Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Screenplay Pitch for “Jessica Little and the Manor House Spy”

Genre: Family, Musical Comedy
Feature film title: “Jessica Little and the Manor House Spy”

In a musical adventure set in WWII England, an orphaned girl risks her life and future happiness to thwart a spy and save her friends.

Jessica, a mischievous and imaginative little girl, is consigned to an orphanage after her father’s death during WWII. Desperately longing for a home where she’s loved, her chances grow dim as she immediately gets herself into trouble with the evil, rotund Sister Agnes and the dimwitted headmaster, Father Wolfsen when among other things, she convinces the girls that Agnes is exceptionally fat because she’s swallowed a girl whole.

Mary, the kindhearted drunken cook and Arthur, a brilliant inventor, befriend her and try their best to keep her out of trouble. When a mysterious traveler, Nathan, is given temporary lodging in the manor that houses the orphanage, everyone is taken in by his charm, except Jessica. She discovers he is a German spy intent on stealing Arthur’s invention and destroying them all.

When the adults around her fail to see the danger, she realizes she must stop him on her own.


blogless martin said...

Hello your highness!

Great pitch! It made me want to see the film, which is the main point of a pitch.

You can really see there's a film there, and you obviously have a good idea what audience you're aiming at.

as you asked for pointers over on Lucy's place, (and not that I know much) then for what it worth here goes -

I didn't think the title sold it very well. Sorry - I'm not sure why, maybe "An orphan" sounds a bit impersonal. Alot of kids works have the name of the hero in the title (Harry Potter, Matilda etc) so maybe something LIKE 'Jessica and the Spy?' not great but at least it's more personnal and tells you something about the film.

Also you might want to mention that its a childrens film in the genre bit.

You could maybe space out the synopsis a bit, make it easier on the eye. Its already very concise and well written, but keep polishing! Nothing is ever finished, only abandoned.

Hope this is helpful - like I said it's a really good pitch, and a very strong premise - good luck with it!

Anne of Cleves said...

Wow. Thank you very much, you're spot on - the title was a last minute switch from "Restoring Faith" which was the working title until it began to turn into a comedy as I redrafted. Now the old title doesn't fit - plus it sounds too dramatic, yes?

I'll work it and include your suggestions - THANK YOU!

You are good at this.

martin said...

don't mention it your highness, I was bored and I couldnt sleep! tho I should point to any other readers that you've changed it, as my comments now have no relation to the much improved pitch!

I'm trying to polish the pitch for the the script I'm working on at the moment every day that I work on it at the moment, as I've been told that's the way to go - you'll be able to see the rather pitiful results when i enter Lucypalooza!

and pop over to my new blog in a far away city sometimes

Elinor said...

Greetings A of C. I enjoyed reading your pitch very much. It all made sense to me and like Martin said gave clear visuals in the mind of this viewer. I particularly liked the idea of the child-swallowing Nun (shades of Miss Trunchbull from Matilda!).
Nice one!

Pillock said...

I like it, Anne of Cleves.

Laura Reyna said...


I like the premise. Has shades of classic childrens' books to it.

I could see someone (producers) being interested in this as a family film.

Good title change.

Not sure how the "musical" part would work as a spec script, though.

You'll probably hear this more than once: Consider leaving out the music & writing it as just a kids' adventure story.

Good luck with it!

Anne of Cleves said...

Hello everyone! I am overwhelmed by your generous comments - thank you very much, I am so happy you like it.

Yes Elinor, I was told movie musicals were difficult to get made, and that I should consider making it into a stage musical first.

And a quick conversation with a producer here at Cheltenham confirms what you have said - the word "impossible" was used to describe the level of difficulty in getting a musical made, so there you have it.



Good Dog said...

Really liked the idea here but I think you're missing a few tricks. Mentioned it in the comments over on Bang to Write. I hope some are useful. I'd really like to see this film.

Anne of Cleves said...

good dog -

I noted every comment you made and will tackle a rewrite with them in mind.
I hope you know how much I am grateful to you - I did make sure to note my appreciation in Lucy's pitch comment section as well.


Good Dog said...


Sorry, I stopped reading that thread so didn’t see what you said.

Like I said, really get story idea. Especially since, at the heart of it, the story is about trust, deception, and loss of innocence.

I still think that making the kids evacuees would make it a whole lot easier for you. That way they would come from different backgrounds, have different experiences, and generally have the run of the place.

Some families took in these city kids expecting them to work for their keep, others let them do as they please (within certain regulations and ground rules). It also allows for lots of different adult characters who have sons fighting in the war, while they themselves possibly fought in The Great War, as well as lost people close to them in both conflicts. So immediately you’re creating full-bodied characters.

Anyway, it’s a brilliant idea you’ve got there. Very, very good luck with it.

Anne of Cleves said...

This is the one closest to my heart. And of course hardest to write.
My view was becoming obstructed, thank you for the new perspective.