I am avid listener of the podcast, Scriptnotes, hosted by John August & Craig Mazin. So, I was extremely excited to hear that they'll be analyzing a full script on Tuesday’s episode. They decided to pick a writer of one of their monthly "Three Page Challenges" and the lucky screenwriter is K.C. Scott and his screenplay This Is Working. John and Craig will be joined by special guest Franklin Leonard and will talk about character, story and thematic issues. I read the script in anticipation of Tuesday's episode and thought I would do a short analysis of the script. I can't wait to hear if John, Craig, and Franklin point out the same things that I noticed while reading This is Working.
SPOILERS AHEAD - YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED
Title: This is Working
Short Summary: Byron, an insecure artist meets a woman who encourages him to quit his job and set off on his own path.
Plot Points (Longer Summary): Byron who works as a graphic artist at a start up pet product company meets a woman, Amanda, at a diner who gives him the courage to order the breakfast he wants when confronted by a waitress who along with his girlfriend Jane are managing his food intake. Amanda's brash and confident manner intrigue Byron and once he's at work and cannot finish his design for an expensive disposable hummingbird feeder, he gets his assistant Rosa to track her down aided by a drawing that he's completed of her.
Byron takes the advice of Amanda and needing her support tells the staff that she's a consultant on his project. After the new proposal that Byron comes up with aided by Amanda, she meets Jane his girlfriend and Vice President at the company. Jane confides in Amanda how draining Byron's insecurities are and thanks her for helping him. After the success of the campaign, Byron's company offers Amanda a job at the company and Byron a promotion to their Oakland office.
Jane starts to feel threatened by Amanda's presence and influence on Byron and confronts him with his mother, Urlina. They outline rules that Byron must follow in order to see Amanda, including not seeing her alone and having a two hour's notice for any plans including Amanda.
Byron, uninspired by his new position and stuck on one of his paintings, turns to Amanda for advice and comfort. Amanda and Byron share a passionate kiss and decide they don't want to be without each other and that they should quit their jobs and move in together. Amanda finds out that Byron is a trust fund kid and that he only recently moved out of his mother's house before he moved in with Jane and that his two brothers still live with their mother. They then decide to move to Oakland and rent an apartment there.
Once in Oakland, they spend a magical day together that ends with Byron deciding he needs to go back to Jane's and tell her that he's leaving. Jane tells him to leave and he spends the night at a motel. The next day he goes into work and quits his job. He goes home to his new apartment with Amanda where she encourages him to hang up all of his art work. They then go to an art festival which inspires Byron to create a design for t-shirts for the art festival.
Amanda and Byron attempt to build a booth for the festival, but she sends Byron off to the store for supplies because of his lack of handyman skills. On his way back to their house his mother picks him up in order to inspect his new living situation and Amanda. When they arrive at their house Amanda is smoking a blunt and quoting expletive laden 90's hip-hop. Both Amanda and Urlina kick Byron out while they have a one on one. Amanda unaccustomed to be challenged stands up to Urlina and in the process tells her that they don't need Byron's trust fund money.
Later, Byron and Amanda set up their t-shirt booth and get no sales. Byron goes to grab them some beers and his debit card is declined. Amanda doesn't tell Byron about telling his mother that they don't need his trust money, but senses that's why his card was declined. Instead she suggests they go out dancing. Byron insists that he check his account first and when he does he sees it's been reduced to a couple of hundred dollars. He thinks he's been a victim of identity theft until Amanda tells him what she told his mother. Byron panics, but they still go out dancing and while out they run into Rosa.
After dancing at the club they all return to Byron and Amanda's apartment and Byron drunkenly kisses Rosa. The next day ashamed at what he does he doesn't want to face Amanda, but Amanda acts completely un-phased about it. Byron teases out of Amanda that she was jealous and admits that he was acting passive-aggressively because he was angry about her being the cause of him losing his money. Amanda then tells him that Rosa has an idea for improving the t-shirt design.
They go back to the art festival and are selling the new design of the t-shirts and business is so good that they've raised their prices. Later, Amanda tells Byron that she thinks that Rosa should move in with them to help with the business. The next day at the festival they are selling so much that their line is interferring with the flow of festival traffic. A festival official tells them they must get rid of their line and Amanda buys a booth from another vendor. Byron objects to displacing the vendor and then offers to man the previous vendor's booth. This leads to a fight between Byron and Amanda in which they both express their frustration with each other's different degrees of oppressiveness.
The fight between he and Amanda leads Byron to leave their apartment and go back to his mother's house. While at his mother's we meet his brothers who still live at home and still behave like children under their mother's watch. Amanda goes to see Byron and he explains to her that he can't be her burden. She says she understands and leaves.
We fast forward a month and we find Amanda now living with Byron in his mother's house with his brothers like one big happy family.
Characters: I loved all of the characters in This is Working, but I felt like the character of Amanda was very Manic Pixie Dream Girl-ish. Not only did she seem to only exist to enable Byron's growth, but I never saw what quality of Byron's made her fall so madly in love with him that she would move in with him after a few days. It seems like the script hints at her falling for him because of his vulnerability, but there's nothing shown in her personality that she wants a "fixer-upper" type relationship. I would have liked to see more of what she felt like she was getting out of the relationship other than a project.
I did like that all his characters had different voices, I could envision each one of them from the main characters to one off characters like Jane's suburban cousins. I also liked that the characters were very diverse (Black, white, Asian, and Latino).
Overall: Overall I liked the script a lot, but I felt like the third act was the weakest. I don't feel like Byron fulfilled his purpose or journey in this script. The first act tells us we're dealing with a man that can't make a decision on his own without being propped up by some woman who is asserting her dominance over him. Yet, at the end Byron is still being propped up by women. He's living at home under a domineering mother with his equally domineering girlfriend. Although at the end Amanda doesn't give him the answer he wants in relation to a painting he's working on, he still hasn't grown enough by the end of the script, in my opinion.
- Why didn't Amanda suggest opening an online store, when her business was in tech/programming?
- Why was Byron's card declined while trying to buy liquor, yet he still had at least three hundred dollars in his account?
- Why didn't Byron move in with Amanda when she had her own place already instead of moving to Oakland? Would have made more sense if she had a roommate.