All great films start with a smart screenplay, as shown by the modern classic Juno, directed by Jason Reitman and written by Diablo Cody. To best portray Cody’s distinct writing style and deeper, underlying messages about teenage identity, a screenplay about a new film will be the form of this Written Task. This piece is meant to exploit how teenage characters are often wrongly type casted in society by specifically looking at the relationship between language and identity.
Juno centers on the title character Juno MacGuff, a newly pregnant teenage girl who struggles with the decision of what to do with her child. This Written Task will instead focus on a gay, male character that has recently been outed by a classmate, and now feels ostracized. This is similar to a scene in Juno in which Juno notices everyone staring at her in the lunchroom, and then confronts the boy who impregnated her.
The conventions of a screenplay are both specific and hard set. All screenplays are written in Courier New, size 12 with character names in full caps, and dialogue broken down by centered character headings. Finally, each new scene establishes whether it is interior or exterior, the location, and the time of day, as shown in the sample piece below:
Juno and Leah are sitting inside an emptied awards case on the wall, eating their lunch. Juno notices that the other kids in the cafeteria can’t help but glance her way. Some look derisive, others are amused.
God, why is everyone always staring at me?
These same conventions will be followed in the Written Task; the goal is to make this Written Task as real as a professional screenplay while also exposing the how teenagers form identities surrounding themselves.
INT. REDRIDGE HIGH SCHOOL CAFETERIA – DAY
MIKE and ADAM sit in one of the corner tables vaguely attempting to do the homework in front of them. A group of peers in the middle of the room continually glance towards the two and snicker.
Jesus, you’d think they’ve never seen a creature like me before. Like, I’m some sort of alien from a far of planet with yellow horns sprouting on top of my head.
Well, things are definitely... noticeable about you.
He illustrates his point by discreetly brushing his fingers across his wrists.
So what you’re telling me is: since people’s eyes are fully functional, it’s totally understandable that they fixate on these two wrists in particular.
The two chuckle for a moment, and then pause. ADAM bites his lip and pushes the papers on the table with his pencil, as if trying to figure out how serious MIKE was.
If you want, Lauren is holding an assembly after school to talk about depression. I heard she’s giving a free late pass to everyone who shows up.
Are you talking about Lauren Glover or Ms. Lauren Gills who happens to be our health teacher?
What do you think? (pause) I heard that Lauren Glover still watches My Little Pony for fun. Hot Lauren is where it’s at.
Can we talk about literally anything else? That Cinnabon I ate earlier is starting to make its way back to the table.
I don’t really look at stranger’s teeth, but whatever scoots your canoe.
Well maybe you should. (pause) There’s no way they’re going to prom together.
(motioning towards DAN)
I wouldn’t be so sure about that. Things seem to be pretty serious between those two.
We see DAN and TAYLOR move closer together, to the point that the table behind them shifts, and the two stumble. DAN reaches for her hand and saves TAYLOR from falling to the floor.
INT. REDRIDGE HIGH SCHOOL, DAN’S LOCKER – DAY
DAN fiddles with the aged locker in the hallway before slamming his hand against it. MIKE walks down the hall and stops behind DAN. MIKE opens the locker and faces DAN.
This is all just a joke, right? You’re not actually taking Taylor to prom?
I’m sorry, what are you doing?
I’m trying to figure out why the hell Adam just told me that you were taking teethy Taylor to junior prom.
Her name’s Taylor Gladwell.
That name is probably the dumbest thing I’ve heard. You guys heading to the Chuck-o-Rama for dinner with your group?
God, what’s your deal?
I don’t have a deal, Dan! I’m a huge, giant ray of sunshine despite that fact that every single person in this school stares at me all day long because God forbid I’m attracted to another man. Oh, and on top of that? You’re new playmate flips me off in the hallway
every time I see her. What’s up with that, huh?
Taylor’s not like that. You’re probably just misinterpreting it.
TAYLOR walks by with her middle finger displayed discreetly by the hem of her skirt.
Okay, you know what? Whatever. I hope you two have the best time at prom. I think I’m going to spend my Saturday night talking to my mom about how hot I think Keanu Reeves is. Try not to get your tongue caught up in her teeth!
He starts to walk away with his middle finger out by his thigh.
Dan takes a deep breath.
You’re being a real childish ass right now.
DAN looks down for a moment before meeting MIKE’s bewildered gaze.
You’re acting like a child.
MIKE storms towards DAN until he’s right up against his face.
You are the one that cut things off and starting spreading information around this school. You are the reason everyone knows my name at the school, and you are the piece of chewed up gum I have to see every stupid day. You did this to yourself.
You know what, screw you! I’m going to have the best night of my life with Taylor.
DAN reaches into his backpack and fumbles around searching for something. He holds up a shiny purple key.
I still have the spare key you gave me to your house.
MIKE reaches into the front pocket of his backpack and holds up a large pill bottle with little blue pills.
I still have your Viagra!
MIKE throws the bottle at the floor, and the bottle shatters, sending pills everywhere. DAN scrambles to pick up the pills while MIKE walks away down the hallway.
Juno. Dir. Jason Reitman. Screenplay by Diablo Cody. Perf. Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Jennifer Gardner, Jason Bateman. Fox Searchligh Pictures, 2007. Juno. Web. 19 Apr. 2016.
"Juno." IMDb. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Apr. 2016.
"Screenplay Basics." Free Online Film School: Learn Filmmaking. N.p., 03 Aug. 2011. Web. 19 Apr. 2016.