Genre: Wes Anderson
Premise: Adapted from a French film, “My Best Friend” is about an unlikable middle-aged art dealer who’s come to the realization that he has no friends, and so goes about trying to find one.
About: Wes Anderson wrote this script for Imagine Entertainment over at Universal. It’s one of the few scripts (it may even be the only script) Anderson’s written without the intent to direct. However, in subsequent interviews, he’s professed how much he loved writing it, leaving a tiny door open that maybe one day he’ll direct it. As for why it hasn’t been made into a film yet, it may be that they’re banking on that slim chance. But my money’s on the fact that it was written in 2009, and in 2010, the French-adapted comedy Dinner For Schmucks bombed big time, pretty much putting the kibosh on any French comedy imports. The trend seems to have shifted towards the “lots of lesbian sex” import genre. So if they can bring someone in to change the characters into female nymphomaniacs, they may have something on their hands! Anderson’s newest film, The Grand Budapest Hotel, comes out next month. But if you’re jonzeing for some immediate Wes, check out the trailer for his new horror film!
Writer: Wes Anderson (based on the French Film written by Patrice Leconte)
Details: 95 pages, First Draft (Aug 3, 2009)

ralph_fiennesFiennes would be the perfect lead in this Anderson movie as well!

So I was going through my script pile last night and I came across this old forgotten Wes Anderson script. It occurred to me, as I picked it up (“digitally” picked it up mind you) that I’d never actually read a Wes Anderson script. Or if I had, I didn’t remember doing so. I found this reality to be problematic, since Anderson is such a force on the Indie film scene. But what could I possibly learn from some reject Wes Anderson script anyway? If it’s this forgotten, it couldn’t be any good, could it? Let’s find out!

Nicholas is an art dealer with zero honor. He is oblivious to the way he fucks people over, which is fine when you’re 25 and have time to mature and change your selfish ways. But Nicholas is 46, and a life of fucking people over has led to a lonely existence, an existence he hasn’t become aware of until recently.

Currently, Nicholas is buying up all the paintings in town from a particular artist, Moses Rosenthaler, who he has it on good authority is going to die soon. After he dies, Nicholas will host a showing of all the Rosenthalers and make a killing. Yup, like I said, this isn’t the kind of guy you want to bring home to your parents.

Nicholas is also a bit of a scammer (surprise surprise) and doesn’t have any money. This forces him to team up with a fellow art dealer, Lucinda, an older woman he doesn’t like but who has money. He lets her in on his Rosenthaler secret and she agrees to put up half the loot.

That night, Nicholas invites Lucinda to his birthday party. She comes and is amused to find that nobody’s actually shown up. She points out the obvious to Nicholas, that he has no friends, which he vehemently denies. They get in an argument, and Lucinda makes a bet that if he can prove he has a friend within a week, she’ll give him all the Rosenthalers for himself. If he loses, she gets all of them. He agrees.

Nicholas enlists taxi driver and aspiring artist, Zbigniew, to drive him around town to find one of these friends. In every way Nicholas is socially moronic, Zbigniew is a social superstar. He can charm an entire room with an anecdote or joke, whereas whenever Nicholas speaks, people get scared and run away. Upon seeing Zbigniew’s talents, Nicholas hires him to teach him “how to make friends.”

It’s a ridiculous request and Zbigniew tries to say no, but Nicholas is so darn insistent that Zbigniew has no choice. Nicholas looks for friends first on his payroll, from his lawyer to his psychiatrist, but comes back empty-handed. He even goes back to someone from 6th grade who he thought was his best friend, only to find out that he’s actually his mortal enemy (because Nicholas doesn’t even understand the basic definition of  the word “friend,” he doesn’t realize that terrorizing someone over the course of their childhood would actually make that person hate him).

Eventually, of course, Nicholas begins to realize that he’s enjoying his time with Zbigniew, and that he may be the friend he’s been looking for. Unfortunately, as soon as Nicholas realizes he can use Zbigniew to win the bet, he screws it all up, potentially losing everything in the process.

imageWes Anderson

One thing I’ve found with these French comedies is that they often operate under 1980s American Comedy rules, where the setup doesn’t have to be logical. You get silly stuff like Brewster’s Millions. That’s the biggest hurdle “My Best Friend” faces. Nicholas and Janice make this bet that he can’t find a friend, yet never define exactly what that means. Is a “friend” someone he hangs out with every Saturday night? Someone who calls him back within a day of his voice mail? The script never defines this, and it’s a huge problem.

The flimsy setup also begs questions like, why can’t Nicholas just pay some random dude 5 grand to pretend he’s his friend? And I hate that. I hate when the rules of the story aren’t defined, because then there’s too much wiggle room for the writer to bullshit. And that’s exactly what you saw here. Once Nicholas tells Lucinda that Zbigniew’s the friend, she starts rambling off all this stuff about how he has to prove it. (“Um, then he must steal something for you!”) Okay, so the final act is Zbigniew having to steal something to prove that Nicholas is his friend?? What???

There’s an old saying in screenwriting. If there are problems in the third act, it’s because of problems in your first act. This is the prototypical example of that. We have a weird misconceived “Zbigniew tries to steal a painting” climax because the rules of what “a friend” are are never stated. This forces the characters (and by extension the writer) to make those rules up in the last act, which feels lazy and results in a sloppy finale.

But here’s why I still liked this script. The characters were great. And I think Wes Anderson gets shortchanged on characters because everything takes a backseat to his unique production design and quirky sense of humor. But he’s so damn good at creating comedic characters. Nicholas, as this clueless asshole, never fails to amuse, because he’s so damn dull when it comes to understanding friendship. Zbigniew needs to teach him how to actually talk to people. Just talk! And Nicholas still figures out a way to screw it up.

What I found clever about this was that we have one of these potential script-killing problems in “My Best Friend” (the main character is a total asshole), yet Anderson brilliantly offsets it by pairing him up with the most likable person on the planet – Zbigniew. He’s kind, earnest, passionate, active. The guy loves art but he can’t create it for the life of him. Yet he still tries.  How could you not root for that guy?

And I think what this script does that a lot of good scripts do, is you’re so into the characters, you don’t really think about the plot. You’re just in the moment with these two people. Laughing and enjoying their company. So even though the plot here is flawed, it doesn’t matter as much because you just want to see these two guys “get together” at the end.

And you know, that’s kind of the genius of this story. It’s essentially a romantic comedy. It takes your typical rom-com premise (guy and girl team up to find a guy the love of his life, but the two end up falling in love with each other in the process!) and hides it within a bro-mance. Brilliant!

I don’t know if they can ever make this without Wes Anderson directing. It has his fingerprints all over it. Trying to get someone else to interpret it is going to send the film into “Community Season 4” territory (when creator Dan Harmon left) – a badly plagiarized imitation. The thing is, I believe this would be one of Wes Anderson’s best movies if he made it. It’s a little more mainstream than his typical fare, yet still has that unmistakable quirky bent his films are known for. If I were him, I’d consider it. It’s a really good script. (The script is out in the ether. People have it. So if you want to read it, ask around in the comments).

[ ] what the hell did I just read?
[ ] wasn’t for me
[xx] worth the read
[ ] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned: If you’re having trouble with your third act, go back to your first act and make sure you’ve clearly set up your protagonist’s goal, as well as the rules for achieving that goal. If you know that Indiana is going after the Ark, you probably know your climax is going to involve him and the Ark. But if you’re vague about it (i.e. Indiana is going after miscellaneous “treasure”) figuring out your final act is going to be a lot tougher. Here, we never defined the rules behind what “friendship” means, so the ending was sloppy in defining how the bet was won.

  • bruckey

    While I like the script how much credit can be given to Anderson ?

    With Dinner for Schmucks there were lots of differences between the original and the remake.

    The differences between this draft and the original french film is quite limited.

    Give me a funny french script and I can turn it into a funny english script after 2 days of editing and pasting !

  • Alex Palmer

    Off topic: Sundance film festival starts soon, and a scriptshadow favourite (The Voices) is one of the premièring films.

    I hope it hasn’t lost its teeth.

    • Logline_Villain

      I’m with you there, Alex. Great script…

      • garrett_h

        Loved the script as well. Hope they didn’t gut it.

    • Linkthis83

      Would somebody be willing to send me The Voices?

      linkthis83 at yahoo dot com

      Thank you.

      • Alex Palmer

        Sent.

        • Linkthis83

          A sincere thanks!!

        • Linkthis83

          Actually, Alex, I haven’t gotten it. Lol.

          • Alex Palmer

            Okay, now?

            If this doesn’t work, I’m retiring from all public life.

          • Linkthis83

            And it has arrived…..

            Thanks. No need to retire.

    • Matteo

      Great script but I’ve always had my doubts about how well it will translate as a film. Things like the disgusting apartment with decaying, headless corpses might read brilliantly, but it could be too much on screen. A black comedy can only go so far before it becomes a turn-off. American Psycho worked as a film, but they cut out 90% of the brutality. But sanitising The Voices would reduce its impact, so I hope they found a way to make it work as well it the script does.

  • Poe_Serling

    A French film [x] worth the price of admission… A French-inspired script [xx] worth the read…

    This is kind of how Carson’s French Week should’ve played out.

    • Logline_Villain

      Two of the very best films I’ve viewed in recent times have been French: “Amélie” (can’t believe I waited until two days ago to see this 2001 film for the first time) and “The Intouchables”… Vive la France!

      • John Bradley

        Hey, I think I have The Intouchables on my que, Im going to check it out soon.

        • garrett_h

          Saw Intouchables browsing Netflix last night. I ended up playing GTA 5 lol but definitely plan on checking it out this week. Maybe even tonight.

          • John Bradley

            It’s smart and character driven, definitely worth it in my opinion!

          • garrett_h

            You were right! Excellent film!

            Only thing is the subtitles. Some of the worst I’ve seen. But other than that I really enjoyed it!

          • John Bradley

            It’s really nice to see the French tackle some subject matter other than young women’s blossoming sexuality! Lol

      • Poe_Serling

        Just a few of my favorite French Films:

        >>The Wages of Fear (1953)
        >>Les Diaboliques (1955)
        >>Beauty and the Beast (1946)
        .
        .
        >>La Femme Nikita (1990)
        >>Eyes Without a Face (1960)

        • Logline_Villain

          Thoroughly enjoyed Nikita – will seek out others you have listed. Thanks, Poe…

        • Jim Dandy

          Cool, another French Film-O-Phile. Here are some more exceptional movies to add to your list:

          Children of Paradise (1945) – Directed by Marcel Carne. Along with Sunrise, the greatest romance of all time.

          Le Trou (The Hole) (1960) – Directed by Jacques Becker. A tense prison break movie. The suspense makes Hitchcock look like an amateur.

          A Man Escaped (1956) – Directed by Robert Bresson. The most minimalist, nail-biting movie of all time. Basically it’s one long exercise in suspense, even though you know how it ends.

          Forbidden Games (1952) – Directed by Rene Clement. One of the best anti-war movies, seen through the eyes of children.

          • Poe_Serling

            Thanks for the list… I’m familiar with most of the titles except for Le Trou, which I’ll definitely try to see in the near future.

        • davejc

          YEAH! WAGES OF FEAR!! It’s in my top ten of all time! That’s how you write suspense. I even owned one of the trucks. It didn’t need a remake.

          • Poe_Serling

            “I even owned one of the trucks.”

            That’s really cool. Was it prop from the film itself or just a similar model, etc…. more details… please. ;-)

          • davejc

            It was the Dodge, the smaller truck. But mine was the military version WWII vintage. The Dodge in the film was the civilian version (different grill is all). I had it for 10 yrs. It was my only vehicle in Montana. I finally sold it this year.

            Photos of it are here on my photography page:

            http://photo.net/photos/DaveCollopy

          • Poe_Serling

            Like I said, that’s REALLY cool. Thanks for filling in the blanks and sharing the photos.

          • klmn

            Muchos cool. I’ve seen a WWII Dodge with a little different bodywork but not exactly like that.

          • davejc

            Yeah. This was the last year they made this half ton model, 1941. It’s the biggest half ton I’ve ever scene, lol.

        • klmn

          Speaking of your favorite films, TCM showed Bad Day At Black Rock last night. Tracy’s jiujitsu beatdown of Earnest Borgnine was better than I remembered.

          • Poe_Serling

            Ernie Borgnine going through that screen door is such a great scene.

      • klmn

        OT.

        Poe, I thought of you when I saw this. Some guy put up a website to name his new baby. So far the leading first name is Cthulhu. That’s a terrible name to hang on a child, so of course I tried to vote for it, but there’s a jam up.

        http://www.namemydaughter.com/

        • wlubake

          LaQuisha got my vote.

        • Poe_Serling

          I might go with something like Desdemona… Mona for short.

      • John Bradley

        I just finished The Intouchables, really good flick. Unique/authentic character backstories, conflict. It had a buddy comedy/drama feel to it. Definitely up high on the list of best French Films I have seen.

        • Poe_Serling

          “Hey, I think I have The Intouchables on my que, Im going to check it out soon.”

          lol. Your ‘soon’ = right at this very moment. You’re the very definition of an active protagonist. ;-)

          • John Bradley

            I like to watch movies while I write, it’s a bit harder to watch foreign movies because of the subtitles. I’m glad I checked this one out though.

          • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

            I write the exact same way. Not “watching” movies in the traditional sense, but more playing them in the background, which is I’m pretty sure what you do as well. And also why it doesn’t work for foreign films.

            It’s also why I can quote so many of my favorite films. Because I’ve “seen” them like fifty times.

            I’ll pop a movie in, start writing on my computer with the movie in the background, and when I get to a point where I need to think about what’s next, I can turn to the TV and watch the movie and think.

            Some people write to music. I write to movies.

          • John Bradley

            It’s a really great way to do it. I like music too when I’m getting writer’s block. I’m watching The Two Jakes right now. I loved China Town, but have never seen this one.

          • drifting in space

            I write to music. TV/Movies are too difficult for my brain and I’ll just end up watching what is on.

            Music inspires me and I create playlists depending on what I’m writing.

  • Linkthis83

    OT: I know a lot of posters on SS believe in a lot of “rules” that they’ve heard about when it comes to writing scripts. I bring this up because on Go Into the Story they have started a 3 week series exploring these “rules” and the affect it’s having on aspiring screenwriters.

    One year ago this month, I started my own journey into screenwriting. I hadn’t been writing my whole life and truthfully the thought of sitting down and writing in any format seems exhausting. I had always thought that I could write a movie that people would want to see. As January 2013 began, I decided I wanted to see what I was capable of or if I was just full of shit. My attitude at the beginning was that I believe I can do this, but I was also aware that I truly didn’t know what I was getting into. Over the past 12 months my approach to writing as basically gone through 3 phases:

    1) Beginning 2013 = I’m new. I know I can do this but I know there is so much I don’t know. So I better find out what it is I don’t know.

    2) Middle of 2013 = Man, I can’t believe all these things I was unaware of. All the rules. I certainly don’t want to break any of these because I don’t want to come across as amateur. I want to write a good story but I must make sure I follow these rules. I know I’m allowed to break some of them, but I better stick to them as best I can. I’m here to impress.

    3) End of 2013/Now = Fuck the “rules!” Here’s the ultimate truth (in my opinion of course): Tell the story you want to tell HOWEVER you feel it needs to be told. The reason people say to stick to these rules is because they believe it increases your chances of your script staying in the game. I can’t prove or disprove that…..but neither can those who support this approach. What I ultimately believe is that good/great writing doesn’t go unnoticed. Good/great stories will shine through whatever “rules” you may have disregarded. Also, no script is EVER finished. Every draft can be made better somehow.

    You are allowed to have your own approach to the story world. True, some people think that writing certain concepts are more likely to get them noticed or their story sold. I get that people are playing the odds when it comes to the stories. The truth is, no two writers have had the exact same path to success. There isn’t a “to do” list in order to make it as a writer in Hollywood. If you feel your approach is the correct one, then embrace that and move forward with it. I also believe that when writers are telling other writers what they should and should not do, it comes from a positive place of support. We all want to see each other succeed (most of us anyway – there are the few who will pull some tricks every now and again).

    I’ve attained this style and approach because of listening, interacting and sometimes arguing. When it really made sense to me was about 40 hours in to listening to the Scriptnotes podcast. Those guys never mention the stuff I was hearing here or reading about in books. In fact, a lot of times they were advising the exact opposite. So I said to myself, who am I going to listen to; a room full of people who a basically in the same boat as me or the guys who have made it and are trying to help others make it. I really paid attention to what they WEREN’t saying.

    My mantra is this now: Find a concept you love and write your fucking heart out.

    You can say “yeah, but….” to everything we discuss on here on a daily basis. I’m guilty of it. I try not to do it from a place where I know more than you, but from a “hey, here’s another perspective.” That’s what I hope to be consistent with anyway.

    Simply enough: be aware of these so called “rules” but don’t put to much weight on them. Write the story you want to write the way you want to write it FIRST. Don’t be restricted. That’s not what creativity is about. If, after you’ve gotten your story out of you, you feel you need to rope in some of your creativity, then do that. But you should never FEAR your style and voice. Write it your way. Somebody may just love it — And also, it’s going to get changed anyway if you get noticed!!!!

    I also want to take this opportunity to say thanks to Carson for creating Scriptshadow. With all it’s awesomeness and imperfections, I feel it has put me in some sort of Hollywood express lane. I also thank all of you who continually post on here and offer helpful, supportive and sincere feedback. Hell, I even appreciate those who come in here with their audacity and arrogance. It challenges me to see where I stand on certain aspects of this craft and it is helping me to figure out what type of writer I’m going to be (or wanting to be).

    I’ve made some real great contacts on here with other writers and I appreciate the hell out of them as well. I know this to be true, writers need other writers to be successful. Just because one of us gets some traction now, doesn’t mean that two years from now we will be thriving. We might just be reaching out to these other writers asking to crash on their couch for a couple nights. Haha.

    I’m certain I will think of other things I wish I would’ve said or highlighted and will probably edit them in later.

    Anyway, thanks for a place to post these thoughts!! Oh and the original reason I wanted to post anyway:

    http://gointothestory.blcklst.com/2014/01/so-called-screenwriting-rules-part-1.html

    -Sorry for the epic and keep up the good work!!

    • John Bradley

      That was fun to read Link!

      • Linkthis83

        Thanks, man.

        -Write without fear and unapologetically!!

    • Alex Palmer

      Nice post. As an even newer aspiring screenwriter, I can definitely sympathise.

      In my opinion, writer’s relationship with “rules” is a frustrating oxymoron. For us, the finish-line is writing something THAT WORKS. A script that grabs the reader from page 1 and plays their heartstrings like a ukulele. So called rules are a way of helping you get there. Actually, they aren’t even that: rules are approaches proven to be viable by dissecting past successes.

      And because I haven’t written something that “works”, rules are always tempting. But I think I’m at the stage where I read screenwriting book/articles/whatever to contrast and evaluate the advice rather than accept it as scripture.

      Anyway, that’s my take. I’m the neurotic sort that can’t help but examine. Good luck with your projects, dude

      • Linkthis83

        I agree. I guess maybe I should’ve clarified that I’m assuming that anyone who reads has the basic, accepted understanding of scripts/stories.

        I definitely think there are times where the “rules” will actually help a writer. I mostly just wanted to put it out there for the discussion that may ensue and to make others aware of the Go Into The Story feature. I know I will be reading it.

        What was also interesting is that there is a link in there where he posted Twitter replies from screenwriters regarding rules as well. But even I would be quick to say “but you’ve made it. You can break the rules.” And then I’d have to recognize that, we can break them too.

    • drifting in space

      Don’t steal my thunder with your insightful posts. ;)

      I give this my stamp of approval.

      • Linkthis83

        I know, I know. You’re the only one allowed to write with a heart full of passion. My apologies for intruding on your territory.

        • drifting in space

          I think of rules more like guidelines. A lot of successful movies use them, a lot don’t. A lot of terrible movies use them, a lot don’t…

          In the end, as you said:

          Write, you fuckin’ writers. It’s your story!

          I also appreciate the contacts I’ve made here that I communicate with on a semi-regular basis, though I am biased because you’re one of them. :)

          • Linkthis83

            Look at you you one-upping, heartfelt bastard. That was very sneaky, sir. And I concur.

            I also agree with “guidelines”

          • drifting in space

            Just echoing what you said. I am on a huge friendly high after seeing Frozen last night. LOL

    • martin_basrawy

      brilliant post.

      • Linkthis83

        Thanks, martin

    • Montana Gillis

      William Goldman summed this up with “Nobody knows anything”. However, if you want to make money “teaching” Screenwriting, then you better come up with some “ways to do it” and the more in detail you go with “rules” and “best practices” and “scientific methods” and “look at this, that’s the way Paddy Chayefsky did it”… You will make a living. On the other hand, if aspiring script writers don’t study how Paddy and the other greats did it as well as read, understand and try out ALL the advice/teaching/rules and read the books and blogs —- well then,,,, that writer is going to create some great ART only they and their mother will appreciate.

      • Linkthis83

        I should’ve made it clearer in my post that I feel that since we are here, on SS, that we’ve already accepted certain aspects of the craft.

        I don’t want writers to be dismissive of the fact that these “rules” exist, I just don’t want them to be afraid of them either and I don’t think they should feel like they are required to stick to them.

        There’s a lot of false info out there. There are so many perspectives regarding script do’s and don’ts. Also, the whole point was to share the GITS series and to share my experience thus far. Who knows, in another six months I might be screaming “I was wrong!!! God help me, I was so wrong!!”

        • Montana Gillis

          I’ve accepted the aspects and am reporting to submit. Thank you sir, may i have another. (Damn, this is just like my day job.)

    • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

      Testify, sir! Great post.

      “be aware of these so called “rules” but don’t put too much weight on
      them. Write the story you want to write the way you want to write it
      FIRST. Don’t be restricted. That’s not what creativity is about”

      Damn straight.

      I firmly believe every writer should be aware of these “rules” (or a more apt word, as McKee would use, “principles”), understand how they work, how they function and interact to create a structured, layered story. Even better if that structured, layered story provides catharsis for the viewer. It is exactly this simple: if you can engage a viewer (/reader) on an emotional level, if you can tap into resonant truths, if you can MOVE your audience, you have won and it does not matter one bit how you managed to do that. Two very recent examples, two of the absolute best films I saw in 2013 did exactly that: “Her” and “Inside Llewyn Davis.” Neither of which Carson loved, one of which he didn’t like at all. They moved me so greatly, resonated so perfectly, I did not care to think about any of these “principles” and whether they followed them. For the record, while I didn’t think any film could top 12 Years a Slave for me (for 2013), Inside Llewyn Davis did exactly that and is simply one of the greatest films I’ve ever seen. “Her” stands strong at #3 of the year.

      It’s as simple as this: the ends justify the means. If you can write a sci-fi film that sounds silly in concept but resonates with basically anyone who has ever been in a relationship, it doesn’t matter how you do it. You have moved your audience, you have provided them with the greatest thing art can give us in my opinion: catharsis. But a film need not be cathartic to be successful. Make ‘em laugh. Make them thrilled. Make them scared. Doesn’t matter. You accomplish anything like that, you’ve won.

      And not a single person in the audience will care if it followed the instructions of some book.

      • Linkthis83

        Thank you, Matty. You’ve been a great help to me on this journey and I appreciate that.

        Also……damn I wish I could communicate like you do sometimes!!

        • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

          I said it before, and I’ll say it again: I was shocked when I learned you’d started doing this about a year ago. Not only from your posts on here, but through our email and phone communications, I assumed you’d been writing for years. There’s the curve, and then there’s you, ahead of it.

          As for that last part… trust me, no you do not. ;-)

          • Linkthis83

            Thank you for that compliment, Matt. Means a lot to me. I almost had my “single tear rolls down his face” moment (which I always advise against in any script I read — this is a “rule” I enforce).

            I hope whatever it is that is in me translates to the page and then to the reader/viewer. That’ll be a hard day if it doesn’t.

          • http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1888937/ Rick McGovern

            You haven’t been chiming in on the emails… where the hell you been at, dude??? lol

          • http://atticofthefilmaddict.blogspot.com/ Matty

            Yeah, sorry about that. Just been super busy writing for this contest, 20 to 30 pages a week. Will be participating more soon, though!

          • Faulty Parts

            Youve just given me hope.
            Writing 20-30 pages a week is possible.

    • ripleyy

      If it sets the mood, then go ahead and use songs and “cut tos” and what have you. Seriously. I don’t like these people who say you can’t do this because they are staunchly traditional.

    • andyjaxfl

      I think a good example of “Fuck the Rules” is Quentin Tarantino’s early scripts. Look at the early drafts for Reservoir Dogs, Natural Born Killers, and True Romance. They were written by a guy with an understanding of story and character without too much concern about structure — and he was exactly where all of us are right now when he wrote them.

      QT’s scripts stuck out because they were fucking incredible (I am not a fan of NBK the movie, but QT’s draft that was heavily rewritten by Oliver Stone is pretty outstanding — I will try to find a link online after posting). They are loaded with spelling and grammar errors, often in the first ten pages, but that didn’t stop anyone from turning the next page because the reader was hooked on his story.

      You mentioned “No Fear” and having a voice in your writing and I completely agree. Once again, the scripts that got QT on the map and put him a position to get Harvey Keitel to sign onto his micro-budgeted movie Reservoir Dogs were fearless. Think of the horrific violence and the frequent and creative use of F-bombs in each of those scripts. I think the only writer of late (that I’ve read at least) who depicts such horrific acts of violence is S. Craig Zahler, who like QT writes scripts that go against the screenwriting rules.

      Anyways, just my two cents. Great post!

      • wlubake

        “and he was exactly where all of us are right now when he wrote them.”
        Unfortunately QT was born way ahead of where most of us are right now. Some minds just think in film. Mine does to a degree, but it is replaying film. I can’t go a moment without relating what’s happening in life to something I’ve seen on TV or in movies. QT seems to view life through the lens of its potential for original stories. Sure he is heavily influenced, but I think he is constantly creating. He seems like he can’t keep up with his own imagination. That’s a gift that few people have.

        • andyjaxfl

          Excellent point. He has the natural talent, but he was still amateur struggling to break into the business at one time, and he did it by going against the grain of what was being produced at the time.

          But to your larger point, the guy is simply gifted. Here’s hoping he keeps making movies and forgets about those retirement threats he made a few years back…

        • drifting in space

          That’s kind of how I see my approach to writing. I have finished like 10-12 outlines and not one draft in the last month/month and a half.

          Maybe it’s my brain avoiding writing, not sure. But it’s constantly churning out ideas. Sometimes I try to avoid watching movies because I don’t want what I’ve already seen to pop into what I’m writing.

          I saw this happen a lot with the Blacklist scripts. Basic copy and paste for some. It was alarming.

          Or… Maybe it’s the drugs.

          • Faulty Parts

            At least when you’re watching movies, you’ve seen what others have done so you can try to avoid it or repeat in your work.

            Sometimes you write something close to whats been done before without even realizing it, not even in an attempt to copy it. When you watch enough movies, you’d know to stop yourself right there and say, “nah, this is too banal, it’s been done in x and y movie”.
            When you keep watching movies, at least you already know what’s out there, if you’re not looking to copy anything, watching movies will help more than hurt

        • Linkthis83

          I’ve read Stephen King’s “On Writing” and that man had so many rejection letters nailed to his wall he had to get a bigger, stronger device to hold them.

          It’s all perspective and willingness to be you and put your stuff out there.

    • davejc

      Well said, Mike!!

      I always thought of the rules as tools. They are invaluable, but only useful if something is broken.

      If something is wrong on the page then check your tool belt.

      If everything is good, then put away your tools and keep writing, you don’t need them.

      • Linkthis83

        Thank you, Dave. I like the tool belt analogy.

    • Awescillot

      I have no idea where posts like these come from, but I’m sure glad you (and some other regulars here) take the time and effort to post some of the insightful and personal things I’ve read here.

      This is what I love about SS. Not just the content of Carson’s articles, but also how extremely involved the community is. I find it amazing how committed people here are when they give feedback, tips or anything that could help someone forward. My goal is to finish a script and submit it for AF. Actually putting it out there. I’d probably be nervous as hell to the prospect of my script getting shred to pieces, but at least I know the feedback would be invaluable and actually help me forward.

      To end with a stupid question: you say you’ve started a year ago. I’m curious how long you took to finish your first one?

      • Linkthis83

        Honestly, I have no idea where this post came from. It was purely unintentional. I obviously had some pent up frustration regarding the way some amateur scripts can be treated around here and I also wanted to hopefully boost some confidences as well. All I originally meant to do was share the link to the GITS series and comment a little. Then the rest just poured out of me.

        Had I written this post and gotten 17 down votes and a barrage of negative comments, and you still wrote this one, then this post would’ve been worth it. The same things you love about SS are what I love as well. It’s what has kept me hanging around for an entire year. If I do find success in this venture, SS will have played a big role in that.

        If your script finds itself in the AOW (and on to AF), no matter what the comments are, if you believe in your story then I’d advise you to stand your ground. Definitely be open to the feedback but don’t think that because you are outnumbered that everyone is correct. Also, and this may be harder than I realize, if the majority of the feedback is negative, it doesn’t mean you are awful or that your story is worthless. Most of the feedback is coming from a place they think will improve your script.

        I think things are always about perspective. If you’ve got a group of people ripping your script to shreds = that’s a great problem to have. You’ve got eyes on something you’ve penned and it’s going to be your opportunity to grow as a writer. You may take a flogging, but don’t let them beat you down. Take it all in and let it come out in your next draft or your next project.

        One caveat I do always like to throw in = I could always be wrong. I haven’t lived the full experience yet so I can’t state any of the above is a fact. It’s just what I believe and my approach to all this. Hopefully it’s helpful in some way.

        Thank you for your honest and thoughtful reply. It’s nice sometimes to read posts that are sans ego. I can’t manage to write those much, but it sure is nice reading them ;)

        To answer your question: My first one is still incomplete. I’m co-writing with someone who lives in California while I reside in Kentucky. It has been challenging. The other thing is, I didn’t really want to try writing my first one until I felt I had a good sense of what are in scripts and what it’s like to try and tell a story in that format. Plus, I feel we’ve picked a really challenging first story to write (which is probably foolish), but hopefully the knowledge gained from this will carry over into the next project.

        There are all kinds of philosophies when it comes to writing. Everyone has a fairly unique approach. I feel comfortable and confident now and the first draft of this first one will hopefully be done in a couple months. That is the goal. I personally need to see our story in the script format so I can then properly break it down.

        Sorry for the long winded reply. Your comment inspired it :)

        Good luck to you. If there’s anyway I might be able to help. Just let me know.

        • Awescillot

          I like how you put it, that your knowledge gained from one project might carry over into future projects. I’m certain of it that it does.

          At first I used to be a bit frustrated with myself, because I couldn’t seem to pen down an entire script (still haven’t lol). But after a while I realized that it’s just part of the process. That getting stuck is actually an amazing thing, because you’re forced to think of creative solutions, or assess the entire project in a way you wouldn’t have dared (because it’s your ‘precious’). Besides learning from those personal experiences, experiences from other people can only help you.

          Right now, it’s more about the journey for me than about the end result. Keeping busy, implementing things I learn, and improving in general. If you get everything right the first time, you’re probably not prepared to face unexpected difficulties in the future.

          As to what you said about lending a helping hand, I’d like to take you up on it. If you’d be willing to read something of mine and give an opinion on it, that would be amazing. Up until now the only thing I ‘finished’ was a 15 page submission for the Writer’s Store contest. I didn’t get through, but someone here on SS was nice enough to break it down for me, provide feedback, and that alone helped me a lot to see certain things more clearly. Right now I’m working on something I haven’t exactly figured out yet, still some major gaps in the outline, but I’m constantly writing and shaping the story.

          It’s great to hear you’re busy working on your first project. If you and your writing partner feel like the time is right and you’re willing to share it, I’d love to read it. In the meantime, good luck on finishing it!

          • Linkthis83

            Well, I definitely think you have a great disposition towards this stuff. That’s one of the first steps I think. LOL!

            I think I’m in the camp of “you can’t start writing something unless you know the ending.” There are probably plenty of people who don’t write this way, but for me, I want to know where it is I’m trying to get to.

            The ones you haven’t finished, did you know the ending when you started?

            I’m am one of those people that believe I can help others with their script/story. By no means am I an expert and if I were to give you any feedback please make sure that you don’t interpret it to be 100% correct. Most of my feedback comes from what I would want to see from your story.

            With that being said, I’m currently about 2 scripts behind on giving notes (even though they are free, I still like to get to them as quickly as possible). If you are willing to be patient then I would say that I would definitely have a look.

            If you want to send me something right away that’s fine, just know that I probably won’t get to it for a couple of weeks. If you want to keep working on what your writing and then send it at a later time, that’s cool too.

            My email is: linkthis83 at yahoo dot com

            I very much appreciate the offer to read. I hope to have something to share within the next couple of months. And I will come looking for you ;)

          • Awescillot

            My early efforts were more or less scenes I’d come up with and sounded like something I wanted to see in a movie/story, all under one (vague) theme. That’s about the worst start you can have lol. The ending wasn’t something that I had really layed out.

            Right now, it started out as concept-based. I have a pretty good view on what I want to story to be about, who the characters are and what they want, where the conflict arises, etc. I have an idea of how I want it to end, but a lot of HOW-questions still left in the middle.

            Anyway, I’ll contact you by mail! Appreciate you taking the time to go through it. When you consider storylines and all that for some time, you kinda sense you’re developing tunnelvision. Feedback is personal, but it can be a relief to have someone read it who can think outside of that ‘box’.

            I’ll be sending you something, but you can take your time in replying. In the meanwhile I’ll be on my mailbox 24/7 like white on rice, waiting for ‘Untitled Linkthis83 Project’ to pop up (lol)!

          • Linkthis83

            Don’t undersell your start. Maybe you didn’t have one giant, overall ending in mind, but scenes have to start and end as well. those scenes are just a smaller version of the entire script.

            I can guarantee you at least 45 days before you’d see that subject line!!!! Haha. Doesn’t mean you won’t get other mail, just not that one.

    • Stephjones

      Want to chime in on the gratitude for a place to post our thoughts and frustrations about screenwriting. It’s early a.m. for me and I just got my ass handed to me by a blacklist reader. I’m mulling over if I’ll ever figure out how to check the right boxes for the readers/ gatekeepers with the stories I like to tell. This is my 4th year of screenwriting. I ask myself whether I have 4 years of experience or 1 year experience 4x’s?
      All of my free time is spent on a laptop. I used to do half ironman triathlons. I’ve got a gut now. My husband, the least judgmental of men, is asking me when I’m going to start riding my bike again…I don’t know. I can’t do both. I’ve come late to screenwriting. I’m old. I don’t have the energy to write and train for anything physical. It’s one or the other, since my job is physical and sucks up the rest of me.
      Linkthis83 got it right when he said writers need other writers. I tell my non-writer friends my woes and they tell me to take a short break from writing. I get up early to go for a run and my laptop winks at me and tells me to have a good time..a master at electronic manipulation.
      So, appreciate the opportunity to vent to some folks who will get it. Someone please tell me to stop whining and just get on with it.

      • Linkthis83

        Hey Steph. I’m not sure how long you’ve been in the SS community so I apologize if you’ve already seen/read this:

        http://scriptshadow.net/one-of-my-favorite-scriptshadow-comments-of-the-year/#comments

        Otherwise, hopefully this will inspire. It’s courtesy of Drifting In Space

        • Stephjones

          Thanks, Linkthis83. I did read it. Hanging tough.

          • Linkthis83

            Just don’t let go, sister!! Four years is a testament to you. I’m not sure how’d I’d handle that. I know you’d rather be known for your writing rather than your resiliency, but I still give you props for “hanging tough.”

      • John Bradley

        Hey Steph, you are on my top-5 list of Amateur screenwriters I have read. You do a great job of creating corky-original characters. So stop whining and get on with it! Not everyone will get your voice or stories, you just need one influential person to!

        • Stephjones

          Thanks John. Very kind.

    • Citizen M

      Reading Scott’s take on the ‘rules’ you linked to, I think he’s being naughty. He is not telling us at what stage of development those scripts were written.

      If spec writers follow the two very detailed examples given, Zombieland and The African Queen, I fear they will waste a large portion of their lives in needless typing. I’m almost certain those scripts are the shooting scripts, rewritten after the spec sale, and done in consultation with the director; or else they were done on commission and the writer was given a property or concept and instructed to turn in a shooting script.

      Don’t write more than you need to to sell the script.

      • Linkthis83

        Perhaps he is being naughty. I really thought it might be valuable to those who are struggling to heed the “rules” and who also are passing them on to others. — I did for a little bit.

        Plus, any discussion on this subject I think is a good one. Even if the person providing the platform hasn’t quite nailed the reference points.

  • garrett_h

    Haven’t read this one, so I can’t comment on that. However, I will comment on Dinner for Schmucks…

    First of, the French film is 10x better. Scratch that, 100x better. I actually saw that one first (it came out years ago), and it’s simply a brilliant comedy. Two of the best leads you’ll ever find in any comedy. They almost sound like the two leads in this. One really really unlikable guy who “has it all” but you kind of feel sorry for, and one sweet adorable lovable guy who doesn’t have anything but doesn’t care and you can’t help but root for him. If you haven’t seen it, check it out.

    As for the remake, it really wasn’t that bad. It had some hilarious moments (like when Zach G has on that ridiculous turtleneck bib thingy) but it “bombed” for a couple of reasons. First was it’s bloated budget. I mean it made $86 million according to Google. But it cost $69. What? Really? For a comedy?

    If they just followed the formula for the original, which is almost like a contained thriller, it would have easily came in under $30 mill. There’s really only one location. All you’d have to do is pay the actors salaries. There’s only a handful of characters, not all these different random people. And IIRC, they never even make it to the dinner. In the remake, the dinner was the main marketing draw, not the characters, and the movie (and box office result) was worse for it IMO.

    Just another case of us Yankees ruining a perfectly good film.

    • bluedenham

      I haven’t seen either version, but the marketing for the American version made it seem a very mean-spirited movie. French comedies tend to be pretty light-hearted.

      • garrett_h

        It really did, and I think some people stayed away because of that. I know I did. I didn’t see it until it hit cable. The original was the polar opposite.

  • John Bradley

    Haha the “lots oF lesbian sex genre”! That made my day!

    • wlubake

      I have friends that watch a lot of the “lots of lesbian sex genre”. What they watch is all on the internet, though…

      • Linkthis83

        “Friends”

        • wlubake

          Busted.

          • Linkthis83

            I’m certain they’re just like my “friends”

  • shewrites

    And I think what this script does that a lot of good scripts do, is you’re so into the characters, (…) So even though the plot here is flawed, it doesn’t matter as much because you just want to see these two guys “get together” at the end.
    It’s such a great point. I saw the French version. It has the same plots issues you mention, Carson, but until you did, I never noticed them because I was so invested in the characters.
    I agree with Brukey. Anderson’s script feels like the exact same version as the French one. So even if the characters are not specifically his creation, at least he didn’t butcher them like the writers of Dinner for Schumcks did.
    I actually would love to see this made if it stays true to Anderson’s script.
    By the way,does anyone have it? If so, I would love to read it. Thank you.
    O.Hodge@outlook.com

  • TruckDweller

    I’m not really a comedy writer, but every year or so, I pick up a well worn printout of The Royal Tenenbaums and remind myself how effortlessly Anderson blends everything. There’s so many little details and payoffs. It’s really worth reading.

  • wlubake

    What a picture of Anderson. He looks like if he wasn’t making movies, he’d be busy luring children into his van.

    • klmn

      No reason he can’t do both. Hell, he could even combine them and film children in the back of his van.

      • Guest

        LOL
        Oh my God

  • Guest

    Isn’t Wes Anderson famous for “kooky, off the trails” projects… IMDB’s full of his “works”.

  • gazrow

    Not sure how close this is to the original. Nevertheless, some top notch writing on display here and an enjoyable read all the same.

  • Jim Jones Juice

    Sounds an episode of the Love Boat… it’s not the fact that the rules of the story of not defined it’s that weak writers do not let the rules of reality get in the way of a good telling. This is typical fairytale stuff… and we’re supposed to walk out of the theater feeling good about humanity or something. It’s the difference between making a film in an awkward socialist Utopia (France) as opposed to a Capitalist nightmare (US.) I tend to think stories set in a capitalistic, animalistic mindset (US) tell us much more about the human condition that needless, fluff-rubbish.

  • carsonreeves1

    A real real friend picks you up at the airport.

    • klmn

      A real real real friend forges new identity papers for you and drops you off at the airport.

      Your turn.

    • wlubake

      A friend reads your script. A real friend tells you it sucks.

    • JakeMLB

      Especially if it’s LAX…

  • Linkthis83

    I think these are all things to be remembered when writing. My usage of the term “rules” was pertaining to most of the “Rules for Amateurs” that I’ve heard/read about over the course of the last year. I felt
    I understood their intent but I also felt like they were counterintuitive to
    what I was trying do…to what WE are trying to do.

    Especially with the biggest, most common piece of advice was to always read professional scripts. In every one of those I read were all the things I had heard that I shouldn’t do. When that conundrum presented
    itself, I explored it. I firmly believe that if I practice writing like a pro that will help me to eventually write as a pro. If I practice like an amateur I
    suspect I will play like one.

    I do agree with some of the things you brought up regarding drama. I think it’s very important to ask questions of your story as you write it. Lots of questions. And also to not forget that when your characters make choices or events happen, there are story consequences for those. You must have accountability to your set ups.

  • ximan

    The Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intruders, FTW!

  • Linkthis83

    I edited my post. I put stuff in there.

  • Linkthis83

    I know. I’m absurd. It’s a character flaw. Sorry to disappoint you once you found out what I was talking about. I appreciate that you created an account just to ask me though.

  • carsonreeves1

    Okay, I’m ending this argument. It’s silly.

  • MaliboJackk

    Hey Dave
    Don’t know what your background is but you might find it interesting when –
    William Goldman says “There are no rules.”
    Or when –
    Scott Frank says he doesn’t know what the rules are anymore.
    Or when –
    Tony Gilmore talks about screenwriting.

  • Stephjones

    Hey, Will. Great advice! Thanks for taking the time to share your knowledge and to encourage me, means a helluva lot.

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