I’m honored to have my original screenplay “Donnington” reviewed on the fantastic site “Scriptshadow,” which is run by the indomitable duo of Carson Reeves and Roger Balfour. I’m a big fan of the site and check in daily to see what the guys have written up. It’s the best way to keep up on what’s hot in the Hollywood spec market.
Christopher Nolan and his co-screenwriter Jonathan Nolan used the Story Maps method to structure the screenplay of Inception. If you analyze the narrative, you will see every one of the elements of the “Basic” and “Full” Story Map.
The most important element in the Inception screenplay is the GOAL of the protagonist, COBB, played by Leonardo DiCaprio. It is so important to this particular story that it covers up potentially problematic story decisions and inhabits three of the nine main dramatic elements in the Basic Story Map…
Robert DeNiro and Bradley Cooper on the set of "The Dark Fields"
The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn was one of my favorite books I read on the job for Miramax Films back in the heyday of literary development and now it’s in production as a major feature film starring Bradley Cooper and Robert DeNiro (from Rogue Pictures and Universal Pictures). It’s been a long road for screenwriter/producer Leslie Dixon and she deserves a great big hit movie. Of course, she’s no stranger to hit movies with a resume that includes Hairspray, The Thomas Crown Affairand Mrs. Doubtfire.
But even for a hugely successful studio veteran, it was a struggle to get a green-light. It took her years to get this film made. And this is how she did it: when Miramax failed to green-light it, she took the material on her own and never gave up on it. There were several stops and starts, including a big break when Shia LaBeouf signed to star in the thriller [Variety: 4/13/08], but when Shia dropped out the film would have gone back into development hell if not for the tenacity of Leslie Dixon.
So, once again, I tell you…Don’t Give Up.
Harvey is great with ballsy, mouthy bitches like me… The deal was struck.
Since I only knew my side of the origin of this project — I was tasked to do two rounds of notes on the book, the first pre-publication and the second post-publication when there was a script treatment — I emailed Leslie Dixon in ’09 and asked her about her stint with Miramax. Here was her reply…
(2004; Screenplay by Paul Haggis, based on stories by F.X. Toole; Directed by Clint Eastwood)
Million Dollar Baby is an incredibly focused story. Screenwriter Paul Haggis achieves what I call “story cohesion” by making sure that every element logically flows from strong main dramatic elements while generating conflict.
The first level of focus is on a crucial element in the “Basic” portion of my outline method which is called Story Maps: Theme.
The theme of Million Dollar Baby is “second chances.”