Script Analysis: “La La Land” — Part 4: Themes

Read the script for the Oscar nominated movie and analyze it all 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: Themes.

I have this theory about theme. In two parts. First, a principle: Theme = Meaning. What does the story mean? Second, while there is almost always a Central Theme, there are multiple other Sub-Themes at play in a story. Therefore the question, What does a story mean takes on several layers of meaning?

Time to ponder themes in La La Land. You can download a PDF of the script here.

Written by Damien Chazelle.

Plot summary: La La Land tells the story of Mia [Emma Stone], an aspiring actress, and Sebastian [Ryan Gosling], a dedicated jazz musician, who are struggling to make ends meet in a city known for crushing hopes and breaking hearts. Set in modern day Los Angeles, this original musical about everyday life explores the joy and pain of pursuing your dreams.

Writing Exercise: Explore the themes in La La Land. What is its Central Theme? What are some of the related Sub-Themes?

Major kudos to Sharita Gopal for doing this week’s scene-by-scene breakdown.

To download a PDF of the breakdown for La La Land, 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.

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: La La Land.

Onward!


Script Analysis: “La La Land” — Part 4: Themes 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

Zero Draft Thirty: Story Prep — Script Diary

The last thing you should do before you type FADE IN…

Do you have a story you want to write? A feature length movie screenplay? An original TV pilot? A web series pilot? A novel? Short story? An epic length limerick?

The Zero Draft Thirty 2017 Spring Challenge is for you!

March 1: You type FADE IN / Once upon a time.

March 31: You type FADE OUT / And they all lived happily ever after.

Hold on. I’ve just heard from the proper authorities that our request for an additional day in March has been granted. So technically, you’ve got 31 days, but since we’ve already got all the invitations printed as Zero Draft Thirty, we’ll just keep it at that.

In any event, here is some background on exactly what the Zero Draft Thirty Challenge is. On October 15, 2015, I posted this, inviting people to join me in November as I pounded out a draft of a comedy script. Hundreds of people responded.

So I posted this a few days later. Hundreds more people enlisted in the cause. We even got a groovy visual to go along with the initiative:

Then every day for 30 days in November, I did a Zero Draft Thirty post with inspirational writing quotes, videos, and handed out a daily Trumbo Award to the person who was deemed worthy for their efforts in supporting our collective cause.

A Facebook group emerged from the process, now with over 600 members. The Challenge was written up in Indiewire. Translated into Spanish. Got its own hashtag on Twitter: #ZD30SCRIPT.

Eventually over 1000 writers joined up for the Challenge. Via Facebook, Twitter, or email, nearly 200 writers let me know they had finished their Zero Drafts.

In processing all of this and noting how I had long promoted the idea that we should aim to write two scripts per year, I thought why not do a spring ZD30 Challenge and a fall ZD30 Challenge.

Hence the Zero Draft Thirty 2017 Spring Challenge in March.

And you are cordially invited.

In the days leading up to ZD30, I figured we could spend some time talking about story prep as well as psychological prep for our collective writing effort.

Today let’s talk about one of the most valuable first draft resources I have discovered: Script Diary.

The last thing I do before I type FADE IN is create yet a Word file, which I call Script Diary.

I come to the diary to start every writing session. I visit it when I get stuck. I return to it when I hit on a story revelation. Day after day, I use my script diary to chronicle the writing of the story.

At the start of a writing session, I note the date and time in the script diary, then get my fingers and brain loosened up by typing up my thoughts about the scene I am about to tackle. I’ll remind myself what type of scene it is, which characters are participating in it, what each of their agendas is, who is playing what story function for that scene, how the scene relates to the overall plot, what the central point of the scene is, and so on. As I’m doing that, normally lines of dialogue pop to mind and I’ll put those down — so in essence I’m pre-drafting the scene, and can take that sketch to my script file and use it to write the actual scene.

I also use the script diary to track my emotional connection to the story. For instance, I may be worried about whether the scene I’m about to write will work or not. I may be concerned that one of the characters doesn’t feel quite right. If I’m stuck, I use the diary as a place to express my fears about the story; in fact, if I’m really stuck, I’ll ‘ask’ the characters, right there in my diary, to talk to me, show me what they want or need.

Now you may think I’m crazy — talking to my characters, asking them for help! But ever since I’ve started using a script diary, my experience of my story’s characters has become that much more… real, I suppose is the best way to describe it.

Whenever I am stuck, I start writing in my script diary, and invariably I become aware of my characters. Suddenly, one of them will turn and halfway glance at me or motion, and I’ll ‘follow’ them.

What I am saying is that my characters lead me deeper into my story. They show me the way. And the script diary is a crucial part of that experience because, I think, I am opening myself up to my characters, creating a ‘dialogue’ with them on those diary pages.

And there’s something else that’s very cool about a script diary: when you’re done with the project, you’ve got this journal of the entire writing process. You can go back to see and feel the actual moments where you found a breakthrough, where you busted through a story block, where your characters spoke to you.

Like everything else in this succession of posts, a script diary may not work for you. However, I encourage you to try it at least once. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Back to the Zero Draft Thirty Challenge:

March 1: Type FADE IN.
March 31: Type FADE OUT.

One month. A first draft of an original screenplay. TV pilot. Or a rewrite of an existing script.

For background on the Zero Draft Thirty challenge, go here.

Don’t forget the Zero Draft Thirty Facebook group. A terrific collection of folks who post things every day, even when we’re not in a challenge.

So calling all Zeronauts, Outlaws, Scamperers, and Writing Warriors. Who’s up for pounding out a Zero Draft in September? LET’S DO THIS THING!

Hashtag: #ZD30SCRIPT.


Zero Draft Thirty: Story Prep — Script Diary 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: “La La Land” — Part 3: Characters

Read the script for the Oscar nominated movie and analyze it all 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 La La Land. You can download a PDF of the script here. A list of the key characters:

Mia

Sebastian

Bill

Greg

Keith

Laura

Harry

David

Written by Damien Chazelle.

Plot summary: La La Land tells the story of Mia [Emma Stone], an aspiring actress, and Sebastian [Ryan Gosling], a dedicated jazz musician, who are struggling to make ends meet in a city known for crushing hopes and breaking hearts. Set in modern day Los Angeles, this original musical about everyday life explores the joy and pain of pursuing your dreams.

Writing Exercise: Think about each character. What’s their function? And see if you can use character archetypes to help in your analysis.

Major kudos to Sharita Gopal for doing this week’s scene-by-scene breakdown.

To download a PDF of the breakdown for La La Land, go here.

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

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

Tomorrow: We reflect on themes in La La Land.

Seize this opportunity and join in the conversation!

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

Onward!


Script Analysis: “La La Land” — 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: “La La Land” — Part 2: Plot

Read the script for the Oscar nominated movie and analyze it all 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: La La Land. You can download a PDF of the script here.

Written by Damien Chazelle.

Plot summary: La La Land tells the story of Mia [Emma Stone], an aspiring actress, and Sebastian [Ryan Gosling], a dedicated jazz musician, who are struggling to make ends meet in a city known for crushing hopes and breaking hearts. Set in modern day Los Angeles, this original musical about everyday life explores the joy and pain of pursuing your dreams.

Writing Exercise: Go through the scene-by-scene breakdown of La La Land 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 Sharita Gopal for doing this week’s scene-by-scene breakdown.

To download a PDF of the breakdown for La La Land, 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: La La Land.

Onward!


Script Analysis: “La La Land” — 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

Van Helsing Movie Sets Dan Mazeau to Script

Are you ready for a new Van Helsing movie?

Wrath of the Titans’ Dan Mazeau is scripting the Universal Monsterverse Van Helsing movie

The new Universal Monsterverse is officially set to launch with this summer’s The Mummy and work is already well underway on several additional big screen projects that will tie into the same continuity. The Tracking Board today offers an update on one of those films, a Van Helsing movie that, according to the outlet, sees Wrath of the Titans scribe Dan Mazeau taking over scripting duties. Mazeau was part of Universal Pictures‘ Monsterverse writers room and takes over the Van Helsing movie from Arrival‘s Eric Heisserer and Doctor Strange‘s Jon Spaihts.

RELATED: The Mummy’s Alex Kurtzman Reveals the Universal Monsterverse

Abraham Van Helsing was created in 1897 by Bram Stoker for his novel Dracula. The arch enemy of the undead count, Van Helsing was both a fount of occult knowledge and a fearless vampire slayer. Over the past century, the Van Helsing character has been reimagined time and again. As was the case with the 2004 film, Van Helsing is often depicted battling all manner of monsters.

“We all came in without putting a flag down on any of those certain monsters or films, just talking about how we saw the world working and what we wanted to explore,” Heisserer tells Collider of his experience in the writers room. “Sometimes we’d talk about themes, and Jon and I just found ourselves kind of on the same page in terms of what we wanted to see Van Helsing explore. It was a natural team-up, I think.”

Although plans for the Van Helsing movie may change now that Mazeau is taking the lead, Heisserer stresses that he very much wanted to avoid a superhuman version of the monster hunter.

“[I’ve been] frustrated by the number of films where we find an extraordinary character with superhuman abilities that becomes a hero to solve a problem that a normal person cannot solve,” he explains “And I was eager to try and buck that trend and showcase someone who had no extraordinary powers, just resourcefulness and will and kind of a stubbornness who’s able to tackle some of these bigger problems. Because I don’t like the idea that we’re infusing our public and our pop culture with the idea that only super people can solve the world’s problems. I like the idea of the everyday hero stepping up to the plate and getting things fixed.”

What do you want to see from a Van Helsing movie? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

(Photo Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris / WireImage)

The post Van Helsing Movie Sets Dan Mazeau to Script appeared first on ComingSoon.net.

ComingSoon.net

Script Analysis: “La La Land” — Part 1: Scene By Scene Breakdown

Read the script for the Oscar nominated movie and analyze it all 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: La La Land. You can download a PDF of the script here.

Written by Damien Chazelle.

Plot summary: La La Land tells the story of Mia [Emma Stone], an aspiring actress, and Sebastian [Ryan Gosling], a dedicated jazz musician, who are struggling to make ends meet in a city known for crushing hopes and breaking hearts. Set in modern day Los Angeles, this original musical about everyday life explores the joy and pain of pursuing your dreams.

La La Land
Scene By Scene Breakdown
By Sharita Gopal
GoIntoTheStory.blcklst.com

P. 2 Morning rush hour on the 101 Freeway, cars are at a standstill. We drift past several cars and hear snippets of audio. One female driver starts singing, exits her car and starts dancing down the lane. Other drivers join her. This scene sets the tone and style of the movie.

P. 2 FLASH TITLE CARD: WINTER

P. 2–3 We are in the same traffic jam with SEBASTIAN, 32, L.A. Native, who listens to a tape of Thelonious Monk’s “Japanese Folk Song” which he keeps stopping, over and over, rewinding to the same exact spot.

Further up ahead, in another car is MIA, 27, Nevada-raised who has experienced six years of ‘No’ in L.A, toughened but still a dreamer. She rehearses lines from a script and doesn’t notice that traffic around her lets up and the car behind her honks. It’s SEBASTIAN, he passes her and she gives him the finger.

P. 3–5 We follow MIA who works in a COFFEE SHOP on a STUDIO LOT. She ignores a call from her mom and leaves work early to audition for a CASTING DIRECTOR. Her audition gets interrupted by the ASSISTANT. Mia waits to continue but the casting director has seen enough and thanks her for coming.

P. 6–8 MIA goes home exhausted. She shares an APARTMENT with three girls: TRACY (27), ALEXIS(26), CAITLIN (27) who are going out and want MIA to join them but she isn’t in the mood. TRACY breaks out into a song to persuade MIA, the other roommates join her singing and dancing. They are about to leave when MIA suddenly appears and joins them. They dance their way down the street and leave in one single car to a party in a modern HILLTOP HOUSE.

P. 9 We are at the party. MIA takes in the surroundings of the party where every Hollywood cliche is apparent and fitting in is not easy. In the bathroom, she takes a moment for herself and sings, feeling vulnerable, before she joins the party again. She moves through the party and ends up at pool where someone jumps in. Everyone joins in, circling the pool, singing and dancing. Here ends the song.

P. 10 MIA is alone at the parking spot. There is no car and she can’t reach TRACY. She starts walking home and hears on her way a PIANO MELODY. She follows that sound.

P. 10 CUT BACK TO THE SAME TRAFFIC JAM THAT MORNING. We’re back with SEBASTIAN, he honked and passes MIA, who gives him the finger. Moments later, he’s at RAYO’S and looks with disapproval at a 30s Deco building where the sign above the door reads ‘ Van Beek — Tapas and Tunes’.

P. 11–14 SEBASTIAN finds his sister LAURA, 37 in his bare apartment; no furniture, boxes unpacked and not made like a home, much to the annoyance of LAURA. SEBASTIAN tells he will unpack the boxes in his own club and he can’t believe it has become a tapas-samba place. His sister wants him to let go that he got ripped off and start living again. She wants him to meet a woman but he’s not interested. After she leaves, he practices the same Thelonious Monk song we heard in his car that morning, over and over, till he gets it right.

P. 15–16 SEBASTIAN arrives to work in a restaurant. He has worked there before. His boss reminds him to stick to the set list. He agrees but later he drifts off and starts playing something else, more freely; it’s the same melody MIA has heard outside and followed (from here on this song is called ‘Mia and Sebastian’s song’). Right then, Mia steps in and is immediately struck by this playing and a fantasy scene follows in which Mia and Sebastian are all alone. After the song ends, we’re back to reality. MIA is struck by the song. She and SEBASTIAN look at one another for a moment. The boss fires SEBASTIAN for his free play and SEBASTIAN walks away, hurt and angry, ignoring MIA who approaches him to pay him a compliment. MIA feels slapped in the face.

P. 17 SPRING

We see a few of MIA auditions. It’s pilot season cattle-call.

MIA visits a party where a 80s cover band plays. TRACY introduces her to CARLO, a writer but she’s not interested. She sees SEBASTIAN playing the keybord-guitar in the band and requests to play ‘I ran’. SEBASTIAN recognizes her and after the song, he apologizes for his previous behavior and they have a chat. After the party MIA dishes CARLO in the valet line and asks SEBASTIAN to get her key.

P. 21–24 MIA and SEBASTIAN walk to her car. MIA aims with her key fob at the lined cars but there is no beep. SEBASTIAN shows her a trick to get it work. They reach a clearing where the city skyline appears, a romantic sight but they downplay the romantic setting. They break into a song — a lovely night- and sing about this while they obviously feel something brewing. Bit by bit they’ve slipped into a dance and do really dance well together. At the height of their blossoming romance, a cell phone cuts through. It’s GREG, whom MIA has been dating. MIA leaves. SEBASTIAN is disappointed, returns to his car which was across the party.

P. 24–29 SEBASTIAN visits MIA at the coffee shop and after her shift they wander on the lot. MIA shares how long she has been dating GREG, how she got into acting and that’s the only thing she really wants, how she wrote her own plays when she was young and how she’s still doing auditions. SEBASTIAN encourages her to write her own roles. MIA confesses she hates jazz. Then, they hear drums and enter an old-school jazz club, LIGHTHOUSE CAFE.

P. 29–31 SEBASTIAN shares with MIA his love for jazz and the importance to safe it from dying. When he has his own club Van Beek back, the musicians could play whatever they want. MIA is moved by him and they have a special moment which is interrupted when her phone rings. She has a call-back for a show which is sort of Rebel without a cause. MIA confesses she hasn’t seen the movie and SEBASTIAN offers to take her to theater to see it, for research. They set a date for Monday evening. There is something brewing between them but they both suppress it.

P. 32 MIA and SEBASTIAN part. SEBASTIAN begins to sing — CITY OF STARS. He’s lifted by a strange new feeling. Perhaps he’s falling in love but there is also uncertainty if his dream will sustain.

P. 32–34 MIA answers her mom on the phone while she’s on the way to the audition. It’s a call- back on a pilot. Her mother doesn’t really understand the idea of a call-back and thinks she’s going to be on TV. MIA has practices her role a lot and is disappointed when she only gets one chance to say a few lines. She goes home humiliated. The idea of going to the movies with SEBASTIAN cheers her up a little bit.

P. 35 MIA is changing clothes for her date with SEBASTIAN when GREG shows up and asks her to hurry up for their date with his brother. She had forgotten about that. She’s crushed she can’t see SEBASTIAN but doesn’t have his number to call him off.

P. 17–21

P. 35 SEBASTIAN is playing a jam session in the LIGHTHOUSE CAFE. He’s looking forward to the evening with MIA.

P. 36 MIA is having dinner with GREG, JOSH (Greg’s brother) and his fiancee. She hasn’t spoken a word.

P. 36 SEBASTIAN paces at the RIALTO MOVIE THEATER, waiting for MIA.

P. 36 We are back at the restaurant. MIA is bored, restless and uneasy. Suddenly, she hears hers and SEBASTIAN’S song and the tune stirs something deep within her, which she can’t deny any longer, and she runs out of the restaurant to the theater.

P. 37–39 SEBASTIAN is thrilled to see MIA. During the movie, their bodies grow closer inch by inch until their hands touch. When they are about to kiss, the screen goes blank. They leave for the GRIFFITH OBSERVATORY and sneak in. They walk around and somewhere they begin dancing. This dance is fulfillIng and they drift off into the planetarium where they spin and twirl as if they were in outer space. Finally, they lock lips. It’s a kiss to remember.

P. 40 MIA works on her play at home. TRACY wants a role in it but it’s a one-woman show. SEBASTIAN honks outside to pick her up.

P. 41 SUMMER

P. 41 A series of glimpses follow with MIA and SEBASTIAN showing how they spend time with each other. Interspersed throughout we see images of L.A.

P. 41–42 SEBASTIAN plays the keys at the LIGHTHOUSE JAM SESSION. He has a great time and MIA dances her heart out although the place is almost empty. KEITH, 35, approaches SEBASTIAN but he’s not happy to see him. They used to play together. KEITH is looking for keys for a new combo. SEBASTIAN turns the offer down.

P. 43–45 MIA reads her play for SEBASTIAN and he loves it although MIA is not sure if people will like it. SEBASTIAN tells her to fuck em and he promises to be front-row when she performs. This means the world to her and she surprises him with a drawing of the name design for his club. It says ‘Seb’s” but he wants to call it “Chicken on a stick” which MIA disapproves. SEBASTIAN has his eyes set on getting back Van Beek for its history but MIA tells him to make his own history. He likes that line. MIA asks if he’s going to call back KEITH for the job offer but SEBASTIAN says no.

P. 46 SEBASTIAN overhears snatches of MIA’s voice in the other room, she’s talking to her mom and tells about her one-woman play which is going to pay for herself and that SEBASTIAN is going to open a jazz club but he has to get the money together first. SEBASTIAN takes this in and thinks about it.

P. 46–48 SEBASTIAN visit KEITH and his combo in their rehearsal space. KEITH offers him a deal and SEBASTIAN reluctantly accepts. He won’t be playing a piano but a keyboard. He plays to see how it feels. The combo plays modern jazz with an electronic feel. It isn’t his style but at least the guys can play. KEITH tells him that the music is different and that jazz is about the future and that he can have the job if he wants it.

P. 49–51 We are at SEBASTIAN’s apartment. He plays the piano when MIA enters. A melody we have heard before. He starts singing and she joins him. We follow MIA and SEBASTIAN in their life and see a series of events.
SEBASTIAN signs paperwork with KEITH. MIA hands her apron to the manager. She’s done working there. The band rehearses in their new place, KEITH sings and SEBASTIAN plays keys. MIA works on her play in a cafe. SEBASTIAN gets dressed up in a new suits. MIA haggles and shakes hands with the owner of a BLACK-BOX THEATER for her play. SEBASTIAN and the band waiting in a green room. MIA looking for props in a vintage shop and penciling out drawings for her play. We also see that MIA goes to be alone and SEBASTIAN comes home late in the morning. We return to SEBASTIAN’S apartment before this latest journey began and they finish the song.

P. 51 SEBASTIAN is on stage with KEITH and his combo in THE ECHO. The place is filled with people and MIA is also there, proud of him. When she hears the music she is taken aback but the crowd goes crazy. Back-up dancers appear on stage and the lights go nuts, which makes the crowd cheer. Something changes in MIA. She looks around and at SEBASTIAN and doesn’t recognize him.

P. 52 FALL

P. 52–54 MIA has lunch/diner with LAURA and HARRY, her new boyfriend. SEBASTIAN is not there because he’s playing in SAN DIEGO. MIA misses him and asks LAURA if SEBASTIAN is happy with the band, the travel and all of it. LAURA is glad that he gets to play music and get paid for it.

P. 54–55 Back home, MIA calls SEBASTIAN and leaves a message that she misses him. She visits his apartment and finds him there unexpected. He’s there for one night for her and he has cooked a surprise dinner for them.

P. 56–61 SEBASTIAN asks her to come to BOISE but MIA can’t because she has to rehearse. They agree they have to do things to see each other and MIA wants to know when he’s done with the tour. She finds out he’s in for the long haul, touring, recording and back to touring, probably for years. She asks him if he likes the music he’s playing and if he’s ready to give up his dream for being on the road. SEBASTIAN thougt that MIA wanted him to be doing what he does but MIA wanted him to have a steady job so that he could support himself and start his own club. SEBASTIAN says that no one likes jazz and will come to the club. MIA disagrees, she likes jazz because of him. They argue about his dream and SEBASTIAN snaps that she probably liked him more when he was a failure. MIA is hurt. She grabs her things and leaves.

P. 61 MIA is in the theater and prepares herself. She tells herself she can do this.

P. 62 SEBASTIAN is finished with rehearsal. KEITH reminds him there is a photo shoot tonight at seven pm. SEBASTIAN had forgotten about that.

P. 62 People are shuffling into the theater. MIA is nervous but she can do this. She starts her show around seven pm.

P. 63 A photographer takes the picture of SEBASTIAN, KEITH and the other members of the combo. SEBASTIAN does as told but his thoughts are elsewhere and he watches his watch.

P. 64 MIA is finished with her play and bows. The theater was less than a quarter full and SEBASTIAN’s seat was empty. She’s hurt and overhears two audience members criticizing her play. It’s the final nail in the coffin.

P. 65–66 SEBASTIAN arrives when MIA carries her box of props to the car. He apologizes for being late and his previous behavior and he kisses her but she’s not interested. She’s done embarrassing herself; no one showed up and she can’t pay the theater back. She’s going home, LA is not her home anymore and she drives off, leaving SEBASTIAN alone. MIA goes to her parents in NEVADA and stays there in her old bedroom.

P. 67–68 SEBASTIAN is at the engagement party of LAURA and HARRY. At home, he receives a call for MIA, it’s someone from the casting agency.

P. 69–72 SEBASTIAN shows up at MIA home with news from the casting director. She was at her play and loved it. She wants MIA to audition for a movie. SEBASTIAN is excited but MIA is not going because she doubts she’s good enough. SEBASTIAN tries to talk her over and says he’ll wait for her when he’s going back tomorrow. Either she shows up or not.

P. 73–74 MIA shows up in the morning and drives back with SEBASTIAN to LA to the audition. She needs to tell a story by herself for the audition. She starts with her aunt living in Paris and then breaks into a song.

75–76 After the audition, they talk in the park. SEBASTIAN is convinced she’ll get the part but MIA isn’t. MIA asks what they should do about them. SEBASTIAN doesn’t believe they can do anything when she gets the part because she has to give everything for her dream. He’s going to stay here and follow his own plan. They say they are always going to love each other.

P. 77 WINTER — FIVE YEARS LATER

P. 77–78 A woman enters the coffee shop on the studio lot and all eyes are on her. She orders coffee. That woman is MIA. She looks different and carries herself different. After she exits, she’s picked up by a crew member on a golf cart.

P. 78–79 SEBASTIAN is in his own club — small, simple and tasteful. He’s done testing the piano. His employee tells him they didn’t do too bad last month and that’s great for him.

P. 79 At Chateau Marmont, MIA comes home and finds flowers and cards with congratulations written on them. She kisses DAVID, 35, and a two-year-old girl grabs her legs.

P. 79 SEBASTIAN enters his apartment which is more habitable, fully furnished, warm and welcoming than his old ones. He eats his meal.

P. 79 SEBASTIAN arrives at his club and passes a movie poster with Mia’s face on it as he walks to his club, which is bustling. He has employed one of the old LIGHTHOUSE players.

P. 80 MIA and DAVID are dressed for an appointment and leave. They are stuck in traffic and decide to skip it, turn off and get somewhere dinner.

P. 81 MIA and DAVID walk down the street, hear music and follow it. Then, MIA sees that the sign on the door reads ‘SEB’s’ , written like she had drawn it for SEBASTIAN years ago. DAVID suggest to go inside.

P. 82 The jazz club is bustling, there is a wide range of ages and styles. MIA and SEBASTIAN see each other and lock eyes. It’s the first time, they’ve seen each other in years. SEBASTIAN plays their song and slowly a fantasy-flashback scene emerges.

We are back at that same restaurant when MIA laid first eyes on SEBASTIAN. Within this fantasy-flashback, SEBASTIAN doesn’t walk past her once he’s finished playing and having talked to his boss. Instead, he decks her with a kiss.

They enter their own new place, a one-bedroom. SEBASTIAN says no to KEITH when he approaches him at the LIGHTHOUSE cafe. SEBASTIAN watches MIA perform at the night of her play, her roommates and LAURA and HARRY are there, too. All seats are sold. Her play is a success.MIA auditions for the casting agency and they travel together in PARIS. SEBASTIAN plays jazz at a club in Paris while MIA is shooting her movie. They dance at nighttime Paris.

We see a series of footage on a projector: The first home, MIA’s pregnancy, the newborn child, child’s first birthday, child’s first day of pre-school. SEBASTIAN and MIA, are married and parents, they have a date night and go into town. They are blocked by a traffic jam and take a side route to end up in a jazz club. It looks like SEBASTIAN’s club. They sit down and listens to their song, played by the pianist. The kiss and we go back to reality.

P. 86 SEBASTIAN has finished playing their song. The audience loves it. MIA and DAVID leave after the song is finished. Before she steps out of the club, MIA locks eyes with SEBASTIAN and smiles for a second. It’s the kind of smile that reveals she remembers the song he played.

Writing Exercise: I encourage you to read the script, but short of that, if you’ve seen the movie, go through this scene-by-scene breakdown. What stands out to you about it from a structural standpoint?

Major kudos to Sharita Gopal for doing this week’s scene-by-scene breakdown.

To download a PDF of the breakdown for La La Land, 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 / Abhinav Tiwari and 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: La La Land.

Onward!


Script Analysis: “La La Land” — 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: “La La Land”

Read the script for the hit movie musical and analyze it next week.

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 61 scripts GITS readers have analyzed. Moreover volunteers wrote up scene-by-scene breakdowns for each script, not only to serve as a foundation for our week-long discussion, but also to create an online resource for writers. To date, we have 45 scene-by-scene breakdowns.

Beginning tomorrow Monday, February 20, we will spend a week digging into and analyzing the movie script La La Land, written by Damien Chazelle.

To date, the movie has grossed $ 297M in worldwide box office revenues. With a production budget of a reported $ 30M and award season accolades still to come, it is an undeniable smash hit. Ironically no movie studio wanted to make this movie, yet it has resonated with audiences. Why? That will be a central question we’ll consider as we analyze the script.

Our daily schedule next week:

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

You may download the script for La La Land here.

Join in the conversation and analysis starting tomorrow!


The next Go Into The Story Read and Analysis Script: “La La Land” 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

2016 Spec Script Deals

Analysis of all the spec script deals in 2016.

Spec Script Spirit Guide — Joe Eszterhas

2016 Spec Script Deal List

2016 Spec Script Deals Analysis: Genres

2016 Spec Script Deals Analysis: Buyers

2016 Spec Script Deals Analysis: Agents and Managers

2016 Spec Script Deals Analysis: Top Sales

2016 Spec Script Deals Analysis: First-Timers

For The Definitive Spec Script Deals List [1991–2016], go here.


2016 Spec Script Deals 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

Spec Script Deals Analysis 2016: First-Timers

Francis Marion and Mary Pickford

As we continue our analysis of spec script sales in 2016, today we check out the first-timers, writers who broke into the business by setting up a spec script.

Man Alive — Joe Greenberg / Twentieth Century Fox — 4/22/16

Described as elevated science fiction.

American Rebel — Christopher Cosmos / Pascal Pictures — 9/23/16

Based on the true story of Deborah Sampson, who risked her life during the Revolutionary War by disguising herself as a man and joining the Continental Army.

Federal Offense — Connor Martin / Boundless Pictures — 10/3/16

Three best friends lose a drug kingpin’s stash before finding themselves on the lam from gangsters, bounty hunters and the law after breaking their foul-mouthed grandfather out of his nursing home.

Silent Night — James Luckard / Fox International Productions — 10/14/16

It’s 1941 in Berlin — the heart of the escalating Nazi empire — as a brutal serial killer roams the blacked-out streets, targeting young women. Determined to keep the nation focused on the war effort, Nazi leadership tasks homicide detective Alex Lang with tracking down the murderer.

Hummingbird — John McClain / Fundamental Films — 10/27/16

A female black-ops assassin discovers she’s more than just a hired gun but an entirely new breed of weapon.

The Post — Liz Hannah / Pascal Pictures — 10/31/16

Script deals with the Washington Post’s role in exposing the Pentagon Papers in 1971, and how the Post’s editor Ben Bradlee and publisher Kay Graham challenged the federal government over their right to publish them.

Yuba — Eamon O’Sullivan / Netflix — 11/2/16

Yuba is a gritty Western with two main characters, set in the Gold Rush era. At that time, the Yuba river valley often was cited as the most lawless lands of the Old West.

Congratulations to all the first-timers!

[Note: The list above does not include the many writers who used a spec script to gain representation and/or land an assignment base on their spec as a writing sample.]

2016 Spec Script Deal List
2016 Spec Script Deals Analysis: Genres
2016 Spec Script Deals Analysis: Buyers
2016 Spec Script Deals Analysis: Agents and Managers
2016 Spec Script Deals Analysis: Top Sales

Tomorrow: Gender Breakdown.


Spec Script Deals Analysis 2016: First-Timers 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: “La La Land”

Read the script for the hit movie musical and analyze it next week.

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 61 scripts GITS readers have analyzed. Moreover volunteers wrote up scene-by-scene breakdowns for each script, not only to serve as a foundation for our week-long discussion, but also to create an online resource for writers. To date, we have 45 scene-by-scene breakdowns.

Beginning tomorrow Monday, February 20, we will spend a week digging into and analyzing the movie script La La Land, written by Damien Chazelle.

To date, the movie has grossed $ 297M in worldwide box office revenues. With a production budget of a reported $ 30M and award season accolades still to come, it is an undeniable smash hit. Ironically no movie studio wanted to make this movie, yet it has resonated with audiences. Why? That will be a central question we’ll consider as we analyze the script.

Our daily schedule next week:

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

You may download the script for La La Land here.

With the influx of 47 movie scripts from 2016 made available to the public during the current For Your Consideration season, I am soliciting volunteers to read one of these scripts and do a scene-by-scene breakdown to be used as the foundation of our ongoing script read and analysis series.

As proof of the importance of reading scripts / watching movies and burrowing into their underlying structure, check out this video clip with screenwriter Kristen ‘Kiwi’ Smith who co-wrote such hits as 10 Things I Hate About You and Legally Blonde.

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.

To download PDFs of the scene-by-scene breakdowns we have aggregated to date, go here.

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 / Abhinav Tiwari and 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.

Let’s not forget about what YOU can learn in the process. When Nikki Leydecker emailed me her scene-by-scene breakdown for My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, she wrote this:

I have done breakdown’s before, but by beats via the Save The Cat method. That method and this method are great for learning story structure. However I found that this version of a script breakdown gave me more insight into the story. I was able to find the storylines easily and the central theme of the script. Breaking down all the scenes provided a clear indicator of what worked and what didn’t. I would find set ups and payoffs, and some set ups that didn’t pay off to anything at all. Another benefit I found was that it was great warm up exercise for my own writing. Instead of a writing prompt, reading a script and writing a few scenes out quickly moved my brain in writing mode. It was a lengthy process, but an enjoyable one. I am going to take this experience and use it again for my own work. It will help tremendously with the rewrite process because I will be able to spot the strengths and weaknesses in the story.

It’s a win-win. Plus you get public accolades from me and a hearty dose of creative juju. Go here to see the entire roster of 2016 movie scripts now available for download. Cross reference the list with those above already with volunteers, determine which ones are still available, then write a RESPONSE to this post and claim your script to read and break down.

To see examples of scene-by-scene breakdowns, go here.

IF YOU HAVE VOLUNTEERED, PLEASE SEND ME YOUR SCENE-BY-SCENE BREAKDOWN AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!!!

Don’t let your fingers linger, folks. Send me your scene-by-scene breakdowns!

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 interview, 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.

We’re going to do that every other week in 2017 combined with a week-long analysis of each script. People who volunteer to do a scene-by-scene breakdown provide an important aspect of that process.

See you Monday as we continue our 2017 script reading series with our week-long analysis of La La Land.


The next Go Into The Story Read and Analysis Script: “La La Land” 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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