Wednesday, April 8, 2009


Genre: Comedy
Synopsis: What if the world was a play and all of us were the characters?
About: Demetri Martin, a veteran of the Jon Stewart Show, sold this script to Dreamworks awhile back. It is currently in development.
Writer: Demetri Martin

As I read Will I kept getting this nagging feeling that I should've been enjoying it more than I was. Which was not at all. You know when you're taking breaks every five pages to visit Virgin America's website and touring their super-awesome new interior mood-lighting system (it has eight different lighting schemes that change according to the time of day!) that you're not giving your script any love.

But what started out as a silly comedy quickly became so much more. This was someone trying to say something profound about the world we live in, about the lives we lead. And he had the audacity to do it in a comedy. I perked up. Maybe there was something to this Martin guy.

The basic premise is this: We're all being written by pseudo-angels living above us. In order to maintain stability, they have to keep 99% of us "average and predictable". The more predictable we are, the easier it is to control the "program". Only the best of the best angel writers get to write "major lives", people who actually make a difference in the world. And only a few major lives are allowed to be written. Or else chaos erupts.

Will is an ordinary computer programmer whose girlfriend is more interested in organizing her life via post-it notes than having sex with him. His life is boring. His life is "predictable". Concurrently we also meet Aimsely. This is the writer who invented Will. And in a mad dash to impress his boss so he could write his first "major life", Aimsely kinda forgot to write any pages after Will's 34th birthday. So the day Will turns 34, he wakes up without anything to say. He's a blank slate. Completely in the moment for the first time in his life. And from that moment on, Will starts to think on his own.

It's beautiful and inspiring and clever as all shit. What would happen if you no longer feared anything? Don't we all feel like we're reciting a script anyway? Like we're saying things we're supposed to say instead of things that we want to? I know I feel that way sometimes. And as we watch Will experience this for the first time, it really makes you question your own life. There may not be someone physically writing my lines. But there sure are a lot of things encouraging me to "follow the script". When Will breaks free of this, you ask yourself, why can't I?

Without fear, Will begins to become the coveted "major life". He falls in love. He starts affecting people. Changing them. And these people in turn change others. And it's ruining the carefully calculated "balance" that keeps our world from imploding. The writers try to rewrite Will but he's too strong now. He won't accept rewrites. So they try to rewrite those around him, try to rewrite nature, try to change him externally. This is something that really could've fallen off the rails. But Martin miraculously keeps it together. It's quite impressive.

You've seen this in movies like The Truman Show and Stranger Than Fiction and even in the screenplay I reviewed not long ago, Sequels, Remakes, and Adaptations. But I can say with complete confidence that none of those stories comes close to exploring this idea like Martin does. He's created a mini-masterpiece and I'd rate it higher if I were more into his type of humor and if he had added the same type of depth to his characters that he did his story. But this is a great read and highly recommended for any aspiring screenwriter. Check it out.

[ ] trash
[ ] barely kept my interest
[ ] worth the read
[x] impressive
[ ] genius

What I learned from Will: This is going to sound kinda cheesy but the lesson I got out of this came from Will himself. And that's not to hold back. Give in to spontaneity. Give in to creativity and don't judge yourself. Just write. .............. Well, until you get a few drafts in at least. :)