Hey Keith! Thanks for being here today!
I really like your lead actor. He’s got a lot of subtle energy- he’s quiet but I never feel bored by his tone or performance, which is a hard line to walk. You’ve also got some really solid editing and lighting in places- feels like I’m watching a TV show and that’s really impressive for a web series.
I’ve only watched the pilot, but here are my critiques based on that:
It seems really convenient that the dude in trouble knows not to have books sent to his house but DOESN’T know not to use a credit card. The credit card thing is usually the first cliche guys on the run remember, and while I know you needed to establish your main guy as observant and helpful for people wanting to disappear, it didn’t seem like a good way to do it because I didn’t buy it. Perhaps something more subtle- instead of the girl reading aloud the books he was buying, Frank could have seen them as he walked by. Also, the books could have been more subtle, a little less on the nose, and Frank could have made the connection that the dude was about to go on the run based on putting them together.
Some of the scenes are pretty long without needing to be. You spend a lot of time in these very dramatic scenes that don’t move much- every line has a purpose, and you’ll often need less than you think to establish drama and tension and what kind of guy Frank is.
It gets a little sexist once conversation turns to the daughter- the implication is that after her mom died, she got more girly to compensate for losing her female role model and that’s painted as a bad thing. Kim Kardashian bashing is lazy, and when applied to a teenage girl going through a trauma, very sexist. I extra didn’t like that her dad talks about her boobs, but that’s a separate thing.
Another thing that confused me about the dude in trouble (aside from him apparently never watching a movie and therefore not knowing not to use a credit card) was that when Frank explains catfishing (sidenote- what he explains isn’t really catfishing*), the dude in trouble is like “I don’t know how to do that.” Are you telling me he doesn’t know how to tweet that he’s going to Burger King when he’s really going to McDonalds? What Frank explains is not complicated, and it’s not catfishing (or the opposite of catfishing)- it’s lying about your whereabouts on social media. That’s not something you need a second person for, and if it is, the plot reason doesn’t make sense. “I don’t have those skills, and I don’t have time to learn them”?? You don’t know how to use Facebook? Or you don’t know how to lie?
On the point of the credit card and social media lying, I know the plot purpose of the dude in trouble not knowing his shit. You need there to be a need for Frank, and you need to establish him as someone who knows things that make him unique and valuable. But neither of those plot things has any sort of story logic. That’s lazy writing, and you don’t seem like a lazy writer. You seem like a really talented writer who wanted to get to Frank doing and saying cool shit, and Frank does and says a lot of cool shit. But what leads him to that stuff has to make sense.
The ending is super confusing. You skipped over the most interesting part of the story, and while that’s an interesting choice, I don’t think it works here. I’m left thinking… I don’t want to watch this show, I want to watch the show this show leads up to and wraps up! It feels unfair that you set up Frank and all his smart guy/cool guy characteristics and then don’t let me see them in action. I want to see Frank do that stuff, figure out he’s being double crossed (I guess? That wasn’t clear), I don’t want to hear him talk about it. Even with skipping to the end, I don’t fully know what we skipped. And I got another twinge of “this might be super sexist” when somehow the plot came down to the daughter sending underage naked pics.
Final thoughts: while I wasn’t sold 100% on the female actress, overall I enjoyed both the performances and the directing. The shots were solid and well composed, the lighting was just moody enough, and the scenes were directed well. My major problems are with the script- I can see what you’re going for, but I don’t think it’s coming through just yet. This is a complicated kind of story you’re trying to do in a short timeframe, and that’s really admirable and impressive, but it didn’t quite connect for me. Too many things happened for plot reasons instead of character reasons. I don’t want to see the hand of the writer quite so much in the things that happen- I just want to watch a good story.
*catfishing isn’t just making a new identity, it’s specifically using a fake identity to start online relationships with people- romantic, platonic, or business. Just having a fake profile isn’t catfishing until you use it specifically to mislead someone of your identity. It’s the relationships you form through a fake identity, not the fake identity itself.