Sample Feedback

Here are my notes for a screenplay that reached the finals in three major contests and was recently optioned.  In addition to the "big picture" notes you see here, I always provide numerous scene/line-specific comments as well (for a total of at least 6 pages of notes on your script).



I really like this story!  The main character’s medical condition is fascinating and full of thematic resonance.  And the Sleeping Beauty myth gives you a great springboard.  There are so many sweet/funny/clever moments in this script!  I love the feetie pajamas when we first meet Keely.  April and Robbie stand out as likeable, vivid characters.  The dialogue is natural and strong.  And the kiss from Robbie at the end should be a poignant on-screen moment and really nail your play on the famous fairy tale.

All that said, I think you can push this further.  Here are my thoughts:


My biggest note is that, for me, Keely’s sleeping disease doesn’t feel sufficiently organic to the story yet.  After the preamble, we don’t see her fall asleep again until half way through the action.  Until then, except for occasional teasing and dialogue moments, her problems are the same as any kid who was home schooled and has to adjust to school. 

But her condition is so fascinating I really wanted to see it in play.  That’s what makes this story so tricky to tell.  You can’t show her sleeping all the time.  You mainly have to show her life when she’s awake.  But the whole reason this story exists is because of the sleep.  It’s a challenging dance to pull off. 

Here’s a suggestion: You could take some chances with the structure.  Perhaps even risk the dreaded “episodic” word producers throw around and make Keely fall asleep again and again.  We could see snippets of Keely trying to live her life in these short bursts. 

Otherwise, as it is now, I don’t feel the impending danger of Keely being about to fall asleep.  Reading this version, I often forgot that sleeping was her problem and felt like I was watching a movie about a typical teen trying to fit in.

Another idea:  I have a thought on an additional way to get us inside Keely’s struggle.  She’s in the middle of trying to get something she wants – the guy, the win in the big game, etc. – and she blacks out, and we hear life going on without her as we stare for a moment either at a black screen or at Keely sleeping.  Just a thought.

If you don’t want to change the structure, you might consider making Keely almost fall asleep a number of times during the early days at school, so that we feel the tension – that it might happen at any moment.  Or maybe she does fall asleep for a few seconds at embarrassing times.



Her character is working in many ways, but she’s a little passive.  At a number of key moments, Keely doesn’t do or even say much. 

When it’s time to convince Edie that she can handle school, Keely starts off feisty, but then Keely leaves the room and Doug finishes the fight.  Keely doesn’t even initiate her eavesdropping.  Robbie does that. 

But, for me, she still didn’t feel all that passive yet, until, on the first day of school, April steps in and spares Keely the trouble of defending herself.  April is a much more vivid character than Keely and may well steal the scenes they share.  Later on that first day, when April is gone, and Keely faces the embarrassment of not having a lab partner, Jenn and Lynn bail her out. 

Of course, your main character doesn’t always have to take the lead on everything, but here I think you’re leaning too far toward the passive.


I didn’t quite have a handle on Sam.  Is he the hesitant new kid or the quarterback stud?  You might consider making Sam NOT be the new kid at school.  Having him be a new kid confuses things a bit, and it takes the heat off of Keely to have another newcomer in town, especially if it’s the guy she has a crush on. 

You might just turn Sam into Craig, combining the characters.  This way, Keely’s red-herring love interest would now be Craig, the captain of the football team and Melanie’s boyfriend, adding conflict.  I think it’s okay -- good actually -- that Craig is kind of jerky if Keely is going to pair up with Robbie in the end.


I’m not sure you’re emphasizing the overprotective nature of the relationship between Keely and her mom enough to set up the payoff of one of your big Act III moments (when Keely’s mom realizes Keely’s problems are her fault).  Right now, the father-daughter relationship is eclipsing the mother-daughter one.  So maybe it should be the father, Doug, who is overprotective, like the overprotective king in the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale.


Right now you have a story about fitting in.  That could work.  But I don’t know if it’s the most organic theme for this subject matter.  What if the story were about going for life and not waiting for tomorrow?  Living NOW.  Because none of us knows how long we’ll “be awake”.  Just a thought.

If you do stick with the fitting in theme and arc, I think you need to push that theme earlier and harder.  Otherwise, I think a lot of readers may miss it.



I’d still like to learn more about Keely’s condition.  Does stress bring it on?  Is that why going to school and playing basketball is such a big risk?  You’ve got enough in here to set the story up, but a few more details may add to the script.


This fresh twist on a fairy tale is definitely marketable.  Precisely because the premise is so saleable, I think your current opening may be too “straight up”, too dramatic.  I think you really need a little comedy or, if you don’t want that tone, a small surprise at least, to play to that pessimistic Hollywood reader.


It may be just me, but I reacted negatively to the use of the Cinderella story in a Sleeping Beauty movie.  I really think it confuses things, mixing metaphors by mixing up the fairy tales.  I’d advise sticking to the Sleeping Beauty motif.


You’re an excellent writer, and it shows, but I think you have a fundamental issue with how to keep the “Sleeping Beauty” element at the forefront throughout the film.  Once you figure that out, it should all come together.  Hope this helps!

My best,

Doug Davidson