Genre: Comedy
Premise: After America’s favorite astronaut nearly loses his life in an accident, the government decides to rebuild him into a bionic man. The problem? Money for the project is tight.
About: Jonathan M. Goldstein and John Francis Daley are one of the hottest comedy writing teams in Hollywood. They wrote Horrible Bosses, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, and recently won the plum assignment of rewriting National Lampoon’s Vacation. This is the script that got them noticed. It landed on the 2007 Black List, and although it never got made, it started their careers.
Writers: Jonathan Goldstein and John Dale
Details: 100 pages (undated)

0806_will-ferrell_400x4001Calling Will Ferrell?

Aspiring screenwriters all live with the same dream of writing a screenplay, getting it into the right hands, said hands loving it, and a studio sending them a check for six figures. While those moments always get the most press because of how rare they are, the more well-known path is for a writer to write something that shows promise, then use that to build credit in the industry, which they’ll then cash in on later with another spec.

Cause what happens when you’re a “nobody” writer and you write something good is that everyone in town is afraid to buy it. They don’t want to be the “dummy” who just spent a boatload of money on an unknown. Tinseltown people are horrified of being the laughing stock. But what that first script does give the writer is “street cred” so that, now, when they write another script, people aren’t as afraid to pull the trigger because the writer is no longer “unknown.”

That’s the kind of script we’re dealing with today. It proves to the industry that you’re close. How do you write one of these scripts? One of two ways. Come up with a great idea and execute it adequately. Or come up with a so-so idea and execute it exceptionally. The former is the waaaaaay easier route to go, and that’s squarely where $40,000 Man lies. This is a really clever concept. It takes a known property (the 6 million dollar man) and flips it on its head with a funny question (What if they had to make the bionic man on a budget?). Let’s see how the script fares.

It’s 1973. Buzz Taggart is America’s favorite astronaut – a star amongst the stars. His only crime is that he’s a few craters short of a full moon. And one day when some annoying teenagers challenge him to a drag race, his idiocy gets the best of him. He crashes badly and the government tells him that the only way they can save him is if they put him back together with bionic parts.

Buzz is happy to be alive, don’t get him wrong, but he’s less than thrilled when he finds out this “program” he agreed to is on a super tight budget – as in only 40,000 dollars. This has left his new supposedly awesome bionic powers somewhat… lacking. For example, his bionic arm just randomly punches people. His bionic legs (which only run 1 mile an hour faster than the average human) can’t stop once they start going. Oh, and his bionic nose can only smell one thing – shit.

Buzz is placed on his first mission right away, but as you’d expect, it goes horribly. So the government SCRAPS the project due to money, leaving poor Buzz living life as a rapidly deteriorating heap of scrap-metal. To make matters worse, he finds out that the government was lying to him! Buzz was a guinea pig. A pre-cursor to a newer better bionic man worth SIX MILLION DOLLARS!

One year later, depressed and washed up, Buzz gets a call. The six-million dollar man is missing! And they need Buzz to save him. Buzz demands that they upgrade him first, so they tack on 10,000 dollars worth of new parts which… don’t really do anything. Buzz then heads to an island run by terrorists to save his replacement and become a hero once more. In order to do so he’ll have to overcome a body that may be the worst government project in the history of the United States.

The $40,000 Man is pretty much the perfect career-starting script. That’s because while it may not be great, it shows a lot of potential. The first way it does this is by nailing a good concept. This is a seriously over-ignored aspect of screenwriting. No matter how many times I talk about the importance of it on the site, 80-90% of the scripts submitted to me are dead in the water before I read a word.

Either the idea’s devoid of conflict, isn’t exciting enough, lacks irony, or isn’t big enough. A lot of writers delude themselves into thinking that they can turn mundane topics into gold with their execution. And sometimes you can (staying within the comedy genre, “The Heat” comes to mind). But go look at the top 50 grossing movies every year over the last 10 years and you’ll rarely find small ideas. Almost all of them feel “larger-than-life.” And that’s a good way to look at concept. Think big.

In addition to a big idea, irony is a great way to set your concept apart from others. Since $40,000 Man is based on an ironic premise, it immediately shows the industry that the writers know what they’re doing.

Once you come up with a good concept, you must execute it adequately. And that mainly means structuring your story well. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Again, you’re just trying to show that you have potential. But you must show that you can sustain a story for 110 pages. One of the easiest ways to spot a new writer is a script that loses momentum around the page 40 mark. This is where most beginners fall because they don’t yet know how to structure their screenplay so that the story lasts.

For example, in $40,000 Man, Buzz gets fired and abandoned at the mid-point of the story. This was an unexpected twist that gave the story new life. Soon after, he’s re-recruited, ironically, to save the 6 Million Dollar Man, and the story builds from there until the climax. The writer who’s not yet ready writes a few “fun” scenes once Buzz gets his bionic powers and then isn’t sure where to go next. To him, the “fun” scenes were his whole idea so he hasn’t really considered what to do once they’re over (hint: it starts with adding a goal!)

Just a warning. Readers only give you leniency with your execution IF YOU HAVE A GOOD CONCEPT. If you already botched the concept, so-so execution will be the nail in the coffin. For writers who argue that their script was attacked for lazy structure/execution while [recent spec sale] had lazy structure too and still sold – chances are it’s because their concept was a lot flashier than yours and therefore received a longer leash from the reader.

Remember, any idiot in Hollywood can spot a great script because there are only 2-3 of them a year. With everything else, agents and producers have to spot potential. Potential in a script that’s not yet there or in a writer who’s not yet there. If you can give them a great concept and an adequate execution, you’ll have a shot at getting noticed. These scripts are “table-setters.” They’re not amazing, but they set the table for you to start selling screenplays.

By the way, this one shouldn’t be hard to find. It’s a 2007 script that has been traded forever. So ask around and you’ll likely receive.

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

What I learned: Set up late-arriving characters earlier if you can. A common beginner mistake is to throw new characters into the story late. Because the characters have little time to make an impression, the reader never truly connects with them, so they, along with whatever storylines come with them, fall flat. This happened with the Six-Million Dollar Man (Steve), who comes into the story around page 70. I barely knew this guy so I didn’t care if Buzz saved him or not. You should try to set up every important character as early as the story will allow you to. So here, why not make Steve someone Buzz worked with at NASA? Maybe Steve worked in a lowly position and Buzz was a dick to him. I don’t know. But just by creating a history between these two, the Six Million Dollar Man becomes way more relevant as he takes center stage in the 3rd act.

  • leitskev

    Very interesting concept! Yeah, I like it.

    Carson makes a good point about the late arriving Steve. However, the idea is that we already know Steve! Steve Austin of course. It would kind of ruin it to meet him early.

    The only problem is that this comes so long after the original TV show that maybe most people under 50 won’t know who Steve Austin is. Unless they watched in Nick at Night. Not sure how many would have. That’s the big problem. This film would have been great if it was made in the 80s or maybe the 90s. Not enough younger people will have any idea who Steve is now.

    • hickeyyy

      Nowadays when I think of Steve Austin, I think of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin instead. I think you might be right about the lack of connection to the original.

      • leitskev

        Lol. right, exactly. This concept came 20 years too late.

        • Linkthis83

          I’d like to read the script first before commenting, but if it does a good enough job setting up Steve before we actually meet him in the script, it should work. Whether people remember him or not, it’s important the story gives us enough info leading up to his story arrival.

          • leitskev

            Actually that’s a really good point. And the thing is, we don’t need to MEET Steve early, but there should be a reference to his existence. Probably there are, I don’t know, have not read.

      • Eric

        It’s a comedy, right? I think making it “Stone Cold” Steve Austin could actually work.

        • Jonathan Soens

          Casting Stone Cold Steve Austin as Steve Austin would allow them to essentially have it both ways.

  • Linkthis83

    Would someone be willing to share? Thank you — linkthis83 at yahoo dot com

  • hickeyyy

    OT: Check out this article. A little bit scary but definitely interesting.

    • leitskev


    • walker

      Man, that’s sobering. Of course I probably shouldn’t be drunk at this hour anyway.

    • Poe_Serling

      Hey hickeyyy-

      Just curious… Are you doing any last-minute rewrites on your Western project Oakwood before Carson reviews it on Friday?

      • hickeyyy

        Actually, yeah I am. I took most of the notes I agreed with from AOW and have applied them. Not quite done – I’m working on a rewrite of the poker scene now. Unfortunately, work also takes precedence.

        • Poe_Serling

          Perhaps, after you submit the new version to Carson, you can post the script here and give us an opportunity to read it before it makes its debut on Friday.

          • hickeyyy

            That’s a great idea! I’ll have it done sometime tonight, so I can post it as an off-topic comment tomorrow.

          • andyjaxfl

            I was going to finish the AOW draft but now I’m with Poe and would like to check out an updated draft for Friday.

          • hickeyyy

            Now the pressure is REALLY on! I’m finishing up tonight and sending to Carson. I’ll post it tomorrow morning!

    • Magga

      What baffles me is why he doesn’t write a completely autobiographical script or, if there is a reason, why no one would buy it. It’s pure Oscar bait too, touching on the economy, on the movie industry, and there’s dramatic irony in a homeless man constantly socializing with Hollywood players. I could see the movie as I read it, but instead he’s writing Halloween 3D and the like.

      • hickeyyy

        Maybe it requires a no-name to come in and fictionalize it?

        This could be right up your alley!

        • Magga

          Honestly, if this was about anyone other than a screenwriter, that sounds like an idea, but he needs to write this himself. And obviously life isn’t all about awards, but an autobiography? The guy practically has the statue already if he just writes it. Hollywood gets to be self-deprecating, it touches on the troubled economy, you have all those genre movies to use for visual interest, and that party where the lead has to go through an entire night of celebrity schmoozing without breaking down, only to do so as he leaves? What actor wouldn’t want to play that scene? And the details of where to place the car and turning the car into a home you take some pride in, and the constant search for things we take for granted like toilet facilities… The guy knows the details, knows the city, knows the industry, knows the secrets he points to about how projection of success is done. He must write this.

      • Citizen M

        Of course, he’ll win an Oscar in the finale, and make a tear-jerking speech.

        “I’d like to thank everyone who made this possible… my Prius, the Walmart parking lot, the gym where I showered, the friends I couch-surfed with, and most of all… Noddy!” and show off the nodding-head dash ornament he used to talk to in his lowest hours.

    • Stephjones

      Oh, Good grief. The dude could afford a therapist and a gym membership and somehow, a Prius. So what if he was living in a car? What the fuck else do you need besides shelter? He had relatively easy access to everything else. I can’t stand the whole woe is me thing when it comes down to stupid choices. Sell the fucking Prius and buy an old pickup truck with a camper. Put in a port a potty. Park it at walmart, under a tree to avoid the morning sun. you’re set. What a fucking drama queen.
      I lived in the back of a small Toyota pickup for a year. It was an ADVENTURE. I’ve lived on a 33′ sailboat for 35 years. Guarantee you have as much room in your bathroom as I do in my boat. So fucking what. I take off from work for YEARS at a time, because…guess what? I can save my money really fucking easily.
      Will I lose every single time folks play the what have you got vs what they’ve got? Yes. Gladly. Will I get all red faced and cry about it at a party? Not in this lifetime.
      I wouldn’t mind some of the writing chops, though. ;)

  • Somersby

    According to Imdb, writer Goldstein has credits dating back to 1999. Probably not high-end assignments, although he penned three episodes of “The New Adventures of Old Christine” as far back as 2006, So he probably wasn’t as untried or unknown as this article seems to suggest.

    His writing partner John Francis Daley doesn’t have as many writing credits as Goldstein, but he’s been very busy as an actor with continuing roles on Freeks & Geeks, Boston Public and Bones to name a few. So he too had a pretty solid foot in the door before they came up with “The $40,000 Man”.

    Still, good for them to really sink their teeth into the opportunities they’ve made for themselves.

    By the way, does anyone know how Black List scripts actually get circulated and considered? Is it through the website only, through Hollywood agents and managers, or by just being able to get the script into the right hands? Love to hear about the process.

    • lonestarr357

      That I remember, Goldstein was a writer on “The Geena Davis Show” (yes, this was a thing) and that’s how he met Daley (presumably her son on the show).

      I read their “Vacation” script (which they’re also directing)…yeah. Hopefully, Carson will get his hands on it one day and go into greater detail, but I was unenthused by it (making grown-up Rusty a carbon copy of Clark – a perfect Ed Helms part, if ever there was one – was the root liability for me).

    • ArabyChic

      Ostensibly, a script is passed around and read by enough agents, managers, producers, etc that it gets a little bit of a following and that’s how it racks up votes.

      • Somersby

        Thanks, ArabyChic.

  • mulesandmud

    Note to writers: please do not adopt ‘adequate’ as your new standard, no matter how killer your concept is.

    Once you do that, you start down a slippery slope of lowering your own standards. Next you’ll decide that your treatment doesn’t have to be perfect either, or that you can take a meeting even though your pitch isn’t great yet, because hey, your concept is a rock star, so adequate is good enough.

    Actually, good enough is not remotely good enough.

    What’s true is this: the quality of someone’s writing is not, and has never been, directly proportional to their success in Hollywood.

    That’s a harsh reality, but it shouldn’t be an excuse to settle for mediocre execution. Rather, it’s a reminder that there are lots of other factors involved in being a professional screenwriter. Most notably, the ‘professional’ part.

    So if you think you can get away with submitting an adequate draft of something, then it better be more than just your concept that’s exceptional: you better be exceptional at networking, exceptional at presentation, exceptionally punctual about deadlines, exceptionally receptive to studio notes, and exceptionally gracious when you get fired anyway because they need to bring somebody else in to elevate the script above mere adequacy.

    It may be true that no work of art is ever finished, only abandoned, but that doesn’t absolve you from the truly hard work of setting your script apart from the herd. That means striving for excellence in every possible way, especially the quality of your writing.

    To do otherwise is like giving permission for the gatekeepers to ignore you. Don’t let them, or yourself, off the hook so easy.

    • brenkilco

      And yet it seems Hollywood comedies have become more and more disposable. When was the last time we got a truly great comedy? Not just something that worked, or made money or served as an adequate vehicle for some star’s schtick? If The Hangover is the best you can come up with- and right now it’s far and away the best I can come up with- just goes to show how debased the genre has become.

      • Magga

        Stick the six episodes of Review together and you have the best high-concept comedy of the millennium by a mile.

        • brenkilco

          Have to confess, not familiar with the show. And googling Review is pointless. What is it and where is it?

          • Magga
          • Magga

            If you finish the third episode and are not in love I’d be surprised

          • Nicholas J

            Googling ‘Review With Forrest MacNeil’ does the trick.

        • Nicholas J

          Season 2 can’t start soon enough!

      • klmn

        The “deciderers” – to use a term from George Bush – judge comedies the same way they judge straight material. GSU, cat-saving, hero’s journey, whatever belief they subscribe to.

        The comedy gets pushed to the side.

        • BSBurton

          Love the bush quote haha!

        • Midnight Luck

          Great comedy Title

          Sounds like something Sacha Baron Cohen would come up with.

          A comedy about a President who thinks he’s the most intelligent head of state ever, but suffers from illogical wordism’s and Tourette’s syndrome. He only makes sense when he talks to himself in the mirror. When out in public he sounds like a demented madman and idiot.

          One day someone from his staff hires a speech therapist (ala The Kings Speech) to help adjust, correct and refocus his inappropriate speech.

          This works for a time, until one day at the biggest speech he’s given, seen across the globe, he goes haywire, insults everyone, says the most inane things ever, and cusses like a high school Senior.

          In response the American Government decides to only let the public hear from him via TV and electronic means. This way they can manipulate the audio and the video however they want (ala BABE or MAX HEADROOM

          His next speech is the biggest one he’s ever going to make, will he pull it off, is it going to be a CGI speech from the string pullers behind the scenes, or will it implode like we all think it will?

          Someone write this shit up STAT!

      • Andrew Parker

        21 Jump Street is the only one that comes to mind. The problem I think is twofold:

        1. Television comedy is pretty good, so movies pale in comparison. As Carson said, movies have to have these gigantic stakes to get people into the theater and away from their televisions. Unfortunately, comedy actually does better when the stakes are smaller and more personal. So the two are somewhat incompatible.

        2. We live in a cynical, ironic world where humor is better appreciated in 140 characters than on a large screen. How many jokes these days in movies are just references to other things in the past? Hot Tub Time Machine is incredibly guilty of this, sacrificing story for an easy laugh. And it should — because if you don’t have laughs, you don’t have a comedy.

        In fact, part of the genius of 21 Jump Street is its deconstruction of both action movies and bromantic comedies. But… and this is the huge but… it also was able to tell a fully fleshed out story with a beginning, middle and end.

        I have no point except that feature comedy is hard these days. I know from experience.

        • BSBurton

          “I have no point except that feature comedy is hard these days. ”

          A damn good point !

      • cjob3

        the industry doesn’t like spending on comedy these days. They only want down-to-earth, cheap-to-produce ideas as comedy doesn’t play want in international markets. In other words, they’re afraid to spend money on anything that’s a risk.

        • Jonathan Soens

          Is Seth Rogen the exception that proves this rule?

          Don’t know the figures off-hand, but it felt like he got to spend more money on “This is the End” and “The Interview” than most comedies get to spend anymore.

          And, hearing him talk up that cartoon movie he’s been working on, I feel like he must be spending good money to make that too. Just because I’m under the impression it must cost decent coin to make an animated film that looks good.

          • cjob3

            Sure, established guys can do whatever they want. But he had to start with small, relationship comedies like Knocked Up.

      • hickeyyy

        It could just be me, but I find that the best comedies I’ve seen in, not just years, but ever, are the Cornetto Trilogy films. Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and The World’s End. Every single one of them is brilliant and hilarious. They mix humor with great direction, and that direction ADDS to the humor.

        For my money, those three films are the best comedies I’ve ever seen.

        Of course, that depends on whether you label The Big Lebowski a comedy…

        • brenkilco

          Like Shaun. I may be in the minority but the other two just seem stylistically like more of the same. Superior to most comic offerings but so frantic and ultimately over the top that they don’t give you room to breathe.

      • filmklassik

        Hard to love a comedy that drew just two laughs from me: Zach G’s rambling toast on the rooftop and the part where the Asian guy bounds out of the trunk with Florsheims flying. That was it.

        Honestly I thought that movie was BAD… and you couldn’t pay me enough to watch the sequels.

        But most everyone I know who saw it, liked it.

        • brenkilco

          It was bad only if you apply objective criteria.By the cretinous standards of contemporary comedy it was pure gold. The guy in the trunk, Mike Tyson, the lion, Zach G doing his obnoxious man child thing. It’s 2015. Whadda ya want for your twelve bucks?

      • Pugsley

        Technically, isn’t BIRDMAN a comedy?

        • brenkilco

          I’m sure you could make a strong intellectual case. And by the end of the argument it would seem even less funny.

          • Pugsley

            You’re probably right. When you break things down, they tend to fall apart. Personally, I’d categorize Birdman as a dramedy. But I thought the film had some giddily funny moments that served to ground its surreal flights of fancy.

    • Linkthis83

      I dig posts and sentiments like this. However, once the initial rush of inspiration is over, then it comes down to actual application of said sentiment. And to me, that’s when it gets all kinds of murky.

      Questions arise aplenty. Who gets to decide what is adequate? The writer? At what point does the writer get to decide that their effort isn’t adequate, but excellent? Is that a trait writers truly exhibit? Especially those with the aforementioned professional attitude? Isn’t it possible that the quest to out do adequacy could harm your intention? What if my best effort is deemed inadequate by a lot of people? Who are those people? Should I care they think it’s inadequate? Or are their abilities inadequate? Is their one experience with my script at that time a true reflection on me, my abilities and my efforts? Who gets to say it’s enough? What if I have a concept that people keep telling me is great, fantastic, definitely a movie to be made and then it’s not? Does it require more effort? (again) Are their abilities inadequate? What if I feel I’ve gone as far as I can go with a script/story? what if someone tells me I haven’t? Who are they to tell me anything about my effort? Especially based on just reading one script in one moment? Isn’t that more a reflection of lack of ability and talent than effort? Or perhaps a lack of experience? Or comprehension? What if the thing I put in adequate effort on gets me noticed? Gets me repped and an option? What about a sale? Does that mean just good enough is good enough for me? Or good enough for the business? What if I’ve worked really hard on something that doesn’t get interest and the thing I worked just enough does? Does that mean I get to imply the results of that moment across the entire spectrum of career and professionalism? Or does that mean I should just chalk that moment up to luck and being in the right place at the right time? What’s the answer? What’s the answer to any of these questions? If I apply an answer to a moment, is it actually TRUE? Or are there other circumstances which I am not even aware of that played a role in that moment? Or is it really because I put forth as much effort I could exert up to that point. Or am I romanticizing the plight of a writer? And adding drama and minor untruths to weave my tale? And then do I project those untruths to others and use them examples of how things can work out for them, because they worked out for me? Or am I doing it because it didn’t work out for me? So then does it come down to each individual to decide where the value is in these moments? What if what they decide is valuable isn’t? What if that hurts their career? Did I hurt their career by sharing something I think is true, or at least believe to be true, for me? At what point does someone get to declare a definitive answer in a world and business that is in a constant state of subjectivity? Isn’t the dichotomy and allure of the endeavor is that the thing you create could become a physical creation? At what point do you get to declare success? What if the effort you put in, adequate or exceptional, gets bought and made? Are you then exceptional? What if nobody likes the thing that got made? Are you the one responsible? Or does that burden belong to the director? or the entire team of people that had some sort of input into the creation? What if that thing that gets deemed as worthless by a substantial amount of people is stated to be amazing by a select few? Now what? Who do you listen to then? Did you get here because of who you listened to before and by acting on the things you decided were true? Or did you get there by things that you were not present to perceive and it simply comes down to you doing whatever you did? Regardless of trying to apply an unquantifiable value to the effort you put forth? What if in 10 years time, that thing nobody like becomes the thing a ton of people love? What if you are not alive to experience that? What if you’ve passed on and the thing you created, that someone said wasn’t good and probably because you didn’t put in enough effort, what if that thing becomes iconic? And you aren’t alive to experience it? Then didn’t you die believing something that wasn’t true? Or it was true for you in that time, but only because you allowed yourself to be told what you are worth? Isn’t this a whole lot to try and consider when you all you want to do is tell a story? For all the questions I’ve asked, if I’m being honest, isn’t there multiple answers for all of them? Which would mean that all possibilities are true and only the outcomes let us believe they were the correct or incorrect choice, right? but again, only those answers in that moment make that truth, right? Because if 40 people tell me my stuff isn’t good enough and it’s obvious I didn’t put in enough effort, and then one guy loves my script/story/intention/potential, then didn’t I accomplish my goal? And even if the guy who loves my stuff nobody else did, and later down the road, reads the next thing I wrote because of the first thing I wrote, doesn’t that mean that first thing had value that others said it didn’t? Couldn’t I do this all day with every component of this journey? Yes – Yes I could. And that’s the nature of the beast, isn’t it?

      • Rzwan Cabani

        Bravo, my friend… Bravo.

      • Bob Bradley

        You ask a lot of questions, sir.

      • mulesandmud

        Yeesh. To paraphrase NIGHTCRAWLER: Get out of your head, Link, it’s a bad neighborhood.

        It’s on you to be honest with yourself about whether you’re really doing the work and learning your field as best you can. As for the rest, well… semantics and epistemology can be fun at parties, but when it comes time to actually get shit done, less is more.

        Just make sure you’re always asking ‘How can I do this better?’, rather than ‘Is this good enough?’ or ‘What does better mean?’

        • Linkthis83

          It’s not really my head. It’s the amount of stuff that gets brought up on here over time. And it’s also representative of applying certain advice that is given.

        • BSBurton

          I scrolled through that giant block of letters and said HOLY SHIT lol. Link has to learn to paraphrase haha.

          • Linkthis83

            If that’s all you got from my post…

      • Malibo Jackk

        It’s a marathon.

      • Midnight Luck

        I have all the answers for you.
        I just grabbed my “Magic 8-Ball”. Here let me

        Shake, shake, shake….

        And the answer is,

        “Don’t Count On It”

        Wait, I don’t think I shook it enough, here, let me try again

        Shake, shake, shake….

        “Outlook Good”

        Ok, but wait, we have one good and one bad response, so I will try a third time to split the tie. And, ONE MORE TIME let me

        Shake, shake, shake…..

        the FINAL answer is

        “Ask Again Later”

        Uggh. Ok, well, I guess I will send all your questions through my MAGIC 8-BALL app and see what it says later on.

        But, all joking aside, I so understand what you are saying. It sucks being in my head doesn’t it Link?
        I battle all these kind of thoughts and questions. I break down and analyze everything until it is mutilated beyond recognition.

        And I never find an agreeable answer. Any answer spawns a Million-and-One more questions.


        I say, write the hell out of something, then sell it, then reflect and ask questions. But not too many, or it might stop you from writing again. Just give a short bit of time to analyze, then hit the paper again, and knock out another script, and another, and another.
        Once you have written enough, all the questions will be answered, or will just fall away.
        Or so I am told.

        • Linkthis83

          I appreciate the reply…a lot. But my post wasn’t about me at all. It was about the bogusness of trying to apply a measure of effort to our writing. I think it’s one of those mythical/romantical things that gets tossed around by writers. And it happens because it’s one of the few elements we can control.

          My post was essentially diving into what that advice about effort represents and how worrying about it is actually counterproductive and undefinable. I think it’s just as bad to keep working on something because of wanting to put forth more effort. To keep working on something doesn’t mean it’s being improved every time.

          To me, being able to claim a lot of effort towards a script is really about being able to claim that you’re not like “other writers” who may not. But then again, may not what? Quality is the goal. More effort doesn’t always equal more quality, in my opinion.

      • cjob3


    • Eddie Panta

      This is an accurate statement, but a hard sell after Fiddy Shades of Grey grossed over 80 million opening weekend. Based on those stats, I’d say: plain, vanilla, simple, homogenized, acceptable, and or adequate, in order to suit the needs of the masses is definitely the way to go. What is key is a scene we’ve all seen before, only with something disturbing but not without the expected and familiar structure.
      Like going to McDonald’s, but having a new menu item, but still it’s McDonald’s.

      Either lead or follow, in the middle is the dead zone.

    • BSBurton

      I feel like this is the screenwriting version of “Whiplash” hahha. Great post!

  • Mhocommenter

    Please send $40,000 man PDF to: May1msg at gmail dot com. Thanks!

    • Name


      • august4

        I would really love “$40,000 Man” too if you’re still around… THANKS! :
        jonnryder at yahoo dot com

      • JNave

        I would love a copy of this script too! Please and thank you! jason.c.nave at gmail dot com

      • JakeBarnes12

        Someone might just get $40,000 if they were kind enough to send the script to

        cardinallemoine74 at yahoo dot com

      • susanrichards

        can you please send to susanrichards63 at gmail dot com?

  • Poe_Serling

    Just last year Mark Wahlberg and director Peter Berg were circling The Six Billion Dollar Man (adjusted for inflation) from Dimension Films.

    I know that project has been in development forever…. even Jim Carrey was mentioned as the lead at one time or another.

    • klmn

      Maybe they could lose the part about the moon and just keep the harsh mistress.

      A perfect part for Ronda Rousey.

    • Levres de Sang

      The moon project most certainly accords with Carson’s “larger-than-life” observation.

      N.B. I’m conscious that it’s derided nowadays, but the original Six Million Dollar Man remains one of my favourite 70s TV series: Cold war politics wrapped up with a dash of sci-fi mysticism for a broad audience…

      • brenkilco

        But who had the bright idea to simulate a guy running at super speeds by shooting him in slow motion? Always bugged me. Co star Richard Anderson was one of those actors like Arthur Hill and a few others who managed successful decades long careers playing characters who were invariably dull as hell.

        • Kirk Diggler

          Don’t forget Richard Gere.

          • brenkilco

            Sure Rich would say critics are like gerbils. They’re a pain in the ass.

          • Kirk Diggler

            You went there.

  • E.C. Henry

    Great call, Christopher Pendegraft; this story DOES sound like a Will Farrell project–and a good one at that! Why aren’t you a casting director?

    Just by premise alone you can visualize the movie. Not saying this is bound to a great movie or antything like that, but it sounds doable.

    Anyway, good, solid post, Christopher. It’s post like this one that keep me coming back!

    – E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA

    • Casper Chris

      JFYI, I don’t think Carson’s name is Christopher Pendegraft.

  • Somersby

    Did not know that the website wasn’t connected to the actual list. Thanks for this.

  • klmn
    • Levres de Sang

      Thanks for the link, Ken. I also like the possibilities inherent in today’s number one story:

      ‘The jungle-choked remains of a “lost city”, abandoned by a mysterious civilisation several centuries ago and long fabled for reports of its gold and “monkey children”…’

      • klmn

        I liked the drawing that ran with that piece.

        • klmn

          It’s been a long time since I did any perspective drawing, but it looks like one point perspective with the vanishing point somewhere behind Kong’s right shoulder.

          If there are any artists on here, please chime in.

      • brenkilco

        Congo 2?

        • klmn

          Yes, we need more gorilla movies.

  • klmn

    I read the first five pages. Didn’t laugh once. You said this was a comedy, Carson?

  • Midnight Luck

    Thanks Carson.
    Today’s article was a really great one, insightful and interesting.

    The script (based on the Logline and description) sounds awesome. You can see the movie in your head, can imagine all the crazy things you could do with the setup. The whole thing just made me laugh as I read your breakdown of what happens in the script.

    Sadly, that doesn’t mean it is written well, or actually good.

    IDENTITY THEIF was like that for me. I remember watching the Preview and hearing about it, and I thought 1. Why didn’t I think of that, 2. That is an awesome idea, 3. Imagine everything you could do with that premise.

    And then the movie failed big time. miserably.
    So, great concept, terrible execution.

  • JakeBarnes12

    Thank you!!!!!

  • cjob3

    I like this joke.

    I’ll be home as soon as this
    mission is over. I love you.

    I love you, too. Be careful.

    Careful is my middle name. But
    it’s pronounced “car-u-fal.” It’s

    I know your middle name, Buff.