Watch the September 2016 Winning TV SPEC Screenplay
Modern Family by Chai Karve
Get to know the writer:
What is your spec screenplay based on the famous TV show about?
All of the characters that usually get what they want need help. On a mushy-gushy level, it’s about realizing everyone’s potential for contribution and using the talents of everyone around you to solve a problem.
A plots: Alex tries to land an internship. Jay tries to learn technology. Haley tries to maintain a long-distance relationship. Mitchell tries to engage with Lily.
B plots: Gloria uses idioms to a fault. Claire and Phil jockey to help Alex. Luke offers sage relationship advice. Lily and Cameron are football bros.
How does this screenplay fit into the context of the TV show?
Most viewers will be able to relate to at least one of the storylines. It’s difficult acknowledging our shortcomings, and this episode deals with that in several contexts.
How would you describe this script in two words?
Fast & Relatable
What TV show do you keep watching over and over again?
Arrested Development and Veep. Both of these shows are so fast and terrifyingly witty. The number and diversity of jokes these shows have is staggering. I find new elements every time.
How long have you been working on this screenplay?
The story was outlined in a week and I wrote a draft in 2 days. Once I locked down the story I knew I could crank it out relatively quickly.
How many stories have you written?
The spec is the longest piece I have written other than academic writing. I have and continue to write sketches, one-liners, and short films.
What motivated you to write this screenplay?
My love for the show and the characters.
What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?
Modern Family has an uncanny ability to weave together wonderfully disjointed stories thematically and I did not feel comfortable putting pen to paper until I had that sense of interconnectivity locked down.
Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?
Improv comedy. Late night comedy. Comedy. Podcasts about politics and other useless intelligent jargon.
What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?
More than winning (which is pretty great), I wanted feedback. Every time you enter one of these things, it is a total gamble, and I this was the first one I entered because of the promise of feedback in a timely manner. I got solid feedback and was able to tweak my script to a point where I was happy with it, all thanks to the kind people at WILDsound.
Any advice or tips you’d like to pass on to other writers?
Being busy is not an excuse. Make time. Outline the crap out of everything. Start with smaller pieces – success in brevity is absolutely scalable.
Director/Producer: Matthew Toffolo http://www.matthewtoffolo.com
Editor: John Johnson
Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne