Last year I posted the 1st 10 breakdown of the holiday classic IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE, this year I decided to go with a cult classic ELF.

I’ll keep the breakdown brief as a gift to you all, and to all a good night!

The script is long for a comedy (120 pages!), but the pacing never drags and the production tightened up the shots so that the runtime comes in a 97 minutes. Most of those cuts were in dialogue because the action is very economic in words and aided by Will Farrel’s terrific schtick.

Pg one:

Notice how simply the world is set up. The tone is immediately set, with sound effects such as the music SCRATCHES off and the FREEZE frame is a nice punctuation to emphasize the catalyst that is the arrival of our hero crawls onto the scene.

I don’t recommend the practice of not titling a character’s dialogue and adding (cont’d) when it continues after an action line.

Pgs. 2-5 are tremendously efficient in pacing, tone and backstory. These are a true Christmas miracle, much like Buddy is to the Elfiwitzes.

Pgs. 6-10 were changed a lot during production, to be even more efficient in establishing the hero as not belonging in his world. A simple change is on page 8, Buddy doesn’t have a desk that fits him in the film. Not only did the tiny desk, save some set production issues, (and money) it is funnier seeing him crammed into the tiny elf desk.


(and for your Christmas bonus – no jelly of the month club here, you get the whole 1st act).

Enjoy! Have a joyous and productive New Year, and may at least one of your stories find a home.