Script Analysis: “Kubo and the Two Strings” — Part 3: Characters

Read the script for the acclaimed animated movie and discuss this week.

Reading scripts. Absolutely critical to learn the craft of screenwriting. The focus of this bi-weekly series is a deep structural and thematic analysis of each script we read. Our daily schedule:

Monday: Scene-By-Scene Breakdown
Tuesday: Plot
Wednesday: Characters
Thursday: Themes
Friday: Dialogue
Saturday: Takeaways

Today: Characters.

Characters are the players in our stories. They participate in scenes, move the plot forward through action and dialogue, influence each other, evolve and change. Each has their own distinct backstory, personality, world view, and voice. When a writer does their best, digging deep into their characters, tapping into their souls, the players in our stories magically lift up off the printed page and come to life in a reader’s imagination.

Today we discuss the characters in the script for Kubo and the Two Strings. You may download a copy of the script here. You may also watch the movie on Netflix. A list of the key characters:

Kubo
Monkey
Moon King
The Sisters
Beetle
Sariatu
Hanzo

Screenplay by Marc Haimes and Chris Butler, story by Shannon Tindle and Marc Haimes.

IMDb plot summary: A young boy named Kubo must locate a magical suit of armor worn by his late father in order to defeat a vengeful spirit from the past.

Writing Exercise: Think about each character. What’s their function? How do their roles interrelate?

Major kudos to Nikki Syreeta for doing this week’s scene-by-scene breakdown.

To download a PDF of the breakdown for Kubo and the Two Strings, go here.

For Part 1, to read the Scene-By-Scene Breakdown, go here.

For Part 2, to read the Major Plotline Points, go here.

Tomorrow: We reflect on themes.

Seize this opportunity and join in the conversation!

I hope to see you in the RESPONSE section about this week’s script: Kubo and the Two Strings.


Script Analysis: “Kubo and the Two Strings” — Part 3: Characters was originally published in Go Into The Story on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Go Into The Story — Medium

Script Analysis: “Kubo and the Two Strings” — Part 2: Plot

Read the script for the acclaimed animated movie and discuss this week.

Reading scripts. Absolutely critical to learn the craft of screenwriting. The focus of this bi-weekly series is a deep structural and thematic analysis of each script we read. Our daily schedule:

Monday: Scene-By-Scene Breakdown
Tuesday: Plot
Wednesday: Characters
Thursday: Themes
Friday: Dialogue
Saturday: Takeaways

Today: Plot.

In every scene, something happens. A plot point is a scene or group of scenes in which something major happens, an event that impacts the narrative causing it to turn in a new direction.

A relevant anecdote. Years ago, I was on the phone with a writer discussing a script project. My son Will, who was about four years old at the time, must have been listening to me talking about “plot points” during the conversation because after I hung up, he asked, “Daddy, what’s a plop point?”

That’s in effect what a plot point is. It’s an event that ‘plops’ into the narrative and changes its course. So when you think Plot Point, think Plop Point!

The value of this exercise:

  • To identify the backbone of the story structure.
  • To examine each major plot point and see how it is effective as an individual event.
  • To analyze the major plot points in aggregate to determine why they work together as the central plot.

This week: Kubo and the Two Strings. You may download a copy of the script here. You may also watch the movie on Netflix.

Screenplay by Marc Haimes and Chris Butler, story by Shannon Tindle and Marc Haimes.

IMDb plot summary: A young boy named Kubo must locate a magical suit of armor worn by his late father in order to defeat a vengeful spirit from the past.

Writing Exercise: Go through the scene-by-scene breakdown of Kubo and the Two Strings and identify the major plot points. Post your thoughts in comments and we’ll see if we can come up with a consensus.

Major kudos to Nikki Syreeta for doing this week’s scene-by-scene breakdown.

To download a PDF of the breakdown for Kubo and the Two Strings, go here.

For Part 1, to read the Scene-By-Scene Breakdown, go here.

Tomorrow we shift our focus to the script’s key characters.

So seize this opportunity and join in the conversation!

I hope to see you in the RESPONSE section about this week’s script: Kubo and the Two Strings.


Script Analysis: “Kubo and the Two Strings” — Part 2: Plot was originally published in Go Into The Story on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Go Into The Story — Medium

Script Analysis: “Kubo and the Two Strings” — Part 1: Scene By Scene Breakdown

Read the script for the acclaimed animated movie and discuss this week.

Reading scripts. Absolutely critical to learn the craft of screenwriting. The focus of this bi-weekly series is a deep structural and thematic analysis of each script we read. Our daily schedule:

Monday: Scene-By-Scene Breakdown
Tuesday: Plot
Wednesday: Characters
Thursday: Themes
Friday: Dialogue
Saturday: Takeaways

Today: Scene-By-Scene Breakdown. Here is my take on this exercise from a previous series of posts — How To Read A Screenplay:

After a first pass, it’s time to crack open the script for a deeper analysis and you can do that by creating a scene-by-scene breakdown. It is precisely what it sounds like: A list of all the scenes in the script accompanied by a brief description of the events that transpire.

For purposes of this exercise, I have a slightly different take on scene. Here I am looking not just for individual scenes per se, but a scene or set of scenes that comprise one event or a continuous piece of action. Admittedly this is subjective and there is no right or wrong, the point is simply to break down the script into a series of parts which you then can use dig into the script’s structure and themes.

The value of this exercise:

  • We pare down the story to its most constituent parts: Scenes.
  • By doing this, we consciously explore the structure of the narrative.
  • A scene-by-scene breakdown creates a foundation for even deeper analysis of the story.

This week: Kubo and the Two Strings. For those who may have missed this wonderful animated movie (current IMDb rating: 7.9), here is a great chance to check it out. You may download a copy of the script here. You may also watch the movie on Netflix.

Screenplay by Marc Haimes and Chris Butler, story by Shannon Tindle and Marc Haimes.

IMDb plot summary: A young boy named Kubo must locate a magical suit of armor worn by his late father in order to defeat a vengeful spirit from the past.

Kubo and the Two Strings
Scene-by-scene breakdown
By Nikki Syreeta
GoIntoTheStory.blcklst.com

P 1 An angry ocean tries to sink a small fishing boat. The WOMAN, with a bundle tied to her back, on the boat plays a shamisen, a stringed instrument, to control the waves and safely make it to shore. A child narrator tells us to pay attention. “No matter how unusual it may seem.”

P 2 A huge wave tosses the woman out of the boat, onto the shore where she is knocked unconscious. The bundle begins crying, waking her up. It’s a baby with one eye. This is KUBO. The narrator tells us Kubo’s grandfather stole something from him, eluding to his eye.

P 3 The first face we see is of a monkey, a tiny carved wooden charm. Kubo is now 10 and lives in a cave. He cleans up dozens of pieces of wrinkled paper scattered around the cave. He also takes care of his mother. She is old and feeble.

P 4–5 Kubo and his mother eat breakfast. Kubo works with the wrinkled paper by the shore. He makes origami animals and figures. He’s an expert. A bell chimes in the distance and Kubo gathers his papers and heads to town.

P 5–6 We are introduced to Kubo’s townspeople and Kameyo, an old homeless woman, who befriends Kubo. It’s a lively market, full of people. This is where Kubo finds his audience.

P 7–10 Kubo captures the people’s attention with a story full of magic. “If you must blink, do it now!” His wrinkled paper becomes moving origami characters in his story of Hanzo, a samurai on a quest to fight the Moon King. Hanzo can only defeat the Moon King with a magical suit of armor made up of three pieces: the Sword Unbreakable, The Breastplate Impenetrable, and the Helmet Invulnerable.

The crowd is entranced by Kubo’s story and his origami “puppets”.

P 11 A gong sounds as the sun begins to sets. Kubo stops….without finishing the story. Kubo leaves the market and hurries back to his cave.

P 12–13 As Kubo and his mother have dinner she tells him the same story of Hanzo, but more personal, this story is true. We learn that Hanzo was Kubo’s father. The Moon King is his Grandfather and he stole Kubo’s eye. His mother warns him to be cautious.

P 14 While Kubo sleeps, his mother has a nightmare. Now we see how the paper gets scattered all around the cave. We also see the how fragile his mother is.

P 14–21 While at the market the next day, Kubo learns of a ritual the townspeople use to contact the dead. Kubo heads to the cemetery and creates an origami lantern for his father to light, if he comes. He waits for his father to answer, but his lantern never lights. Kubo doesn’t notice it’s getting dark outside.

P 21–23 As Kubo waits, he hears a voice call his name. Suddenly, THE SISTERS, the ones his mother warned him about, come and chase him through the town. He calls for help. The sisters lay waste to the town, burning it to the ground. He races back to his cave, but before he can make it, he falls and the sisters are upon him. Shadow demons surround him.

P 24 Suddenly, his mother pulls out his shamisen and strikes the strings, scaring off the demons. She smacks the beetle crest on the back of his robe and wings emerge and carry him from danger. He watches as the sisters battle his mother. But before the battle is over, the robe covers his eyes.

P 25 The next face we see is MONKEY as she wakes Kubo up as a blizzard blows around them. She looks curiously like his monkey charm from earlier. She tells him they must leave before the Sisters come back. She puts Kubo on her back and races through the snow to find shelter.

P 26–30 The duo make a whale carcass shelter for the night and Kubo has questions. Monkey only allows him three. Monkey reveals the she is the monkey charm Kubo always had. Monkey tells Kubo that his mother was very powerful and used the last of her magic to save him and bring monkey to life.

P 30–34 While Kubo sleeps he calls out to his father and his paper forms a small Hanzo. He impatiently tries to get Kubo and Monkey to follow him. It seems their quest has begun. The trio ventures through foothills to the cliffside.

P 35–37 The trio comes across colossal statues on the cliffside. As they traverse the rocky cliffs, Kubo disappears into one of the huge eye sockets. Monkey follows she as Kubo is dragged away by a “creature”. It’s a giant beetle. Part human, part bug. Monkey wants to kill it, but Kubo stops her. “It just wanted Hanzo.”

P 38–40 BEETLE reveals that Hanzo used to be his master, but he was cursed and lost his memory. He was a samurai in Hanzo’s army. Kubo tells him Hanzo was his father. Beetle pledges his life to help Kubo find the Sword Unbreakable and promises he’ll be useful. Monkey is unimpressed.

P 41–42 As they explore the labyrinth of tunnels, Kubo tells Beetle how they ended up on this journey. Hanzo slips through a crack in the wall. When they break through they find a giant relief carved into the wall. Kubo probes the carving and releases a trapdoor in the floor. The trio falls into….

P 42–45 A huge chamber full of old bones. In the middle, a giant disembodied skeleton hand holds THE SWORD UNBREAKABLE! Kubo runs to get it, but Monkey holds him back. Beetle manages to get it, but causes the enormous bones to move and form a giant skeleton body. Fully formed it becomes an Odokuro. Monkey grabs the sword and tries to use it against the beast. It shatters into a thousand pieces. “It’s not the right sword, you idiot!” The beast grabs her.

P 45–46 Hanzo points to the sword stuck in the Odokuro’s skull. THAT’S the Sword Unbreakable. But in the glow of the flames shooting out its eyes, the trio sees DOZENS of swords stuck in his head. Beetle tries to stop the beast with arrows, but they have no effect. Monkey tries the swords from its head, they shatter to pieces. Just as Monkey is about to be dropped its mouth, a flock of paper birds circle the Odokuro’s head in an angry squall. The beast swats at the birds and stomps its feet in anger.

Kubo is almost crushed under its feet, but Beetle comes to the rescue and discovered he has wings as he flies Kubo out of harm’s way.

P 46–48 Kubo and Beetle fly up to the beast’s skull and pull sword after sword until they find the one that won’t move…..the Sword Unbreakable. Beetle is knocked out of the sky, leaving Kubo to retrieve the sword. Kubo manages to free the sword, but causes the skeleton to crumple to pieces. Beetle saves them all by flying them out of the Hall of Bones and they crash land onto the beach below.

P 49–52 Monkey tends to Beetle’s wounds as they argue about what to do next. “Crossing the lake is ridiculous.” While they argue Kubo forms an origami boat out of beach combed detritus. Monkey is impressed.

P 53–56 Our group has been sailing for quite some time. Beetle teaches Kubo how to shoot fish with a bow and arrow. After Monkey offers a better way to catch fish, Kubo tells Beetle about his mother and how he would take care of her and tell her stories. “When I told those stories, her eyes were mostly clear. I could tell she saw me.”

A crack of thunder interrupts the moment. A storm is coming. Monkey suggests going to shore, but Hanzo points into the dark waters. The second piece of armor, the BREASTPLATE IMPENETRABLE, is down there in the murky depths.

P 57 Beetle is set to jump in and get it, but Kubo stops him. Tells him there is a Garden of Eyes in Long Lake that stare into your soul and cause you to drown. Beetle jumps in anyway, ignoring Kubo’s warning.

P 58 Meanwhile, the Sisters realize Kubo and Monkey are on a quest to find the armor. They vow to stop them.

P 58–59 As the rain pours down, Kubo is worried about Beetle, who hasn’t surfaced yet. Monkey urges him to go to shore because it’s getting dark and the sisters are still out there. Before she can stop him, Kubo dives in after Beetle. Determined to help Kubo, Monkey grabs the swords and gets ready to follow, but something snatches her back on deck. A Sister has snagged her ankle with a chain. Monkey attacks!

P 59 Underwater, as Kubo searches for Beetle, a golden light shines through thick kelp. Kubo swims toward it and finds the Breastplate. He slides into it and it shrinks to fit his body. He swims for the surface but a giant eye transfixes Kubo. His body goes slacks as he stares directly into it.

P 60–62 Monkey fights for her life on the deck of the boat locked in a fierce battle with the Sister. Just as she get the upper hand, Beetle jumps back on the boat proudly displaying a fish skewered on his arrow. He doesn’t know Kubo jumped in after him. Monkey orders Beetle to go back and find Kubo.

P 62 Underwater, the Ningen drags Kubo deeper toward a giant mouth with razor sharp teeth surrounded by dozens of eyes. Suddenly, an arrow punctures the eye, breaking the trance. Beetle appears as Kubo runs out of air and passes out.

P 62–63 Meanwhile on the boat, Monkey and the Sister are still locked in a battle. The boats has been torn to shreds in the raging storm. Monkey manages a last bit of strength and deals a killing blow to Sister with the sword.

P 63–64 Beetle surfaces within Kubo. Finds Monkey floating on a piece of boat wreckage. He drags Kubo onto the wreckage. Monkey thinks Kubo is dead until pieces of the boat slowly reassemble. Kubo comes to and says the Ningen showed him that Monkey was his mother.

P 65–68 The group finds a cave and Kubo asks Monkey to explain. Monkey tells them the story of how she and his father met. As she tells the story, the objects in the cave come alive and form to illustrate her story. She and her sisters were sent down, by the Moon King, to kill any noble warrior who found the magical armor. He said anyone who found it would grow too powerful. She told Hanzo he must die and they fought. But when he looked into her eyes he stopped. “You are my quest.” She spared his life, they fell in love, and they had Kubo. But the Moon King found them and was angry at her betrayal.

P 69 Kubo falls asleep. Monkey tells Beetle, the magic keeping her here is fading and she’ll be gone soon. As before, Beetle pledges his life to keeping Kubo safe and reassures Monkey her story doesn’t end here. It will always be told through Kubo.

P 70–72 That night, Kubo dreams he’s playing by a river where he meets an old man playing a shamisen. The landscape shifts to show his father’s fortress. Inside the fortress is the last piece of armor, the helmet. “Follow the setting sun and you’ll find it.” The group sets out through the Farlands and hike through the mountains until they come to a ridge. Just passed the ridge they find the ruins of a once majestic island fortress.

P 72–77 Inside they find remnants of the past, dozens of scrolls, broken pieces of armor scattered across the floor. Suddenly, smoke seeps from the shattered armor and circles our heroes. It’s constricts them and hoists them into the air. The smoke is coming from the smoking pipe of the other Sister, who has been hiding, waiting for them. The Sister chastises Beetle for ripping apart their family by stealing her sister from her. She laughs as Monkey and Beetle realize that Beetle IS the real Hanzo and they stole his memories. “You’ve been together all this time and you haven’t even realized?”

P 77–79 The Sister turns her attention the Kubo, the one she came for. Kubo manages to slash her mask with his bachi pick, cracking it in half and breaking the pipe. The smoke disappears and the Sister throws Kubo across the courtyard in anger, knocking him unconscious. Monkey attacks but she is no match for the Sister. Kubo comes to and his father and mother move to protect him just as the Sister drives her sword deep into Beetle’s back, killing him. In a final attempt to save his mother, Kubo reaches for his shamisen and strikes it so hard two strings break. A blinding white light of sound swallows everything up!

P 79–80 Kubo opens his eye to find he’s in the courtyard, alone. His tears fall on the single string of his shamisen causing the shredded paper around him to form a tattered, flimsy Paper Hanzo, who isn’t giving up. He drags himself across the floor and points his sword. Kubo turns to see a illustration of the helmet impenetrable, only it looks like the bell in the village. Kubo packs his things and wraps Beetle’s bow string around his wrist alongside his mother’s bracelet. He stands in the middle of the courtyard with the frayed Beetle banners flapping in the wind. He strikes a single note on his last string as hard as he can. The beetle banners flutter violently, twist, and intertwine in Kubo’s robes forming a magnificent pair of wings. They lift him up and fly him out of the ruins.

P 81 Kubo’s wings fly him over the burned out town and land him next to the bell tower on central avenue. Kubo hits the crumbling tower until it falls, freeing the helmet. The villagers appear. Kubo tells hem to flee, the Moon King is coming. The villagers hurry toward the gate out of town. Kubo yells for his GRANDFATHER. When he appears, he’s the old man from Kubo’s dream dressed in a robe glowing in the moonlight.

P 82–85 Kubo accuses him of wanting to steal him other eye. Grandfather says he wants it so Kubo can live in the heavens with him. Kubo refuses and declares he will end this story by killing his Grandfather. The Moon King has had enough and gives Kubo a chance to battle the monster that ruined his life. His skin begins to change into a milky-like shell. His face begins to crack like glass. He spreads his arms and he breaks apart like cocoon becoming a serpent like monster. Kubo fights bravely, but he’s out matched as the beast crushes him between it’s jaws then spits him out. Kubo can’t defend himself as the beast squeezes him and flings him in the air like a rag doll.

P 85 Kubo crashes through branches and lands in the cemetery. As the Moon Beast smashes through the village toward him, Kubo reaches for his sword. But he sees the bow string and bracelet made of his mother’s hair on his wrist. He deftly uses them to restring his shamisen. The beast is upon him as he plucks a hair from his own head and strings it across the last space on his shamisen.

P: 86–87 He plucks the first string. The sound stops the Moon Beast in its tracks and ignites all the lanterns in the river. Kubo knows why the Moon Beast wants his eye. So he can’t look in another’s eyes and see their souls and their love. The beast taunts Kubo about taking away everything he loved. But Kubo is still defiant. “No. It’s in my memories. The most powerful kind of magic there is.”

He plucks the second string. All the villagers emerge from behind trees and grave markers. Their anterns glowing as they stand beside Kubo. He strikes the final string creating a sound that echoes endlessly. Joining Kubo’s army are spirits of the dead surrounded by an otherworldly blue light. The Moon Beast rears back to attack Kubo, but is deflected by the blue light. He tries again and again, each time the light grows stronger. Finally, Kubo strums all the strings at once. The blue light explodes giving way to blinding white light.

P:88–89 When the light dissipates, the sweet old man from Kubo’s dream stands before them. He’s confused and has no memory of who he is and what has happened. “I’ve seemed to have forgotten my story.” Kameyo offers to tell him everything he needs to know. “You are the kindest, sweetest man to ever live in the village.” All the villagers offer pieces to his new story.

P:90–92 As night falls, the last of the villagers leave the cemetery and Kubo assembles his new alter. He offers a prayer to his parents, thanking them for their wisdom, kindest, and love while on the journey. As he speaks the paper lanterns in the river light and begin refolding themselves into glowing blue herons as they rise up into the sky. Down on the riverbank below is Kubo standing between the spirits Hanzo and Mother.

Major kudos to Nikki Syreeta for doing this week’s scene-by-scene breakdown.

To download a PDF of the breakdown for Kubo and the Two Strings, go here.

For those folks who volunteer to write a scene-by-scene breakdown, beyond your name being noted here, my thanks, and your own personal dose of creative juju, you will learn something about story structure and further develop this important skill set.

Here is our current list of literary heroes and heroines!

A Monster Calls / Andrew Turner

Anthropoid / Marija Nielsen

Arrival / Ashish Chand

Captain Fantastic / Despina Karintis

Denial / Gina Gomez

Eye in the Skye / Bruce Gordon

Fences / Matt Cowley

The Founder / Eric Rodriguez

Hail, Caesar! / Brianne VanTuyle

Hell or High Water / Andrew Lightfoot

The Invitation / Joni Trumpold Brainerd

Jackie / Karen Dantas

Kubo and the Two Strings / Nikki Syreeta

La La Land / Priya Gopal

Loving / Liz Correal

Maggie’s Plan / Monique Mata

Manchester by the Sea / Ashley Lara

Miles Ahead / Alecia Hodges

Moonlight / Ryan Canty

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 / Nikki Leydecker

The Secret Life of Pets / Paul Huffman

Victor Frankenstein / Lisa Gomez

Zootopia / Will King

Italics = Turned in scene-by-scene breakdown

Bold = Have used scene-by-scene breakdown in week-long analysis

Now is YOUR chance to contribute to this most worthy cause and provide an additional resource for the online screenwriting community.

Thanks, all!

Even if you do not participate in the analysis, discussion, or write up a scene-by-scene breakdown, I strongly encourage you to read these scripts.

So seize this opportunity and join in the conversation!

I hope to see you in the RESPONSE section about this week’s script: Kubo and the Two Strings.


Script Analysis: “Kubo and the Two Strings” — Part 1: Scene By Scene Breakdown was originally published in Go Into The Story on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Go Into The Story — Medium

The next Go Into The Story Read and Analysis Script: “Kubo and the Two Strings”

Read the script for the acclaimed animated action adventure movie.

In 2015, we launched several initiatives at Go Into The Story. One of the best: A script read and analysis series. As a result, there are now 65 scripts GITS readers have analyzed. Moreover volunteers have written up scene-by-scene breakdowns, not only to serve as a foundation for our week-long discussions, but also to create an online resource for writers. To date, we have 55 scene-by-scene breakdowns. Thanks to Nikki Syreeta, we’ll be adding a new one next week.

Beginning Monday, April 24, we will spend a week digging into and analyzing the movie script Kubo and the Two Strings, screenplay by Marc Haimes and Chris Butler, story by Shannon Tindle and Marc Haimes.

For those who may have missed this wonderful animated movie (current IMDb rating: 7.9), here is a great chance to check it out. You may download a copy of the script here. You may also watch the movie on Netflix.

Our daily schedule next week:

Monday: Scene-By-Scene Breakdown
Tuesday: Major Plot Points
Wednesday: Characters
Thursday: Themes
Friday: Dialogue
Saturday: Takeaways

Finally allow me to use the words of one of Hollywood’s hottest screenwriters to bludgeon you over the head with the value of reading scripts. From one of my most recent interviews, Jon Spaihts responds to my final question, What advice would you offer to aspiring screenwriters about learning the craft and breaking into Hollywood? Here’s his answer:

Read the script and then watch the movie. Watch the movie and then read the script. Watch the movie with the script in your lap. Study the parts. You have to see through the surfaces. Being a fan is insufficient. Break it down. That means slowing it down and looking at it through a series of different lenses.

Once you’ve begun to do that, you can see what the parts of a screenplay and the parts of a movie do.

First thing Jon said: Read scripts.

Here’s your chance to do just that by digging into Kubo and the Two Strings and analyzing the story all next week.

See you tomorrow!


The next Go Into The Story Read and Analysis Script: “Kubo and the Two Strings” was originally published in Go Into The Story on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Go Into The Story — Medium

Tweetstorm: Daniel Kunka on dealing with ‘bad’ script notes

Last week screenwriter Daniel Kunka (@unikunka) posted a series of tweets about handling script notes a writer may feel are… well… shitty. Reprinted by permission:

I concur with this. In fact, you can read this Business of Screenwriting post in which I got fired off my own project Alaska because I refused to make a script change. To this day, I still think it was a shitty note and the movie suffered for it. But hey, I just got residual check for the movie in yesterday’s mail, so I got that going for me.

In addition to Daniel’s wise words, there are a few other possibilities when you receive what you think is a bad note:

  • They forget they gave you the note. You just kinda conveniently forget that note in the next pass and see if they remember it or not. Obviously if it’s a big note, that’s not going to happen. But if it’s one of a lot of notes and it’s not that significant, and you hate the idea, it’s worth a shot.
  • You may discover an alternate way that incorporates the spirit of what their note is that actually improves the script. You may have to do a bit of explaining your logic, but as long as (A) it does make the script better and (B) the legacy of their note is still present, that can be a a double bonus.
  • And then there’s this: What you thought was a shitty note could turn out to be a decent, even good one. This is why in a notes meeting, you never say ‘no’, you always give them something like, “Yeah, let’s see what I can do with that”. That way you’re not only acting like a team player, you’re also giving yourself time to see if the dumb idea might actually be a damn good one. Rare, but it does happen.

About Daniel Kunka: In 2011, Daniel Kunka sold the spec script “Agent Ox”, in 2013 he sold the spec script “Bermuda Triangle”, in 2014 he sold the spec script “Yellowstone Park”, and in 2015 he sold the spec script “Battle of New Orleans” both of which went on to make the Black List. He sold a script to NBC for a mini-series called “The Ark”. This year, Daniel sold yet another spec script: “Space Race”.

To read my June 2013 interview with Daniel, go here.

Twitter: @unikunka.

To read all of the screenwriting tweetstorms I’ve aggregated on GITS, go here.


Tweetstorm: Daniel Kunka on dealing with ‘bad’ script notes was originally published in Go Into The Story on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Go Into The Story - Medium

Go Into The Story Script Reading & Analysis: “The Invitation”

The entire 6 part series delving into the acclaimed indie thriller.

This week, we have been reading, analyzing, and discussing the script and movie The Invitation, written by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi.

Plot summary: While attending a dinner party at his former home, a man thinks his ex-wife and her new husband have sinister intentions for their guests.

Scene-By-Scene Breakdown
Plot
Characters
Themes
Dialogue
Takeaways

For my 7-part series on How to Read a Screenplay, go here.

30 Days of Screenplays [2013]

30 Days of Screenplays [2014]

For the archives of over 60Go Into The Story Script Reading & Analysis Series posts, go here.

Years ago, I came up with this mantra: Watch movies. Read scripts. Write pages. A link to my reflections on that here.

Cannot emphasize enough the importance of reading movie scripts.


Go Into The Story Script Reading & Analysis: “The Invitation” was originally published in Go Into The Story on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Go Into The Story — Medium

Script Analysis: “The Invitation” — Part 6: Takeaways

Read the script for the acclaimed indie thriller and discuss this week.

Reading scripts. Absolutely critical to learn the craft of screenwriting. The focus of this bi-weekly series is a deep structural and thematic analysis of each script we read. Our daily schedule:

Monday: Scene-By-Scene Breakdown
Tuesday: Plot
Wednesday: Characters
Thursday: Themes
Friday: Dialogue
Saturday: Takeaways

Today: Takeaways.

This week, we have been reading, analyzing, and discussing the script and movie The Invitation. In some ways, today’s exercise is the whole point of the series: What did you take away from the experience of reading and analyzing the script?

Written by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi.

Plot summary: While attending a dinner party at his former home, a man thinks his ex-wife and her new husband have sinister intentions for their guests.

Write a RESPONSE and let me know what your takeaways have been from the script for The Invitation.

Major kudos to Joni Brainerd for doing this week’s scene-by-scene breakdown.

To download a PDF of the breakdown for The Invitation, go here.

For Part 1, to read the Scene-By-Scene Breakdown, go here.

For Part 2, to read Major Plot Points, go here.

For Part 3, to read Characters, go here.

For Part 4, to read Themes, go here.

For Part 5, to read Dialogue, go here.

Seize this opportunity and join in the conversation!

I hope to see you in the RESPONSE section about this week’s script: The Invitation.


Script Analysis: “The Invitation” — Part 6: Takeaways was originally published in Go Into The Story on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Go Into The Story — Medium

Script Analysis: “The Invitation” — Part 5: Dialogue

Read the script for the acclaimed indie thriller and discuss this week.

Reading scripts. Absolutely critical to learn the craft of screenwriting. The focus of this bi-weekly series is a deep structural and thematic analysis of each script we read. Our daily schedule:

Monday: Scene-By-Scene Breakdown
Tuesday: Plot
Wednesday: Characters
Thursday: Themes
Friday: Dialogue
Saturday: Takeaways

Today: Dialogue.

Written by Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi.

Plot summary: While attending a dinner party at his former home, a man thinks his ex-wife and her new husband have sinister intentions for their guests.

Some questions to consider in relation to dialogue in The Invitation:

  • What do you consider to be the most memorable lines… and why?
  • Any notable callbacks (a line used once, then used again later in a different context)?
  • How about set-up & payoffs?
  • Any exposition that caught your eye for being handled exceptionally well?

Head to RESPONSES and let me know what dialogue in the script made the most impact on you.

Major kudos to Joni Brainerd for doing this week’s scene-by-scene breakdown.

To download a PDF of the breakdown for The Invitation, go here.

For Part 1, to read the Scene-By-Scene Breakdown, go here.

For Part 2, to read Major Plot Points, go here.

For Part 3, to read Characters, go here.

For Part 4, to read Themes, go here.

Tomorrow we shift our focus to the script’s dialogue.

Seize this opportunity and join in the conversation!

I hope to see you in the RESPONSE section about this week’s script: The Invitation.


Script Analysis: “The Invitation” — Part 5: Dialogue was originally published in Go Into The Story on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Go Into The Story — Medium

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