Sample Script Coverage

Here’s actual script coverage for a Hollywood production:

Forbard Story Services Script Report


Title: K-PAX
Author: Charles Leavitt
Type/pp: SP/133
Genre: Drama
Locale: New York City; Connecticut
Circa: Present
Budget: Med.

Logline:

A man calling himself Prot appears in New York City one day claiming to be an alien from the planet K-Pax; taken to the Manhattan Psychiatric Institute, Prot’s case challenges Dr. Mark Fuller, who’s surprised by Prot’s convincing story and therapeutic effect on the other patients.


Excellent Good Fair Poor
Premise X
Storyline X
Characterizations X
Dialogue X
Plot/Structure X
Production Values X
RECOMMENDATION: Project: RECOMMEND
Writer: CONSIDER

Summary:

Begging in NYC’s Port Authority, a homeless VET sees sunglasses-wearing PROT appear; a WOMAN’s mugged nearby, and Prot goes to aid her, stopped by COPS. When Prot says he’s from planet K-Pax, a cop orders him sent for detox and Prot peacefully complies. Manhattan Psychiatric Institute’s (MPI) DR. MARK FULLER, 40s, has a session with death-phobic patient ERNIE; later, Mark admits a SCREAMING MAN, ordering him drugged. DR. CHAKRABORTY tells Mark about Prot: claiming he’s an alien, he hasn’t responded to 3 weeks of drug therapy. Attendants NAVARRO and SIMMS take Prot to Mark, where he relates space travel. Home late, Mark eats a reheated dinner with wife RACHEL; when busy Mark says their vacation may be canceled, daughters NATALIE, 6, and GABBY, 9, are bummed.

At MPI, unkempt HOWIE reads reference books, while BESS rocks before the TV, SAL paints, RUSSELL preaches while MARIA listens, and Ernie monitors his health; Prot arrives, and Howie asks about his celestial origins. Sal and Ernie initially bicker, but Prot’s mention of peaceful K-Pax calms all; nurse BETTY MCALLISTER tells Mark all MPI’s patients want to meet ‘the alien.’ Meeting Mark later, Prot gets around all his ‘trap’ questions; playing a tape of him before MPI STAFF in their weekly meeting, Mark recommends sending Prot for a clinical trial elsewhere, but hospital Director CLAUDIA VILLERS vetoes it.

Prot walks through the ward, his pleasant greetings returned by most; seeing MRS. ARCHER refuse to leave her room, Prot enters, calming and entertaining her. Hearing Prot tested high for light sensitivity, Mark dims his office for his visit; Prot’s pleased, asking Mark about Mrs. Archer’s disassociative disorder and Howie’s obsessions. Quizzing Prot, Mark hears K-Pax sees children and relations differently. Home, Mark hosts a Memorial Day cookout, and sister ABBY, 30s, attends with astronomer hubby STEVE; after Abby mentions Mark’s grown son, Mark changes the subject and asks Steve to help disprove Prot’s star claims.

At work Mark sees Howie’s no longer acting obsessive; Howie says Prot told him to watch for the ‘bluebird of happiness,’ the first of 3 tasks that will cure him. Mark finds Prot outside with Ernie, debunking his death fears; when Mark says Prot can’t treat patients, Prot leaves Mark sputtering by saying Mark’s treatments aren’t working. Called about Prot’s ‘star questionnaire’ answers, Mark hears Steve say the answers are very accurate, asking to meet the source. Some time later, the patients see Prot in a cab with Mark, Navarro and Dr. Chakraborty; arriving at the Hayden Planetarium, Prot smiles and Navarro looks around in awe. Meeting esteemed astronomers DUNCAN FLYNN, DAVID PATEL and STUART HESSLER, Mark and the others hear Prot joke around initially, then answer queries about his planet’s orbit. When his answers are so accurate they explain previous anomalies, the scientists are impressed.

At home Fuller despairs, afraid he can’t help Prot; riding the train to work, Mark ponders how nice K-Pax sounds. At MPI, Howie jumps up, shouting “bluebird!.” All the ward’s patients take up the cry, and Fuller is summoned to find a blue jay flying around the yard, eyed by all. Mulling what Prot said about K-Pax families and children, Mark calls son MICHAEL, 21, re-establishing communication before Mark’s train arrives. In his room, Prot eyes another ‘test’ from the astronomers; he completes it as passing Bess says Prot is ‘the bluebird.’ Next day Prot’s flagged down by Sal, who asks him to take him back to K-Pax, and Prot says he’s only able to take one person back when he goes.

Hearing patients clamor to go to K-Pax, Fuller asks Prot, who says his ‘departure’ date is July 27th at 5:51 AM. Mark’s shaken to hear Steve say Prot must be where he says he’s from to know what he knows. Having a July 4th cookout, Mark greets guest Prot, accompanied by nurse McAllister and her burly hubby DOMINIC, as well as Mark’s assistant JOYCE TREXLER and her wrestler son DANNY, 18. Anti-social dog Shasta plays with Prot, who ‘talks’ to the pet. Rachel gives vegetarian Prot specially-made fruit salad, touching him visibly; Prot grows on everyone as he plays badminton and paints with the kids. Pushing Natalie on a swing, Prot enjoys himself until the sound of a sprinkler agitates him; seeing him begin to freak out, huge Danny, Dom and Steve grab Prot, and he’s incapacitated after his sunglasses are knocked off. With the sprinkler off and his glasses back, Prot snaps back to ‘normal,’ seeking pie.

Mark tells hospital director Villers Prot’s departure date connects with a traumatic event, suggesting hypnosis, and reluctant Villers agrees. Mark’s concerned to hear Prot’s missing, checking a security videotape to seeing Prot enter his room, but not leave; patients are nonchalant, saying Prot’s gone ‘north’ on his earth visit and will return soon. Sleeping in the office, Mark’s woken by the sun, then finds Prot outside claiming he’s back from Greenland; Mark asks him to undergo another treatment, and Prot agrees to be hypnotized. Dr. Villers watches Mark put Prot under hypnosis, asking for his earliest memory; Prot tells of an ‘earth friend’ whose father died. Progressing Prot, Mark tries to elicit the friend’s name, but Villers orders the session ended; awoken, Prot can’t believe he was hypnotized. Seeing Mrs. Trexler, Mark repeats facts gleaned from his session, asking her to research.

Howie distributes paper and pencils for an ‘essay contest’ to be Prot’s return companion. Getting more hypnosis, Prot stays evasive about his friend’s name, but give more clues about age and circumstances. When Mark advances Prot, Villers urges caution, but Mark gets Prot to say his friend’s wife and child’s name. Next day Mark hears Howie hurt Ernie; going to chipper resuscitated Ernie, he learns Howie strangled him, voiding his fear of death. Howie says ‘killing’ Ernie was his 2nd task Prot assigned. As Prot’s ‘departure’ date approaches, Mark hypnotizes him again, going to a presumed trauma date five years earlier. Prot describes his friend’s violent agitation and Villers demands the session ended. Ignoring her, Mark progresses Prot to his friend’s suicide drowning, but Prot’s distress forces him to end things. Mark comforts distraught Prot, picking up his dropped, worn pencil.

Waiting for a train, Mark reads Prot’s pencil, seeing it’s a clue; he calls Mrs. Trexler to cross-reference the area code on the pencil, settling on Guelph, Montana, where ROBERT PORTER presumably drowned himself after a murder attack. Flying there, Mark sees Guelph’s SHERIFF, who takes him to Porter’s burned home and explains what happened 5 years earlier: after a DRIFTER murdered Porter’s WIFE and CHILD, Porter returned home from his slaughterhouse job to find the murderer, killing him with one blow; Porter entered a river to drown, though never found.

The Patients hold a going away party for Prot; Mark invites Prot to his office, confronting him with Porter’s name and yearbook photo, but Prot denies being Porter. Later Villers says she won’t punish Mark, who was just doing his job; Mark opts to sleep at work so he’s ready for Prot’s 5:51 AM ‘departure.’ At the going away party, Sal creates tension over who’ll accompany Prot, but Prot quiets all by giving precedence to those who go to sleep first, sending them running to bed. In his office, Mark’s surprised to find Rachel, who feeds him Chinese take-out before both fall asleep. Waking at 5:47 AM, Mark runs down the hall as the clock ticks down, colliding with Mrs. Archer. 5:51 AM arrives, and Mark runs into Prot’s room as the sun rises; initially he’s amazed, seeing no one, then notes Prot’s body crumpled on the floor. Prot is catatonic and unresponsive, but Bess is nowhere to be found. Mark takes Prot around in a wheelchair later, telling him about the Ward’s doings, as well as his reconciliation with his son; Prot/Porter remains catatonic, but when a blue jay lands on his hand, he evinces a slight smile as it flies off.

Comments:

A quite entertaining drama/fantasy, K-Pax by Charles Leavitt (based on the novel by Gene Brewer) is one of those ‘have your cake and eat it too’ scripts in which it’s possible to see a wild premise fulfilled while also managing to ‘explain’ the story’s stranger elements. It’s a nifty trick, and screenwriter Leavitt has struck a delicate balance between allowing us to believe that oddball central character Prot (rhymes with “goat”) is actually an alien from the far-off planet of K-Pax as well as missing ‘suicide’ victim Robert Porter, who killed his murdered wife and daughter’s attacker. Like a cross between “Starman” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” K-Pax is able to entertain and mystify with its ‘alien’ plot, playing off Prot’s childlike appreciation of mundane things while having him become a positive influence in the psychiatric hospital in which he’s an inmate. As things progress in the story, Prot’s able to ‘cure’ a couple of the obsessive or delusional patients, and even has a beneficial effect on his doctor, protagonist Dr. Mark Fuller. All in all, K-Pax is a solidly written script and is recommended for production; the worst I can say about this script is that it’s too long, but there are a few opportunities to correct that.

Deftly avoiding most of the traps these kinds of clever premises usually present, screenwriter Charles Leavitt uses his psychiatric hospital setting to good effect, allowing the secondary characters to display the influence Prot has had on them. As with “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” the transformation of the patients is particularly entertaining, probably because of how well they’re written. The same goes for Dr. Fuller, who engages in a sort of transference with Prot as the patient eventually treats the doctor. It’s part of the reason the ending ‘works:’ because Fuller is so protective of Prot, a ‘friendship’ with catatonic Porter makes sense, but at the same time patient Bess (and, for the most part, whatever there was of Prot’s personality) has disappeared. It’s a way for the writer to get both ‘endings’ at once, with a brief coda of Porter/Prot’s smile upon seeing a bluebird giving the audience one last chance for ‘hope.’

Though it is long (the lengthy Montana sequence in act 3 seems a likely candidate for trimming), Charles Leavitt’s adaptation of Gene Brewer’s novel is an entertaining screenplay. Because of its strong characters, their affecting relationships, and a healthy dose of humor along with poignancy, I recommend K-Pax for feature film production.

RECOMMEND