I coulda been a contendah…
For some reason that kept running through my mind as I read the WINTER’S BONE screenplay.
Of course it is a contender for an Oscar in the best adapted screenplay category, and considering the caliber of material it is up against, this is truly one of those cases where it is ‘just an honor to be nominated’.
I confess I have not read the source material (the 2006 highly acclaimed novel, from a 1st time writer) but it is going for $999 on Amazon — Is it any wonder publishing houses are shuttering? Why oh why would they not reprint this as an Oscar tie-in?
Anyway, the script is actually slight, and frankly, not the best writing I’ve seen. It is no doubt to me that it is the acting and directing which has garnered it so much attention. AND given that the director is also the writer, it explains how [the screenplay] got made at a mere 73 pages.
All that aside, WINTER’S BONE, 1st 10 pages actually work in the traditional sense of structure. The beginning bookends the end and by the bottom of page 10 we have our catalyst. That’s the best I can say, because so much else doesn’t work as a good writing example, however the dialogue is loaded with subtext and it is a very quick read. Without getting into a full blown critique, I’d say this is a great example of what an independent writer/director can get away with and take it as far as they can go, and I respect and salute the filmmakers involved for their success, I just don’t want writers, trying to break in with a spec, to use this as an example.
A better example of a similar setting and tone would be THE LOW DWELLER, a script written by Brad Ingelsby. The sale of this spec was one that generated a lot of news as an insurance salesman from Pennsylvania getting the deal of a lifetime, ($650K against $1.1 milion) but truth be told he studied screenwriting, had lost hope and needed work. It’s coming out this year under LEO DiCAPRIO’s APIAN WAY.
His agent was gracious enough to send it to me last year, so drop me a line if you’d like to read it.
Back to the post — Congratulations on your screenwriting nomination, WINTER’S BONE, you’ve truly been a part of Hollywood Magic.
This page has a link to most of this year’s nominated screenplays, so you can read the whole thing for yourself.