While most of this week’s scripts have been forgotten by Hollywood, this one was recently chosen by a major star to become his next big project.

Welcome to Weird Scripts Week! This week I’ll be reviewing odd scripts, odd ideas, and writing that’s just plain odd. It will culminate Friday when I review the strangest premise I’ve ever reviewed on Scriptshadow. To check out Monday’s cross between The Terminator and Jaws, click here. Yesterday’s talking cow screenplay can be seen here. And today, we head to the land of musicals.

Genre: Dramedy/Musical
Premise: When a buttoned-up company man is involved in an accident, the world around him becomes one giant musical number.
About: Bob The Musical is a project that’s been kicking around Hollywood for many years, likely due to its tricky tone. Whenever you’re dealing with something this unusual, every inch of the script is going to be scrutinized until it feels right. And with “Bob” being drafted by more writers than the perpetually developed “Akira,” we’re thinking they want to make sure this one’s just right before going forward. Tom Cruise to the rescue! Cruise attached himself to Bob recently, which means one of his writers will be brought in to write the definitive version of the film and they’ll go forward whether the thing’s ready or not (the power of the movie star!). This is an old draft of the script (couldn’t find a new one) but the concept’s so unique, I had to check it out. I have no idea how close this draft will be to the final film. The script was written by Mike Binder, who gave us films like The Upside of Anger and Reign Over Me. But there have been many drafts since.
Writer: Mike Binder
Details: 112 pages (undated – but I think this draft is about 10 years old)


Now you’d THINK that Mr. Cruise would’ve exited musical theater after Rock of Ages. But we’re talking about a guy who’s navigated a 30-year career in Hollywood, and he seems to understand something a lot of other stars who have faded don’t – which is that if you keep doing the same thing over and over again, you’ll be forgotten.

With films like Rock of Ages, Edge of Tomorrow, Valkyrie, and now Bob the Musical, Cruise is taking chances. And maybe they don’t all pay off. But you’d much rather go down swinging than get walked. Even his Mission Impossible franchise reflects this, as each entry feels a bit different from the last. Let’s see how this one shapes up for him.

Hit it, Charlie!

Stiff-as-a-board Bob Bowman works for one of the richest men in Philadelphia, Ronald Gold. The Trump-like Gold wants to build a brand new skyscaper. But he’s given his team an impossible task. He wants his building on LAKE FRONT PROPERTY.

The thing with Philadelphia is, all the lake-front property is protected by these historic landmark clauses and can’t be purchased. Except for one building, Bob learns. A single building is a week shy of hitting the required 100 year mark to be considered “historic,” which means if Bob can get them to sign a deal by Friday, he’ll become partner.

Bob goes to check the building out, which houses a struggling theater run by the nicest woman in Philadelphia, Mary (when faced with cutting her actors’ salaries due to slow sales, she opts to absorb the hit in her own paycheck – awwww).

It becomes clear to Bob that in order to secure this building, he’ll have to lie to Mary, pretending to be interested in the arts, get her to sign a partnership deal, then use Gold’s legal muscle to wrangle the property away, bulldoze the hopeless theater, and build his partner-making skyscraper.

However, on the way out of that first meeting, one of the old Gargoyles from the building falls onto Bob, knocking him out and sending him to the hospital. When he wakes up, he starts hearing… music. But not just any music. The people around him, they’re…. SINGING. And… DANCING.

When he’s riding down the elevator, a kid starts rapping how his mom won’t leave him alone. When he walks to work, the city becomes one giant song-and-dance routine. When he gets to work, his secretary sings a tragedy about how she hates her boss (Bob) more than anything. When he goes to a basketball game and a fight breaks out on the floor, the players segue into a scene from West Side Story.

While Bob is understandably freaked out, he realizes that this is a new part of his life, and that he must fight through it to close the building deal. But when he starts to fall in love with Mary, and the song and dance numbers become more invasive, Bob will come face-to-face with his own song, a song where he can either croon his way to partner, or Celine Dion his way into Mary’s heart.


The setup for this script was actually pretty solid. Weird Scripts Week has been an exercise in sloppy screenwriting, but Binder sets up a tight story, cluing us in on who Bob is (very selfish and uptight), what he wants (to be a partner in Gold’s company) and what he needs to do to get it (cheat the girl he’s falling in love with to sign a deal that secretly gives Gold control of her building so he can tear it down).

This conflict of needing to lie to a character you’re falling for in order to achieve a goal is a well-worn trope, but when done well, it usually works. And it works here up to a point.

Bob the Musical begins running into trouble in its second act, where it gets stuck somewhere in between a Charlie Kaufman joint and a 1990s Jim Carrey comedy. Things eventually become so formulaic (Mary gets mad at Bob and states the deal is off. So Bob must apologize and try a new approach to get her to sign!) that the brilliance of the premise loses its luster.

Even the songs and dances start becoming predictable, with the tough pissed off teenager spouting out, of course, Eminem-style raps.

And this is where a lot of these scripts die, in fact. With writers playing things too safe. There’s a form of execution in these screenplays that’s just cute enough to get a polite smile from the reader, but not big enough to impress them. And Bob The Musical starts to feel like one big polite smile. I remember specifically that polite smile on my face with the West Side Story scene.

If I know screenwriters, they’d be more okay with a woman telling them post sex that their manhood wasn’t big enough than to hear that someone “politely smiled” while reading their script.

It goes back to the “first choice syndrome” we talk about here. On a clever premise like Bob the Musical, you can’t use first choices. You have to throw those out and think of something crazier. And then throw that out and think of something crazier! Really push yourself because that’s the only way you’re going to get to those truly outrageous memorable ideas.

Even more so in scripts like this. I mean, if you have a weird or crazy premise, why would you restrict it? Why would you play it safe? If you’re making a movie about being inside John Malkovich’s head, you want a scene that includes a 7th and a half floor.

That’s not to say you throw all rules out the door. You still need some structure and focus to keep the story on track. But you don’t want to be the false advertiser. You don’t want to promise your audience something and give them something else. That’s the fastest way to get a crowd to turn on you.

With that being said, this script has always had an uphill battle. It’s one of those stories that you don’t truly know if it’s working until you see it on the big screen. We need to hear the music, hear the singing, see the dancing, in order to ingest the power of the storytelling, and that’s just not possible on the page. So I have sympathy for the project and this draft that Binder wrote. But I still wish he would’ve done more with it.

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

What I learned: Drop CLUES to help your reader know who your hero is. When a reader reads a script, one of the first thing’s he’s looking for is CLUES about your hero. What is the hero doing? How is he acting? What does he say? We’re trying to figure out who this guy is and the clues you drop are going to tell us. For example, one of the early description lines in Bob the Musical is, “Bob rounds the corner, looking serious as usual.” That phrase there, serious as usual, sticks in our head. Later, someone’s on the street singing. Bob, who’s talking on his phone, covers his free ear and STARTS TALKING LOUDER. Another clue. He’s easily annoyed. Then later, after a co-worker expresses excitement about something, we get this line: “Bob walks out of his office displaying no emotion at all.” Just by highlighting those three clues, I’m betting you already have a great feel for who Bob is. Yet most writers, and in particular amateur writers, are very vague and general when describing their hero or conveying his actions. Without those vital clues, we never get a feel for who he is, and we go through the story imagining some vague figure leading us. It’s only a matter of time, then, before we become bored with them.

What I learned 2: One of the craziest realizations to come out of this week has been how influenced we are by the times. Especially with yesterday’s and today’s scripts, where you could FEEL the late 90s influences guiding these writers’ choices. I mean Bob The Musical was hitting Liar Liar and What Women Want story beats almost to the tilt (After hearing their struggling inner songs, Bob shows up to work and starts paying attention to people and complimenting them). So when you’re writing your script, think into the future. Ask yourself, will someone who reads this in 2030 be like, “Oh my God, this feels so 2015.” If so, you’re probably being too influenced by the films of the moment. Try to look for other inspiration to stand out. Movies from the 1960s, 1970s. Unique paintings. Strange music. Find inspiration that allows your screenplay to feel unlike anything that’s out there right now.

  • S.C.

    I don’t have this script and I don’t particularly want it. I remember John August wrote a draft (just one) and was then fired. He later found out he was one of several writers who was hired and fired after one draft by the producers. So, he decided to produce a musical himself:

    There’s a lesson there, but I don’t know what it is.

    • Gregory Mandarano

      Lesson = music and screenplays make a hard sell.

      • Mallet

        Which is weird (ironic?) given how many music video directors are hired by Hollywood to direct feature films.

  • brenkilco

    I know that live action musicals still occasionally get made and Chicago even won the Oscar but as an acceptable genre they really died out fifty years ago. Everybody today knows that only cartoon characters break into song. When actual humans do it there has to be some kind of twist. A gal pal movie about competitive singers. John Travolta in drag etc. And nothing is more execution dependent than a musical.

    My problem with this thing is I don’t get from the review why the protag’s transformation/affliction matters. Does it keep him from functioning? Make him a show tune schizophrenic? Does it allow him to see deep into the innermost thoughts of the characters belting out the tunes? Or is it just a gimmick? Not really integral to the plot. Cause any script needs more than a premise to sustain it.

    • Gregory Mandarano

      SO what you’re saying is, this concept doesn’t contain enough IRONY to sustain it.

      How could we SS folks improve this concept to make it more wanted in today’s market?

      • Felip Serra

        Make him tone deaf perhaps?

        • Midnight Luck

          until he finds his voice.
          and breaks out in song for the first time.

    • Randy Williams

      Sounds like a modern day A Christmas Carol. Grumpy guy who otherwise could be a real gem learns the meaning of compassion. Instead of ghosts we have a chorus line.
      Cruise is a big fan of The Sound of Music. Another breaking the shell of a cold man through song story.

      • brenkilco

        Still having a problem with the concept. These musical numbers are all in his head, right? I mean he couldn’t join the dance without looking insane. Or could he? Sound of Music was a traditional musical where people just sang. In A Christmas Carol Scrooge was sort of a spirit for the duration of his visitations and couldn’t interact with the people he saw. This seems like a concept more cute than workable but would like to know more about it.

        • Randy Williams

          Well… he does wake up in the hospital and all this singing starts. Maybe at the end, he wakes up for real and all this has been some dream as the result of some bad hospital jello!
          Without the script, we’re flying blind.

    • Scott Chamberlain

      “I know that live action musicals still occasionally get made and Chicago even won the Oscar but as an acceptable genre they really died out fifty years ago. Everybody today knows that only cartoon characters break into song.”
      Where do you place Pitch Perfect and Pitch Perfect 2 (and the almost inevitable Pitch Perfect 3)?

      • brenkilco

        There’s actually a specific reference to PP in my initial comment. In most musicals the characters sing because that’s the world they’re in. But there is also a long tradition of sort of cheat musicals. Mostly lives of composers and musicians where all the musical numbers are actual performances. I suppose PP belongs in that category. Also, not a particularly popular type of film anymore.

        • Scott Chamberlain

          Sorry, missed the original PP reference. Don’t you think PP’s success shows that there remains an appetite for these kinds of films/stories?
          Music is such an important part of a film (the absence or poor execution of which often makes so many indie productions seem so dull) almost all films are musicals and those that find a way to incorporate the soundtrack into the story, and do that well, do seem to “surprise” at the box office.
          Even Mad Max Fury Road makes the Doof Warrior part of the soundtrack. That’s a really innovative way of having a character seamlessly break out into a musical performance.
          Maybe it’s not that the genre is unpopular, but the sheer extra level of creativity to make it work well. It’s hard enough getting a good movie from talented writers, directors and actors. Add songwriters, musicians, singers and dancers to the mix…

  • Randy Williams

    I like the fact that a Gargoyle off the building strikes him but it seems underused.
    Like, why after he wakes up, don’t the people around him manifest
    their inner demons?

    Where’s the script link? I’d like to read this.

  • ChadStuart

    Sounds like a “Scrubs” episode. Is there a song about poop?

  • Felip Serra

    “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

    It’s one thing for a writer to find influences outside of his/her time, but doesn’t the audience have an expectation that’s directly tied to the times?

    I was talking with someone the other day and the show “24” came up. They said they’d seen the new one and, you know, “it just wasn’t the same…” I told them why: Jack Bauer is no longer relevant; he was the product of post-September 11th America under the Neo Con regime. AT THE TIME we needed a can-do, no-holds-barred law man to protect us at all costs. But the trope wore out, times changed, and a new kind of hero was required… (a superhero?)

    “Being John Malkovich” was produced in 1999. Look at what else the studios put out that year: “The Matrix”, “American Beauty”, “Fight Club”, “Galaxy Quest”, “Magnolia”, “Boys Don’t Cry”, “All About My Mother”, “The Straight Story”, “Eyes Wide Shut”, “Toy Story 2″, “The Insider”, “Thin Red Line”, “Rushmore”, “Three Kings” and on and on… A lot of films that took chances. Why? Because there was an audience to receive them. But again times change, shit happens, and the expectations of the audience reflect that. Look at Charlie Kaufman. He’s had no real writing credits since 2008. Did he suddenly stop being a good writer?

    So where’s that leave us in 2015? We have films that take chances and succeed (“Mad Max”), take chances and flop (“Tomorrowland”), doesn’t matter if they’re bad (“Avengers 2″), and does matter that they are good (“Ex Machina”). So, we’ll see…

    • Eric

      I’ve always felt it a shame that 24 became a political football. I suppose it was to be expected, but the show’s premise of dealing with terrorism in 24 hours was invented before 9/11 and was lucky/unlucky enough to be unexpectedly relevant. At it’s heart though, Jack Bauer was Dirty Harry, or John Wayne, and the show was basically a western. He killed bad guys based on his sole judgement because his land was dangerous and lawless. It wasn’t new. Good guys hurting bad guys to get information. 24 didn’t invent that, nor did they want to use it as much as they did. But the show needed it to move the plot forward. The writers are on record saying they would find themselves in these blind alleys where it’s Jack and a bad guy and the bad guy knows something. It’s real time, so he has to get something out of this guy in fifteen minutes. The options were limited.

      But you know what Bauer did almost as much as torturing terrorists… he let them go. Full immunity for cooperation, even for terrorists who had killed hundreds and tried to assassinate the President of the United States. I never heard the Neo-Cons stand up in support of that. Never heard a speech from the floor of the Senate that talked about the importance of letting dangerous terrorists go free in exchange for information. People used 24 how they wanted, and read into it things that just weren’t there, or weren’t intend. Because for every terrorist Jack tortured, there was a greedy American business man behind it all. Anyone who watched the whole show knows that the biggest villain in the series wasn’t a radical Muslim. It was a Republican President of the United States who sponsored a false flag operation on American soil as a pretext to invade a foreign nation and seize it’s oil.

      The Neo-Con fantasy indeed.

  • Paul Schellens

    Flash mobs! For an audience of one? Cute idea for maybe half a movie, but I doubt the premise has legs for a full one. Whether it’s weird or not, you can’t defy some laws of story telling. Some premises just aren’t big enough for a movie. Adding more weirdness is then just unsatisfying filler.

    I also think there’s two kinds of weird. Weird with a purpose, and weird without. If there’s no (discernible) purpose to the weirdness, then what’s the purpose of the film?

    I largely enjoyed Being John Malcovich – there was a point behind the core weirdness – but something like Eraser Head (my first experience of film hate – many years ago) is a frustrating tease, never delivering a point.

    Carson mentions getting inspiration from art. The two types of weirdness can be seen there too. I love Dali and M.C. Escher (purpose behind the surrealism) but hate Picasso’s cubism (crazy shit painted because it gave the critics something to talk about.)

    Without a point, what’s the point?

  • LiberalSkewer_SCPatriot

    Brings to mind a music-laden movie that worked while taking chances: All That Jazz…

  • Charles Walters

    Ah, yes, Lake Philadelphia is beautiful this time of year. Did you know George Washington crossed it on his way to attacking Saigon with Brian Williams?
    Seriously, I’m all for suspending disbelief, but I hope the later drafts describe it as riverfront property, at least. If they keep in the “Philadelphia lake,” everyone associated with the movie will look like a clueless idiot.

    • carsonreeves1

      I think that’s my fault (not positive though). Where I’m from, Chicago, they call it lakefront property. So I may have used that here out of habit.

  • ripleyy

    A little disappointed Carson didn’t record himself singing this article (however bad or good he may be) rather than posting it. Opportunity missed, man, opportunity missed!

  • Poe_Serling

    “What I learned 2: One of the craziest realizations to come out of this week has been how influenced we are by the times… Try to look for other inspiration to stand out. Movies from the 1960s, 1970s. Unique paintings. Strange music. Find inspiration that allows your screenplay to feel unlike anything that’s out there right now.”

    That’s a good ? to mull over. What gives certain films, TV shows, and other creative projects a timeless quality? Why will The Andy Griffith Show play forever in syndication? Why is there still excitement when The Wizard of Oz pops up on TV stations around Thanksgiving?

    Personally, I think it’s lightning in a bottle kind of stuff. It’s the right elements (actors, writers/director, timing, etc.) all coming together to catch that elusive ‘something’ special.

    When I’m flipping through the channels, I’ll always stop to watch an episode or two of The Andy Griffith Show if it’s playing on MeTV, TBS, or similar outlets.


    It’s hard to put in words. There’s just an inviting quality about the town of Mayberry and the characters that populate it. I think the show really captured the essence of rural living (real or imagined), which audiences continue to enjoy and appreciate to this day.

    • brenkilco

      There was an interview with Carl Reiner the other day as to why The Dick Van Dyke Show has endured for decades. He said that even at the time he thought it might last and actually forbid the use of any contemporary slang. On the surface it still seems to be the embodiment of button down, suburban sixtyness. But mostly he said he was writing about his relationship with his wife, basic stuff that doesn’t really change.

      • Poe_Serling

        “But mostly he said he was writing about his relationship with his wife, basic stuff that doesn’t really change.”

        True. The ‘basic’ stuff that we all can relate to and see a reflection of our own lives in its humor/sadness/etc.

        • Randy Williams

          Like the current Japanese fad of cubing dogs.
          The basic properties have to be there underneath the whimsy.

          • Poe_Serling

            Cubing dogs… had to look that one up.

            Edit: The pic just showed up on my screen.

          • klmn

            Whoever came up with that is an insane genius.

            What’s next? Dog topiary?

          • wlubake

            “Whoever came up with that is an insane genius.”

            Thanks, bro.

          • wlubake

            Eh, my Edward Scissorhands picture didn’t post with that last comment.

          • klmn

            So you’re a dog groomer?!

          • S_P_1

            This fad will fall out of popularity just like the Tibetan Mastiff, and hair dyeing to mimic Panda Bears and Tigers.

    • Felip Serra

      A SIMPLE STORY TOLD WELL. I think that’s the “big” secret and that’s why so many older films hold up while so much nowadays seems disposable.

      Screenwriting was created by novelists and playwrights, people who knew how to keep their audience together by words alone. It was storytelling pure and simple. Now we have writers: People proficient in putting one scene after the other (not that that’s totally a bad thing.) But the former came from life, and could be potentially filled with spontaneity and adventure; the later from a formula, like a lab experiment.

      You mentioned “Andy Griffith”. Remember the episode when Opie killed the bird with his slingshot… And his punishment was to sit at his window and listen to the hungry babies chirping? CHILLING! Right there: A story, from real life. Real cause and real effect. And STILL relevant after 50 years!

      • Poe_Serling

        Another big reason why I feel the first five years of TAGS was so special – the wonderful, good-natured dynamics among the characters, especially Andy and Barney. I always liked how Andy had Barney’s back through thick and thin.

        Andy Griffith and Don Knotts were close friends in real life, and I think this offscreen chemistry spilled naturally over into their onscreen roles.

        Again, it’s just one of those magical, unplanned things that made this top-rated show in its day into an enduring TV classic.

        • S_P_1

          Andy Griffith and Ron Howard were both in individual episodes of the Twilight Zone.

          • Poe_Serling

            I remember Ron Howard in the memorable TZ episode ‘Walking Distance,’ but —

            I’m pretty sure Andy Griffith never appeared on the show… though he would’ve been perfect for a few of the country-flavored episodes. ;-)

          • S_P_1

            I see my mistake. The Monsters are Coming to Maple Street. Claude Akins bears a resemblance to Andy Griffith. Please don’t tell me the guy that looked like The Professor from Gilligans Island wasn’t in a Twilight Zone episode either.

          • Poe_Serling

            Yeah, Russell ‘The Professor’ Johnson was in the TZ episode –

            BACK THERE

            “Peter Corrigan and friends are discussing time travel at their men’s
            club. Corrigan suddenly becomes dizzy. When his head clears, he has
            moved back [in time] to April 14, 1865 – the date of Lincoln’s assassination.”

            That’s a good one.

          • S_P_1

            Ok cool. I thought that was him. I like binge watching TZ episodes on Netflix, and seeing how many actors may have gotten their start or a career boost.

      • fragglewriter

        My mom still watches that show to this day. I think that I’ve watched most episodes of: TAGS, The Honeymooners, My Favorite Martian, The Twilight Zone, not to mention movies starring Bela Lugosi and Petter Lorre.

        I’m guilty of writing convoluted stories along with scenes that go nowhere. Watched Blood Simple last week, and wow. It felt like the Coen Brothers sat me down and schooled me on how to keep it simple stupid (KISS).

        Also, if you’re in the Raleigh, NC vicinity, visit Pullen Park to view the Andy Griffith statue


        Also, if you’re in the Smithfield, NC visit the Ava Gardner museum.


        • Felip Serra

          Ha! Well said…

          And, alas, I’m stuck in Portland… With 397 micro-brews to drink whilst I grow my hipster beard :)

          • fragglewriter


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

    “What I learned: Drop CLUES to help your reader know who your hero is.
    When a reader reads a script, one of the first thing’s he’s looking for
    is CLUES about your hero.”

    The old Pixar rule of introducing your protag doing something they love comes to mind.
    But that’s a little too Wall-E for me. So, I prefer to twist that sentiment a little for my needs…

    Intro your protag while they’re doing something they’re PASSIONATE about.
    And don’t limit yourself to positive stuff.

    I like to intro characters doing stuff they absolutely HATE.

    We learn so much from people by what they can’t tolerate too.

  • brenkilco

    I guess it’s the fact that this blog is dealing with crazy scripts this week that’s making me shake my head. But I have a question. Every other person on the planet with access to a keyboard is writing a screenplay. I can only guess at the number of scripts- repped and vetted and championed by somebody- floating around Hollywood. And Carson seems to have access to the crème de la crème. So where is it? Where’s the script, let’s say the thriller, with the wholly original, totally believable, but jaw droppingly surprising plot? The one with the sort of razor sharp wit that would make Wilder and Chandler and, hell, even Oscar Wilde genuflect? The one whose dialogue every true film fan will commit to memory? The one with suspense set pieces so extraordinary that they will elevate even some hack, traffic cop, Marvel director to the pantheon?

    Is it really that everybody is just less literate today? They say if a million monkeys are typing on a million keyboards one of em is going to turn out King Lear. The monkeys are hard at work. I want my King Lear screenplay. Dammit.

    • fragglewriter

      I thought about this a few days ago. By no means am I Britannica, but watching Classic films to gauge why they are Classics and then compare them with today’s film, and I have to say that dialogue is one but also the era in which film was made. Back then was Pre-Code and you can only film and write in a certain manner unless you want your filmed to be shelved. Compared to the Golden Era, this era doesn’t have as much censorship, except for the PC groups (politically correct).

      And also the slang or dialect in the past has evolved, as well as circumstances. There are literate screenplays being created, but sometimes simply saying I Love You is most effective.

      • Citizen M

        Something I learned which surprised me: back in the old black and white movie days, a lot of dialogue was recorded after shooting because of the limitations of on-set sound equipment.

        You don’t really notice it if you’re not looking out for it, but if you look carefully you will notice many instances where the lip movements don’t match the words, particularly in places with high ambient noise like in moving motor vehicles.

        This obviously gives many opportunities to try out various alternative bits of dialogue in the sound booth and choose the most effective.

        • brenkilco

          Which is why Rick says I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship from a high angle with his back to us.

          And I’m not sure post dubbing and what they used to call wild tracking are any less prevalent today. The sound is just more seamless.

          • drifting in space

            My wife points this out every time. That and when the coffee cup is clearly empty.

        • fragglewriter

          Rewriting until the day of shooting is common to customize scripts to the actor, but if I read or watch a movie where snappy lines of dialogue are bing used, it takes me out of the movie because it lets me know that I’m watching a movie, a characture of a person.

  • wlubake

    There was a Scrubs episode that did this (“My Musical”), where a patient had a brain tumor and saw everyone in musical form. 30 minute episode. It got old pretty quickly. And I always found that show to have pretty brilliant writing. I really question whether this could hold up for a 90 minute film.

  • S.C.

    Thanks for the shoutout (even though I’m supposed to be taking a day off from commenting today!). Feel free to comment anytime, Tony!

  • Scott Strybos

    When you have script with a gimmick at its center the writing needs to be next level, better than usual quality. A story that is wrapped around a gimmick is very fragile. Not only does a gimmick grow old quickly, it draws attention to the writing. With a standard action story or romantic-comedy, people’s brains will turn off and leave them to enjoy the journey. With a gimmick-story, everyone is more conscious of the writing, and the story that surrounds it.

  • The Man With Many Ideas

    I really hope this is made, heard about it years ago on script notes podcast believe it was. Another thing a question I have, there is a writing compation I want to join. They give you a few story options to use to jump off from…one of the stories seemed very inviting to me. My only issue is my story is a prequel/sequel adaption of a story in public domain, how can you write a story which is it’s own work but that I don’t want to mention the work it’s based on in anyway.

    How would I do that? Also anyone ever try to script a video game? I’d love to write one but from everything I’ve read unlike screenwriting there is no format for games …sort of!? Got a scifi fantasy project (video game) a large project in mind. Just need to know what is the best plan/way.

    • S_P_1

      Carson interviewed the guy who was a writer on a Call of Duty game.


      I seriously wouldn’t worry about someone stealing your idea to adapt a story in public domain.

      FYI you’ll get more useful responses with a registered account.

      • The Man With Many Ideas

        I read that but didn’t help much. Also It’s not about someone stealing my story but writing a story and not needing or feeling those who reading shrugging at the thought oh it’s a remake, redo, reinterpretation of “such and such” A story damn. I want to write a prequel/Sequel which show signs that is based on another story but the story is original and doesn’t feel beholden to that story.

  • S_P_1

    Musicals aren’t the sole domain of animated film.

    If you look at MTV Films minus all the Jackass movies, they produce musicals in the form of urban drama.

    My theory for a musical to be successful the songs have to be pop culture relevant, story is secondary, casting is crucial.

    Is this an execution dependent formula – YES. Is every Hollywood project execution dependent – YES.

  • Poe_Serling

    If they ever need some character names for the The Dirty Dozen remake:

    “drifting, SC, Link, Grendl, klmn, Kirk, Nic J, Gregory, Midnight, Ninja, Igor, Sandbagger, Citizen, Matthew, Somersby, walker… “

    • klmn

      Not to mention Lesbian Cannibal and Poe.

      • Poe_Serling

        I wanted the Bronson part… they offered me the Sutherland role, so I walked. ;-)

  • fragglewriter

    Bob the Musical sounds like the Singing Detective movies starring Robert Downey Jr. I’ve only watched the first 15 minutes of that movie before I bailed. You can also compare it to Cop Rock, which I detested but my mother loved.

    It’s so easy to get wrapped up into who inspires you as a writer that you pay homage to your mentor by borrowing that material, but when you do so in more than one script, you unconsciously allow yourself not to be a writer. You not making enough mistakes to learn and prune your skills. Take more chances. If you don’t like it, you can always erase it.

  • S.C.

    I’ve got a couple of musical scripts, if you want to send me an email – mr.scottcrawford @ hotmail

  • S_P_1
    • S.C.

      Like the Hungarian posters, though some of them are a bit off-base! It’s interesting how for example with ROBOCOP they have to emphasize that there’s a man in the robot suit or that THE OMEN is about the son of the Devil – is this a Hungarian thing?

      • S_P_1

        I like the one with the Imperial Walker and Darth Vader is lined up with black storm troopers.

  • S.C.

    OT: Just finished reading “the best screenplay of the year” Collateral Beauty.


    Long, pretentious dialogue, confusing story points. More talking.

    Best screenplay of the year?


    The Emperor’s New Clothes – in MY opinion.

    • Midnight Luck

      who calls it “the best screenplay of the year”?

      • andyjaxfl

        It’s a prediction Carson made in a tweet earlier this week. A few trades are adding fuel to the hype because the script will be directed by the same person as Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, and will star Hugh Jackman.

        • Midnight Luck

          ah, thanks.

          I am out of twit.

          just don’t follow the myriad of social medias. too many, don’t want to waste my time. how does anyone keep up with it all?

          • andyjaxfl

            I only follow 11 people, and most only tweet once a week. I don’t know how anyone can follow dozens or hundreds of folks.

          • Midnight Luck

            I think I have 4. And none do I converse with. People like Sarah Silverman and Steve Martin, and a screenwriting focused thing, and I can’t remember, something else. Mostly people who make me laugh.

            But I never go on.

            Facebook is bad enough, with a constant ticker tape of new uploaded info, It makes me feel like I can’t keep up.

            Twitter is just insanity. These short messages just neverendingly streaming along. And most of them are just banal stupid off-the-top-of-their-head blathering.

            I had a few people I followed I thought I might converse with on Twitter, but then dropped them as it all seemed like too much work. I would rather spend time on here than any of the social media.

            The ScriptShadow experience is 100k times more interesting than 140 characters of nothing.

            Between the Pinterests and Facebooks and Twitters and Instagrams and the million other social media things, I just have no patience for them. And refuse to give them my time.

            Does any of it mean anything? will anyone care about anything posted on them in 5 years? or 1 year? I doubt it.

            Sorry for my cynicism. But all this “Social” media bugs me to death. All it is is another advertising realm trying to get us to buy, buy, buy; cloaked as a “helpful” or necessary thing.

            And it isn’t necessary.

          • andyjaxfl

            Social media really isn’t for me either, though I like my 11 Twitter people because most are writers. I can’t do Facebook. Just not for me. I also prefer the SS community and one or two other sites, though most of the non-SS commenters are so friggin’ nasty that I don’t like to engage with them. Most are so thin skinned that they feel the need to track down your real name and harass you if you have the gumption to disagree with their take on something. No thanks!

        • S.C.

          To be fair, some people might like it. I didn’t. So don’t feel bad if you don’t like it either.

          • andyjaxfl

            The premise didn’t interest me too much so I haven’t made an effort to locate a copy (or as you!!).

  • peisley

    It’s actually a shrewd move on Cruise’s part if he can pull it off. Musicals are in demand right now for movies and, to a lesser extent, tv. Even original works. They can be extremely profitable for studios along with those wonderful ancillaries. Frozen. Need I say more?

  • S_P_1


    How many forum members are willing to compromise to these standards?

    A Co-Production based in China, seeks ACTION & SCI-FI feature screenplays ONLY. We will purchase scripts outright. NO zombies, ghost, nudity, or sex. We have connections with MAJOR players. Budget has not yet been established.

    If your script has a non-gratuitous sex scene and it coincides with your inciting incident, are the non-contractual stakes worth it? It seem like script acquisition is a low cost budgetary concern.

    • S.C.

      Sounds fishy. I understand the interest in action and sci-fi, I can appreciate the non-appetite for the supernatural, and I respect that a Chinese co-production probably won’t want sex or nudity, but I’m always suspicious when the word “major” is capitalized. Are they shouting it?

      A struggling has to be prepared to compromise if it’s a close-call thing (a “dealbreaker” I think is the American expression). For example, Daniel Pyne sold his screenplay PACIFIC HEIGHTS on condition that he change the ending to something more traditional and violent. I can see having to take out a single, non-gratuitous sex scene or a modicum of swearing in order to swing a deal.

      But they either want what you’ve written or not.

      • S_P_1

        I’m willing to alter the sex scene. What’s raising a red flag is if the budget hasn’t been established, how are you able to purchase a script?

        This submission call reminds me of a producer on Stage32 that bragged about how inexpensive it was to secure a script.

        I passed on a start-up game company that paid its programmers and graphic designers but wanted their writers to work for credits.

        I understand you have to start someplace, BUT…..

        • Gregory Mandarano

          In China depictions of the undead aren’t allowed. Many Magic The Gathering cards have alternate artwork in China.

          • S_P_1

            I’m more concerned with the dollar option mentality writers should be grateful for.

    • gregthegreg

      Any company that is legit and actually involved with “major players” wouldn’t need to say that or need to advertise that they need scripts.

      • S_P_1

        Basically you have to pursue the leads you feel are worth your time.

        I recently responded to an animation company soliciting scripts. They already reached their quota.

        They informed me they would have a second round of submissions later this year.

        Good luck on whatever avenue leads you to success.

        • gregthegreg

          Then let me warn you: this company is not worth your time.

          Any company advertising like that, live action or animation, will not be paying anything even close to WGA minimums. I wouldn’t touch them with a ten foot pole.

          • S_P_1

            I think you need to read what qualifies for WGA membership and how much it costs to join. You can’t demand WGA pricing minimums unless you’re a member.

            One of the members in the 48hours group I’m in has a SAG card. He’s the only actor that can negotiate to be paid on no to micro budget independent shorts.

            If a prod-co isn’t for you what more needs to be said.

          • gregthegreg

            That’s absolutely not true. If it was, any writers’ assistant who received a TV freelance script (which happens quite often) would be paid pennies instead of the WGA minimum for 30 or 60 min broadcast television.

            Getting paid for a WGA accredited work is what gets you in the guild. Not the other way around.

  • Midnight Luck

    As I read Carson’s breakdown of the script, which I realized I had heard of this story before, all I could think is “that is a fun and funny idea, but it sounds like HALF a story”.

    It sounds like something that would be a fun and quirky concept. It is different and you could do a lot with it, but only up to a point. I can see the beginning, I can see the change and the shake-up for the character, but then, somewhere around the middle, well, there’s nothing else there. I see it doing exactly what Carson says it does, just petering out. Second act doesn’t carry enough, and what is the ending? Does it go for the obvious? That he is in a Coma, or dead, or it is all a dream? Or is there something else, a big twist?

    I think if the story was based in something deeper, a reflection about what it is to be human, or a tale about civilization and society, then the story could last for an entire 90-120 minutes. But as it is, it sounds like a good start, but isn’t enough to carry it beyond 70-75 minutes.

    A great start, a good mid-point most likely, but nothing else.

    I haven’t read it, but that is my take, based on the idea, and on Carson’s coverage.

    It needs a deeper, overall take on people or society as a whole. Even an overall IRONIC perspective, which I don’t necessarily see here. Yes being a serious “stick in the mud” kind of guy, juxtaposed against everyone around him singing-and-dancing could seem to be Ironic, but it isn’t overall. It is just an outside symptom which doesn’t actually have much to do with the character himself.

  • Murphy

    Been trying to work out what this week is going to end with, I think I may know…

    Balls Out.

    The most brilliant and absolutely dingbat crazy screenplay I have ever read.

    While I am sure it was written as a satire of the screenwriting industry, effectively a script written with absolutely everything we are taught never to do, it was never confirmed that is what is was. Maybe it was just a batshit crazy real screenplay.

    I haven’t read it for a few years, just in case this script is the subject of tomorrow’s blog can someone send it to me? Pretty please. Scott you have my email address… ;-)

    Of course I might be really wrong.

  • FD

    Nice post, Tony. Could’ve been from me, except I have two kids, read the site at work and am on European Central Time. Apart from that our situations appear identical.
    That said, however, I am now in the final throes of finishing a script for the first time in years, so don’t give up on that: your time will come!