MaxBarry.com
no, the other one

Max Barry wrote the novels Syrup, Jennifer Government, Company, Machine Man, and Lexicon. He also created the game NationStates and once found a sock full of pennies.

Blog

Thu 02
Dec
2004

My Syrup Script

Syrup

Update 6-Dec-04: At Fortress’s request, I’ve removed the script while they make their decision. Thanks to everyone who reviewed it and made suggestions!

Okay, for anyone who’s interested: here’s my attempt at the first twenty-something pages of a Syrup screenplay.

This is what the Fortress guys will use to decide whether I’m the right guy to write the full thing. I would really, really love to do that, but I’m going to try to spend the next few weeks not fretting about it. This is what I’ve decided: if they like the way I’ve done it, then terrific, but if not, well, it’ll just mean that one of my most fervent wishes is dashed in a highly public and embarrassing way. That’s all.

If you’re reading this via your web browser, you might notice I’ve also added the ability for people to leave comments in response to my blogs, something I’ve been threatening to do for ages. This is more hand-written code on my part, so I apologize in advance if something goes wrong, or the comments all disappear, or my web host freaks out again at the load I’m generating on their server (“Aahhhh! Scripts!”) and takes down the whole site.

Assuming this works, though, I’m very interested in what you guys think of my draft. If I actually get this gig, I want to use any feedback I get here to help me write the rest of it.

Comments

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Sean Gant (#201)

Location: Macon, GA, USA
Quote: "I saved a girl from being attacked last night. I controlled myself. --Rodney Dangerfield"
Posted: 3580 days ago

so far, so good
Keep writing, Max(x)

Jim Carson (#231)

Location: Seattle
Quote: "Coca Cola announced a mid-calorie cola named C2, ostensibly to compete with Pepsi "Edge." It's billed as a solution to the low-carb dieters who have been marooned on the distant asteroid where Diet Coke is unavailable."
Posted: 3580 days ago

Hi Max,
The "I want to be famous" intro in the book is fabulous, and I'm glad you're not leaving it out, but I'm not sure that it fits very well as a sort of a graduation speech followed by his parents from Kansas telling Michael they're proud of him. It would flow better if he gave that speech at the wild party as a segue to the marketing names.

Jim(m) Carson
http://www.jimcarson.com

Machine Man subscriber Ness (#244)

Location: Lorne, Vic
Posted: 3580 days ago

I have not yet been able to get my hands on a copy of Syrup, but as far as scripts go, this is nice writing. At least when you are despairing over coffee rings, red pen marks and illegible scribble, you can come here and know that your fans still love you.
Oh, and if they reject it, there could be a threatening of boycott until they let you write it.

DewKnight (#815)

Location: WP, CO,USA
Quote: "Booyah"
Posted: 3580 days ago

I like it, though I have not actually read Syrup yet, I like the script a lot. The speach at the party, in sort of a drunk-like state might work well.....

Austin (#814)

Quote: "You might be stretching."
Posted: 3580 days ago

The parts that I loved most about the book - this being the dialogue between Scat and character x - really comes through well in the script, probably because the novel was so cinematic when you wrote it in the [first] place.

But there is one thing that puzzles me: why are the scenes where Scat upgrades his car multiple times in the script when the interaction between Scat and the Benz dealer is so brief (and, in fact, nearly not there at all)? Perhaps because I loved that scene so much (and then see it as a justification for the scene, despite the fact that it is not), but if such little explanation is offered as to why Scat is getting all of these different cars, should it be there at all?

Really enjoyed it, though - kind of like finding a fifth Megamorphs after years of there only being four.

Chris (#816)

Location: Quebec, Canada
Posted: 3580 days ago

This is great! Keep writing more. :) I still need to read Syrup...

Does anyone see Matthew Broderick playing Michael?

Machine Man subscriber Ryan (#699)

Posted: 3580 days ago

An awesome start, Max. You're doing a great job of distilling all the best qualities of the book into screenplay form. Any clue if there will be trouble from Coke or any of the other brand names? Are you recasting the movie star characters from the original or using the same people? Keep writing as always.

Dead (#724)

Location: Ipswich, Australia
Quote: "5'4" and bulletproof."
Posted: 3580 days ago

That was awesome, heh. If they don't hire you to write the screenplay I'll be pretty surprised.

Machine Man subscriber Max

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Quote: "I'm my number one fan!"
Posted: 3580 days ago

Ooh, I'm getting comments! This is ace, thanks everyone. :)

At first I left out that scene where Scat upgrades his way to a Porsche, because it's really a standalone little bit; it doesn't develop the plot or Scat's relationship with any other character. But when I read the screenplay to Jen, she complained about it being missing. Apparently it is important to shows that Scat is not just a doofus. So in it went.

As for the brand name/celebrity thing, I think the idea is you just write your perfect story and let reality intrude later. If it turns out that it can't be Coke or Gwyneth Paltrow or whatever, then okay, but there's no need to lower expectations yet.

What I'm especially happy about with this script is there's NO VOICEOVER! Boo yah.

Super (#600)

Location: The Netherlands
Quote: "I'm not deaf I'm just ignoring you!"
Posted: 3580 days ago

I guess no one can do a better job to catch the right relationship between the chars than good ol' Maxxy. You did quite a god job. I'm at work, of course, and can't wait till the day is over, and start re-reading Syrup.

Aaron Walters (#817)

Location: Brisbane, Australia
Quote: "Bah-Hum-Bug"
Posted: 3580 days ago

Um....*grins*....I might just wait for the Screenplay (looks like it will be released quicker then it would if i was to get the book ordered in), went down to the local bookstore today, and they have to import the paperback version from New Zealand!! (also very displeased to hear the Hardcover version is out of print :() If your Blogs are anything to go buy Max, Im going to love both your books!! Keep up the great work!

Machine Man subscriber Kramy (#818)

Quote: ""it's the way of the future""
Posted: 3580 days ago

Wow I could really see a cool actor like George Clooney playing Scat - but I guess he's too old now. Shame.

I really like the fictional-parts that Scat imagines (kinda Ally McBeal like). I agree the speech at the graduation ceremony does seem a little out of place, with family being present.

I didn't like how the Cheerleaders at the start didn't spell anything...having that right at the start of a movie, would distract me as I would try to figure out what it made, and seeing it's a fast-paced movie may become even more confused..?

Perhaps indicate that Michael enjoyed the marketing classes so much, via - seeing Michael in more Marketing lectures in quick cut-scenes.

I found it funny you used a brand name (Xerox) to describe a piece of equipment :)


When is Cindy getting a mention? Can't wait for the rest Max. Never understand if you don't get the gig.

(Grammar: Page 11..."could each make you a million dollars if (you) just did something about it")

Machine Man subscriber Jeff (#787)

Location: Cleveland, OH
Quote: "Give a man a match and he'll stay warm for the rest of the day; Set a man on fire and he'll stay warm for the rest of his life."
Posted: 3580 days ago

I love it! I haven't read Syrup yet so the double-cross by Sneaky Pete was great! Although I don't understand why Michael would say he's pre-law and going to Harvard, maybe you could flesh that out a bit. But I'm dying to find out what happens next. I guess that means I'll have to buy the book!

Mark H (#21)

Location: UK
Quote: "Max's early newletters were like Woody Allen's early movies"
Posted: 3580 days ago

Spelling, bottom of page 5,
raised-eybrow
should be
eyEbrow

Mark H (#21)

Location: UK
Quote: "Max's early newletters were like Woody Allen's early movies"
Posted: 3580 days ago

bottom of page 7... I found "or a challenging course" a little clumsy... just my opinion. Letting you know what bounced me out of the story. Because you aren't 'in' a course. You're on a course or studying a course. And 'challenging' is, I think, less funny than 'worthwhile' or something which represents the opposite of pointlessness. Like: (tear in father's eye) "in a good school or studying something worthwhile"

Mark H (#21)

Location: UK
Quote: "Max's early newletters were like Woody Allen's early movies"
Posted: 3580 days ago

just finished - It's good. I was losing interest towards the end because of a few things which crept in... it felt like the last few pages? Anyway, I won't go into detail, I could nit pick for ages but don't want to sound too negative - I get very over-fussy when I proof read for people.
Good luck Max!
Wish me luck too - my agent's sending my MS out on Tuesday to six publishers in London.

Mark H (#21)

Location: UK
Quote: "Max's early newletters were like Woody Allen's early movies"
Posted: 3580 days ago

KRAMY:
"I didn't like how the Cheerleaders at the start didn't spell anything...?"

They spelled out GO TEAM!

JJ MacMillan (#819)

Location: Austin, TX
Quote: "I just wanted you to see what bad planning looked like."
Posted: 3580 days ago

The writing is good and, unlike many screenplays, an enjoyable read. The dialogue is excellent, the characters are nicely differentiated. However, most of it is a breahless burst of backstory.

The problem with writing just 30 pages of a screenplay is that you don't have to start killing your darlings until you hit the wall at page 120 and are only at the end of act two.

Most likely, you're going to find that the screenplay begins as he's sitting around his apartment depressed and flashing back to his college courses and everything before college will have to go.

Anyway, my advice is to write the whole screenplay even if you only turn in 30 pages. That way you'll know the right 30 pages.

TCD (#820)

Location: Rome -- Italy, European Union!
Quote: "Think carefully at least 10 times before clicking any kind of "yes" on any kind of monitor."
Posted: 3580 days ago

I'll be short:

Didn't read the book (Syrup).

Liked your screenplay.

However, I'd suggest you stop watching obsessively "Scrubs" :-)

Raena (#655)

Location: Tassie
Quote: "whiskey tango foxtrot?"
Posted: 3580 days ago

Woohoo for weblog comments!

I love that draft; it really feels like the book. :) The guidance counsellor/"No! Pre-law!" part had me squealing.

The only thing I'd whinge about is the way you've written Cindy's lines; I've always found it jarring to read dialogue where someone's accent is spelled out like that. It's the visual equivalent of trying to watch Taggart. If it were me writing this (snort, laugh) I'd indicate her accent in a direction and spell her dialogue normally instead, so as to avoid distracting whoever's reading it.

Then again, you're the published author and I'm not, so it's entirely possible I'm speaking out of my arse here. Yay for scripts, anyhow. :)

Justin Holt (#147)

Location: Rochester, NY
Quote: "www.justinholt.net"
Posted: 3579 days ago

I'm hesitant to say that I "like" the screenplay so far. I love the crisp and clever writing, but something just isn't doing it for me. I was left with sort of this blah feeling.

I have to say that I did love the book, and reading over the screenplay I tried to do it with a naive mind. The scene that stood out in the screenplay the most for me was the trading in of cars. I loved it in the book, but loved it even more in the screenplay. To me that shows great character, ingenuity, and went a lot further in advancing the character of Scat than some of the backstory did. And speaking of all of that backstory...it all seems too linear and too...rushed. But I suppose that is the cost of having no voiceover (which as much as it is looked down upon as being too easy, I absoultely love it if done correctly and justly.)

But I suppose my opinion of the movie to be wouldn't exactly be judged on the first twenty minutes. But then again, I only lasted twenty minutes into the movie, Rules of Attraction, even though I loved the book. I guess I'd just love to read more to see if my reservations are just me being too critical too fast.

Machine Man subscriber Brad Mendenhall (#23)

Location: Shrewsbury, Pa
Quote: "Max Barry? I thought I this was the Dave Barry Website! You mean he doesn't swear he's not making this up? (Shameless Plug - check out my website www.CosmicGeppetto.com)"
Posted: 3579 days ago

Really liked it. Great pacing and energy. Scat's as likable and amoral as ever, not an easy trick.

The only thing I didn't like was having Sneaky Pete introduced so quickly and seeing him before he became 'Sneaky.' But I thought it was great.

John Doe (#797)

Location: Live from Omicron Persei 8
Quote: "You're just jealous because the little voices only talk to me."
Posted: 3579 days ago

I didn't really like the style at first, to be honest. But it grew on me, and by the time he met 6 I was really into it.

John (#194)

Location: Los Angeles
Quote: "You understand the meaning of the word "foreboding?""
Posted: 3579 days ago

I e-mailed my comments (they were a bit long). Are you checking that? Should I post them instead?

Machine Man subscriber John (#394)

Location: Work, Maryland, USA
Quote: "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And sometimes that cigar is ploughing your mother."
Posted: 3579 days ago

what's up max? i loved the little vignettes. and these are a bit long (sorry), but overall just nit-pick things.

i didn't really like the introduction to Sneaky Pete, nor would i have imagined Sneaky Pete EVER speaking nearly that much in a private conversation. Obviously, we know that scat and sneaky pete have talked in the past, but in the context of the story, aside from board meetings and such, sneaky pete is pretty much silent in private. i think he should stay that way; it should be a rare occasion when he speaks, regardless of topic. (though i did laugh out loud to sneaky pete's definition of scatological)

as for the speech to the students, that seems like a risky graduation speaker, most likely, he'd have never gotten on stage.i agree with other people when they had him giving this speech on top of a table with a tie around his forehead to a drunken crowd.

do you think the parents should be so friendly? i agree that they are required merely for cindy's introduction, but otherwise, i thought they should be dissapointed, misplaced, snobby individuals who want to get the hell out of there as fast as possible; hell, they're only in the midwest after scat goes to cal state.

how did scat get an appointment at coke? without knowing that sneaky pete set up the meeting between scat and 6, it makes it seem as if coke is an easy place to pitch a successful idea.

as for the car montage, you HAVE to make sure that the audience realizes that he's dirt poor and suave-ing his way into each and every one of these cars, so i think you should include the porsche conversation into the dead cell phone with the director dad.

i didn't quite understand the part in the scat and 6 convo in the restaurant with the airplane crashing in the background. for some reason i couldn't picture exactly what you had going on.

i think the part at the copyright office should have sneaky pete's real name (wasn't is Yuong Ang or something) instead of peter and then sneaky pete.

like i said, nit-pick things from a book purist. i hope this helps rather than demoralizes. any one of us on the boards are glad to help.


Allie (#490)

Location: USA
Quote: "A windblown melody is all that's left of me."
Posted: 3579 days ago

I like the script -- it's stayed away from the voiceover, which is great, and it flows really well. This has the potential to be a great, fun movie.

However, there's one thing I'm not crazy about. The scene in the restaurant with the plane crashing in the background seems unnessecary and more awkward than some of the other scenarios Scat imagines.

Still, I hope you get to write the script and this gets to be a movie eventually. I can't wait!

Unfree People (#206)

Location: Guadalajara, Mexico
Quote: "Freedom Reigns! except where it's important..."
Posted: 3579 days ago

Hee, that was awesome! Very exciting, captured the feel of the book very well... helps when you've written both, I suppose.

But Cindy, as Miss Farm Girl here, didn't work for me at all. This is the girl he sells as a successful model who ends up as Mrs. Pitt? Didn't resonate well with me. Of course she's not suave and sexy yet, but she could be something more than "cute", no?

I like the fast action, and all these scenarios Scat imagines. I can definitely see them all being part of the movie. It's a really good script, in my opinion, but then I don't make movies.

Charles Greathouse (#219)

Location: Ohio, USA
Quote: "...for they are subtle, and quick to anger."
Posted: 3579 days ago

Despite generally believing that authors should not write their own scripts, I actually liked this quite a bit.

I do agree with John Mason's comment on Sneaky Pete, though. I don't think his introduction was that great, and I think it gives a misleading impression of his character.

Machine Man subscriber Kramy (#818)

Quote: ""it's the way of the future""
Posted: 3579 days ago


KRAMY:
"I didn't like how the Cheerleaders at the start didn't spell anything...?"

Mark H:
"They spelled out GO TEAM!"

Oh dear, late night, I totally missed that. Sorry all.

And I also said when are you going to mention Cindy - you did already, I missed that again. But like Unfree People said "it didn't work for me at all". Same goes here. I thought of Cindy as a really cute girl and only his friend. Not a sex-buddy - to start with. As Scat says (in book) he feels smug for not taking advantage of the friendship. I liked the introduction in the book - obviously just friendship - (Drew Barrymore could play this part extremely well!). But I guess you may be heading in a different direction?

Cindy says she always wanted to be a flight attendent in script, but how you going to write in she really wants to be Mrs Pitt and a model?

Anyways, awesome stuff still.

Matthew (#16)

Location: Columbus, Ohio
Quote: "Unicorn on mountain top. Wind blowing through mane."
Posted: 3579 days ago

Nice change with the celebrity names in Scat's speech. I laughed out loud with the "Do you remember Cindy?" joke.

The country accent of Cindy kinda put me off, though. I never thought of her as a "corn-fed" country girl while reading the books. But then again we only meet up with her in LA in the book.

But I really enjoyed what is here and I hope you get the gig.

Good look, Max. (I need to read Company NOW)

Shivaun (#50)

Location: melbourne
Quote: "we must go to the party in order to drink a lot and dance with girls"
Posted: 3579 days ago

Hey Max,
Um.
I guess I shouldn't leave a huge essay detailing all the points I'd like to make about the script (if you want it you can ask and I'll oblige). I have to be completely honest with you and say that as a script its rather patchy (please don't hate me!) It needs some serious work layout wise (screenplays have a very specific format as you know and you don't always follow it here) but thats not the problem. On the whole, when you consider that this the first act, not nearly enough actually happens. There is too much 'fluff' most of which isn't really up to your standard (I should point out here I am a huge fan of yours, I completely respect your talent so don't think I am badgering you) I would get rid of half of what you have written, rework the remaining half and then you'd be getting there. Considering you are really having to prove yourself to the producers as a first time screenwriter - i'm afraid the script, as it stands, may not hold up. Introducing sneaky pete before he was super cool silent sneaky pete really takes away from the character - a lot! The amazing 'voice' of the novel is not coming across - Scat's internal voice is what drives the novel and makes it so wonderful, perhaps you could consider voiceover? I know it can be a cliche but I think in this case it could work.
I could go on but I won't for fear of rejection and sounding like a complete bastard. If you want a more detailed response l'll be happy to give it otherwise I'll just shut up.
All that said I really hope you get a good script written and are able to adapt the piece yourself. Good luck!
Shivaun.

Shivaun (#50)

Location: melbourne
Quote: "we must go to the party in order to drink a lot and dance with girls"
Posted: 3579 days ago

Oooh.
Just noticed the anti voice over feeling of the comments so far. usually I would agree but I just have this feeling that it will work realy really well. Think of 'adaption' - the voice over is fantastic.

Emily (#609)

Location: New York
Quote: "When in doubt, fuck it. When not in doubt, get in doubt!"
Posted: 3579 days ago

Verreh verreh nice! I've been writing screenplays for a while now (never getting anywhere, of course), and I know how crazy all the formatting rules are. You've done a VERY impressive job with that.

I still haven't read Syrup (I'm asking for it for Christmas!), but I really really liked this screenplay. I can envision it all very well. It's looking like it'll turn out something like a Coen brothers film, what with the wild montages and the mingling of fantasy and reality (awesome touches, those... my kind of movie!), and I really can't wait.

You said something about writers being bad at adapting their own books? Like I said, I don't know Syrup, so I can't really say specifically what I think one way or the other, but based on what I know of your style I think you'd be a very decent screenwriter. What you have is definitely snappy and fun like a good screenplay should be.

Hope Fortress likes it! :-)

-Em

Nick Dasko (#215)

Location: San Diego
Quote: "When does CPR become necorphilia"
Posted: 3579 days ago

Max,
I find your use of satire very amusing in this script. I like how you have stayed true to your original piece but added in creative imageray such as the volleyball in the boardroom. I do think however that by forshadowing Scat's on and off girlfriend Cindy as a country fried hick, you are lowering the high level of quality in this script by resulting to unamusing sterotypes.

shabooty (#637)

Location: D.C./V.A/M.D.
Quote: "I will shake your foundation. I will shake the f**cking rafters. Nobody'll be the same -Danny Bonaduce ....& go visit my blog @: http://www.shabooty.com"
Posted: 3579 days ago

Ah… this brings back memories…

I had to stop at the car dealership part before continuing my reading, to comment.
This part needs work…
If Scat’s character was already established as one that is revered, this would work in almost a George Clooney/Oceans11 type of way…with accompanying theme/music...
But, at that point, Scat hasn’t really reached self-actualization quite yet and is still quite unproven, so the way the montage was described it seemed too seamless.... I think we want to see Scat sweat it out a little bit, and you want to see him outsmart "assholified" car dealers and it has to be believable ...not something that can be pulled off very often. I would want to know about Scat's body language for example [when in the starting of the scene] he is dropped off the public bus... does he have a pimp-like swagger or is he nervous in what he is about to attempt?
I realize this is a scene a real artistic director might really take advantage of...(I’m thinking Requiem for a Dream-esque) and I think it is a very important scene to "get right".
It gives Scat a backbone he has to catapult himself with -for the rest of the story.
Perhaps when Scat gets into that Porsche and drives off, we see him "pop his collar" (done in a lot of hip-hop videos to show one is of pimp-like quality/status -or "IM THE MOTHER FUCKING MAN!!!! type shit!")



Also, I picture 6 as some naturally tan...hot brunette chick who is tall but has a lil thickness to her in all the right places =) ... :P
and tell the casting director DO NOT cast someone that at all resembles the Blossom chick, SIX ... you want someone so beautiful everyone forgets the blossom sitcom LOL
NEVER HAVE SIX WEARING ANY HATS (Blossom’s Six always wore hats and it would bring back those memories in the audience *SHUTTER*)


The plane crashing the driveway of restaurant...hrmm is that imagery/fantasy/day dreaming or wah?

The whole beach/volleyballs/light bulb sign popping up etc . . .
that does add to the "romantic comedy" aspect of things which is the aim... I am interested in seeing how that plays out though... seems like it would take a lot of close consideration about how to go about doing it… don’t have it come across like a VH1 pop-up video.

Overall though, it was impressive, though I admit I don’t have much experience with reading screenplays… keep at it and if I was Fortress, I would def. have you develop it all. Especially, since you are very receptive to feedback and you are good at adapting to recommendations! That’s why you are so successful.


Cheers,
Shahab ‘shab00ty’ Mang | blog:
http://bahahs.blogspot.com
(lots of Max Barry posts) $$$

Machine Man subscriber Max

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Quote: "I'm my number one fan!"
Posted: 3579 days ago

Ahhh, Shahab, you return! :) Somebody once suggested Mary-Kate Olsen as 6... I think she would be just about perfect. She's marketing in a bottle!

Thanks again for all these comments. Keep 'em coming. Now I just need to go delete the accounts of everyone who said anything negative. (Bada boom.)

Mark H (#21)

Location: UK
Quote: "Max's early newletters were like Woody Allen's early movies"
Posted: 3579 days ago

Remember that the most damning criticism (well, maybe not the MOST damning, but something you need to avoid) of a screenplay is: This is TV.
People reading a movie screenplay don't want to be reminded of TV or to dismiss what they're reading as a potential sitcom pilot.
Somebody above mentioned 'Scrubs' - that occurred to me too - as did 'Ally McBeal', The Singing Detective, Pennies from Heaven, The Sopranos - a bunch of TELEVISION shows. How many times are these devices used in movies these days? Seriously - ask yourself, how many movies use the 'neon sign drops from ceiling' etc. these days? This has become sitcom territory and you really need to differentiate this story from all of that.
At the end of the day, this is a pitch for a screenwriting job, and they'll expect a screenwriter not only to write well, and write something very visual - but to understand what reads like TV and what reads like blockbuster-movie material.

Either that or pitch it as a sitcom... shit, I'm serious. People make a lot of money that way and reach a big audience. Larry David is said to have made $400 million as creator/producer/writer of Seinfeld. Making 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' is a pocket-change hobby instead of playing golf for him now.

But you have to be very clear about the requirements of what you're aiming for. I would feel cheated to pay my hard earned cash for a movie ticket and then feel like I'm watching Scrubs or sub-Scrubs.

The above sounded more negative than I intended. Sorry. Seriously, though, TV is a credible and worthwhile alternative if these movie guys get nowhere with their option on the story.

Machine Man subscriber Eddie Hilton (#184)

Location: Rochester, NY
Posted: 3579 days ago

One thing I thought was funny that not many people who haven't read your novels will get - "Maxx with 2 x's!!" in the name-changing part. Classic.

Otherwise, I agree with the most prevalent criticism, that of Sneaky Pete's introduction. By introducing him as a shy, somewhat dorky (at least it seemed that way to me) guy named Peter Ang who isn't sure if he should change his name or not, you make him a vulnerable character who is just playing the part of "Sneaky Pete," but really ISN'T Sneaky Pete. The SP from the book is ... infallible. You knew no matter what, he wasn't going to crack, he was waaaaaaaay too cool to ever doubt himself (should I change my name?).
With the way he's introduced in this particular draft of the script, I would half expect him to break down and cry when the movie is finally shown. I can see Peter Ang slumping into his chair blubbering like a fool while Scat and 6 rejoice as their movie is being shown. Sneaky Pete wouldn't do that. It's a subtlety that just makes the character so much different.

Oh yeah, and I wanna play Scat opposite Natalie Portman. Let the production company know, haha.

Mike Marcoe (#641)

Location: Wisconsin, USA
Quote: ""If you have it, I will give it to you. If you don't have it, I will take it away from you.""
Posted: 3579 days ago

Max,

First, let me say that I read Syrup a few months ago and found it to be a fast-paced, very funny book. I thought that Scat's internal conflicts helped drive the action of the story very convincingly. I found 6 to be a very compelling figure, too.

As a writer and editor, I was glad to read your trial script. It follows the book very well. Here are some things that I think need to be changed or re-worked a little:

1. There is too much commentary in the non-dialogue portions of the text.

2. Sometimes it is hard to tell when Scat is entering a fantasy (like when he first meets 6) or when the action is interrupted by another scene for a moment (like on page 22, when the boardroom turns into a beach.) Perhaps add special text tags to identify scenes like this.

3. You need to show his interior monologue regarding why he borrowed the Porsche. Those who didn't read the book will need to know this information. This is one of the most fascinating parts of Scat's reasoning process.

4. I liked "Title: 23 Unsuccessful Job Interviews Later." Titles would work well on the movie screen to help direct the viewers through the rapidly changing scenes.

5. Act 1 is too long. One page generally equals one minute in a movie, and Act 1 uses up 26 minutes, or one quarter of the movie. So, assuming you are making a two-hour movie, this act may need to be reduced in length.

Overall, a great script.

Mike

John (#477)

Location: Seattle
Quote: "Did I do that?"
Posted: 3579 days ago

I thought it was pretty good. 'course, I've never read Syrup or done anything with screenplays, but I was impressed by the overall tone of the script. I never really felt that it was too much like a sitcom while I was reading it, but I often had difficulty separating the dream sequences from the reality of the story. The most jarring, I felt was the plane crash in the restaurant, which seemed overall to be utterly pointless.

Justin Holt (#147)

Location: Rochester, NY
Quote: "www.justinholt.net"
Posted: 3578 days ago

After reading some more comments that people have posted, what didn't work for me in the script seems to have been flushed out a bit.

The commentary about how the first act was too long using the one page equals one minute equation is right on. On the pace the script lays out so far, this is going to be one Lord of the Rings III long movie. And the beauty of the novel is that it captures so much so quickly. That seems to be more than a bit contradicting.

One person said about the voiceover use in Adaptation. That was brilliant. The voiceover really helped make that movie. I think the same thing goes for Fight Club. Even the quasi-narration of The Big Lebowski was effective, however I think Scat would definetely need more voice.

The Sneaky Peet gripes too I think are well-founded. The whole climax of him and Scat fighting holds no emotion yet because he hasn't been properly Sneaked up enough, if that makes any sense.

When I think of 6 I see Katie Holmes, Natalie Portman, or Vanessa Marcil. Someone who looks like someone you know, but is someone that you always want to know better, if you know what I mean.

All of that said, I too don't want to come off as being overly negative in regards to what has been written so far. Syrup remains one of my favorite reads for so many reasons and I suppose as much as I want to be un-biased in regards to the film, I'm wanting it to be one of those rare ones where the book and the film walk hand in hand in greatness.

Shivaun (#50)

Location: melbourne
Quote: "we must go to the party in order to drink a lot and dance with girls"
Posted: 3578 days ago

I was thinking of fight club too! especially in the sequence where ed norton is describing all the jobs tyler has and he address the camera - works so well, it shouldn't work but it does.
26 minutes for act one is way too long - especially when so little of the story happens. That was what I was trying to say before but didn't say it quite as eloquenly as all the above have.
Also what I was saying about the layout problems. Technically most of it is there but its kind of sloppy and difficult to follow - the introduction of characters is not always done well, the description between dialogue is too long and tries to describe rather than show. It needs to be a lot tighter than that. One example is when you write that scat wasn't impressed by something - you need to actually say, scat frowns or scat looks unimpressed. In a screenplay you can't really just describe the internal thoughts and feelings of the character you need to present a visual representation of them, so it is strong, clear and easy to interpret visually. I know the reader has an imagination and will visualise it on their own but you can't assume this - screenplays have to detail EVERYTHING and in a succinct and clear way. Now I'm rambling... I had a point but I fear I've lost it.
One more thing. The freshman that comes across scat passed out - he says 'there you are' Why? Does he know scat? Was he looking for scat? Why? It's quite random and has no context.
A lot of your dialogue is coming together very nicely, though. When you get into the interaction between characters you really do extremely well.
Keep at it and good luck.
Shivaun

Narain (#824)

Location: Los Angeles, right between civilization and a desert
Quote: "NI!"
Posted: 3578 days ago

The airplane thing seems like it would come across as really offensive in a movie. Also, it almost seems like sneaky peet is being sown with some weakness, which detracts from the conflict later on in the movie.

Also, didn't scat's parents move away once he went to that calstate? I think it works better that way, portraying Scat as an initial slacker who is parents are ashamed of.

Cindy as a farm girl? She always came across as a total ditz, not a redneck (the farm equivalent of a ditz). She was always a total valley girl to me.

I liked the screenplay though. It read pretty well, your style seems to need some work, but your dialogue is up there. Good luck.

Mark H (#21)

Location: UK
Quote: "Max's early newletters were like Woody Allen's early movies"
Posted: 3578 days ago

The difference with fight club (Ed N addressing the camera + narration) is that we already know that he is telling us the entire story as a flashback - because it opens with him with the gun in his mouth. It opens at the end of the story and then he fills in the entire background to his predicament.

So, the narration and talk-to-camera stuff doesn't come across as a knowing conceit because it coheres with the fact that we know he's recounting the story to us from his POV.

If the story happened chronologically, not in flashback, the narration and camera-talky wouldn't work - it would seem like the writer is being clever, suddenly distancing us from the characters and story.
As it is, it isn't the writer who distances us from story, it's Ed Norton distancing us from his memories, which is far more palatable.

Machine Man subscriber Max

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Quote: "I'm my number one fan!"
Posted: 3578 days ago

That's true, Fight Club has really good voiceover. It's rare to see that, though; more often you get VO in adaptations because it's the easiest way to stick a lot of exposition or interior monologue up on the screen. And you only get it at the start, to set things up, and maybe a little at the end. A SYRUP with Scat constantly interrupting the story to tell us what amusing things he has on his mind would be a Very Bad Thing, I feel. (The first Syrup adaption had it. After a while you just wanted him to shut the hell up.)

Lots of objection to Sneaky Pete here. I wonder if this is mainly coming from people who read the novel, because of course SP is this ultra-cool, silent-but-deadly character and it's jarring to see him as young and foolish. But in the novel, Scat tells us SP is putting on his character, and that needs to come across in the film too, I think, because otherwise he's an unbelievable, one-dimensional, quasi-racist stereotype. The most important thing about SP is that he's irritating, and part of that is knowing the whole silence-and-sunglasses thing is an act.

Cindy: not very popular for someone who only has, what, two lines in the script! I don't mean Cindy to be an object of fun at all, so maybe I was a bit careless with her description there. In a film she's inevitably going to be starved of space, so I'm using this idea that she's a simple rural girl at heart to establish a quick and obvious contrast to 6. It's mainly a setup thing; I otherwise see her role as sticking pretty close to the novel.

I don't mind if the fantasy sequences are occasionally confusing. The film needs to be fast and smart and if sometimes the audience doesn't realize it's in a fantasy sequence until it's over, that's okay. Gotta keep you on your toes.

Now feel free to tell me I'm all wrong. :)

Narain (#824)

Location: Los Angeles, right between civilization and a desert
Quote: "NI!"
Posted: 3578 days ago

If cindy is a rural girl (as opposed to a more dumb blond stereotype), then I find the later scenes, with scat dating cindy yet still obsessed with 6 (something with a cellphone and a window is tickling my memory) seem that much harder to believe. What is the allure of 6 if it isn't her brilliant, cultured, suave self?

I'm more ok with SP now. If you're using this insecure guy to make his later behavior more of a facade, that seems better, but how will it effect the love/hate relationship I feel for SP? I mean, in the book, I hated everything he did, but I loved the way he did it and the way he came across doing it.

Shivaun (#50)

Location: melbourne
Quote: "we must go to the party in order to drink a lot and dance with girls"
Posted: 3578 days ago

Hmm.
Perhaps there is a better way to illustate the sneaky pete thing... Something a bit more subtle that doesn't take away from his character so much. He's asian, sure, but that doesn't mean he actually CAN'T be a bad character, does it? Remember he is bad in a thoroughly enjoyable way.
I can't remember who brought this up but I think the chronology would be a good thing to play around with - I don't like the linear structure so much. If your wanting to keep the audience on their toes and write a really inventive script then perhaps play around with the structure a bit more (rather than just add planes crashing out of the blue!!!)Flashbacks are awful things usually so that's not what I'm talking about - except in that episode of black books where there were multiple flashbacks within flashbacks within flashbacks within flashbacks - very fun.

Sandy Hemingway (#827)

Location: Ann Arbor
Quote: "I became a real wife today! Wanna know how?"
Posted: 3578 days ago

Wow, my friends and I were always wondering when Syrup was going to become a movie. The screenplay is well organized and definitely holds true to the novel. I'll be waiting with baited breath... whatever the heck that means.

Matthew (#16)

Location: Columbus, Ohio
Quote: "Unicorn on mountain top. Wind blowing through mane."
Posted: 3578 days ago

All this excitment reminded me of Jennifer Government. Whatever happened to that movie-to-be? Canned?

michele (#708)

Location: Italy
Quote: "I forgot what I wanted to say..."
Posted: 3578 days ago

I like how you're working on the screenplay.
I was just wondering if the little differences from the book have been added just to make the movie better, or because having the opportunity to work again on Syrup is a way for you to correct it.

David (#577)

Location: Belgium
Posted: 3577 days ago

At first I didn't like your screenplay that much. It's good and all, but it didn't ... erm ... "show" the thoughts of Scat all that well.

But then I realized, this isn't a book. This is a movie. You can't possibly convert all the ideas that are in the book to the movie, or you'd arrive at a 70's-like 3 hour movie.

So, with that in mind, it's a very good script as far as I can tell (with me being not a professional script-writer / professional anything in the movie industry). Though one thing I find dissapointing: Sneaky Pete doesn't have this kind of mysterious blanket covering him because of him talking too much in the beginning ;).

Keep up, Maxy, you can do it! Let's hope I'll soon be able to show off to my friends: "look, that's the movie of the book I read some thousand times."

Robert (#413)

Location: Los Angeles
Quote: "A positive attitude will not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort."
Posted: 3577 days ago

What's great is that this had me laughing more than what the book did.

David Milazzo (#169)

Location: Adelaide
Quote: "There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. Some kind of high powered mutant never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die"
Posted: 3577 days ago

Firstly let me say I love Syrup, one of my all-time favourite books.

Secondly I think your script shows a lot of promise but has some big flaws.

1. It starts like a bad John Hughes movie, with a lot of highschool and college scenes which take you out of the movie.
2. I've always envisioned the intro of the book and a lot of the great text as VO, think Hugh Grant's character in about a boy - presents a confident exterior but has this self doubt in his head, well Scat more presents this awkward exterior but has this super confident cool VO.
3. The Marketing tips should be used as markers, think Fraiser or better Clerks.
4. The plane bit is it supposed to be funny, one of the most poignant revealing bits of 6 yet, a joke???
5. You need to show more and say less, finding way to add speeches when you can show things.. A good example is why tell people why Pete changed his named to Sneaky Pete, just call him Sneaky Pete - he does sneaky things like stealing Fukk, people will see this for themselves, and it deflates the joke by spelling it out.

I do think Syrup would make a great movie, on the surface a Rom-Com, but also a biting satire.. you need to spell out the marketing points less and show them, show the irony.

A good start, and while I think your a fantastic author, probably better if you let someone else handle the script.

Example: Fight Club, Chuck is no doubt a brilliant author, but it was smart to have Jim Uhls right the script - the result being a great adaptation of material which is not easy to adapt.

Cheers

David Milazzo (#169)

Location: Adelaide
Quote: "There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. Some kind of high powered mutant never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die"
Posted: 3577 days ago

Only just now reading the post I noticed a lot of people mentioning Fight Club as example of VO.

Well About a Boy is a great example of forward narration using Fight Club. Adaptation is a great riff on the evils of using VO.

If SYRUP say started with the final problem in the book, then described how he got there, then worked up to the problem and past it to the solution, you could use VO very effectively - start with a great scene - getting everyone hooked straight away, have all the main characters at once, and be able to better see the evolution of scat.

Just a thought

Justin Holt (#147)

Location: Rochester, NY
Quote: "www.justinholt.net"
Posted: 3577 days ago

A couple more thoughts...

The more I thought about voiceover, the more I thought how it could possibly be avoided, yet done, like in the movie High Fidelity. John Cusack's interaction with the camera was brilliant, and it more or less served the same purpose as voiceover, but was "better" because of facial reactions and such. Actually, thinking about it more, it could almost seem as if Scat is marketing himself to the audience, as you follow through all of these wonderfully insane situations that he gets himself in to.

As for the Fight Club comment about having Jim Uhls write the screenplay. From the couple of times that I talked with Chuck he felt like Uhls brought so much to the screenplay that made his story so much better. But that was almost like lightning in a bottle. Like anything else it takes the right person who cares enough about the script to do it the proper justice. I think perhaps this would be Max's major concern with Syrup. This story is just so fucking great, and so unique that I can see 100% why he wants to personally write it. It would be a great travesty for some schmuck to be handed the book and a fat paycheck to just write something that ends up being mediorce.

And to the point that someone made about how they didn't like the screenplay until they realized that it wasn't a book, I think that is extremely valid. I've read a lot of screenplays of great movies. Funny movies. Classic movies. But a lot of the time while I read the screenplay it didn't do anything at all for me. I suppose it's hard, because as much as you can find something funny, or see something that you might want to see written differently, you can't really say anything for sure because you never know how the actor reading the line is going to deliver it. Reading a book you don't have to think about things like that.

Shivaun (#50)

Location: melbourne
Quote: "we must go to the party in order to drink a lot and dance with girls"
Posted: 3577 days ago

I really liked the sequence where scat has gone off into imaginary land - girls in bikinis seen to feature a lot in his mind - but then another scat pushes through to point out the reality of the situation. I liked that a lot and hope you use it more - it could be one way to deal with the non-vo vo prob.
Being such a fan of the book does make it hard to appreciate any screenplay - in the same way I'm not looking forward to the hitchhikers movie in a looking forward to kind of way.
Wasn't sure if david milazzo was saying adaption was a good or bad use of vo... I didn't like the film overall so much, but I think the vo was brilliant.

Tyler Ritchie (#832)

Location: Port Angeles, WA
Posted: 3577 days ago

The voice over issue has almost been beaten to death, but *pff* what's one more? I was expecting a voice over (sort of like David Milazzo said), specifically I was expecting,"I want to be famous. I want to be so famous..." as the opening scene in the movie, as the camera was going to focus on Scat, awake, late at night in his apartment before his first million dollar idea.

Voice overs throughout the entirety of the movie would get old, fast and the "Scrubs"-esque breaks in reality are a good way to avoid that.

As for Sneaky Pete, he wasn't in marketing in the book, was he? The scene at the party really makes it seem like he's in Scat's class. Wasn't the only upside to SP getting the TM Scat finding out his real name? Besides, we all have one of those friends, or know one of those people, who will turn on you as soon as you seize power, the quintessential Brutis... Well, at least I do, and Scat did/does, why change his character? It seems like there should be some way to show that Sneaky Pete is fronting, without having the young bumbling Peter.. But even if you can't show the Sneaky Pete persona as an act, sacrifice Sneaky Pete's multi-dimensional character to one of the back stabbing, power hungry, too-cool-for-school type. I don't think the racist stereotype is really something to be concerned about.

As for Cindy... I think she needs as much on-screen time as she had on page time in the book, without it, she's merely a side-note, with it it makes it a much more dynamic romantic comedy, and less of a movie about marketing featuring a horny money-hungry guy chasing an incredibly hot chick.

David Milazzo (#169)

Location: Adelaide
Quote: "There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. Some kind of high powered mutant never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die"
Posted: 3577 days ago

Scrubs for my mind misses with its fantasy sequences more times then it hits, but I'm never distracted or annoyed by JD's VO.

Spaced on the other hand does great fantasy sequences, as they are often times very bizarre and abstract.

Don't know why I keep coming back to British Comedies, but Ben Elton's Maybe Baby also has decent VO and the whole sequence where they are filming the book, the pace, the jokes and the style all feel how the final movie act in SYRUP would kind of unreel.

Yenzo (#829)

Location: Secret underwater pyramid base in the Pacific
Quote: "In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe (Carl Sagan)"
Posted: 3577 days ago

Hey Max,

I think you did a hell of a job and I expect a whole lot from the movie now that I've read the first pages of the script. But one question: why the heck the crashing airplane when 6 talks about her parent's death? That seems kinda surreal and also, IMHO, rips the atmosphere apart unnecessarily. How cool would it be with just the two sitting across each other in awkward silence as she says that? Huh? JUSTIFY YOURSELF! :->

Whatever you'll do, I think the script as it looks now has just the right vibe... VO in or out.

Oh, and of course: There's no way that picture's ever gonna make it without Natalie Portman in it.

And get Diane Kruger as Cindy. Now we're talking.

FergHova (#834)

Location: Woodstown, NJ
Quote: ""I once shat on a VHS copy of Down periscope to prove a point.""
Posted: 3577 days ago

First of all, I'd like to begin my casting campaign. Scat - Ryan Reynolds. 6 - Scarlett Johannson. Pete - John Cho. Cindy - Amanda Detmer. Edie McClurg and Fred Willard - Scat's Parents. I think this film has a very Van Wilder meets Fight Club feel to it, as far as whacky dream sequences and whatnot. I think it's the smart Naked Gun we've been missing oh-so-much these days. I blame the terrorists.

I think the script is great so far, barring some grammar errors, but whatever. You don't read that stuff on the screen. Kudos on the non-VO deal. It'll be refreshing to see a movie with none there. And I'd stick with the car trading sequence as is. It shows how he obtained the cars from the dilapidated apartment lifestyle that he leads, without cramming it down the audience's mouth.

Machine Man subscriber Eddie Hilton (#184)

Location: Rochester, NY
Posted: 3576 days ago

Just wanted to throw my two cents in (again) on some things that keep popping up:
I think the plane crash sequence worked well - Scat keeps trying to hit on 6, and as soon as he asks that question, any "chance" he might have had crash. If you've ever hit on a girl and asked her something that you just shouldn't have asked, that's what it feels like.

I can't say I agree with the bashing of Cindy - I don't think it much matters where she's from, as long as later in the story she plays the same role of Scat's fallback. The quick flashback of the barn scene was hilarious.

And I suppose Ryan Reynolds would be a great choice for Scat ... that is, ONLY if I'm not available. Cause who could better play a wannabe millionaire in marketing than a wannabe millionaire currently working in marketing? Thought so ;)

Mark H (#21)

Location: UK
Quote: "Max's early newletters were like Woody Allen's early movies"
Posted: 3576 days ago

So does nobody else think that using the fantasy devices of TV sitcoms is going to be a problem in a feature film script?

Does anybody else think Max is going to regret putting a 'Comments' board on his site? Hehehe... smothered by over-eagerness...

Has anyone else wondered if the people he's sent his sample pages to know about this site, have read the comments, and ain't liking the fact half of them are negative?

Justin Holt (#147)

Location: Rochester, NY
Quote: "www.justinholt.net"
Posted: 3576 days ago

I think that there is a line between negativity and creative concerns. So far, I haven't read any comments from anyone that have said, "Your writing sucks." I don't think that would be warranted at all either.

The fact that people are suggesting things, saying what they feel doesn't work, I pretty much think that is the point of writing, and sharing it with others. Would you really want everyone to say "This is so fucking great! Don't change a word of it!" I wouldn't. I don't think the production company is going to say that to Max, or anyone else for that matter either. If they did, they'd all be out of jobs. Criticism, as long as it doesn't vere too much to either side of the spectrum, good or bad, is what it is all about.

And one more thing about the comments, I think the whole fact that so far the Syrup script has illicited so many comments, good or "negative", it just goes to show that people are responding to it. If he would have posted this and there would have been four people that would have said something along the lines of, "That was so cool, man" that I think would have been negative.



Machine Man subscriber Max

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Quote: "I'm my number one fan!"
Posted: 3576 days ago

Yeah, I agree with Justin. Comments are a big success so far! Lots of good ideas and no idiots trying to vandalize the site (yet).

This feedback is fantastic. It's very cool to write something and immediately get a big reaction. After all, my aim here is to produce the best script possible, not to sit back and enjoy polite applause. And we are talking about the first draft of the first quarter of a movie, not the finished thing: there will definitely be room for improvement.

I'm not sure if the Fortress guys will give reasoning behind their decision (when it comes)... unfortunately what you usually get when you're knocked back for something like this is a generic, "We decided to go in a different direction." I'll see what I can get out of them.

870 script downloads so far, btw. :)

And I clearly need to watch more Scrubs! I've seen about three episodes of that show. It did like it a lot, though.

Machine Man subscriber M.I.Minter (#347)

Location: Houston Texas, USA
Quote: "When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading."
Posted: 3576 days ago

Why no narator? I always pictured the movie with a narator, and the opening scene with the narator's voice over of the first few lines of the book. The famous I want to be so famous speach.

Shivaun (#50)

Location: melbourne
Quote: "we must go to the party in order to drink a lot and dance with girls"
Posted: 3576 days ago

I'm not being negative! It's tough love, baby. I think some really good points are being made and I know I feel so much better when I show my writing to people that they have constructive criticism to give back to me and not just bland, throw away niceness.
Scrubs is weird - it's one of those shows that you watch and say yeah this great but then never watch again. I don't know why that is.

Anita (#405)

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Posted: 3576 days ago

I wish it were still online. It's no fun reading posts about something you haven't read.

Paul (#104)

Location: Connecticut, USA
Quote: ""Don't fight it son. Confess quickly! If you hold out too long you could jeopardize your credit rating. " --Brazil (1985 movie)"
Posted: 3574 days ago

Indeed Anita. That really stinks that Fortress doesn't want you to share your script with us. I wonder how long it'll take for them to decide whether or not to have you write it. In any event, I wish you the best and I'm kicking myself that I didn't save a copy of it on my computer. Ah well, such is life.

Yenzo (#829)

Location: Secret underwater pyramid base in the Pacific
Quote: "In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe (Carl Sagan)"
Posted: 3574 days ago

Well, is it alright to send it via e-mail? I was lucky enough to save a copy, and I'd be glad to send it to you guys if it doesn't jeopardize my membership here because it's illegal or something.

Any comments, Max? Would it be okay? Or am I just stupid and "do not distribute" means "do not distribute"?

Paul (#104)

Location: Connecticut, USA
Quote: ""Don't fight it son. Confess quickly! If you hold out too long you could jeopardize your credit rating. " --Brazil (1985 movie)"
Posted: 3573 days ago

I don't want to jeopardize you in any way... I'd guess that although it would be VERY greatful, it may indeed may be barred by Fortress just like Max is barred from other people reading it. I don't wasn't to get anyone in trouble here, so I guess I'll just wait a little while until Fortress makes their decision. Thanks :)

Scott (#354)

Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Quote: "Max Barry tastes like awesome"
Posted: 3573 days ago

Ah crap, I should have commented on it while I had the chance. Figured I'd wait a few days though to fully go over it. Most of what I had to say was already mentioned though, it seems... so I guess no harm done. :)

Colette (#324)

Location: Boise, Idaho, USA
Quote: "What's popcorn made of?"
Posted: 3507 days ago

Keh... I missed it! I guess I'll have to wait to give you my feedback (and my money) when the movie comes out.

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