Friday, February 17, 2017

The next Go Into The Story Read and Analysis Script: “La La Land”

Read the script for the hit movie musical and analyze it next week.

In 2015, we launched several initiatives at Go Into The Story. One of the best: A script read and analysis series. As a result, there are 61 scripts GITS readers have analyzed. Moreover volunteers wrote up scene-by-scene breakdowns for each script, not only to serve as a foundation for our week-long discussion, but also to create an online resource for writers. To date, we have 45 scene-by-scene breakdowns.

Beginning tomorrow Monday, February 20, we will spend a week digging into and analyzing the movie script La La Land, written by Damien Chazelle.

To date, the movie has grossed $ 297M in worldwide box office revenues. With a production budget of a reported $ 30M and award season accolades still to come, it is an undeniable smash hit. Ironically no movie studio wanted to make this movie, yet it has resonated with audiences. Why? That will be a central question we’ll consider as we analyze the script.

Our daily schedule next week:

Monday: Scene-By-Scene Breakdown
Tuesday: Major Plot Points
Wednesday: Characters
Thursday: Themes
Friday: Dialogue
Saturday: Takeaways

You may download the script for La La Land here.

With the influx of 47 movie scripts from 2016 made available to the public during the current For Your Consideration season, I am soliciting volunteers to read one of these scripts and do a scene-by-scene breakdown to be used as the foundation of our ongoing script read and analysis series.

As proof of the importance of reading scripts / watching movies and burrowing into their underlying structure, check out this video clip with screenwriter Kristen ‘Kiwi’ Smith who co-wrote such hits as 10 Things I Hate About You and Legally Blonde.

For those folks who volunteer to write a scene-by-scene breakdown, beyond your name being noted here, my thanks, and your own personal dose of creative juju, you will learn something about story structure and further develop this important skill set.

To download PDFs of the scene-by-scene breakdowns we have aggregated to date, go here.

Here is our current list of literary heroes and heroines!

A Monster Calls / Andrew Turner

Anthropoid / Marija Nielsen

Arrival / Ashish Chand

Captain Fantastic / Despina Karintis

Denial / Gina Gomez

Eye in the Skye / Abhinav Tiwari and Bruce Gordon

Fences / Matt Cowley

The Founder / Eric Rodriguez

Hail, Caesar! / Brianne VanTuyle

Hell or High Water / Andrew Lightfoot

The Invitation / Joni Trumpold Brainerd

Jackie / Karen Dantas

Kubo and the Two Strings / Nikki Syreeta

La La Land / Priya Gopal

Loving / Liz Correal

Maggie’s Plan / Monique Mata

Manchester by the Sea / Ashley Lara

Miles Ahead / Alecia Hodges

Moonlight / Ryan Canty

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 / Nikki Leydecker

The Secret Life of Pets / Paul Huffman

Victor Frankenstein / Lisa Gomez

Zootopia / Will King

Italics = Turned in scene-by-scene breakdown

Bold = Have used scene-by-scene breakdown in week-long analysis

Now is YOUR chance to contribute to this most worthy cause and provide an additional resource for the online screenwriting community.

Let’s not forget about what YOU can learn in the process. When Nikki Leydecker emailed me her scene-by-scene breakdown for My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, she wrote this:

I have done breakdown’s before, but by beats via the Save The Cat method. That method and this method are great for learning story structure. However I found that this version of a script breakdown gave me more insight into the story. I was able to find the storylines easily and the central theme of the script. Breaking down all the scenes provided a clear indicator of what worked and what didn’t. I would find set ups and payoffs, and some set ups that didn’t pay off to anything at all. Another benefit I found was that it was great warm up exercise for my own writing. Instead of a writing prompt, reading a script and writing a few scenes out quickly moved my brain in writing mode. It was a lengthy process, but an enjoyable one. I am going to take this experience and use it again for my own work. It will help tremendously with the rewrite process because I will be able to spot the strengths and weaknesses in the story.

It’s a win-win. Plus you get public accolades from me and a hearty dose of creative juju. Go here to see the entire roster of 2016 movie scripts now available for download. Cross reference the list with those above already with volunteers, determine which ones are still available, then write a RESPONSE to this post and claim your script to read and break down.

To see examples of scene-by-scene breakdowns, go here.


Don’t let your fingers linger, folks. Send me your scene-by-scene breakdowns!

Finally allow me to use the words of one of Hollywood’s hottest screenwriters to bludgeon you over the head with the value of reading scripts. From one of my most recent interview, Jon Spaihts responds to my final question, What advice would you offer to aspiring screenwriters about learning the craft and breaking into Hollywood? Here’s his answer:

Read the script and then watch the movie. Watch the movie and then read the script. Watch the movie with the script in your lap. Study the parts. You have to see through the surfaces. Being a fan is insufficient. Break it down. That means slowing it down and looking at it through a series of different lenses.

Once you’ve begun to do that, you can see what the parts of a screenplay and the parts of a movie do.

First thing Jon said: Read scripts.

We’re going to do that every other week in 2017 combined with a week-long analysis of each script. People who volunteer to do a scene-by-scene breakdown provide an important aspect of that process.

See you Monday as we continue our 2017 script reading series with our week-long analysis of La La Land.


The next Go Into The Story Read and Analysis Script: “La La Land” was originally published in Go Into The Story on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Go Into The Story – Medium

The next Go Into The Story Read and Analysis Script: “La La Land”

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