GENERAL SCRIPT NOTES:
A classic Cinderella story. A wallflower who channels her singing talent into helping others. she is in shock and unable to accept the break up with her ex. We know, eventually, she will accept it and she will go to the ball, how this unfolds is the exciting journey.
This is an exceptionally FUN way to fullfil this classic premise! I LOVE the world of Competitive Caroling. Fantastic.
A) This movie appears to have two challenges but I have considered them and I am absolutely confident , after breaking down the script, scene by scene, into each story beat, these two initial concerns are NOT a problem.
1. Is Carol too passive? No. This NOT a problem. Carol is a very ACTIVE character with a strong scenic action to play in every scene, she will NOT appear stagnant. She has a strong rising dramatic tension, and a great character arc: To let go of the man she thought she loved.
2. The Christmas Caroling appeared to be the strongest element and I was concerned that it would not give time for the relationships to deepen. After breaking down the script, scene by scene, beat by beat, I am completely confident that the Christmas Caroling actually IS Jimmy, with a few added moments of development (see suggestions below) we deepen and develop Carol's relationship with Jimmy and move from the ties that bind her to Chuck each time we go to a scene with the Xmas Cheers.
B) Some dialogue needs a polish, it is expositional sometimes and when it is we can not believe the characters. I have gone through the script and have my suggestions for each expositional moment and each suggestion for a dialogue polish. Please ask and I will send those suggestions. Because they are small, it may be better to wait on them.
C) Subtext. I have pin pointed where there should be subtext so the actors have something psychological to play. Don't have the characters always be able to say how they feel or what they want. When they can't, it creates subtext. We could do with more of this subtext in the dialogue scenes.
D) In the next draft, the writer should ask 'what does each character want in this scene? What do they do to get it?" When either character wants something different, pursuit of it creates dramatic tension.
E) Think about the weaknesses of each character. If I know their weakness, I know who they are.What does each character want and why they want it. Make sure each character has a different reason for wanting it.
Keep the school pageant but the Mathletics have just been won. Keep school simple.
Scene 6. How long has Chuck been asking for these decorations back? From Carol's dialogue, he has asked before. How often and for how long he has asked for these Christmas Decorations? Unless we learn pretty quickly why he so urgently wants Christmas Decorations, I don't understand why a grown man wants these decorations even if they ARE expensive.
Scene 13.Add more dialogue for Mandy laying it on the table that Chuck is being selfish and self centred. He only went to the school to get something for Chuck. He really isn’t interested in her. Carol won’t have it, believes the two star-crossed lovers are meant to be together. Drags her friend with her through the hedge.
Scene 16. THE MEET. Carol should be put out by Jimmy’s gaze, not lock eyes. She should completely refuse his attention but can’t help feel soothed by it. Doesn’t trust it, but soothed by it.
Scene 22. REWRITE. Mandy wakes up Carol. Excited, she and Carol are both now in the Xmas Cheers. (In this draft, Carol says no, without any excitement. Don’t do that. Have her excited but she just can’t be in it. She doesn’t have time with school, (Dialogue suggestion it goes more like...”I get just as much knowing you are performing, and I will dip in and out when I can. And you best believe I’ll be in the front row to support you if you get to Radio City”.)
Scene 22. Polish this scene. What does Carol want in this scene? To dis-engage from the choir. What does Jimmy want from this scene? To find out if Carol can sing soprano to get females for his choir. Shift some Jimmy dialogue, he charms and fishes to see if Carol could be useful to his choir. By the end of the scene, Carol feels overwhelmed, he picks up on it and apologizes. (As scripted is a good Button on the scene).
Scene 25. This works well, polish the scene to be even clearer that Carol has an epiphany in this scene, she can not be lonely this Christmas. Caroling throws her into the middle of activity and people.
Scene 27. Polish. Write it on the page in subtext, Carol isn’t committing to Radio City, she is committing to be part of something, for a bit of comfort, in order to put an end to her isolated loneliness.
Question for the writer: P. 28. What does Carol want now she has joined the choir? Answer this clearly and simply.
Scene 28. English accents. They train to sing (speaking is simply a practice in order to sing in posh English accents.) Make this clear.
Scene 28. Polish dialogue so I believe Jimmy takes it on trust from Mandy that Carol can sing. He informs her that it will be all consuming. Carol wants to just be in the background. Jimmy tells her there’s no such thing. Mandy assures Jimmy that Carol sings like and angel.
Scene 29. Polish. Jimmy gives Carol the lead soprano? This is on hearsay? Have to ask why? When he cares about being brilliant and had not heard her sing, does he give her the lead?
Scene 33. Suggestion: Chuck has changed his relationship status to ‘In a relationship’. After reading his book review and relationship status Carol changes her relationship status to ‘In a relationship’ - but hers is with the cat.
Scene 34a. Change snowflakes to the kids rehearse for pageant? Carol able to help them?
Suggestion: Go to chuck's POV. Insert a scene at around page 35. If you let the audience in on why Chuck wants those Christmas decorations back it will give me more clarity. My 'fix' is that he knows she has the thumb stick (she doesn't remember it) and he put in with the decorations when he found she had recorded 'that confessional moment'. If you go for this, the writer will still have to solve the logic of why he has hidden the thumb stick but it is possible to invent it. Whatever way is chosen to make sense of why a grown man goes on about Christmas decorations by going into his POV for a scene and finding out and believing why he wants them.
Write in Carol's reactions in her scenes through more scenic action. When she is nervous, what does she do? When she is afraid, what does she do? As a Director, I know what she feels and thinks but it will help the reader if it is on the page more when she is non verbal.
My biggest concern in this current script are the 'Carol is exhausted' sequence scenes 33-40. It is choppy and doesn't rise. Kind of feels repetitive. I know it is groundhog day but it is just feeling too choppy. In next draft, make this sequence more economic to achieve the same result.
Page 44. Carol can not face her fears. This is expositional. Let’s see her more afraid of public singing. Torture our hero and work to make it flow. This will then be a big tent pole and reversal when she returns to the Xmas Cheers. Use what she said to Connie and dramatise it for her, here. The sequence should show us, viscerally, what it costs her each time she sings, and she has to break through her fear each time, and how she doesn’t feel she can do it again...but she still does. This could be our emotional midpoint.
P.56. I am looking for an emotional big tent pole in the Carol/Chuck narrative. Ramp up the text from Chuck. It has to be something that pushes her to tears. Bad version: Chuck sends her a strong text that upsets Carol immediately, it's FOLLOWED up by a phone call from the new fiance who treats Carol like she is ruining Chuck's life. 'Give back Chuck's Christmas tree decorations. You're making his life hell." This gets Carol fighting back for her midpoint of the Chuck narrative by going head to head with the new fiance. (remember, that's the bad version, but you get my point.)
Scene 58. I am not buying when Carol says I want to keep the Christmas Ornaments, they are 'the only good things I've got left'. It's hard to believe this. She isn't materialistic and she hates all else Christmas. Maybe she is keeping hold of them to keep hold of him. I believe that more. She has something he wants. That is enough. and I believe Mandy should point that out to her. Tell it as it is, that she is hanging on to the Christmas Decorations because she is hanging onto Chuck. Until you give them to him...you will never be free. This sinks in.....A revelation for Carol.
Insert a scene: Jimmy and Carol spend ALOT of screen time together because the truth is, in story terms, he IS the Xmas Cheers. Ever time she is with the Xmas Cheers she is with her Prince Charming. I do think you could incorporate or expand a scene...I'd like to see them go off to a diner around P.64 and economically, discover that they think alike and they get each other, after all, that is what love is. I also suggest that they bond when they discover they also share the same terror of spiders. It could be a real, "When harry met Sally' moment when they both get hysterical over a a little spider on the table and end up laughing at having revealed this to each other.
Scene 66. AMP UP THIS SCENE! Let the writer describe in more detail how Carol copes, what she does, what the freezes are full of.
Scene 71. Mandy. Can you be more clear on her motivation to go to The Velvetones? I dont quite believe that Mandy is willing to think Carol would set her up to fail. In this draft, she doesn't even give Carol a moment to defend herself. I can not believe this. Also, Rico should be better at seducing her. If it is this easy, it makes Mandy too much of a push over. She is adorable and all heart but still, it must appeal to her weaknesses more; Rico has to work hard at making her insecure and making Lady Miss Lorna the answer for her. It is all there, it just needs to be made more of. Same scenes, just cleverer with the manipulation.
Scene 77. For sake of the next scene, don’t arrange the Courthouse tomorrow, it gets confusing when she wakes late and goes to school.
SCENE 78.Mandy un-friending is big. Can we see the scene where Lorna explains why she has to do this?
Scene 95. Don't believe the Dean just comes out with 'I appreciate you accepting my apology, so glad you came".
Amazing drive to the end. No more notes. Love this so much. Take what you want and leave the rest.