IMDB: The Last Man on Earth
The screenplay used for this comparison is an “as broadcast script” for The Last Man on Earth. This means the screenplay was made to match the final edited version shown on television. So there will not be much difference in terms of structure.
However plot points and screenplay techniques are still relevant and noted.
Phil Miller is the main character so I will be focusing on him.
(Note: Phil Miller combines the first and last name of the pilot’s directors: Phil Lord and Christopher Miller.)
|The Last Man on Earth Screenplay Breakdown
|Last Man on Earth
Scenes of Phil crossing off states on his map is added between shots of the bus driving and Phil talking over the speaker. It becomes a montage of Phil exploring and crossing of states.
Phil realizes he is the last man on earth after exploring all of America.
Phil travels the country and after finding no one, has come to the conclusion he is the last man on earth. Phil’s goal was to find at least one person, but he failed miserably and lets out a scream to show his frustration with being lonely.
End of Cold Open: Phil drives back to Tuscon.
Best Scene from Cold Open: Phil crossing off the last state.
After Phil enters his new home, there is a scene added of him drinking wine in his new living room.
A montage is added of Phil carrying in and decorating his place with various items such as famous paintings, sports memorabilia, and famous awards.
The flashback montage of Phil’s birthday is shorter and is missing events depicted in the screenplay.
Phil takes advantage of having the earth to himself by destroying things for his amusement.
Phil realizes he cannot live alone.
Phil uses his newfound freedom to enjoy alcohol and destroy things. However Phil finds that although destroying various objects is fun, the one thing he craves and misses is human interaction. There’s not much meaning to Phil’s life if he cannot share it with anyone because although he has everything, the only thing missing is the one thing that matters most.
End of Act 1: Phil wakes up in his own filth after five months.
Best Scene from each Act 1: Phil watches Cast Away.
In the screenplay, it states that Phil carries all the things he collected on the road into his new house. The next scene is him admiring his collection.
In the pilot, there is a montage of Phil carrying in his collection and no scene of him admiring his collections afterwards.
In the screenplay, Phil kneels to pray to God.
In the pilot, Phil lies in his bed and prays to God.
In the screenplay, Phil plays racquetball in the house with one ball.
In the pilot, Phil uses multiple balls and hits them all at once.
In the screenplay, Phil dumps his cart of food out and fills it with porn.
In the pilot, Phil eats five twinkies off his five fingers and fills the remaining space of the cart with porn.
In the screenplay, Phil enjoys his wine under a chandelier made from taped together flash lights.
In the pilot, this object is not seen.
In the screenplay, the camera pans to the DVD case to reveal he is watching Cast Away.
In the pilot, the camera pans to the movie playing on the television.
In the screenplay, Phil wakes up in his own filth after five months, but doesn’t say anything.
In the pilot, Phil wakes up and repeats the conversation he had with himself earlier.
Phil becomes an alcoholic.
Phil befriends various balls as he goes crazy.
Phil realizes he is going crazy and decides to kill himself.
Phil discovers he is not alone.
Phil slowly goes insane as the loneliness takes its toll on him. Phil tries to escape with alcohol and befriending inanimate objects like the movie Cast Away, but in the end Phil realizes if he is on this earth alone, then he doesn’t want to be on this earth. Before Phil can commit, he is given a glimmer of hope with smoke and it pays off as he comes face to face with another human. A woman to Phil’s delight.
End of Act 2: Phil passes out after hearing a woman’s voice.
Best Scene from Act 2: Phil conversing with his balls at the bar.
In the screenplay, Phil sees the mess in his bathroom and leaves.
In the pilot, Phil waddles through the empty bottles and jumps in the pile near the toilet.
Phil meets Carol.
After a shaky start, Phil finally meets another human. Although it wasn’t exactly what he was hoping for, Phil is thrilled to finally have someone to talk to. It’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
End of Act 3: Phil and Carol shake hands.
Best Scene from act 3: There’s only one scene.
The Last Man on Earth is a comedy set in the post apocalyptic world where everyone is apparently dead. The show doesn’t focus on why everyone’s dead, but instead on a lonely man searching for someone to talk to.
Because this is a comedy, we can be fine with the fact that everyone is dead and gone with no bodies left behind and no focus whatsoever on the virus that killed everyone.
This show is about being the last person on earth and it poses an interesting question. We all have dreams of being rich and wealthy, but would that really matter if there was no one around. Power and fame are other common goals, but you cannot have them without people. As we see Phil collect all the treasures of the world and move into the fancy house, he slowly realizes that nothing matters if he is alone. You can blow up stuff as much as you want, but eventually it will get old, and then there’s nothing left for entertainment.
Everything we do in life boils down to how it affects our standing in the world among everyone else. Phil realizes that life isn’t worth living because although he has the wealth and riches, without people, nothing matters.
Several sluglines use dual locations (INT/EXT) to indicate the character is changing locations in the same scene.
Screenwriting is a visual story and this couldn’t be more true for this screenplay. Phil is the only character for most of the story, so the story needs to rely on plenty of action . The action isn’t clunky or written in large blocks giving the screenplay a balanced look.
There’s a certain way to set up jokes through the script and pay it off in the end with the punch line. Throughout this episode we see the writers setting up for the Cast Away punch line as Phil descents into insanity.
There is an example of how to write a montage when Phil has a flashback on his birthday.
It is noted in the slug line what exact day it is we are watching. IE: Day 7.
This isn’t necessary in other other pilots, but it isn’t a bad habit to note the specific days and nights during your first few drafts so day to night/night to day scenes make sense especially if you have two or three story lines going at once.
I have never seen Cold Open used before, but it is interchangeable with Teaser.
Next Screenplay: Spartacus Tuesday Apr 4
Bonus Article: 5 Pilot Comparison: Tuesday Mar 21