SAMPLE SCRIPT ANALYSIS WORK
TITLE: SCRIPT 2 GENRE: Christmas Drama
AUTHOR: XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX CIRCA: Present
FORM/PGS: Novel/ 108 pgs LOCALE: Los Angeles, Idaho
SUBMITTED TO: XXXXXXXXXXX DATE: March 17, 1997
SUBMITTED BY: XXXXXXXXXX STORY ANALYST: Gene Wickham
ELEMENTS: XXXXXXXXXXXXXX WRITING SAMPLE:
BUDGET: LOW X MEDIUM HIGH
LOG LINE: Two elderly women, looking forward to a lonely Christmas, decide to test the charitable inclinations of one woman’s children by creating a fictitious elderly woman and seeing if they will take her in for Christmas.
COMMENTS SUMMARY: This simple and heartwarming Christmas story is a little short on dramatic depth but still manages to provide some touching sentimental moments as well as some typical holiday season optimism.
SYNOPSIS: Two elderly women, FLORENCE and MYRNA await the upcoming Christmas holidays in their senior citizens convalescent home. Florence had been an actress who never married and had no children. She has never had the chance to experience a genuinely traditional family Christmas. Myrna on the other hand has nothing but fond family memories of Christmas with her five children. For the past several years Myrna has been flying back to Idaho to spend Christmas with her children. However, after recently suffering a heart attack, she has been forced to stay in California by her Doctor. Florence yearns for the warm traditional Christmas filled with children and Gingerbread houses which she had missed during her life. She begins to think how wonderful it would be if some family would “adopt” a grandmother just for Christmas. Cynicism overcomes her yearning and she accepts the thought that no one will take in a stranger for the holidays, even a little old lady. Acting defensively Myrna shows her faith in her children by exclaiming that they would show charity to anyone during the holidays, especially someone that she had recommended.
A plan is concocted between Florence and Myrna. They create a fictitious character, GENEVIEVE CHRISTIAN (85), a lonely widow living in a convalescent home in Idaho who is estranged from her children living back east. Florence is counting on the kindness of people to validate her faith with the ideal Christmas spirit. Myrna wants to know if the children she had raised are truly good people with charitable hearts and souls. She calls her eldest child RICHARD in Idaho. Richard is happy to hear from his mother but is unable to fulfill Myrna’s request to accommodate Genevieve for Christmas. He offers instead to take some cookies to Genevieve’s hospital. As Myrna concludes her call, Florence gives her a cynical look. A nurse to the two women, RUTH, comes into their room with dinner. A very pleasant and genuine person, Ruth offers the two women candy bars to eat after their dinner. Florence and Myrna love Ruth and are very appreciative of her care.
Next Myrna calls her daughter BEVERLY whom she refers to as her miracle child. Beverly had almost died as an infant. Married to a dentist, Myrna knows Beverly will help her with Genevieve. However, like Richard, Beverly is unable to accommodate her mother’s request. Sensing the disappointment, Florence tells Myrna to stop the calls but she is persistent and decides to call her daughter JOY. Ruth attempts to help Myrna and Florence turn in for the night but Myrna is insistent on making her call to Joy. She recalls an incident when she had accidentally thrown Joy’s goldfish down the drain. After a trip to the pet shop, Myrna replaced the fish with two smaller ones which amused everyone. Once again Myrna hears another apologetic decline. Her next hope lies with her son DALE. She leaves a message at his home after learning he has gone out for the evening. Ruth comes in to help the two women prepare for bed. However, Myrna decides to wait until Dale calls back. She receives another blow as Dale also declines to help with Genevieve. Disappointed, Myrna provides no resistance as Ruth comes in one last time to help the women into bed. The next morning, Myrna awakens and decides to make her final call to her daughter SUZIE. The mother of twins, Suzie had always taken in strays when she was a child. The unexpected request surprises Suzie and she is forced to turn down Myrna’s request as well.
The next day, before Christmas Eve, Myrna is given several presents which her family has sent her. Florence receives a few gifts from acquaintances as well. Concerned about how she had raised her children and the values she had given them, Myrna is unable to leave behind the sad image of Genevieve. Later, while she and Florence are taking a midday nap, Myrna is awakened by two small angels in her bedroom doorway. A closer look reveals them to be the twin daughters of Suzie. But it is no dream. Soon the twins are followed by the rest of the family who parade into Myrna and Florence’s room filled with holiday cheer. This had all been planned earlier which explains why they couldn’t accommodate Genevieve. Myrna is overwhelmed by this surprising show of love. However, when she learns Richard has gone to bring Genevieve from Idaho to California, she is forced to admit the hoax. The family is moved by the confession but do not lessen their enthusiastic love for Myrna. Looking to fill the void left by the fictitious Genevieve, Myrna’s grandchildren ask Florence to join them at their rented beach house for Christmas. Florence is visibly moved and when she hears about their plans to bake a gingerbread house, her holiday wishes are complete.
GENERAL COMMENTS: The book “XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX” works well within its short literary form, clearly driving home the story’s moral and emotional drama. However, this simplicity causes a problem in providing a dramatically deeper story for a film adaptation. Still, the basic story has a good emotional foundation which should allow the book to expand into several promising directions.
STRENGTHS OF MATERIAL: Traditional Christmas elements, revolving around the family and the need to belong, fill this story with potentially ripe holiday drama. With Myrna as the central focus, the feeling she experiences by being apart from her family, as well her eventual disappointment with her children’s less than charitable attitudes, generates sympathy for her character. Set against an emotional holiday background, the appreciation for both Myrna and Florence’s loneliness is moving.
WEAKNESS OF MATERIAL: The simple premise, while effective in the book, is hindered by a low sense of drama. In “It’s A Wonderful Life” there was a great deal of external forces working on George Bailey causing his eventual loss of faith to be very dramatic. Myrna’s loss of faith is appreciated but doesn’t quite generate enough drama to draw sufficient interest. Florence barely contributes to the drama. However, she is the one person who needs the sympathy the most. She needs to open up and involve herself more in the plot in order for her Christmas wish to pay off dramatically at the end. Technically, the calls to Myrna’s various children, which becomes a vehicle for her contact with the past, becomes too predictable with the same pattern of drama occurring each time.
POTENTIAL FOR DEVELOPMENT / IMPROVEMENT: Using the book as a starting point, enough material is available to guide this story into a promising screenplay. Several decisions need to be kept in mind including expanding Myrna’s past recollections and more involvement and personal exploration of Florence’s character. Myrna’s family get together at the end might be more fulfilling if her children actually have a change of heart instead of pulling a surprise on her. Also, it doesn’t seem to be much of a sacrifice to give up Christmas in Idaho for a beachfront vacation home. Still, with a lot of sentimental support, the story has a good start and should generate a lot of heart-felt holiday season interest.