Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Screenplay Review: Killing on Carnival Row

Killing on Carnival Row by Travis Beachum

It is impossible to read a screenplay for a made movie and not seen the finished movie in your head as you read. It is interesting to breakdown how it was finished but really reading an unproduced screenplay is a totally different thing. Since I am working on doing more screenwriting I decided I needed to start doing more of that. Reading well regarded screenplays for movies that never got made seemed the right idea. It is one thing to read William Gibson's Alien 3 script or Oliver Stone’s first draft of Conan but I wanted to read one with no history. No conception in my head at all.

I choose to read script that has been creating buzz for years. Travis Beachum's Killing on Carnival Row. This script has never been made but it has hung out year after year on hollywood's blacklist, the producer guide to the best unproduced screenplays. It got a draft by G Del Toro who I believe optioned it. In fact he liked it enough that he hired Travis Beachum to co-write Pacific Rim for him.

What makes KCR such a fascinating script is the various fantasy and noir genres it crosses and the worlds it builds in it's 117 pages. Screenwriters are taught not to direct on the page but in simple strokes Beachum does fantastic world building. Set in The Burgue a city that is part Noir, part fantasy in many ways reminded me of China Mieville's New Crobuzon. (in the novel Perdido Street Station)

In this noir local humans, faeries, pixies and vampire co- exist in a steampunk ish setting that mixes gothic and modern. It is well realized and in short pieces of description we get a a vivid picture. The story is of a serial killer targeting faeries, who mutilates them by taking their wings. The main character Philostrate is cop who gets framed for the crime.

I thought the script was fantastic as a piece of work that stands on it's own. My favorite line of dialogue was said by a character named Bottom who said "You think you know a bloke, then you find a tub of Pix’s blood in his loo." The bottom line is I hope one day someone makes this movie.

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