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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, Countless 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, Countless 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 Countless 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.

Brutal.

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.

Link: Pitch Perfect Official Website

[via IMDb]

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  • That’s every writer’s worst fear. That being said, I despise Glee or any we-will-conquer-all-through-singing knockoff such as Pitch Perfect. If you are not being modest, and you honestly think this trailer was funny, you have no business writing – but that’s not to say you couldn’t be very “successful” at it.

    • I respectfully disagree about the funny. A lot of the “Fat Sarah” jokes worked well, and while that may be more the skill of the performer than the script, funny is funny. The rest of the show seems derivative and not-my-kind-of-thing, and I don’t honestly know that there’s a large part of the market burning for this. Also, when did they stop putting new songs into musicals? Would it be so hard to put a couple of known artists together to create a few new tracks for your movie?

  • >studio perfect

    It’s called autotune

  • Guys, if you can write a screenplay, you can also turn it into a novel and indie publish it.

    Look at the original _Stepford Wives_, the movie is about 90 minutes long, and the novel is about 50k long. Read the book, watch the movie, and they are almost one-to-one.

    Use your screenplay as outline, write the book. Look into Createspace for POD and Smashwords for e-books. If you have a story worth filming, then you have a story worth telling. Plus, the act of turning the story into a narrative form will show you how to make the story better. Plus, a book can be turned into an audio book to create another revenue stream.

    Five years from now it will not matter if _Pitch Perfect_ was made today, if you have an indie book that is selling, an indie audio book that is selling, somebody will say, “Hey, let’s make this into a movie.” – HA!

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