SANTA INCORPORATED is a family friendly holiday tale. The goal of saving Christmas is clear. The idea of saving Christmas isn’t considered highly unique, but it’s a tried and true holiday concept that will always be around. However, with that said, to be successful the story should really offer an original point of view or hook. This script attempts to do this by incorporating a reality show contest for a new Santa. Certainly, the concept has merit, but the overall script would benefit from more development. First, the story opens with Santa and the elves.
The head elf seems to really want to talk to Santa about his role as an elf. However, it’s unclear how this is related to the plot. The elf is never a pivotal character in the script and just seems to vanish. Thus, consider an opening that feels more connected to the plotline. It can even be the backstory of Nicklepinch or Penny and his or her declaration of hating Santa. The first act sets up the ordinary world of Penny, who appears to be the true protagonist. She’s a really easy character to like. She’s smart beyond her years, yet she’s very vulnerable.
However, there’s room to develop her even further. Consider the idea of establishing how much she loves Christmas, putting her at odds with her father, who doesn’t like Christmas. He’s the identified “scrooge” of the story. Or, just the opposite, Penny is a kid who HATES Christmas. This puts the focus more on her. What feels lacking is the idea of Penny driving the story. While saving Christmas appears to be her external goal, consider elevating this. Find something else she wants for Christmas that means a lot to her. This will help escalate the tension and define the stakes for Penny.
Right now the stakes are mild – no Christmas, ut the audience needs something more than this. Put the focus more on Penny versus her father. As structured, it feels more like his goal vs. Penny’s goal. He’s the one who wants to be reunited with his sister. The stakes feel higher for him. He’s the one with the greater inner conflict about his past versus Penny. So maybe the hook is a kid who hates Christmas and she’s the “scrooge” and her father runs a Santa contest to try and get her interested or something like this. He can still have an agenda too.
It’s only a suggestion to give the story more focus on Penny. Also, the contest certainly can be fun, but the audience never really gets to know the “Three Santas” so there isn’t a strong emotional connection to them. Which brings one to another story idea that might be more original or provide for a hook in which the father of Penny competes in the Santa contest and Nicklepinch is the antagonist, who is a fraud. It can work with either Penny not believing in Christmas or her father. Currently, while the story does examine the bond between the father and Penny, their resolution isn’t strong.
The ending focuses too much on the father’s reunion with his sister, rather than with Penny. The father has an arc and it’s stronger than Penny’s arc. Normally, the protagonist has the need for the stronger character transformation. In addition, the inciting event is Santa’s accident and the story is driven by the father’s goal, not Penny’s goal. The first act is also interrupted by two flashbacks and a dream. It’s a bit awkward to have two flashbacks back-to- back and then a dream. As mentioned, it may be more effective to open with the backstory. However, there’s no need to have two backstory flashbacks.
Either the driving backstory ghost is he death of the mother/wife or the story about the sister. The dream really isn’t necessary. Quick flashes of memories of the mother/wife/sister can work (not all of them, but one). The second act shows Penny being proactive in finding Santa and helping the other Santas, but her only motivation is to save Christmas, but there’s nothing personal at stake for her. The stakes are stronger for Santiago (the community center) and for her father (his job). Also, Grace is practically absent in the second act, yet she plays such a pivotal role in the third act.
This also should be revised. As mentioned, Penny is easy to like, but just needs a stronger goal and more inner conflict. Focus on her if she’s the identified protagonist and how she transforms. Her voice is congruent to her personality. She’s very smart and talks older than her age because of her father’s expectations. What the audience wants to see, however, is how she changes. Nicklepinch is controlling and doesn’t know how to communicate with Penny. He’s angry and bitter about his wife and sister and this drives his actions and behaviors. He sees himself as the “wolf. ” He’s difficult to like or root for.
His haracter arc is a little too good too be true. Remember, characters should have both good and bad qualities versus being one-dimensional. Santa is iconic and wise. He’s a typical Santa, but doesn’t really offer anything new. As stated, Grace is absent throughout most of the script, so one doesn’t really get to know her wellI, but she is protective of Penny and she confronts the father. The “Santas” are distinctive in some ways, yet the audience never really gets to know them as deep characters, especially Santiago. The dialogue is consistent to each character and reveals their values and morals.
Nicklepinch is a bit too formal and stiff, but that’s also part of his personality. However, be careful of making him sound too much like a caricature. The tone is rather “cartoonish” at times vs. based in reality. The comedy feels mild. Certainly some of the antics during the competition will make young kids laugh, but overall it’s not a strong comedy. If the story is revised and Penny’s father is the one competing, this could generate some fun humor. It should be noted, however, that there’s a delightful scene between Santa and Penny on page 51 with the pretend “sled. It lso adds a bit of magic. In fact, consider adding a bit more subtle magic.
The tension also feels mild because saving Christmas is predictable. The tension doesn’t escalate as the story progresses as strongly as it could. Once again, the tension isn’t focused that much on Penny. She has nothing really personal at stake or it’s not highlighted. She’s never really in danger or in jeopardy. The idea of Santa suddenly “dying” feels a bit contrived. The script is professionally formatted. There, however, should be a new scene heading when Santa takes off into the sky. There are a few minor typos.
HIGHLIGHTS TO CONSIDER Reconsider the opening. Reconsider what might make for a more original plotline. Keep the focus on the protagonist (Penny). Identify stronger goals and stakes. Make sure Penny has an arc and that her father’s arc is believable. Continue to work on character development. Elevate the tension for the protagonist. The script may benefit from some type of romantic subplot. MARKETABILITY Holiday films are timeless, but can be challenging to market. The idea of “saving Christmas” is tried and true, but familiar. The audience is family friendly. See grid below.