Who Framed Roger Rabbit Screenplay – 1st 10 pages breakdown
I’ll admit straight off the bat this is my favorite movie of all time, it literally changed my life. I recall sitting in the theatre surrounded by adult friends of a variety of life, laughing our collective asses off. I said to myself, (or maybe my ex) that’s what I want to do… I can do that! And less than a year later I was working for the House of Mouse, a gig I enjoyed for nearly a dozen years, the gig that made me understand the business and art of storytelling… So, I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t include this in the section here for great 1st 10 pages of screenplays.
These pages are from the 3rd draft dated 1986, when the working title was WHO SHOT ROGER RABBIT? So there are some things that changed during filming but not many and I’ll point those out…
Here’s why they work as an example of some great 1st 10’s.
1) All the main character’s are introduced or at least referenced by name – except the villain:
We start on a short cartoon of Roger and Baby and even with this we still get to the inciting incident with lightening speed. (see #_ below) By page 3 we learn that our titular character is having trouble focusing at work (he can’t make stars twirl around his head, only little tweeting birds) This is also our first set-up and pay off for the protagonist’s arc, because by the end he can see stars.
2) This places us firmly in the world of the story where toons live and work alongside people.
3) Our next set-up is Valiant’s holster that contains a whiskey bottle where his .38 used to be
4) We get the inciting incident where Valiant is hired to take the pictures that will eventually help solve the bigger story. Which dovetails nicely into the B plot of him and his problems PLUS the importance of the RED LINE to the community is established and that it is being bought out by Clover Leaf.
The action that varies from the final shoot, is the bit where Valiant is given the job, takes place in R.K. Maroon’s office – not on the lot, but a lot of business of the toons wandering around are still intact.
The safe that falls on Roger is actually the refrigerator from the kitchen; Baby Herman never crawls into the street.
On page 10 the down and out bar patrons are discussing the buy-out of Red Line, not just general misery.
You’ll see that these changes do serve to make the story clearer!!!
There’s a ton ‘o toons, and general sack ‘o story to get off the ground and these guys manage to do it all in the 1st 10 pages while still having a cartoon of nonsensical stuff happen up front. I say nonsensical, but in reality this toon says ‘buckle up’ you’re in for a fun time!
I’ll also add that within the script itself – it is not over-directed by the writer. For instance there is never a note of Roger saying PPPPPLLLLEEEEAAAASSSSEEEE! The actors, directors and animators were allowed to do what they do best.
Rumor has it (and this rumor has surfaced for decades, believe me) that Zemeckis has hired these original writers to craft a #2. I hope it comes to be.
They’ll be a lot more of these to come in near future posts for both novels and screenplays (and in this instance I’ll try and get my hands on the 1st 10 of novels that were later adapted)