Syracuse by Alex Conway | Script Revolution

Syracuse

To save Italy from total defeat, a pious Roman warrior wages a preemptive war against the kingdom of Syracuse which is defended by a reclusive, ingenious philosopher.

Type:

Status:

Page Count: 
150pp

Genre:

Budget:

Age Rating:

Synopsis/Details: 

These are the development notes from a Variety magazine film critic whose name can be supplied upon request.

OPENING COMMENTS:
SYRACUSE is a big, dense, and thrilling historical epic, filled with big battle scenes that pop with excitement and violence, political intrigue which adds a deeper complexity to the story being told, and featuring a strong leading protagonist who is very much a noble hero filled with all sorts of obstacles – massive and intimate – that need to be overcome. This will serve as another excellent writing sample, further demonstrating your range as a writer, and it could very much become an item that could get optioned, and then attract a bigger, more seasoned name to the project. One must also never discount the importance of the television medium, where items such as this (I’m thinking of the HBO series ROME, for example) have flourished, and where one could easily see epically scaled content like this finding an appreciative home.

STORY & CHARACTERS:
SYRACUSE is packed to the gills with people, places, and things, and the fact that it feels as coherent as it does is a testament to your planning as a writer. There are so many moving pieces to the story, and you’ve pulled it all off with a surprising level of grace. The battle scenes are well-spaced-out within the framework of the story, and each one is different-enough from one another to make an independent impact on the material. Also, and most crucially, your battle scenes are easy to read and understand in terms of a geographical and spatial view point, and at no point did I ever feel confused by the events that were unfolding on the page. This is no small feat, as it’s very easy for a writer to get lost in the middle of battle, so to speak, so the fact that it all feels streamlined and disciplined is a further testament to you as a writer in general.

There’s a ton of story and plot within SYRACUSE, and MARCUS’ journey becomes the lynchpin for the entire piece, and because he’s a sympathetic and compelling character, we’re very much “along for the ride” with him as our leading man, and as written, he feels cut from the same cloth that other, iconic characters from this genre have appeared on screen. One of the many things that make him such a cool and impressionable character is that despite his faults or potential faults, we can always see where he’s coming from as a person, and his actions and decision making feel rational and understandable. Again, we’re always on his side, along on his quest, and very much rooting for him. All of his enemies are formidable, and by the end of the piece, you’re satisfied by what MARCUS has had to do and overcome in order to achieve his goals.

The political aspects and more plot-centric aspects to SYRACUSE also bolster the already rich playing field, and these ingredients add another layer to the pot. And again, just as you did with your battle scenes, everyone’s motivation is clear and understandable, and yet the writing allows for mystery and intrigue, and because things don’t feel lopsided in terms of how much action you’re presenting vs. how much story/plot is being unveiled, there’s a great balance to the entire script which feels especially well-considered when compared to other, more action-heavy efforts that have hit the big screen. You’ve done your homework, and have put forth a story that is appropriately robust, and yet you don’t lose sight of some of the smaller moments that help to contextualize the story and make it feel relatable on a human level.

One of the other things about this script that’s notable is that it doesn’t feel as if anything could be taken out of this draft, and not have it make some sort of impact. Everything feels well-considered and planned out, and if you removed any one major portion, the rest of it would suffer. And at the same time, I’m not sure if allowing for any more room would do the story any major favors. It will of course be interesting to see what other readers think about the narrative you’ve come up with and distilled from legend and history books, but everything feels necessary, all of the supporting characters feel vital and integral to the story, and in general, there’s cohesiveness to the entire piece that’s very admirable. This is massive subject matter done with sustained vision.

DIALOGUE & TONE:
All throughout, the dialogue is strong, and what’s most impressive, is that you’ve done a good job of balancing the vernacular and ancient speech patterns with a more modern sensibility. The way people speak to one another feels appropriately old-school and yet still very accessible to the ear, and I never found myself getting tripped up over speech patterns. Tonally, this is right on the money. You knew exactly the type of genre you were working in, and everything feels well calibrated and even-keeled in terms of how the script operates on an emotional and tonal level.

STRUCTURE & GRAMMAR:
Structurally, at 150 pages, while epic, the page length feels warranted, and you still adhered to the classical narrative set up, with the inciting incident of MARCUS receiving his mission/task orders within the first 15 minutes, and then the various plot points hitting right where they should. Of course, the running time is elongated due to the battle scenes, and depending on how a director approaches the more action-heavy moments, screen time can become greatly reduced or heightened – it’s all a matter of visual approach. But on paper, the effort moves with a swift pace and never stops or slows down too much. Outside of superficial grammatical mistakes, there’s nothing major to report on a negative level with the spelling and punctuation. As usual for this writer, care and dedication have been taken in terms of pruning one’s own work.

FINAL COMMENTS:
SYRACUSE is big, expensive, ambitious, and very well written. It feels like the type of spec that a more seasoned and experienced writer would have crafted, and it demonstrates both mastery of the craft and an overall sense of range. SYRACUSE is something that falls within a time-tested and audience-approved genre, so it could easily find traction with industry folks.

Submitted: September 14, 2020
Last Updated: May 25, 2021

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Alex Conway's picture

The Writer: Alex Conway

Originally from London in the United Kingdom, Alex Conway has been a screenwriter for a number of years and written in a diverse range of genres. His first foray into the world of screenwriting resulted in the outrageous Binman Trilogy, an over-the-top horror-sci-fi-comedy that was inspired by his former teenage obsession for the muscle-bound action-movie gods he used to watch on a vinyl sofa back in the 80s. Another area of interest that has inspired several feature-length scripts in the genres of action-adventure, drama, epic and horror is the Greco-Roman world whose illustrious figures and their eminent works and exploits have long fascinated him. Lastly, the question of faith in... Go to bio

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