Scriptshadow 250 Contest Deadline – 85 days left!

Genre: Biopic
Premise: The story of Joy Mangano, the creator of the Miracle Mop, one of the most successful products in history.
About: The winning combo of David O’Russell and Jennifer Lawrence is back. And talk about a strange writing twist as Annie Mumolo, best known for co-writing the hit comedy, Bridesmaids, with Kristin Wiig, has taken on scripting duties. Joy will be hitting theaters later in the year, smack dab in the middle of Oscar season, and will secure Lawrence her second Oscar (yes, I’m calling it right now – this is a foregone conclusion).
Writer: Annie Mumolo
Details: 136 pages (First Studio Draft – May 17, 2013)

jennifer-lawrence-at-psychologies-magazine-june-2014_1

Chant it with me: Bi-o-pics! Bi-o-pics! Bi-o-pics!

Are biopics becoming the new indie superhero movie? Everywhere you look, here comes another one. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before these indie studios find a way to create “universes” out of biopics. Like maybe Nikola Tesla can appear in a movie about River Phoenix. Or Erin Brokovich can cameo in The Imitation Game 2. Can somebody say “bank?”

In all seriousness, I’m shocked that no one’s made a story about Joy Mangano before. If everything I just read is true, this is one of the most amazing true stories ever. I’d go so far as to say if you want to enjoy this script (or the film), don’t read this review or research Joy. The joy (no pun intended) of this script comes from experiencing all the little twists and turns in Joy’s life as she pursues her dream.

However, seeing as this is a textbook example of how to write a great biopic, I would encourage anyone writing one themselves to seek the script out and study it. I’ll talk about why this is such a great script in a second. But first, here’s a quick breakdown of the story.

When Joy marries the perfect man in Tony Mangano, the Long Island native is floating on Cloud 9. After having three kids, you couldn’t draw up a better dream life than if you manufactured white picket fences for a living. But all that comes crashing down when Joy finds out Tony’s been cheating on her.

Most women would’ve swallowed their pride and kept their husbands after this news. But Joy is not “most women.” She divorces Tony and attempts to raise her three kids on her own. That proves tough, but luckily, Joy’s been working on an idea she’s come up with. A mop that magically picks up everything when you use it, the water AND the gunk.

Soon she’s selling these mops outside K-Marts before finally getting a shot to do a run on HSN. After some doofus screws up the pitch on the mop’s first run, Joy gets a shot to personally pitch the product. The result is shocking, with her selling out every single mop she’s produced.

With the help of her father, who secures a manufacturing deal in California, Joy soon has a fledging business. But when the manufacturing company suddenly raises her prices, she suspects something foul is afoot. Being Joy Magano, she personally flies there to find out what’s going on. What she finds out is shocking not just because she realizes everything about her business is a sham, but that it was her own family that did it to her.

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Annie Mumolo

This script is a testament to the power of the ACTIVE MAIN CHARACTER. We talk about that all the time. But you really see it in action here. An active main character GOES AFTER THINGS. And we like people who go after things.

For example, when Joy’s product gets picked up by HSN, they have some actor who doesn’t know the product demonstrate it. And he does it all wrong. Naturally, the mop doesn’t sell. So what does Joy do? She personally goes to the HSN headquarters and demands to speak to the president. That’s what I mean by ACTIVE.

Again, later, when Joy can’t get anyone from the manufacturing company on the phone as she’s trying to figure out why they’ve raised her prices, she FLIES TO CALIFORNIA to confront them. Again, that’s an ACTIVE character. Audiences LOVE watching characters do this. And it makes stories so much more exciting. Wouldn’t you rather watch someone who’s passionately purusing something than someone who’s sitting around letting life pass them by?

I suspect a lot will be made of how powerful a role this is for a woman, and they’re right. There should be more roles like this for women. But again, this kind of role needs to be written for EVERYBODY. There aren’t enough roles written with characters who are this active. That’s the main reason “Joy” works.

Speaking of the active stuff, there’s another great screenwriting tip buried in the “go to California” scene. I’m going to guess that, in real life, Joy didn’t go to California. I think she probably made a lot of phone calls and figured out they were screwing her over. However, as a storytelling device, phone calls are boring.

So instead, Mumolo had Joy go to California, and we get a much better scene as a result. While Joy is questioning the people at the company, her friend is outside and sees men sneaking Joy’s mop molds into a truck. Her and Joy then follow the truck, and eventually get an officer to stop it, and confront the man driving. This is way way way more entertaining than any scene you could’ve gotten on a phone call.

There’s other things about this script that make it stand out as well. Take Tony, the cheating husband. What are most writers going to do with this character? They’re going to vilify him, right? It’s the obvious thing to do so it must be the right choice. Well, instead, after their initial break-up, Tony actually becomes a supporter of Joy’s. He wants her to succeed.

This minor unexpected touch made the movie feel more like reality. Because if every character follows the typical movie blueprint, people become aware that they’re watching a movie. When characters act unexpectedly – outside of stereotypes or clichés – it tricks the viewer into thinking they’re watching real life.

And actually, I loved who the villain ended up being (major spoilers ahead). The villain was the father. He ended up deceiving Joy and stealing her patent in order to make a buck. And when you think about what you want out of a villain – which is to infuse frustration and anger into the audience – there’s really no better person to do that than family.

I mean, who the hell cares if Ultron screwed you over. You don’t even know the guy. But your own father?? The person who raised you?? The person who you trusted more than anything?? When it’s THAT person who deceived you, it’s going to hit on a 100x deeper level than any villain Marvel can come up with.

With that being said, the father is the only element here that needs further development. He only becomes a major player late in the movie. Before that, we saw bits and pieces of him as well as hearing about him peripherally (he divorced Joy’s mom so she always complained about him). We needed to see a couple of more scenes with him and Joy early so his deception at the end hits harder.

But other than that, this script is the bee’s kneecaps. And I have to give props to both Russell and Mumolo. Russell gets a lot of heat for his activities on set. But there isn’t a director out there right now who understands storytelling better than him. And I’m not going to lie. I totally pegged Annie Mumolo as a lightweight after Bridesmaids, someone who benefitted greatly from a friendship with Kristin Wiig. But this script proves she’s the real deal, and might even win her an Oscar.

[ ] what the hell did I just read?
[ ] wasn’t for me
[ ] worth the read
[x] impressive (Top 25!)
[ ] genius

What I learned: Montages are often boring and skipped over by readers. People aren’t interested in reading through a bunch of random shots. So I love what Mumolo does here. She NAMES her montages. This instantly gives the montage a theme and therefore strips away their randomness. So for example, on page 31 we get the “Joy Without Tony” montage, to signify her new daily routine after her divorce. Then later the “7000 Mops” montage, where she must somehow produce 7000 mops. It’s a small thing, but for someone who hates montages, I found it clever.

  • Acarl

    If anyone has this can they send to hagpok@hotmail.com? Much appreciated!

    • S.C.

      Sent!

  • http://apairoftools.wordpress.com/ Sebastian Cornet

    If anyone can send me the screenplay to vetolgar@gmail.com I promise to name my firstborn after you.

    • S.C.

      Sent!!

      • Altius

        S.C. would you send me one as well, please?

        ParkerJamisonFilm@gmail

        Thanks!

        • S.C.

          Sent!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • S.C.

          Sent!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

    • S.C.

      Don’t call you kid Scott! Too many rhymes.

      • http://apairoftools.wordpress.com/ Sebastian Cornet

        Okay, I’ll just fall back on my original plan: to call him Captain Kangaroo!

        But if it’s a girl can I call her “Scottina”?

  • romer6

    Please, I´d love this one as well, if someone would be so kind: romer6 at gmail dot com
    Thanks in advance!

    • bl2d

      Please I’d appreciate it as well: bl2d21(at) yahoo.com
      Thanks.

      • Buddy

        same for me please !
        buddy2599(at)voila.fr

        • S.C.

          Sent!!!

          • bluedenham

            Me, too, please! Thanks in advance. smythdenham@hotmail.com

          • S.C.

            Sent!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          • bluedenham

            Thank you!!!

        • S.C.

          Sent!!!!

      • S.C.

        Sent!!!!

    • S.C.

      Sent!!!!!

  • Evangelos

    OT: Well, Kind of.

    I forgot where but I remember reading that spoilers actually enhance your film experience. Something to do with focusing more on the plot and the resulting suspense. And it’s kind of true because if I’m watching a boring movie and the guy dies at the end I’d be much more interested if I knew way beforehand he was gonna die. I’d be waiting for it. And every slip and fall will make my heart jump. Like a bomb under the table in a way.

    Anyways, if anyone has this script, can I have it too? Thanks in advance.
    e.carterbanks@gmail.com

    • S.C.

      Sent!!!!!!

      • Frankie Hollywood

        Hey SCOTT, if you wouldn’t mind adding me to the list. Please and Thank You.

        I agree with Cyarax, when I heard about this I thought, “That’s the dumbest and most boring movie idea I’ve ever heard of.”

        But if it got an [x] impressive out of stingy Carson, I’ve got to check it out.

        • S.C.

          Sent!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          • http://vimeo.com/adamwparker Adam W. Parker

            If you’d be so kind, adam @ alumni . vcu . edu

          • S.C.

            Sent!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Evangelos

        Thank you! :)

      • Javier Eliezer Otero

        Please Scott send it to my email. I’m a true David O’Russell fan. I need to read this! Javierotero26@hotmail.com

        • S.C.

          Sent! Tell us what you think of it!

          • manjowithane

            Hi could I also get a copy of this script please? manjoechan@gmail.com THANKS!

          • S.C.

            Sent!

          • S.C.

            Sent!!!!!!!!!

    • S.C.

      If there’s a film I wasn’t bothered about seeing, and then someone says “You gotta see this film. There’s this scene where…” and they tell you this amazing bit of the film, and it’s a spoiler, but it might make me want to see the film.

      A lot of people who saw THE SIXTH SENSE probably knew the ending because their friends told them, but that’s why they went to see it anyway. For that ending.

      • Evangelos

        Exactly. I always knew this to be so in the back of my mind but needed confirmation. I don’t remember where I read it but apparently studies were done. So yay movies and science!

    • brenkilco

      This seems to be the theory underlying most modern trailers. Personally find it anathema. Don’t want my first experience of a movie to be my second. If suspense is the object then the necessary information ought to be imparted by the screenwriter, not the loudmouth in the row behind us whose already seen the thing multiple times.

      • Evangelos

        True. I’m against trailers that spoil the movie. I believe it is psychological. Even though we hate people spoiling movies for us, our brain enjoys them more when we know what’s going to happen. Like when I knew my girlfriend was going to dump me on Saturday and it was Thursday so everything she said had more weight to it in a way. My brain cataloged everything from her posture to her listlessness because I knew what was coming. But I digress. All I’m saying is, is that when you know the ending, the details stand out.

    • S.C.

      I remember this shocked me when I first saw it because I wasn’t expecting it.

      But a lot of people now know the scene, even if you haven’t seen the movie. It’s famous scene.

      Here’s the rest of the film if you want to see it for free!

  • Cyarax

    Wow, this script sounds boring as hell. A woman trying to sell a mop. Really?

    • Randy Williams

      How about a mop selling a woman? You can’t beat a good prostitution movie.
      Hustle and Flow?

    • carsonreeves1

      It does sound boring as an idea, but the character ends up being really strong.

      • Buddy

        True. The fact this is a true story is trival.
        But the real question is : does a beginner can write (and sell) a script about a “divorced woman creates a revolutionary mop” ?? not so sure…

    • klmn

      Yes, and in the sequel she can sell cookware.

  • charliesb

    “and will secure Lawrence her second Oscar (yes, I’m calling it right now – this is a foregone conclusion)”

    I’ll take that bet.

    • carsonreeves1

      Who do you think’s going to win? Or are you betting the field?

      • S.C.

        SNOWDEN and STEVE JOBS seem likely for Best Actor at least.

      • charliesb

        It’s a little early to tell, but there are some other strong contenders for sure (Moore, Blanchett, even Bullock probably). For now I’m betting the field. We’ll pick this up again closer to the end of the end of the year.

  • Matthew Bishop

    I read this last year and really dug it. It’s such an inspirational, rags-to-riches story. Too bad they didn’t have SHARK TANK back then!

    • Randy Williams

      Mentally I run all my script ideas by the Shark Tank cast. Mr. Wonderful, unfortunately, always seems to sneer,

      “You’re dead to me”

      With my SS250 entry hopeful idea, I think I’ve gotten him to sit up a bit in his chair and squint with some interest.

  • S.C.

    Sent!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  • S.C.

    Sent!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • fragglewriter

    I would love to read this script if any has it, send it to fragglewriter at yahoo dot com

    Active characters are good, but it also depends on the scene that makes the character compelling. Last night, I attended a screening of “Laurent” even though the film received harsh reviews but the trailer drew me in. 30-minutes into the movie, I felt like leaving as I could watch a better movie on TV, sans cable. I told myself to give it a few moire minutes, and that when the two people behind me left. Luckily I stayed for the extra two minutes as I enjoyed some male frontal nudity.

    The protagonist was Laurent, but they made him so boring. Yes he wanted his collections to sell but it was so drabby. And then they had a split screen montage with the news of the year. For instance 1967, left-handed would be news articles/major news events. Right screen would be Laurent’s collection. I was so bored that I bailed.

    The above is a prime example of two people in a room talking that is boring, and especially when a protagonist does all of the talking. There should never be two in a room unless one of trying to kill the other, without the other knowing what’s going on.

    • S.C.

      Sent!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • fragglewriter

        Thank you!!!!!

    • Buddy

      In France, we have a very big problem with biopics.
      Writers tend to stick to the wikipedia page of the protag.
      They even produced 2 movies about St-Laurent, and none of them was good…

    • Blake

      Hey Fraggle, do you mind sharing? Thanks a lot.

      bluepuke(at)hotmail(dot)com

      • S.C.

        Sent!!!!!!!!!!!

  • S.C.

    Take for example Dame Stella Rimington, the former head of Mi5 and an influence on Dame Judi Dench’s portrayal of M. As a public figure, Dame Stella is “fair game”. But Dame Stella is also a successful novelist and TV pundit. She wouldn’t think too well of someone trying to exploit her name without consulting her first.

    Even a fictional version – Dame Jessica Helms – in a fictional story could cause problems.

    I’m writing a fictional story INSPIRED by a real-life woman. She’s written a book. The rights to the book – far as I can tell – have not been sold. She doesn’t own the concept of what happened to her.

    If what you’re interested in in a person’s story, you can just fictionalize it:

    But if what’s interesting to you is the actual events, the real character, you will probably need to option the book.

    • S.C.

      Another example – NOT Janis Joplin:

  • Mike.H

    Could I read it as well? Thanks! MAY1MSG AT GMAIL DOT COM.

    • S.C.

      Sent!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • S.C.

      Sent!!!

  • mulesandmud

    Okey dokey.

    I’m on page 30. No sign of the mop or any other miraculous cleaning products as yet.

    This script is perfectly fine. Professionally written and occasionally charming. I will be pretty surprised if it delivers anything aside from exactly what I expect.

    Actually, I’ll be pretty surprised if I get to the end.

    David O. Russell has become the poster child for what might once have been called a ‘regular old movie': functional, reasonably intelligent, entertaining, and vaguely grounded in reality (with a dash of sitcom thrown in).

    Seems like a perfect fit.

    • Buddy

      I agree !
      30p thoughts : really enjoying it so far.
      very well written. I find all the details I loved from Bridesmaids, funny ones (the wedding, the husband with his towel, ronnie’s character) and sad ones (joy looking at her child’s shoes after asking for divorce).

      i feel involved into the story and want to know what will happen.
      loved the backstory-anecdote about her mother been depressed after discovering her husband had an affair and joy taking care of her brother while she was only 6…

      • Buddy

        INC/INC : joy discovers that her husband is cheating on her. She asks for divorce (p22-24)
        LOCK-IN : joy cleans the diner’s floor, lot of dirty water, she falls on the ground and hurt herself. She get’s the idea to create her own mop (p33-34)

    • brenkilco

      Am on page 11. Pretty much exactly what I expected. Natural. Mildly engaging. Not particularly funny or dramatic. Seems on track to meander for a while. In the end probably wholly dependent on the charm of the actors cast. Don’t think Carson would have read much beyond this point if this were an original and big names weren’t attached. But then I found the critical gush for Silver Linings Playbook close to inexplicable.

      • FD

        With you all the way, brenkilco. Couldn’t understand all the love for SLP either: just silly. And if we submit a biopic to Carson, he says on the strength of the logline that it is too boring to even suggest for AF – and this one was about mops! I would say, as a wannabe screenwriter: don’t try this at home.

        • brenkilco

          Am just completing my own home shopping network biopic. You think if I slip Carson three easy payments of $39.99 he’ll read it.?

    • Brian

      I would love to read it if any of you could share. kosfilms at gmail.com

      Thanks!

    • returned

      Hi there. I’d be so grateful if you could share the Joy script with me carver.caroline@gmail.com. Thanks in advance

  • http://www.linkedin.com/pub/brett-martin/52/702/72 ElectricDreamer

    OT: SS Veteran Launches a New Animated Web Series!

    I pride myself on pimping my colleagues around here every change I get.
    Today, I’m tooting my better half’s horn and my own, just a little…

    One of the many great lessons I’ve learned here is: Make your own career happen.
    Thanks to Carson’s stellar interview with Adi Shankar, I took that mantra to heart.
    “Find creatives at your level that believe in you and create content together.”
    It’s not enough to have a spec and a TV pilot in your arsenal anymore.
    You need content that demonstrates how you handle multi-platform projects.
    More execs are talking about “independent TV” programming/presence than ever.

    Ultron dampened our Star Wars Day festive vibe around here. That will not stand.
    A MaytheFourthBeWithYou passing without a mention from Carson? I blame Ultron!
    So, I hope our animated take on the trend of trailer reaction videos rectifies that.
    Thanks so much for your time, let us know what you think of the show.
    If you like Robots Love Movies, please share and support us on the internet!

    • Randy Williams

      Suddenly my computer speakers actually sounded good. How’d you do that?
      Funny stuff. I voted you up and subscribed.

    • Jack F.

      That was awesome. I love that the robot with the X-wing looks like V.I.N.CENT from “The Black Hole”.

      • http://www.linkedin.com/pub/brett-martin/52/702/72 ElectricDreamer

        Thanks for the ego cookie! The show is all about movie mash-ups like that.
        We wanted to repackage pop culture in an entertaining way.
        If they rebooted The Black Hole, V.I.N.CENT would probably be a V-wing!

    • klmn

      That was cool, but your robots aren’t as hot as the Ex Machina one – despite the flames.

  • Poe_Serling

    Thanks for the review, Carson… and for planting this musical earworm in my head:

    I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy
    Down in my heart
    Down in my heart

    What a simple yet effective title for this project. I think the upcoming film’s target audience will seek it out, enjoy it, and make it at least a moderate hit.

    • Buddy

      certainly one of the best montage ever…
      have you noticed how he increases his speed and efforts ?

    • Nicholas J

      Makes you wonder how many times he had to run up those steps until they got the shot right.

      • Poe_Serling

        I know a lot of the exercising scenes in the city of Philly were done on the cheap – meaning few extras and no shooting permits – to keep the overall film budget low.

  • S.C.

    Sent!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

  • Jack F.

    Thanks, Carson. This is now a must-read.

  • kevin thomas

    Can someone send it to me?

    kevthomz@gmail.com

    Thanks in advance.

    • S.C.

      Sent!!!!

  • Ambrose*

    This script told an interesting story and I really enjoyed it.
    I’m not sure I’d refer to it as a biopic though.
    When I think of a biopic I usually think of a story that gives us a broad overview of a person’s life.

    The script mainly covers a relatively short period in the main character’s life when she overcomes obstacles and adversity (having your own father screw you over) to launch a successful business.
    It’s a feel-good, rags-to-riches story, one that will probably resonate with audiences, especially females.

    Kind of on the flipside of that feel-good story is ‘The Founder’, by Robert Siegel, which tells the story of Ray Kroc, an ambitious salesman who worms his way into the lives of the McDonald brothers and their small group of southern California hamburger stands, to eventually wrest control of the company from them.

    He is the “screwer” rather than the “screwee” (Joy Mangano).

    It’s more a feel-bad story and audiences will have a much different view of the supposedly amiable guy who’s forever associated with Ronald McDonald and Happy Meals.

    Michael Keaton is playing Kroc I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get his second Oscar nomination in a row.
    Meanwhile, the McDonalds PR machine will no doubt be cranked up in overdrive to counter the negative – but probably accurate – image of Kroc when this movie comes out.

    The title, ‘The Founder’, is highly ironic.

  • Joe Low

    Could you send it to me, too? johnnykash@gmx.de
    Thanks so much!

    • S.C.

      Sent!!!!!!!!!!

  • S.C.

    Sent!!!!!!

  • S.C.

    Sent!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • S.C.

    Sent!!!!!!!!1

  • S.C.

    Sent!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • sad jane

      hi there… any chance u can send to me too please :) thank you much! oops…email is nasawolf@gmail.com :)

  • LV426

    What about a biopic within a biopic? As in a biopic about a famous actor set during a time period of their career where they are prepping to portray a famous person in a movie.

    • S.C.

      The Al Jolson Story Story.

  • S.C.

    No problems. Sent!

  • S.C.

    Sent!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Murphy

      Do you mind? Would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
      garymurphy.me @ gmail dot com

      Cheers

      • S.C.

        Sent!!!!!!!!!!1

        • Anita Gou

          Would also love to read it as well. Please send to a1120g@gmail.com if possible.

          Thank you so much!

    • Jan

      If you’re still sending out karliefloss @ hotmail dot com.

      • S.C.

        Sent!!!!

        • Citizen M

          You should ask Carson to add a “Sent” button as well as “Reply” and “Share” ;o)

          Thanks for your time and generosity in sending out scripts.

          • S.C.

            Maybe. This sort of thing isn’t all that common – the last time loads of people asked for one script was HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER about a year ago. Doesn’t take a lot of time either; I’ve got a pretty efficient way of doing it.

            People just want to know what Carson thinks a top 25 script looks like.

  • S.C.

    Sent!!!!!!!!!!!!1

    • Dan B

      SC – I know I hit you up a lot, but if you got time to send… dblixbreen at gmail.com. Thanks!

    • Zach

      Can I play too? Zach.jansen@mail.com

  • S.C.

    Sent!!!!!!!!!!!1

  • Gregory Mandarano

    North Dakota town evacuated after oil train derailment

    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/north-dakota-town-evacuated-after-oil-train-derailment/

    • Dan B

      That’s one of the big arguments for the Pro-Pipeline groups. There have been several disasters like this due the increased rail shipments of oil.

  • Citizen M

    I reckon this female bank robber from a strict Indian family would make a good biopic: “The rise and fall of the Bombshell Bandit”

    I don’t know if anyone has the rights.

    http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-32481834

    • S.C.

      No movie plans yet (quick search). A spec writer might do better fictionalizing the story.

      • Citizen M

        The problem is, I don’t think anyone would believe it if it was fiction.

        Or they’d make the female an empowered gym-honed Kung Fu fighter type with a massive chip on her shoulder.

        The real story is Sandeep is the last person you would expect to be a bank robber.

  • Lucid Walk

    Does anyone have a copy? Please send to sde91@hotmail.com

    • S.C.

      I had one lying around.

  • IgorWasTaken

     
    I see that people say it’s an easy read.

    Anyone happen to notice it’s 134 pages (plus a smidge)?

    Also, it’s approx 26,875 words – which is long. (Long – even for a 134-page script.) And some pages have 57 lines (versus the typical max of 54 lines).

    I am not dinging the script for that. Not at all. Just thought I’d throw those facts out there.

    A couple of thoughts come to my mind about this: This was an assignment, so maybe the writer put in everything she felt was “worthy” for now – expecting stuff to be cut out. And it is labeled, “1st Studio Draft – May 17, 2013″.
     

    • S.C.

      While some scripts are getting shorter, all but one (United States of Fuckin’ Awesome) of the Nicholl finalists from last year were more than 20,000 words, with some more than 120 pages. So, long by modern standards.

      David Fincher told James Vanderbilt not to worry about submitting a 200 page script for ZODIAC. Some directors like ‘em long.

  • Nicholas J

    Carson, I can’t help but notice this script seems to go against your newfound mantra of writing stories that are movies. I haven’t read it, but it seems to just be a character piece about a woman who invents a cool mop. How is that a movie?

    I’m not trying to be combative here, I really am curious. You’ve been posting a ton of articles about how we should all be writing BIG stories, and then you put this small, well-written character piece in your Top 25.

    So I’m wondering either 1) How this script is a movie or 2) How this script made it into your Top 25 without being a movie.

    • IgorWasTaken

      I like your posts here; your attitude here. But Dude, really?

      It’s about a woman who’s gotta take care of her kids, she’s an inventor and a sales savant, and people (her husband, then the villain – see Spoiler Alert item in Carson’s review), and she has to overcome all that to succeed. It’s “Rocky” with a Miracle Mop.

      Does Carson’s review written in a way that highlights the “classic” GSU? No. But otherwise, it’s a movie. It’s a movie as in “In a World”.

      • Nicholas J

        That, to me, still is not a movie in terms of what we’ve been hearing on SS over the past couple months. It’s a great story, sure, but it’s small. It’s not the blockbuster we’ve been encouraged to write and submit to SS250.

        Hey, I’m all for this being in the Top 25. It sounds like a really great script. I’m just curious as to Carson’s thought process behind this. I’ve had a script in mind to submit to SS250, but the articles recently have scared me off since it’s a character story more in line with something like today’s script. So if something small like this can still get an impressive from Carson, I might change my mind.

        • IgorWasTaken

          Aha. That is your Q #2. It’s #1 that puzzled me.

        • S.C.

          To me it sounds like an Academy Award movie, not so different from the kind that came out when I was a kid. Blockbusters used to be just for the summer, now they’re all-year ’round, but there’s still room for these “small” films.

          In terms of SS250, people might be better off writing blockusters; writing something like this, based on this subject matter, might take some skill and experience.

          • Nicholas J

            Skill and experience is required for any script.

          • S.C.

            But not the same skill and experience, surely you don’t believe that. The skill and experience to write an episode of CSI is not the same skill and experience to write – say – TRUE DETECTIVE or BREAKING BAD.

            It’s like firing at a small target a long way away. You may hit it by accident, but if you want to be sure of hitting it – and with SS250, you want to be sure of winning – that’s going to be hard.

            Most amateur writers don’t have the skill and experience to make you finish reading a script about intergalactic warfare, so trying to write a biopic of a mop saleswoman is a challenge probably best put of until after you’ve had a Bridesmaids-like success.

          • S.C.

            Someone’s trying to reply to my comment, but they’re taking ages about it and I have to go to bed. Night-night, everyone!

          • Nicholas J

            Just to clarify. Nobody here should be writing character pieces until they’ve written a script that has made $300 million. Solid advice, Scott.

          • pmlove

            Scott’s not saying that people shouldn’t write character pieces. I think he is saying that in the scale of things, if you have an amateur script where a goodie chases a baddie, it’s less likely to be terrible than the same writer attempting a script that relies on subtle moments of emotion, dialogue and character development.

            I’d tend to agree with him.

            If the latter is good, it might be very good. But if they’re both bad, I’d rather watch (read) a mindless chase scene.

          • Nicholas J

            IMO those are two completely different writing skillsets. Just because you can write a good setpiece doesn’t mean you can write good character drama, and vice versa.

            Write what interests you.

          • brenkilco

            Just because you can write a good setpiece doesn’t mean you can write good character drama.
            I don’t think I agree. Genuine talent travels. And for good character drama to really work a good deal of talent is required. There is nowhere to hide. No explosive bells and whistles to distract from the writer’s ability or inability to create compelling characters and situations. Just because a writer drawn to serious drama might now want to write a new kind of car chase or any genre piece doesn’t mean he or she couldn’t. In fact the history of screenwriting would suggest the opposite. Robert Bolt wrote A Man For All Seasons but he also wrote Lawrence of Arabia and the last version of Mutiny on the Bounty. Harold Pinter penned a superior espionage movie. And Thornton Wilder wrote one of Hitchcock’s best thrillers. You don’t get more dramatic than Cormac McCarthy and neither Counselor nor No Country skimped on the grisly set pieces. Think you could get superior high concept from a serious writer a lot more easily than you could get a great drama from the guys penning the next Marvel instalment.

          • Nicholas J

            You’ve misread my comments. All I’m saying is that just because you are good at one does not mean you are automatically good at the other. But obviously people can be good at both.

            Anyway, not sure how this got so off-topic.

          • IgorWasTaken

            Yeh, except this ain’t Erin Brockovich or Norma Rae. It’s a woman selling gadgets on HSN.

            IOW, the story may be entertaining, and even inspirational (as CM said), but the story is not exactly emotionally (or “politically”) compelling.

    • Citizen M

      Life handed her a lemon and she made lemonade.

      It’s not only a movie, it’s an inspirational movie.

      And it’s the little vignettes of funny things and hassles from daily life we have all experienced that make it something we can all relate to.

      • IgorWasTaken

        BTW, I know who this woman is. She’s a carnival-barker/infomercial type. So, viscerally, I don’t like her. But she is an F****** genius.

        In other words, if it was her versus a bulldozer, I’d put my money on her.

        • klmn

          Someone should write a script about the Shamwow guy, ASAP.

    • Kirk Diggler

      David O Russel is the x-factor. His love affair with Jennifer Lawrence (and she is a goddamn movie star) takes everything he does to the next level. What was Silver Linings about? Two slightly nutty people enter a dance competition. But it was a wonderful piece of cinema. A character piece that didn’t have huge stakes but it sure seemed like it did to the characters. Same with American Hustle. A movie about ABSCAM? Haha. Funny. Yet it was great. A list actors, a-list performances. Russel knows how to squeeze human drama out of anything. Which is why I’ve never seen a Transformers or a Pirates of the Caribbean movie but will be first in line to see Joy.

      • Nicholas J

        Wasn’t a big Hustle fan, but I’ve seen Playbook a handful of times and man it’s always a good watch. Great movie.

        • Dan B

          I feel like his movies are collections of really great scenes. The performances are great and the dialogue is funny. American Hustle seemed like a big mess, but I still enjoyed it because the scenes themselves were interesting.

        • Midnight Luck

          I wasn’t a big Hustle fan either, I thought it was kind of shoddy and wandered about without making ends meet.

          I WAS however a huge fan of THREE KINGS, THE FIGHTER and a pretty big fan of SILVER LININGS.

          He can be incredibly good when he is on.

          I felt HUSTLE was trying to be BOOGIE NIGHTS and fell far far short. It was trying to be too big, and he works better on a smaller scale.

        • BoSoxBoy

          Hustle, Silver Linings, Fighter….enjoyed watching all from my den chair with bathroom breaks, but none fell under the “wish I’d seen that on the big screen” criteria. Joy sounds like more of the same.

    • leitskev

      I agree. I don’t care how good the script is, how do you get people to want to see a movie about a woman who invents a mop? I mean Lawrence is probably worth seeing in anything she does right now, but other than that, this concept has as much appeal as root canal.

    • kenglo

      That was my first impression – who would pay to see this? SAVING MR BANKS was the best though….

    • cjob3

      It reminded me a lot of Erin Brocovich.

  • Gregory Mandarano

    On the subject of montages, I think it’s important to not only name them, but also give them a three act structure. Like a little mini movie with no dialogue, each montage should tell a story, and have a set up, a climax, and a resolution that either relieves the tension from the climax, or sets up an additional problem to be addressed further in the script. If most readers skip montages, then that should be all the more reason for us to make them as entertaining as possible.

  • Javier Eliezer Otero

    [x] Genius… A story about a mop inventor. How could this possible be so good? I don’t know, but it is that fucking good!!

  • august4

    Would love to read what Mumolo wrote on her own… I read her draft of Bridesmaids and it was pretty bad…. maybe she’s really grown as a writer, but I’d bet O’Russell had his hands all over this… Try reading Jason Segel’s draft for Forgetting Sarah Marshall…. it’s not even close to the end result after Apatow etc…

    • Dan B

      I read Bridesmaids when it was up for “Consideration.” Is that the draft you thought was bad?

  • klmn
  • John_Nikkon

    Would love to read this script. Massive Bridesmaids fan. Could I pretty please get a copy? Thanks john_nikkon@live.com

  • cjob3

    totally agree about the cheating husband. Has there ever been a script where the philandering husband is NOT a bad guy?! But real life isn’t that black and white. Maybe they weren’t meant to be together, and he did the wrong thing, but that doesn’t make him evil. I love that he actually respects her more for divorcing him. That they stayed friends in the script was incredibly refreshing.

    That said, great script but I think I enjoyed The Founder more.

  • Davis

    Well lets remember DOR rewrote the script and his movies are incredibly mediocre.

    And if you think American Hustle was great storytelling then I don’t know if I don’t trust your opinion on this script. DOR is an average director who makes oscar bait movies

  • TT

    And could someone please send it to me as well? Thanks
    taneltoom@gmail.com