You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘screenplay’ tag.

"Bigly" by Justin Shady.

I write at least one spec feature script for myself every year. In 2016, I wrote Saving Charlie Chaplin, which obviously got some love and attention.

Unfortunately, I finished 2017’s script far too late in the year for it to get any real traction or make any lists. But that doesn’t mean I’m not proud of it.

I released my ninth spec on November 8th, 2017, one year to the day that Donald Trump shockingly (and appallingly) won the presidency. That date was consciously chosen because the script, titled Bigly, is a humorous account of Trump’s inauguration. Or at least how I had hoped his inauguration had turned out.

For the holidays, I thought it might be fun to share my script. Consider it a present from me to you. Of course, feel free to share it with friends and family. Especially friends and family who voted for Trump. It will be a fun conversation starter around the dinner table this coming weekend.

Download your copy of Bigly here.

Now on to number ten… and eleven,


In the spring of 2016, I was hired by the Weinstein Company to tackle what was essentially a rewrite for a Chinese language animated film. Originally produced by Alibaba Pictures and released in China the previous year, Weinstein purchased the film’s remaining distribution rights, and then set out to re-release the movie in English-speaking regions.

Here is the original poster for the Chinese version of the film.

"Little Door Gods"

I’ve done a few of these no-credit rewrites/passes, which basically means that, even though my work on a project can sometimes be quite extensive, my contract stipulates that I won’t receive a writing credit on the project. In lieu of said credit, I get a nice check. It’s a fair deal.

Of course, not all rewrites require heavy lifting, but this project in particular was absolutely insane. Allow me to explain….

Originally released as Little Door Gods, this two-hour animated movie had already been produced and distributed throughout China when I was approached to tackle the English version rewrite. But just because the movie had already been made didn’t mean it had a viable working script. Not only was the script I received not properly formatted for screenplays, but most of its dialogue was little more than poorly translated English that had been used for the film’s subtitles.

Once I got the job, a handful of goals were presented to me. First, they wanted the new dialogue to be funny and relevant to an English-speaking audience. Next, they weren’t reanimating or re-editing the film, which meant that what was on the screen visually couldn’t be changed. (Although, in the end, they did cut entire scenes out of the original version to shave down the film’s runtime.) They also hoped to strip out as much of the story’s Chinese spirituality/mythology as possible. (Keep in mind this is a story about two Chinese brothers… who also happen to be gods, hence the title.) And finally, since they weren’t reanimating any of the scenes, they hoped the new English dialogue would match the characters’ Chinese-speaking lips.

The deadline for the entire project was two weeks.

In those two weeks, I wrote an entirely new script from scratch, as the script I had received and was supposed to use as a skeleton proved to be mostly useless. Over fourteen days, I watched the Chinese version of the film over and over again, all while writing an updated English version of the script. Scenes with little or no dialogue were great, as I could write whatever dialogue I wanted (so long as a character’s mouth was off-screen or turned away from the camera). However, each time a character visibly opened their mouth onscreen, I would have to write (and many times rewrite and rewrite and rewrite) a new line of dialogue that was appropriate, funny, and fit into the character’s already animated mouth. During this process, I bet I listened to each individual line of dialogue more than a dozen times as I attempted to get each one just right.

In the end, miraculously, I got it done on time. Honestly, I don’t know how that happened, but it did. I cashed my check and moved on to the next project, not thinking too much about it until just recently when a quick Google search for the working English title—The Guardian Brothers—pulled up this result.

The Guardian Brothers was released on Netflix in early September. I had no idea.

"The Guardian Brothers" not written by me.

I have to admit, in light of recent events involving Harvey Weinstein (and almost every other man in Hollywood, apparently), I held off on sharing this bit of news. And, at least to date, I have yet to watch the film. But regardless of how it turned out (or what’s currently happening in the news), it was still an awesome opportunity that—while admittedly exhausting and grueling—I am incredibly appreciative of having been given.

Of course, writing dialogue for talent like Nicole Kidman, Meryl Streep, Edward Norton, Mel Brooks, Dan Fogler, Mike Birbiglia, and Bella Thorne is cool, too.

Not sure when I’ll get around to watching it, but if you’re interested and get the chance please let me know what you thought. I hope you enjoy it. And if not, eh… you won’t find my name anywhere on it, so what do I care?

Credits don’t pay no bills,


Number two! Number two!

A little behind, but not too bad all things considered.

Hopefully I’ll catch up next month,



eleven to go.

Already working on number two,




I think this is going to be fun,


With the recent wrap of my latest screenplay (The Gets), the reality of twelve new scripts in the next year is now, well, a reality. But rather than wait for 2015 to get started on the first of a dozen scripts, I’ve decided to get busy on Christmas Is Gonna Be Awkward This Year right away.

My process of writing scripts is a weird one. I never knew I had an odd process until I read how other writers went about writing scripts, but it works for me so I don’t really care if it’s odd or not.

I don’t create outlines, act breakdowns, or even one-page synopses of the scripts I write. Typically, I have no idea where any one scene is headed, or which scene it will lead me to next.

Instead, I develop a few key characters (in an extremely minimal way), and then create six bullet points: the first and last scenes of Acts I, II, and III. Most times, those six points are the only outline I have before starting a script; other times, I don’t even have that much. Sometimes I have four of the six points figured out; with America’s Guest, I had two.

Rather than having a story fully fleshed out before getting started, I create from things that have influenced and inspired me along the way. These can include stories, old acquaintances, funny sounding words, a bit of history, or even something as minor as something I overheard a stranger say.

I eavesdrop on the conversations of strangers frequently, especially in public spaces; sometimes, these conversations turn into character dialogue. Basically, I’m a collector of people’s thoughts.

That is to say, I pull inspiration from weird places. Today, I’d like to pull some of that inspiration from your weird place. (Heh… dirty.) Your head. (Heh… also dirty.)

Below is a 20-question survey. If you have a moment, I’d love for you to fill it out. You can either post your replies directly in the comments section (under your real name or anonymously), or (if you’d rather not flash your weirdness to the masses) you can email me your answers here.

No need to be overly detailed in your answers. I appreciate brevity, mostly because it allows/forces me to creatively expand on your answers.

None of the information below will be used as a full story (to be read: stolen). Instead, some of your answers might show up as a bit of color in one of my scripts. A name you recognize might appear as a tertiary character, or a brief scenario you outline might end up being the spark a bigger story arc. I’m not looking to take stories from anyone, but rather gather inspiration from your suggestions for what my stories might become.

So… here you go!


1. What is the name of the worst teacher you ever had (preferably, his/her full name)?

2. What made that teacher so awful? Specific, brief anecdotes appreciated.

3. Give me a word you think sounds funny.

4. Now, give me another one.

5. Tell me a short, supposedly true story you heard (at least) second-hand, like a “friend of a friend” type of tale. Specifically, a story so ridiculous sounding that you highly doubt its authenticity, but one that’s so amazing it also doesn’t keep you from spreading the lies.

6. Give me a word you think sounds gross.

7. Now, give me another one.

8. Where do you think would be the absolute worst place to get hit with a bout of diarrhea? Please be specific.

9. Tell me a short story of something that happened to you as a child that, at the time, you thought was life-ending, but looking back on it now is just silly and stupid.

10. Where’s the weirdest place you’d like to have sex? Not have had sex, but would like to have sex.

11. Name someone (non-famous) you think is a sweetheart (preferably, someone I don’t know).

12. Name someone (non-famous) you think is a shithead (preferably, someone I don’t know).

13. If you had a child and could name it anything you wanted without fear of ridicule or retribution from your family, friends, or society, what would you name it? Full names appreciated.

14. What was the worst gift you’ve ever received?

15. What was the worst gift you’ve ever given someone?

16. Finish this sentence as honestly as you can: “One time, I was so drunk/high, I _____.”

17. As a child, what was the strangest Halloween costume you ever trick-or-treated in?

18. If the eight-year-old you had owned a car, what would its vanity license plates have read?

19. Name an animal you think is total bullshit. Explain.

20. If you were a wrestler, what would your name be? Also, what would your finishing move be? Bonus points for creating a finishing move rather than naming an existing one.

Can’t wait to read these replies,



…is done.

On to the next twelve,


Old Poop!