Example Studio Consulting: A MOST VIOLENT YEAR Script

An example script consultancy on a reading of the A MOST VIOLENT YEAR script:

Trainees Example Studio Coverage

“A gritty crime drama with many familiar beats of the gangster genre that also refreshingly subverts it, exploring a protagonist trying to expand his business empire whilst fighting not to be drawn into the gangster world…” Extracts from a script report by our trainee Adam Yee, based on a reading of the A MOST VIOLENT YEAR script: CLICK HERE to read the script online from Gointothestory.

 To see the full industry-standard format we use for Studio Coverage, either commission your own (CLICK HERE) based on the script you submit, or purchase The Confidential Studio Manual to get the inside track on how the industry will really assess and process your script (CLICK HERE)!

WRITEMOVIES STORY DEPARTMENT COVERAGE

 

TITLE: A Most Violent Year                                   LOCALE: New York

AUTHOR: J.C. Chandor                                           SETTING: Industrial, Bayfront terminal, offices, mansions, restaurants

WRITER A CLIENT?: N/A                                   PERIOD: 1981

COMMENTS:

A gritty crime drama with many familiar beats of the gangster genre that also refreshingly subverts it, exploring a protagonist trying to expand his business empire whilst fighting not to be drawn into the gangster world, it’s anti-gangster in that respect. What also makes the story more engaging from traditional gangster fare is its specific milieu of the heating and oil industry which allows it to explore a vast and industrial New York City in its most violent year ever recorded. The script is character-driven and doesn’t resort to extreme gratuitous violence to deliver shocks as the title might misleadingly suggest, instead it strives and maintains a sense of realism. Lots of information is revealed through heavy dialogue that drives the narrative forward but this is countered by its high quality.

The script has a very strong irreversible inciting incident (the Bayfront terminal deal) that provides a clear goal, motive, conflict and a deadline with high stakes as the contractual agreement states thirty days to close the deal or Abel’s rivals will take the deal. The deadline will come into play more significantly in the climax to add urgency and raise the stakes. The narrative is well crafted, intricate and complex as the engrossing subplots importantly and cleverly intertwine with the arch plot (closing the deal) moving the story along. The arch plot and subplot always have an effect on each other providing difficult obstacles for Abel to overcome. For example the hijacking of ‘Standard Heating Oil’ trucks cause drivers to be illegally armed against Abel’s wishes (subplot), this puts him in even more trouble with the Assistant District Attorney who is investigating him (subplot), and because of mounting legal problems the bank pull out of the loan for the Bayfront deal (arch plot) in the extremely effective second act turning point.

Some scenes may need reordering as occasionally interchanging between subplots inhibits the overall momentum of the film in the climax. Two scenes are repeated at different points in the narrative highlighting issues in where to place scenes to generate the best momentum. If the narrative was a little tighter and more compact this would notch up the tension levels in the third act climax even more as all the beats are there. Having said that the script takes care to resolve its arch plot and subplots, they all have a beginning, middle and end. The key deal is completed rendering the hijackings less significant as Abel won’t have to rely on trucks. Julian’s narrative ends in tragedy. Lawrence’s investigation closes and his relationship with Abel changes to that of potential ally.

Abel is a multi-dimensional and empathetic protagonist, he’s always in control and knows everything to the last detail, this is in delightful contrast to the events that spiral out of his control. His transformational arc comprises of a disillusionment plot where he tries to strictly adhere to his honest principles and the law but in the end is forced to compromise with his own ethics, it is only the fraudulent money that saves him from being in cahoots with gangsters. This is very much a character study of one man, although there are many supporting and minor characters that are well drawn out, each of them generate conflict with Abel. This is evident with Anna as the theme of marriage is explored in compelling circumstances. She is a strong and powerful female character, it is their differing ethics that cause tension throughout, as the daughter of a gangster she’s grown up in that world whereas he’s trying to stay out of it.

Problems of pace and momentum can be easily solved and with conflict brewing from the beginning, intriguing characters and a gripping story this would make a good film and is sure to attract stars. With the right talent and backing the film may find small commercial success but should definitely target awards and critical acclaim.

 To see the full industry-standard format we use for Studio Coverage, either commission your own (CLICK HERE) based on the script you submit, or purchase The Confidential Studio Manual to get the inside track on how the industry will really assess and process your script (CLICK HERE)!

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