Swiss Army Man: The Bad Screenplay Experiment with Jacob Krueger (ISA Sponsored)

Posted: Jul 18, 2016 Hosted By: Jacob Krueger

This week, we're going to be talking about Swiss Army Man by Dan Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. This is an extraordinary script, and one of the great examples of just how far outside of the rule box you can actually go as a screenwriter or director. It's also a prime example of how a really out-there script can sometimes attract the biggest talent in Hollywood, in this case, Daniel Radcliffe and Paul Dano.


There's an exercise that I often do with my "Write Your Screenplay" students that I call the "Bad Screenplay" exercise. We put a list up on the board of all the students' greatest fears about their writing. We hear all kinds of things: "bad dialogue," "cliché," "redundancy," "no structure..." the list goes on and on, as the white board fills up with increasingly egregious fears.


And then I give my students a challenge: to write a scene that embodies every one of the fears about their writing that we've put up on the board. To strive not for good writing, but for bad writing. In fact, I tell them that if their writing starts to get good, they should look up at the board, find the idea they find most horrifying, and strive to integrate it into their script.


In many ways this is exactly what the Daniels did in the creation of this screenplay. Daniel Kwan has spoken about the fact that he hates fart jokes, hates buddy movies, hates a cappella music, and many of the other fundamental elements of Swiss Army Man.


He built Swiss Army Man out of the things that he hated most in screenplays.


So why would somebody do that?