What You Do When You Discover the Exact Movie You Are Writing is Coming Out in Four Months
I am currently in the middle of rewriting my latest comedy spec script, C
ountless Melodies (that crossed-out ‘o’ is not a typo, it’s a purposeful omission), a script I haven’t shown to a soul yet because it’s not ready. It’s an idea I’ve had for several years and I finally got around to writing it this year. It’s a college-set comedy that follows an all-male a cappella group, C ountless Melodies, as they try to recapture their former glory to become national champions once again, if they can only defeat their archrivals, the three-time defending champion Blue Belles. It’s completely “write-what-you-know” because I was in an all-male a cappella group in college. That’s right. I said it. I was in an all-male a cappella group in college — the Johns Hopkins University AllNighters. And we were good, too (at least, back in the day). So imagine my surprise when I surf over to IMDb today and see this trailer on their home page for Pitch Perfect:
It’s the exact same story as C
ountless Melodies, only told from the female group’s perspective. But the obstacles are the same. The characters are the same. The setup is the same. It is the exact same story. OK, maybe I don’t have a scene of two a cappella groups dueling in an empty swimming pool, but otherwise, it’s the same. I shouldn’t be too surprised. I mean, I knew a cappella scripts had made their way through development with the studios before, but none of them had seen the light of day.
Then Glee hit. And I don’t like Glee for several reasons I won’t cover here.
So the idea that had been swirling in my head finally took shape: Anti-Glee with an Old School/Superbad awkward fraternity vibe. And blow-you-out-of-your-seats, raw, live a cappella music, not the immediately studio perfect numbers on Glee.
As I broke the story, I was aware of Mickey Rapkin’s book Pitch Perfect, but I never read it. I lived in that world for four years in college, so why read it? Finally, this spring, I pounded out the first draft and I’ve been in rewrite mode ever since.
However, I never realized Rapkin’s book was acquired, adapted into a script by the very talented Kay Cannon (a writer and producer on 30 Rock, one of my all-time favorite shows), and set for release this October. And the trailer looks funny. Good songs. Good actors. Good singers. Funnier dialogue than what I have written so far.
So what do I do? Obviously, my script is way too similar to pursue as a spec script that I could sell anymore. As soon as I saw the trailer, I thought, “Damn. On to the next one.”
But then I thought, what else could I do with this script? Because of Pitch Perfect, my script is basically unpitchable (pun intended). I can’t even submit it to contests because they’ll all say, “This is exactly like Pitch Perfect. What’s this guy’s deal?” It’s still a sample of my comedy writing, however. It needs work, though. I’m almost finished the current rewrite, at which point I would need to solicit feedback.
So, I’ve decided to get out ahead of Pitch Perfect and I will publish my spec script in full online for all to read. In the next few days, I’ll have a completed rewrite, then will put it up on Scribd. I’ll share the link when the script is online, and if you have time to take a look, I’d welcome your feedback. If you know someone who likes comedy scripts, pass it along. If I receive constructive criticism that will improve the script, I’ll rewrite it and post a new draft online. As a community, perhaps we can learn from the rewrite process together.
Also, full disclosure about my writing model: I write comedy specs that I hope to sell. I write drama scripts that I hope to make myself. Basically, one for them, one for me. So, if Pitch Perfect isn’t your thing, I totally get it. The latest drama script I have written that I hope to direct someday soon is 180-degrees apart from Pitch Perfect, which is why it needs to be an indie film, not a studio project.
Have you been blindsided by a movie that snatched your amazing idea out of thin air and put in on the screen before your script was finished? Share your literal horror stories with us.