Friday, April 8, 2011

TODAY'S NUGGET: #88 WGA Script of All Time - Field of Dreams (1989)

[Quick Summary: An Iowa farmer is led by a Voice to build a baseball field in his corn field & to go find a reclusive writer, all in the face of skepticism & potential financial ruin.]

Yeah, I cried.

I banked them for as long as I could, but when Ray says in awe, "I am pitching to Shoeless Joe Jackson", I lost it. 

This script doesn't read like a clunky adaption for two reasons:

1) No Cul de Sacs - I heard the director/writer say in an interview that he first eliminated all the cul de sacs, i.e., the things that didn't push the plot forward. 

I know from covering many scripts that it's such a temptation to keep cool subplots in.

ex. The writer had to drop the identical twin brother storyline from the book because it distracted from Ray's development.

2) Streamline to Focus - The script is a moving bullet from beginning to end because it is always clear what Ray is facing, what his motive is, & what inner struggle he's trying to overcome.  Any other distractions were stricken.

ex.  The writer changed the character of J.D. Salinger to a made up writer b/c mixing fictional and non-fictional people didn't make it real enough on-screen.

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: Nothing should hamper the story arc pushing forward.

I saw an interview of the book's author who said that he cried when he read the script.  He was moved by a work based on his own book - now that is a great adaption!

Field of Dreams (1989)
by Phil Alden Robinson

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