Tuesday, 9 February 2016

MR ROBOT - DRAMA - TV

LOGLINE: A 20 something computer specialist working for a major cyber-security company is asked to join F-society, an elite group of hackers with one mission - erasing all the world's debt. 

WRITER: SAM ESMAIL

SCRIPT BIO: This is the pilot for the immensely awesome and successful TV show Mr Robot. 

STORY: 

Elliot is in his late 20s. He lives in Manhattan and by day he's a professional cyber security specialist working at AllSafe, a mid range cyber-security company whose biggest client is the infamous EvilCorp. 

EvilCorp is a nameless, faceless sociopathic limited liability company that doesn't care how many workers it kills, so long as it's bottom line is healthy. 

We first meet Elliot in a coffee shop where he confronts the owner, Phil, a seemingly loveable chap. But Elliot knows otherwise. He tells Phil that he hacked into the servers used to run the coffee shops WiFi and found that it's a cover for a child pornography portal. 

Phil tries to buy his way out of the situation, but Elliot isn't in this for money, he's here for justice - and soon the FBI raid the store and arrest Phil, while Elliot slinks off into the shadows. 

Elliot suffers from extreme paranoia. As he rides the subway he thinks he sees covert CIA agents following him. 

It's here, on the subway one late night that he first meets MR ROBOT - a 50 year old Californian type slumming it with the NYC hipsters. 

At first Elliot isn't sure why Mr Robot has popped up in his life, but he'll soon understand.

At work, Elliot is the go-to guy for tricky cyber security problems.  

The super hot, yet still girl-next-door-lovely ANGELA got him the job. Angela and Elliot have known each other since childhood. They share a family loss, in that they both lost a parent to radioactive poisoning from one of the EvilCorp subsidiary companies where their parents worked. 

Elliot is in love with Angela, but his super awkward social graces means he'll never be anything more than just a friend to her. 

Angela had a birthday recently but Elliot couldn't bring himself to enter the bar where they were celebrating, he hates people in general that much. 

Angela has a douche boyfriend called ALI, who insists on trying to be Elliot's best friend, despite Elliot wanting nothing to do with the guy. 

Elliot hacks Ali and learns that he's secretly exchanging dirty photos with a hot girl online. 

Then there's Elliot's psychologist - KRISTA - she's doing her best to get through to Elliot, but he's so far out of her league intelligence wise that it's really Elliot handling Kristy rather than vice versa.

Elliot has also hacked Krista's computer and knows everything about her. He finds out that she's dating a guy that she doesn't know is married. 

When Elliot's chilling out at home, his favourite time killer is snorting Methadone. He claims to have a system of use where he believes he has it under control. 

Then there's the awesome TYRELL - a young 20 something executive for Evil Corp who has a hands-on background in computer hacking. 

Tyrell doesn't play a huge role in the pilot, but he becomes an incredible character later in the season. 

There are more ancillary characters, such as Elliot's boss, co-workers and his drug dealer. But for the purposes of this deconstruction we don't need to get into details on them.

The story begins properly when Evil Corp is hit by a major cyber attack. 

Elliot comes in late at night and saves the day. In the process of restoring their system, he discovers a file in the root directory from F-Society that reads 'leavemehere' -- Elliot is about to delete the file, but instead, there's something within him that urges him to leave the file in place.

So he does.

He's then approached by Mr Robot again who takes Elliot to an abandoned fun-house in Coney Island where he meets the players of F-Society. A group of elite hackers with one mandate - the destruction of all digital records of all debt. 

Every single mortgage, CC debt, student loan, personal loan, business loan. All eradicated irretrievably from the face of the earth. The largest single redistribution of wealth in the history of mankind!

The question becomes, will Elliot join their faction, and if so, what will happen...

INITIAL REACTION:

I saw this TV series before I read this script.

I absolutely loved the TV show. And I absolutely loved the script.

The main difference between script and show is that in the TV show they have dimmed down and deleted a lot of the technical terms.

When describing this TV show to friends I said it was a 'TV show about computer hacking that doesn't show any computer hacking."

It's all about the characters and their lives. Which is a clever play, as people don't tune in to be educated about the inner working of the cyber security world, they tune in to watch humans interacting with humans. 

I can't recommend this TV show and this Script enough. They are both perfect examples of TV and writing done exceptionally well. 

Let's get into a break down of the script....

CONCEPT:

The idea here is HUGE. Eradicating all the world's debt! That is something everyone that isn't a billionaire can get behind!

Doing it with a super cool bunch of cyber hackers is the perfect vehicle.

Focusing on their lives rather the technical aspects of the hacking is also a genius move. 

This concept is brilliant. 

It takes a HUGE idea and makes it tangible. 

Unlike the Stephen King story The Dark Tower that takes a huge concept and convolutes it. 

CONCEPT RATING 9/10

CONCEPT TIP: 

We can all think of really big ideas. But the real skill lies in the ability to deliver that concept. Often Sci-Fi stories get lost in their big idea. Here the idea is huge, but the delivery is easily digestible. There's something to be learned from that. If you can take a huge idea and create a scenario that delivers that concept in an easy to understand form, you're in a great place. 

FORM

Beautiful. No other word for it.

The script has just the right amount of description to setup the world, and the right amount of dialogue to pull the scenes along. 

There's zero formatting errors or typos here. Layout is near perfect. 

FORM RATING 9/10


FORM TIP: Take a read of this screenplay as a guide for how to format your TV spec. it's perfect. Script link is below. 

STRUCTURE

Structure here is brilliant. There are several storylines all held together by Elliot. This is very much his story. Often in TV shows there is a complete ensemble cast with equally important character across the board - take FRIENDS - not one of those characters is more important than the other. 

Because we experience this world through Elliot's POV - it gives the show a more filmic feel. 

Every scene is loaded with conflict and is fast moving. 

There's just enough setup of the world, then we dive into the storyline. 

It's a perfect balance of character development, story setup then execution. 

STRUCTURE RATING 9/10

STRUCTURE TIP: Again, read this script as a bedrock of how to structure your pilot. It executes flawlessly. 

CHARACETRS:

Every character here is well drawn and unique. That's a tall order given the character count here. We're looking at 10 plus main players. 

The thought that's been put into each and every one is brilliant.

Elliot, by far stands out. The writer chose to push the boundaries. Elliot is out hero - he's a paranoid delusional methadone addict - but we can't help but love him!

CHARACTER RATING 9/10

CHARACTER TIP: Push the envelop. When you're creating your characters, think in stereotypes to create a basic person - then think how can you change that character so that it will almost shock the reader/viewer. 

Here we have open use of drugs on a successful TV show. That's not something that slips the net daily. 

DIALOGUE:

Incredible. Listening to the way Elliot speaks is a pure joy. 

All the other characters have well written dialogue, but none of them stand out in the way Elliot does. In fact, thinking on that now, I'd say that's the only detractor from this show. The dialogue for all the other characters doesn't seem to have the same level of thought put into it. It doesn't by any means ruin the show, but it just feels like one area that could be slightly better. 

DIALOGUE RATING: ELLIOT 10/10 - ALL OTHERS 7/10

DIALOGE TIP: Read the script. Look at the way that Elliot speaks. He has a natural flow to everything he says. It's incredibly unique, yet it doesn't cross the line into the world of 'written dialogue.' 

'Written dialogue' is something you find in shows like House Of Cards, where the dialogue is sooooo poetic and brilliant it doesn't feel real. It's sooooo good it feels written.

(I love HOC btw - not season 3 though - that sucked.) 

VOICE:

I could read Sam Esmail scripts all day. This guy has an incredible writing style. So fluid and intelligent. He has  a firm grasp of writing and that shows through in his unique voice.

VOICE RATING 8/10

VOICE TIP: 

Intelligence. A lot of writers out there seem to think that having a basic high school level understanding of writing and the english language is enough to shine in the world of screen writing.

When you read a lot of scripts you can tell a writer's 'writing intelligence' after reading one page. The syntax, word choice, formatting all show how long this person has been working with words. 

The more you play with words, the better you get at it. 

PRODUCTION:

This is already a successful TV show. I'd recommend anyone who hasn't seen it yet to put it at the top of their viewing list.


SUMMARY:

Awesome.

OVERALL RATING: 9.5/10