A couple of weeks ago, I entered a script in the Jameson’s First Shot competition hosted by Trigger Street Productions.
The gist of the contest is this: you have to write a short script (maximum seven pages) that can be shot on a minimal budget, with a central role for Adrien Brody to play. The winners actually get to make their film and direct Mr. Brody!
I didn’t leave myself much time to develop or write my script. So over the course of a week, I came up with a couple of ideas and eventually settled on one I thought would work.
Having watched the previous years’ winners, I knew I wanted to do something quite different tonally to what had previously won, while still honoring the contest’s requirement that the script must have a “lightness of touch” and be centered on “the epic that is to be found in everyday experiences.”
I also knew that should I get selected to actually make the film, I wanted something that could be as cinematic as possible.
Since most of the recent years’ winners appeared to have been shot in a single location, that was my goal too – but I wanted my script to be elevated above the seeming limitations caused by that restriction, while at the same time allowing for something special should I ever have the opportunity to actually direct it. (Fingers crossed!)
I hit upon an idea which would jump around in time quite a bit, to tell quite a complex story in a brief fashion. The story I came up with involved a genius (“the man who knows everything”) who had his head so far up in the clouds that he neglected his wife, jeopardizing the relationship. So, he uses a computer to erase a lot of his knowledge in order to be more of a normal human – to enjoy spending more time with the love of his life, while at the same time appreciating the epicness that is found in everyday experiences.
I crammed a lot of stuff into seven pages. In retrospect, it looks very crammed. I knew it was at the time, but in the heat of the moment with a looming deadline, I gave myself a pass. It was probably too big an idea to contain to just seven pages, so I cut and cut until just the minimal absolute information was there. That’s why many scenes have zero action or description, and just a couple of lines of dialogue.
One big regret I have is that I think I should have made it more explicit that he reduces his knowledge at the end. I think given the piece as a whole, it is apparent what’s going on given the opening scene and the overall context – but I know that contest readers often don’t have the time to really focus on each script as much as the writer would like. A single line of action to describe a percentage decreasing on the computer screen would have done it.
I would also have liked to include a few more lines of action to better convey exactly what I had in my head at a couple of points throughout the script, but it is what it is, I suppose.
Here’s the link to read my script: The Man Who Knew Everything.
I would love to read your feedback in the comments. Thank you 🙂