Friday, June 10, 2011

TODAY'S NUGGET: #77 WGA Script of All Time - Adaption (2002)

[Quick Summary: A neurotic screenwriter puts himself into his adaption of the book, The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean, but when he meets the author in real life, it's nothing like he expects.]

Ok, we know Charlie Kaufman can write.

Ok, not just write, he's got a unique tone & voice, & point of view.

Ok, not just write with a unique tone, voice, & point of view, he's bloody imaginative.

This script is on the list because it does something only found in a Kaufman script. 

First, there are several stories:

A - Charlie is a depressed, woman obsessed screenwriter. His twin brother Donald wants to be a screenwriter, takes a McKee weekend course, & sells a million dollar screenplay. 

B- The script shows scenes from the book "The Orchid Thief".  Charlie falls for Susan Orlean in the book.

C - Charlie meets Susan Orlean in real life. She's not exactly like she is in the book... & she kidnaps him.

Second, the script flows from one story to the next, into fantasies & the past & back to reality, AND I AM NEVER LOST. 

I need to emphasize how extraordinarily RARE RARE RARE this feat is.

Yes, he uses subtitles. Yes, he has clear sluglines.

But what's really the secret? The flow is uncomplicated & clear.

ex. Scene 1 - In the past, a teenage Charlie reads a book in his room. Out the window, he sees Donald talking to two girls. Donald walks away, happy. The girls make fun of Donald behind his back.

Scene 2 - In the present, "Kaufman stares at a blank sheet of paper in a typewriter."

Scene 3 - The script jumps to a swamp scene in the book.

Scene 1 to 2: There's no other narrative, but it's clear to the reader that Charlie is staring at the paper & is reliving that moment of embarrassment for his brother. 

Scene 2 to 3: Then the script moves to what Charlie is reading...as if he moved away from the embarrassing memory.  It's clear he's moved on, but there's no unnecessary "Charlie picks up The Orchid Thief..."

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: You can take the reader anywhere, just as long as they can follow your sequence with some sort of logic.

Adaption (2002)
by Charlie Kaufman

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