Little Frog - A screenplay based on Chapter Four of John Steinbeck's "The Pastures of Heaven" | Skillshare Projects



Little Frog - A screenplay based on Chapter Four of John Steinbeck's "The Pastures of Heaven"

Step 1: Selecting Your Text

I chose Chapter Four from "Pastures" for reasons technical, and of simple interest. From the technical side, knowing that the screenplay needs to be ten pages or less, it would make the most sense to choose a story that isn't too long to begin with if you want to do your best to capture the full essence. From the interest side, this chapter to me really stuck out as it treads slightly in the supernatural territory, and that poor Little Frog trying to find himself and getting screwed in the end came out of nowhere and made it memorable, even though I truly do not like the original ending at all. 

I jumped into this class not having written a screenplay of my own in years, and before then, I think i really only wrote two to begin with. I am an indie actor and film maker myself and co run a video production company, so the business side of videography and editing was taking up a lot of my time. I saw this class talked about and figured what a cool way to brush up on things, get the creative juices flowing again and learn something new.

Once I started outlining, I realized that my technical reasoning for choosing a shorter story was going out the window. There was simply no way I was going to be able to pack all the punch of this story in its entirety into a worthy 8 minutes. I mean sure, you can, but it would be like a kid pulling their parents through a haunted house - trying to get to the end as fast as possible without really stopping to smell the roses, or the decaying bodies in the haunted house! 

So I took a day to just think about what story arc in the text I personally felt would end up making the best short film, and figuring if that story could it be told in a satisfying way in 8 minutes. Not only that, but would my choice really capture the heart of the story? Do I ride the story out to the end and show Tularecito as in the book being taken away to the insane asylum? If so, am I prepared to make this story about an angry boy whose anger gets the best of him, and turn this into a parable of "Hey don't be angry cause looks what can happen!"? Or is it better told as a teacher trying to connect with a young outcast who is trying to find and express himself, and who becomes inspired to search for what he feels are his own people, and end it on a sweet note? 

I liked the latter idea better.

If you haven't read the story, I would love for you to read it before or after reading this adaptation, your choice. For those of you familiar with the story, I hope you feel that this sufficiently and succinctly does the job to best capture the brighter side of it. 

Step 2: Drafting Your Screenplay


Third Draft: Got some feedback about capitalizing sounds and props in a spec script, and also underlining dialgoue, so I ditched them. Seems the screenwriting world has so many evolving rules and much contrary info. I also tweaked an action line when Miss Morgan searches for a new book to read indicating what her thought process is at the time, and changed the name of the book to something shorter.

Last tweak was to change an action line explaining more about Pancho's history and current mental state as to why he delivers a seemingly out of character line to Tulo.

Second Draft: (Fixed spelling errors and a mashed up paragraph)

First Draft:

Step 3: Writing Your Logline

Forced into school at age 11, a deformed boy with great artistic ability struggles to adapt while his teacher tries to connect with him.  


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