As I prepare to revamp my major screenplay (“Do Ask, Do Tell: Conscripted”) and tidy-up at least three other works, I took a look at the printed screenplays I had purchased from Amazon years ago, probably when I was living in Minnesota. These appear to be “shooting scripts”.
The most important of these is “Adaptation” (2002) directed by Spike Jonze and written by Charlie Kaufman, from Columbia. I saw this film in a large complex in suburban Edina, MN. As printed, the script runs just 100 pages, but there is a lot of commentary in the appendix.
This film is remarkable in that it is a “meta-film” — that is, a movie about writing a screenplay to adapt a book to film. The book is “The Orchid Thief” by Susan Orlean. The main screenwriter (and actual writer for “Adaptation”) is Charlie Kaufman. Now Kaufman has developed writer’s block and hates formulaic screenwriting. So do I! He finds out that his twin brother (a doppelganger invented for the movie) has sold a horror movie screenplay “The 3”. Both brothers are played by Nicholas Cage, but the effect in the film is more like that of other doppelganger movies like “Enemy” (Jake Gyllenhaal) and “The Double” (Jesse Eisenberg). Gradually the film shifts from being about the screenwriting (and ideas in the industry like “spec script”) and the actual events in the novel, leading to a chase in the Florida Everglades and to murder, almost as in a Hitchcock film. This movie was well liked by critics,
The screenplay draft follows all the industry standards, and doesn’t show the layering. I have that issue in my own work, and find I need to set up a relational database and number the scenes on the database, and tie them to the draft.
This film is sometimes said to be a sequel of “Being John Malkovich” (Jan. 8, 2015).
The second film to discuss here is the uplifting “Good Will Hunting” (1996, Miramax), directed by Gus Van Sant. Matt Damon (then 26) plays the undiscovered math prodigy Will Hunting, Ben Affleck is his best friend in South Boston, and Robin Williams plays Will’s therapist. Will is very determined that his talents won’t be misused by the government (most of all, the NSA). This was a very inspiring film when I saw it. Remember the line, “It’s not your fault.” This script is longer, 156 pages.
The third is Stephen King’s “Storm of the Century“, a six-hour miniseries on ABC in 1999. King did not publish this as a novel, just as the screenplay, 376 pages for the equivalent of 3 films. A monstrous visitor Linoges (Colm Feore) takes over Little Tall Island off the coast of Maine as a record-setting President’s Day weekend blizzard shuts down the town. It is true that February is the most likely time of year for this kind of Noreaster. Remember the line “Give me what I want and I’ll go away”. But what he wants is mysterious, and has a lot to do with the lost colony off Roanoke Island, NC back in the 15th Century.
(Published, Monday, March 9, 2015, about 12:15 PM EDT)