Monday, May 17, 2010

Favorites Week - Blue

For the month of May, Scriptshadow will be foregoing its traditional reviewing to instead review scripts from you, the readers of the site. To find out more about how the month lines up, go back and read the original post here. The first week, we allowed any writers to send in their script for review. Last week, we raised the bar and reviewed repped writers only. This week, we're doing something different. I read a lot of amateur scripts. Some through my notes service, some through contests, and some through referrals. I wanted to spend a week (or maybe two) highlighting some of the best scripts I've come across. All these scripts are available. So if you're a buyer and it sounds like something you may be interested in, then get a hold of these writers through the contact information on their script before someone else does. Yesterday, Roger reviewed a cool script from Michael Stark titled, "Treading On Angles." Today, I'm reviewing our first female writer of Amateur Month, Lindsey, and her script, "Blue."

Genre: Indie Dramedy
Premise: In 1998, at the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandal, a high school girl becomes a local celebrity when she produces a line of dresses based on the famous blue dress Monica Lewinsky wore while having “relations” with the president.
About: When I read this script almost a half year ago, Lindsey was a struggling writer who'd been battling the industry head first for a number of years. This story probably would've been better had she still been stuck on that path. But a couple of weeks ago somebody else finally recognized Lindsey's talent as well. I'm happy to announce that Lindsey just signed with Energy Entertainment. Congrats Lindsey. You deserve it!
Writer: Lindsey Rosin
Details: 104 pages

So of all the scripts I’m reviewing this week, if you made me bet on which one I thought was most likely to become a movie, this is the one I would choose. It may be a small story, but it’s the kind of story that the indie circuit was designed for (heh heh, get it? "Designed?"). Reading through this a second time, I could actually hear the Sundance buzz from a few years from now. I’ll get into why I liked it in a moment. First, let me tell you what it’s about.

It’s 1998 and Zoey Ressler is a naïve idealistic 16 year old coming into her body. She has no idea how beautiful she is, and in her world, the only thing that matters is love. Or, at least, the idea of it. Zoey lives in a family with her sexy but slutty older sister, Rose, and her loving mother and father, Corinne and Victor, two parents who the honeymoon never ended for. Zoey seemingly has a pretty sweet life.

Zoey works at Swirlies, a mall-y-ish ice cream shop, where she’s secretly enamored with 21 year old Jimmy, either a drop-out or entrepreneur, depending on who you’re having the conversation with (if it’s Jimmy, he’s an entrepreneur). Zoey is finding herself more and more attracted to boys, but doesn’t quite know how to finagle her crushes into relationships. As a result, she spends a lot of time at her mother’s struggling thrift store, where she occasionally sews together a dress or two.

And then one day everything changes. Major news outlets break the story that Bill Clinton has had sexual relations with an intern named Monica Lewinsky. It’s a shocking accusation and, as everyone knows, becomes the only thing that anybody in the world talks about. It’s a particularly confusing time for someone like Zoey, who sees the world only through her black and white idealistic filter. “Cheating” is not in her vocabulary.

But soonafter, Zoey reads a story where Monica Lewinsky claims to love Bill Clinton. It’s a particularly relatable situation for her, and the next thing you know, Monica becomes a sort of pseudo-role model for Zoey. So when it’s revealed that Bill Clinton, um, well, let’s just say it, splooged on a blue dress of Monica’s, something clicks in Zoey. What if she made a blue dress, claiming it was the exact same dress-type that the president famously…splooged on?

Now you have to remember, a picture of the dress Monica Lewinsky wore was not immediately released at the time. So nobody knew what it looked like. This is what allows Zoey to create a beautiful blue dress, promote it at her mother’s store as “The Monica,” and see if it sells. Well, it sells all right. And soon, she’s making a whole batch of them. And they’re flying off the shelves like White House pancakes. The dress becomes such a sensation, even the local media covers it.

This, of course, raises Zoey’s profile at school, and soon she’s being noticed by the cool girls and pursued by Mr. Popular, Nick Conway. Then, just when things seem to be reaching an apex, a series of setbacks at school, home, and in the Lewinsky scandal, shatter her idealistic notion of love. “Blue” is about a naïve girl who falsely designs a famous blue dress for a role model she probably shouldn’t have. But it’s also a coming-of-age story about a girl who’s hit with the realities of an increasingly loveless world.

I can’t exactly explain why I liked this script so much but I’m going to try. First, it just has this honesty about it. While at first the idea of a girl dedicating her skills to making a cum-stained blue dress based on a media phenomenon sounds far-fetched, a second look shows that it’s not as “out there” as you think. I don’t know about you but when I was 16, I didn’t exactly place the right people up on a pedestal either. My role models were a sorry bunch of you-know-whats but you wouldn’t be able to tell me that at the time. So the fact that Zoey idolizes Monica for the wrong reasons is a very “teenage” thing to do. This naiveté is also what makes her such an endearing character. Even though we know she shouldn’t be doing what she’s doing, we find it cute, so we root for her.

But the real strength here is the way Lindsey takes on a full cast of characters and breathes life into each and every one of them. I warn young writers all the time: Don’t fuck around with ensemble pieces! It’s too hard to write multiple unique and compelling characters. Focus on creating one dynamo character as that alone is a daunting challenge. There’s nothing uglier than flipping back and forth between characters that are thinner than an ipad.

But that just doesn’t happen here. Between Zoey, the parents, the sister, the boyfriend, Zoey’s best friend…all of these characters came to life for me. They had a pulse. Why? Cause they were DOING things. They weren’t waiting around for the main character to show up in their world. You got the feeling that their lives existed whether Zoey was around or not. There's this notion of "negative space" that I'm not going to get into now but basically it's the idea that your secondary characters are still doing things when they're off-screen. Some teachers will even tell you to write the scenes for the off-screen characters that the audience will never see. It's a great exercise because it instills the notion that each character is the star of their own movie. This might be Zoey's story, but it doesn't mean we couldn't find a compelling movie surrounding her father, or her sister. I really got the sense that Lindsey understood that, and we reap the benefits of it.

I don’t have many complaints. There’s one, which I won’t go into because it’s a twist that happens later on and I don’t want to reveal it. It’s the only thing that doesn’t feel like a natural extension of the story. And I told Lindsey how I felt but she gave me her reasons why she did it and I do sorta understand where she’s coming from. But outside of that, I just thought this was a great little story. And even though this is a HUGE statement, I suspect we’ll be seeing "Blue" on the big screen someday.

If you're a producer who would like to read the script please contact Jennifer Graham at Management 360

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

What I learned: If you are doing a period piece, even if that period piece is from a few years ago, GET YOUR DETAILS RIGHT. There were a couple of things here where I said, “I don’t know if they had that back in 1998.” For example, there was an IM’ing scene. So I did a quick check on Wikipedia and I found…that AOL IM’ing *did* arrive around 1996. So Lindsey was safe. But it reminded me of all the period scripts I read where writers DON’T do their homework. They have characters texting back in 1993, charactres googling back in 1997, and the WORST is when characters use phrases that nobody would’ve used at that time. Nobody said “That’s tight,” back in 1989 people! This may seem trivial, but it’s an indication that you don’t care enough about your story to get the details right. And the second a reader feels like you don’t care, they’re going to stop caring too. It happens ALL THE TIME when I read scripts.