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Script Pipeline

7th Great TV Show Idea Contest Finalists

By | Great TV Show Idea Contest Finalists

Bryce-McLellan-headshot-16Grand Prize Winner

Jack Curious by Bryce McLellan

Bryce McLellan is a writer/director all the way from the Land Down Under. While he hasn’t wrestled a croc and never rode a kangaroo to school, he is keen on calling everyone “mate”.

After graduating with a film major from Macquarie University, Sydney in 2011, he worked as an editor on a number of network TV shows for MTV and ABC. Always looking for his next personal project, a chance to travel to the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2012 birthed Jesus in Congo, a documentary he filmed, wrote and directed. It was nominated for best documentary at the 2015 Pan Pacific Film Festival. Bryce is also an accomplished animator and concept artist who lists driving a red Mustang from LA to Miami as one of his proudest achievements.

Bryce writes in any spare moment he has. Jack Curious is his first TV writing project.

Runners-Up

Dark Districts by David Burton
The Bitches of Salem by David Falcone

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Screenplay

By | Essential Reading - Screenplays and Pilots

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One of the best dramas last year was also one of the funniest comedies. However, the emotional aspects only worked because the movie is so funny.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, adapted by Jesse Andrews from his own book and directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, won both the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize at Sundance last year, but the film came and went unnoticed when it was released. And it’s not hard to see why: It’s got all the quirk of Little Miss Sunshine, but one of its principle characters is a 17-year-old girl dying of leukemia, Rachel. On top of that, the main character Greg (he’s the “me” in the title) only hangs out with her because his mom’s making him. So yeah.

In a way, you could describe Me and Earl as the anti–Fault in Our Stars. While the latter exists for the sole purpose of manipulating its audience into crying (and, for the most part, works), Me and Earl instead wants to manipulate its characters. Greg is “terminally awkward” with “a face like a groundhog” and as selfish as any other teen. In fact, it takes him until the end of the film to realize it’s Rachel’s story, not his.

It helps that Greg is a funny character with a very distinct voice. Some of the lesser screenwriting gurus have been on a vendetta against voice-over for a while now, but like any other stylistic device, good voice-over is still good. It doesn’t just explain what we’re seeing—the movie would work fine without it. What makes Greg’s narration stand out is it extends from his personality and is unique to his quirky, funny, awkward voice.

But beneath all the quirk and clever witticisms, Me and Earl is still a smart script. Nearly every joke in it works, so when it shifts gears to drama, the emotions hit like a ton of bricks. That isn’t an original tool, but it is tried and true: Preceding a dramatic moment with comedy helps that moment really land. Add in Gomez-Rejon’s smart directorial flourishes (developed on American Horror Story and his directorial debut, The Town That Dreaded Sundown) and Korean cinematographer Chung-hoon Chung’s (Oldboy) beautiful images, and you’ve got a beautiful film with an excellent story.

Read the Me and Earl and the Dying Girl Script

Fargo – Pilot

By | Essential Reading - Screenplays and Pilots

1.-Fargo-Banner

Fargo the movie is a classic. The Coen brothers’ crime/comedy captivated critics and audiences alike with a tale of pettiness, greed, kidnapping, murder, a woodchipper, and Minnesotan accents. Any attempt to bring the film to television would have giant shoes to fill, so it’s no surprise that 18 years passed before Fargo the series premiered on FX. (*A pilot was filmed in 1997 with Kathy Bates directing and Edie Falco starring, but the show never made it to series and, unlike Fargo-FX, had no involvement from the Coens.)

Noah Hawley, the show’s creator and showrunner, abandons the Coens’ characters and plot but has nonetheless crafted a series that’s unmistakably Fargo. The setting, the humor, the boldfaced based-on-a-true-story lie, and, of course, the glorious accents all remain intact, and each of the (so far) two seasons focuses on borderline-incompetent criminal newbies getting mixed up with career criminals and resilient, small-town law enforcement. Just like the film. In fact, Hawley so perfectly captures the spirit of the original movie that the Coens’ Fargo feels less like a source material and more like another chapter in (as Hawley calls it) The History of True Crime in the Midwest. Add in a few remixed elements from other Coen classics including No Country for Old Men and The Man Who Wasn’t There, and that’s the show.

Like the movie, the characters are the real draw. In the pilot script, Martin Freeman’s Lester Nygaard, season one’s criminal newbie, is described as “the kind of guy who apologizes when you step on his foot.” Billy Bob Thornton’s Lorne Malvo has a mystery to him, yet he’s still a well-defined, Loki-esque figure: Malvo gets a real kick out of manipulating people for his own twisted enjoyment. And Allison Tolman’s Molly Solverson is about as great a substitute for Frances McDormand’s Marge Gunderson as you could get.

But if the characters weren’t enough, Hawley hooks the viewers by the time the pilot’s climax rolls around. He imbues the final stretch with so much tension (highlights include a heat-of-the-moment murder, a law enforcement officer showing up at the wrong place, wrong time, and Malvo simply being Malvo) that it’s impossible not to become giddy with expectation. Shows rarely fire on all cylinders this early on—and season two improves on every level—so at the very least, sit back and watch in awe of perhaps the best entry in the Anthology Series Resurgence of the 2010s. And if you find any of its “true story” a little too hard to believe, just think of it as a Drunk History segment with a higher production value.

Read the Fargo Pilot

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UTA and Madhouse Rep 2015 Script Pipeline Contest Winner

By | Success Stories

Madhouse-Logo

A few weeks after Script Pipeline sent the 2015 finalist/winner loglines industry-wide, Screenwriting Competition winner Henry Dunham was picked up by Madhouse Entertainment (Prisoners).

Agency powerhouse UTA followed soon after.

“While I’m a little surprised he found representation so quick, I’m not at all surprised it happened,” said Script Pipeline Senior Executive Matt Misetich. “It was inevitable. And it goes beyond writing ability–he’s one of the most grounded, humble writers I’ve met all year. That attitude will take him far in what will of course be a continual process of collaboration. For two tremendous companies like Madhouse and UTA to jump on board is extraordinary. No doubt this will be the first step in a long writing career.”

Read Henry’s Script Pipeline interview.

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The Lego Movie – Screenplay

By | Essential Reading - Screenplays and Pilots

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Usually, we post final drafts of scripts to give writers good examples of what to do, but that’s ignoring the most necessary, and oftentimes grueling, process: rewriting. Rewriting isn’t an exact science, if by science you mean banging your head against the keyboard and furiously hitting backspace. It’s also incredibly difficult. In most first drafts, writers are still finding the characters and themes, and by the end of it, the plot they initially envisioned may no longer support the themes or characters they ended up falling in love with. Changing one element in Act One is like pulling a thread from a sweater: you never know how long the thread’s gonna be, and there’s no way of knowing until you’re done pulling. But everyone has to rewrite. Even the professionals. The vast majority of this Lego Movie script, written by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, who currently have two of the best track records in Hollywood (Exhibit A, Exhibit B), did not survive into the final draft. That’s not to say the earlier draft is bad, but somewhere along the rewriting process, Lord and Miller found a better way to express the themes they wished to convey.

The twist at the end of the movie works in this earlier draft, but it doesn’t resonate as strongly thematically (or narratively) as the one that was filmed, even if it has tons of fun, funny, inventive moments. As such, the decision to make the movie’s President Business (who isn’t in this draft) a direct representation of The Man Upstairs works much better, and the slight changes to Emmet’s character bring the movie more of a childlike wonder. Unfortunately, that meant many characters who read very funny on the page (including Emmet’s Mom, President Iamnotarobot, Larry the Barista, and Indiana Jones) were left on the cutting room floor. On a larger scale, the addition of President Business meant the antagonist and the antagonist’s goals (as well as the majority of the plot) had to change. Fortunately, Lord and Miller were more than up to the task, and they reworked what would have been an entertaining animated movie into a comedic masterpiece.

The title page says, “Based on the Awesome Toys by The LEGO Corporation,” which a cynic might label shameless brown-nosing, but after reading the script and watching the movie, it’s hard to doubt that Lord and Miller earnestly believe that. Everything about this movie really is awesome.

Read The Lego Movie Script

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