My new screenplay (feedback desired)

Hello all. Because I took a nap today and am not ready to sleep, and because I kinda sorta forgot about the blog for a couple weeks there (which is terrible considering I am on the blog committee), I thought I would share my ideas about something I’m working on and try to get feedback (please, anyone, feel free to respond).

The best way to describe what I’m working on is to give the timeline of how it developed:
-Summer before freshman year my grandpa was given six months to live and I starting writing an outline and character profiles for a story, hoping to one day write a screenplay based on my family.
-Fall of freshman year he passed away, and I did not handle it well.
-Winter of freshman year I watched the Godfather 2 and then wrote a 12-page, beautiful essay about my grandfather’s life, my relationship with him, and how no matter what I do with my career I know that what I want from my life is to live one like his.
-Sometime later, I wrote a three-page, single-spaced treatment (a detailed summary) about the characters I had written before. Much of it is backstory.
-I then put the project on the backburner. I decided that the story was too personal and too important to be taken lightly. I wanted to do it right and knew that I needed to grow as a writer first.
-Fall of junior year I took Screenwriting 1 (I’m a film major), and studied and practiced the art of screenwriting.
-Now, in the winter of my junior year, I have an opportunity to write a screenplay for a very important purpose, and I decided that I need to put my best food forward and have reluctantly retrieved the earlier documents from the vault.

Here’s the story, as I envision it:

A college student comes home from his sophomore year and learns that his grandfather has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. He spends the summer living with and learning from his grandpa. He learns many life lessons, mostly that your life is defined by the relationships with you have, and specifically by your family, as he witnesses how his grandpa has been such a key figure in the lives of himself and his relatives.

Meanwhile, the young man’s family is very dysfunctional and in the midst of many ongoing feuds. The film will alternate between two stories: the present day, when the young man lives with his grandfather, and a past narrative where the grandpa grows up in Italy, falls in love, marries, moves to the US, and starts his new life. I’ll show how the grandpa was there for his family in their various times of need, and juxtapose that with his grandson struggling to find his way in the world.

In the end, what I want is two things. First, a family drama. Second, a story about a young man who learns from his grandfather that being a good husband, father, son, and friend will lead to a successful life.

What I’m struggling with, and what I want some help with, is how to take care of that second part, about the young man. In screenwriting theory, they preach this concept of “a hero’s journey.” The protagonist needs: 1) a clear goal (SAVE THE UNIVERSE), 2) strong opposition to the goal (DARTH VADER), 3) resolution (DESTROY DEATH STAR). I’m struggling to find exactly what my hero’s goal and struggle is.

Here are some ideas I’ve floated around:
-His goal is to make the most of what’s left of his grandpa. The opposition is cancer.
-His goal is to find out what he is supposed to do with his life. He is going to a great school with great expectations but cannot decide what his purpose is. His opposition is that he needs to take time off to be with his grandpa, but while he is trying to declare a major and find internships and enroll in classes. The resolution is that he learns from his grandpa that there are more important things.
-His goal is to bring peace to his otherwise shattered family. The opposition is that they just can’t get along.

I know I’m being vague, and there is a reason for that. Anyone feel free to chime in. Ask questions. Propose things. Tell me I don’t know what I’m doing. Tell me I’m brilliant and a visionary (although I won’t respond to those).

Thanks!

One thought to “My new screenplay (feedback desired)”

  1. Zachary,
    I’ll start by saying I think you have a great/real idea here. Meaning, there are many people who can relate to this relationship that you had with your grandfather and would like to watch/read a story like this. I feel like many of them have not explored what the relationship means to them and the family. Being older in college when my grandfather passed away, I felt this idea that there are more important things in life than midterms, grades, and internships. I learned from my grandfather that – as you said – there are lots of experiences/relationships in life and some are more important than others. That being said, I didn’t take much time to explore this after the funeral and I went back to school and kept on working. I would find the second idea you listed interesting and relatable. And you could possibly teach something to the reader through your personal stories and experiences. You could also incorporate the other ideas that you have – the on about spending the most of what’s left – because that can inspire people to do the same with their own grandparent. This way you can attract an audience that is broader than that of the second idea. There is many ways you can go here. Pick your audience and I think it will guide/assist you in making choices about what direction to go in next.

    -Joe

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