Paul Schrader's 1-Page Outline for 'The Mosquito Coast' Is Bonkers

'The Mosquito Coast'Credit: Warner Bros.
Outlines help you always know where you're going. 

We all know writing a screenplay is incredibly hard. While it gets easier as you go, every story is a new battle. When I sit down to write, I chase treatments, beat sheets, and outlinesA screenplay outline helps you organize your thoughts and the beats of the story, giving you some direction as you move forward. 

But you don't have to take my word for it. 

Recently, writer Paul Schrader's outline for The Mosquito Coast surfaced. It's a one-page list of the scenes in order. Some are crossed out, I think meaning he was writing them and checking them off the list as he went. 


The plot of the movie is about a handyman disgusted with modern civilization who sets off to the Mosquito Coast of Central America to found his own society. The movie would go on to be directed by Peter Weir as his follow-up to Witness. While it didn't do great at the box office or with critics, it still has its fans. And I think it's really interesting to see how Schrader listed out his scenes. 

Let me know what you think in the comments.       

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I think that's about what I'd expect Schrader organization to be. And how he kept coming back to the same analog document with so much info added is wild. I bet only he could make sense of it all!

April 12, 2022 at 5:58PM, Edited April 12, 5:58PM

Michael Winters
Director / Writer

Helpful to see how these guys break down such a daunting task. Be interested to know what those numbers mean, maybe one column is duration? Thanks for sharing.

May 13, 2022 at 5:50PM, Edited May 13, 5:55PM