really helped to open up her world. Excellent.
Matthew Fettig (Level 5)
Wow. All along I'm waiting for something to drop out of the scarf, or to see Tyrone hanging in his cell. Very well done. Very solemn mood. Dialog fit well. It would probably be difficult to shoot (access to a prison and all that) but it could be very good.
Max Quaye (Level 1)
I liked the sincerity of the piece- it was a very sad story, and you could feel the weariness in the writing. It was not a frenzied sadness but a weary one, with the tragedy happening years ago so the only thing left is the empty ache. This came across loud and clear, and was a definite plus. If I am understanding the story correctly, Tyrone was the murderer of Opal's son. This twist was a bit too subtle- maybe there should be a framed photograph of all three of them in the house? Something just so that there is no confusion. At the end of the day, however, this story was a bit slight. I'm not sure there was quite enough there to support a short film. There was the atmosphere that I spoke of, but I think something more substantial needs to happen to hammer the themes home.
MJ Hermanny (Level 5)
I like this a lot mainly I think because Opal is such a wonderful and vividly drawn character. But I'm not sure I understand it 100%. Does Opal blame herself for Tyrone killing her son? Or is Tyrone her last connection to him? Or does she want to see him getting his punishment? I'm really not sure what the point is of this story and it's bugging me.Maybe there doesn't need to be a point and it's just about Opal coping with her son's murder.Anyway, your craft is flawless. The dialogue between Tyrone and Opal is great, shows a history between them. The dialogue in the cell with the guard is very expositional - I don't know how you can avoid that because it's an integral line to the script but it feels quite heavy handed.I'm going to have to think about this for a few days as I don't quite know how to score it.Gave this an excellent after finishing all the scripts. Superb craft.
Nicholas Ziolkowski (Level 4)
I didn't see the ending coming, and this script gets better with each subsequent read. The only problem I've noticed with it, occurs shortly after Tyrone first appears. His name switches to "Tyler" once on page 2.I believe a lot is said about Opal based on her actions. On one hand she's a person that's sweet enough to make a journey to a prison to deliver a hand-made scarf to a man that she definitely should not care about. On the other hand, she's still going to make the journey again when it's time to watch Tyrone be put to death. There's a lot of dimension to her, and you've explored it in such a short piece. Great work!I especially love how she takes her hand away when she confirms she'll come back to see Tyrone die.
Paul De Vrijer (Level 5)
Well written, well formatted, but ultimately didn't garner a strong reaction from me. I felt like something bigger was going to happen, and it never did. It's one of those onstances where i'd prefer a few flashbacks, just to know what happened. In line with keeping the surprise of course.Still, the emotional angle came forward and there is a sense of overwhelming sadness within it. A nice short story for certain with good tone in the dialog, but not much happens I guess. She just travels to a prison and back.Best Moment: The respect Tyrone has for Opal. Strong tone in dialog.
Paul Williams (Level 5)
I like the twist at the end, that Tyrone is not Opal's son, but her son's murderer. I might have had this twist revealed a little later in the story, maybe even come in the last scene or dialogue-line.I like the themes and morals touched upon here, very poignant and difficult.The actual visit in prison with Tyrone and Opal didn't feel very authentic: First, it was like less than two minutes long. Why would Opal travel over one-hundred miles to sit down for that short amount of time? I suppose it's to hide your twist, because the longer they talk the harder it'd be to hide. And, I understand the script can only be five pages long, so perhaps upon expansion, you can have them talk at more length and ratchet up the conflict and tension.No items would ever be transferred through a small window from a visitor to a death-row prisoner. Not at all. Ever. I don't think local jails would allow this. Any gifts would have to go through prison staff, be thoroughly inspected, then given to the prisoner.Your screenwriting is excellent; format overall is in order; only detected a few typos.
Philip Whitcroft (Level 5)
This is a really strong simple story that is well told. The characters work well and the story has a great tension within it."Ty#rone# shuffles""Opal pushes the scarf through an opening in the glass." - This seems a bit odd. Would their be an opening that things can be passed through in a place like this?"INSERT NEWSPAPER CUTTING" - I like this aspect of the story, but I wonder if there is a different way to get this information across or if it could be left less obviously stated. I guess my problem is that it seems like a device for her to look at a explanatory newspaper cutting and I'm not convinced she'd be that likely to have cut out and kept this newspaper story anyway.
Rob Dianora (Level 4)
I like this story. I think there could be more to it though. I'd possiblly look into expanding it to be a little longer short film. Opal and Tyrone are great characters, build on that aspect and this could be really good. I'd cut down on the many scenes in the beginning as well. Overall good job.
Scott Merrow (Level 5)
Good story. Opal is a very sympathetic character, able to forgive the unforgivable.A couple screenwriting comments. First, a typo. On Page 2, you said Tyler instead of Tyrone. Secondly, I think you could trim it down a little. For example, on Page 4, you don't really need the return trip on the bus or her shuffling up the steps. You could just cut to her in the apartment. Keep the story moving.Third, I'm not sure I understand the title. "Mea culpa" means "I am guilty" or "I am responsible" or "I am culpable." Certainly, Opal isn't guilty of anything, and Tyrone never seemed to acknowledge his guilt. So, the meaning of the title sort of escapes me.Other than that, it's a good, simple story about a remarkable woman.My score: GOOD.
Suzanne Smith (Level 3)
Hello. Great script to read, I lost myself in the characters. I knew right away that they weren't related just by the 'coal black eyes' stare. Gave me the impression she was indifferent to him, but there because of something, or someone else - clearly wasn't there for Tyrone (at that point anyways). The scarf is a nice touch - she does care about Tyrone on some level, probably replacing her son with Tyrone which I do believe can happen. There was nice tension between Opal and Tyrone, I was pushed forward by wanting to know how they were connected - the ending you satisfy my curiosity with a nice visual of Tyrone holding the scarf. Nice work!!
Sylvia Dahlby (Level 5)
This had all the elements of an emotional and impactful story - I was very disappointed.13 scene transitions crammed into 5 pages makes for a jumpy ride - and a a dull introduction, I'm watching an old woman drinking coffee & getting on a bus? Yawn. I suggest opening shot be Opal at the prison w/Tyrone being led in to see her. Lose all the stuff w Opal on the bus where NOTHING happens, and this does little to create character or show me the relationship. How about she visits her son's GRAVE so we get a better sense of her pain and the set-up for the story? How about showing more of Tyrone's guilt.Overall, this was awkward and stilted, and dull. It could have made me WEEP.Also, I seriously doubt the prison allows visitors to pass stuff thru the glass to the inmates.
Thomas W. Brown (Level 4)
This is an intense little tale. I like how you work in the end. It really seems to fit. Title is spot on. Your format is great. The way you describe the bus ride is really good. Transition without transitions - Gold. Overall this is very well done. Best of luck!
Tim Westland (Moderator)
DAMN! This is AWESOME.I virtually always have some comment to make on a script, but I wouldn't change one thing.It's very moving and just plain wonderful.A hearty EXCELLENT for you. And I can't wait to find out who you are.
Comments Made After the Contest
Brian Wind (Level 5) ~ 2/1/2010 12:02 AM
Congrats Sally! I of my 2 Excellents of the month and without a doubt, 1 of my Top 5 MP scripts, period! Loved it! Great work!
Chris Messineo (Founder) ~ 2/1/2010 12:05 AM
Sally, I loved this! Congratulations.
Tim Westland (Moderator) ~ 2/1/2010 12:18 AM
I loved this, Sally. Would be a beautiful film... very poignant. Congrats!
Thomas W. Brown (Level 4) ~ 2/1/2010 12:19 AM
Great job Sally, and congrats!
Chris Keaton (Level 5) ~ 2/1/2010 12:25 AM
Congrats! Be glad I only gave you a VG and Excellent from me is the kiss of death. All though I always will defend my choices. By the way I could see this being shot. Good Job!
Sally Meyer (Moderator) ~ 2/1/2010 12:40 AM
Thank you everyone. I was mad at myself for the Tyler faux paus. Dang it. I appreciate all the comments, they will only help me make this a better story. Thank you so much.
Margaret Ricke (Level 5) ~ 2/1/2010 12:54 AM
This was beautiful, Sally. Congratulations I hope it's on your list of future productions.
Marnie Mitchell Lister (Level 5) ~ 2/1/2010 12:54 AM
You always tug at my heart Sally. Congrats! :)
Jose Batista (Level 5) ~ 2/1/2010 1:23 AM
A well deserved placement. Congratulations.
Caroline Coxon (Mod Emeritus) ~ 2/1/2010 8:36 AM
Very well done - I loved it that you moved into something a little darker this time.
Dan Delgado (Level 5) ~ 2/1/2010 10:57 AM
"I was mad at myself for the Tyler faux paus."I didn't even see it. A well written story eliminates those kind of mistakes. A poorly written story amplifies them.Congratulations.
Dan Delgado (Level 5) ~ 2/1/2010 11:00 AM
A poorly written comment amplifies those KINDS of mistakes. (sigh)
Sally Meyer (Moderator) ~ 2/1/2010 11:28 AM
LOL.. and Dan, I didn't notice that at all, so there ya go.. point taken.
MJ Hermanny (Level 5) ~ 2/1/2010 1:05 PM
Congratulations Sally, I thought this was wonderful.
William Bienes (Mod Emeritus) ~ 2/1/2010 1:39 PM
Excellent script -- very well captured. Congratulations.
Paul Williams (Level 5) ~ 2/1/2010 4:56 PM
Yes! This is the Sally Meyer I've come to know! Great story, characters, theme, and twist. Really well done.Please keep on inspiring me.
MJ Hermanny (Level 5) ~ 2/3/2010 2:02 PM
Hey Sally - I preferred Opal being 'pint sized', it somehow gave her much more inner strength but I gues this may have changed due to a casting issue.I personally don't like the flashback that you've added. I think the original was nigh on perfect as it was and the flashback doesn't really add anything except perhaps confusion - why would Tyrone be on death row if he tried to help the son by bringing him home?Good call on removing the 'I have my reasons' line.
Sally Meyer (Moderator) ~ 2/3/2010 2:10 PM
Thanks MJ. I appreciate your input. I think you're right, the flashbacks don't work.
Sally Meyer (Moderator) ~ 2/3/2010 2:14 PM
I took out the flashbacks.
MJ Hermanny (Level 5) ~ 2/3/2010 2:50 PM
can you somehow make the 'tall' description more... um... descriptive like you used 'pint sized' instead of 'short'. Maybe willowly, or gangly or spindly..?? Just something that adds a bit more character to her.
Sally Meyer (Moderator) ~ 2/3/2010 2:53 PM
You know, I don't know why I took out pint sized.. duh me. I put it back to the original.. thanks MJ.Sally
Paul Williams (Level 5) ~ 2/3/2010 5:09 PM
Hi Sally,Just read the rewrite. I see you changed the giving of the scarf, which was one of my procedural issues. Good job with that, it feels more plausible and realistic.The only other (small) issue I had was the timing of the reveal of Opal and Tyrone's relationship. I understand you wanted to end the story with Opal, which is the right decision because it's ultimately her story. I really can't think of a way to do both at the same time at the end, but I'll give it some thought.Again, great job!