Play Date

Play Date is a screenplay I began in 2006, after attending my great nephew Julian's third birthday party, which was full of what I'll call some very intense kid activity. Really intense. After one of many altercations between a couple little tykes fighting over a toy, someone said (in a jaded tone), "Ah, let's just sugar 'em up and let 'em duke it out!" Or something very close to that. An idea for a kiddie fight club story began forming in my brain, and over the next few years I worked through several drafts. Here's the logline:

"Five henpecked fathers secretly organize their children into an underground fighting ring which they conspire to conceal from their suspicious wives and snooping co-workers through an escalating series of ill-conceived lies and schemes."

Well now, let me tell you something - if you were thinking that getting producers interested in a story about kids beating each other up while their parents coordinate their battles would be an easy sell... you've got problems. But I knew it was a controversial premise from the get-go and knew it had to be pushed to the extreme and not watered down to work. And that's what I did. And that's what seems to be scaring people.

I'm working with a consultant that I used for a previous screenplay (Breach Point Castle) and he's certainly expressed some strong concerns with the very concept of the story. In my view, it's all about the tone - if that's right, the insane premise can be forgiven. Yes, I'm stubborn, but it's an R-rated comedy, after all, and there's no point in trying to do it halfway. One producer who read it said, "I'm torn - I really love the premise, but I'm worried about how people will feel about little kids fighting each other." That's the rub, I suppose. He also said he laughed a lot while reading it, which is a whole lot more important than, like, children's rights groups coming after me or something.

I submitted just the logline to Pilar Alessandra's screenwriting podcast "On The Page", for their listener loglines episode, and it caused a little debate. What I loved about the debate is that Matt, who is mostly defending the concept for my screenplay, mentions up all the points that are brought up by one of the characters in the screenplay who joins the group - kids that age can take karate, wrestling, there are rules involved in those sports, they wear pads, spectators... how is this different?! I know, I'm starting to sound defensive.

On The Page Podcast - Listener Loglines Episode

Despite what some (okay - many) have said, I do believe the story is commercial, and will yield a solid comedy film. And a funny one. So if you're interested in taking a read and being offended to your core, check it out - link below.

Play Date


  1. That sounds... like it could be an amazing film. I'm surprised, though, that other people aren't open to the idea. Judging by how wild recent comedy movies have been (this month will see the release of Bruno), this seems like the next logical step.

    But maybe kids are off-limits right now? Or perhaps when people imagine kids fighting each other, it's more violent than what you envisioned?

    Good luck. If it slipped into theaters, I could guarantee you at least one person who'd be there opening night.

  2. Thanks for the encouragement, Steven. To be fair, some people I told the idea to, or who read the script, got what I was going for - but you're probably right in that they imagined a more serious tone to the violence that I'm intending.

    I've thought about shooting a scene or two on my own, just to convey the right mood (a good music choice would help, too) and I would, but rounding up five or six adult actors, plus seven or eight kids is an enormous undertaking.

    I've also considered gathering up some actor friends and doing an audio reading, and maybe even adding storyboards to some scenes. I'll post an update here if/when any of that happens.

    I did have one guy - a cinematographer who was getting into producing - request the script, and I sent it to him, but when we talked (before he read it) he told me about how he and his partner want to find the perfect family-type film to option for their first project, because family stuff does well in the aftermarket (DVD, cable, network broadcast). When he said that I just chuckled to myself - I guess he didn't read the synopsis too carefully. Never heard from him again.