With Little Means
DRAMA FANTASY SCI-FI
REDISCOVERING THE VALUE OF ONE'S LIFE.
TOTAL RECALL, READY PLAYER ONE, SING STREET
RAI: 25/40. MALE. SENSITIVE. AMBITIOUS, DETERMINED. REGRETFUL. NOSTALGIC. COMPASSIONATE. ROMANTIC.
RACHYL: WIFE. 40.
MAXX: BANDMATE. 25.
HENRY: SCIENTIST. 40S.
AMY: FELLOW CONTESTANT/ANTAGONIST. 25.
JACK: NETWORK OWNER/ANTAGONIST. 30S.
We all have dreams when we are young, but how many of us follow through with them? For most of us, life just seems to get in the way. What if you had a second chance, would you take it? We follow Rai Starr, as he struggles with the decision to give up his family life, for a second shot at stardom.
Target Gender: Universal
Based on a True Story
Status: Yes: self-published
Year Published: 2020
Rai Starr has lived a troubled life. In his early twenties, he was an exciting up and coming musician, touring all of Toronto's best venues, until illness cut his dreams short. Now, he lives a normal life with a beautiful family. Still, he would give anything for a second chance at rock stardom.
Rai discovers a new reality show called Remarkable, using advanced memory-based technology, they give everyday people the chance to go back and relive their dreams. After a thrilling journey back to the rock star life, Rai realizes that fame isn't as amazing as it seems, and family is all he needs.
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Hard Copy Available
Mature Audience Themes
Substance Abuse, Language/Profanity
Plot - Other Elements
Twist,Happy Ending,Meaningful Message
Plot - Premise
Internal Journey/Rebirth,Rebellion Against 'The One',Voyage and Return,Tragedy
Main Character Details
Name: Rai Starr
Age: 40 (and 24 in the program)
Key Traits: Adventurous,Modest,Complex,Sexy,Skillful,Romantic,Heartthrob,Insecure
Additional Character Details
Name: Amy Strong
Key Traits: Adventurous,Badass,Villainous,Charming,Complex,Confident,Sexy,Crazy,Criminal,Power Hungry,Desperate,Romantic,Heartthrob,Seductive,Manipulative
Additional Character Details
Name: Henry Strat
Key Traits: Modest,Complex,Empathetic,Selfless,Skillful,Visionary
Additional Character Details
Name: Sam Cranney
Key Traits: Badass,Aggressive,Villainous,Charming,Confident,Crazy,Criminal,Blunt,Power Hungry,Greedy
Rai Starr gives up on his rockstar dreams to raise a family. He is given a second chance to go back in time through a reality tv show to relive his dreams in a different way. His second chance creates more fame, but he soon realizes all he is giving up to stay. He goes back to the real world more grateful than even things turned out the way they did for him, his friends and his family.
Authors Writing Style: FAIR
Franchise Potential: EXCELLENT
Accuracy of Book Profile
The book profile does a pretty good job of reflecting the story exactly for what the story is about. The development pitch is particularly well done in explaining the themes but not giving away the ending. The character details may be changed to focus on just a singular antagonist and include Rachyl instead as she is a key motivation.
Draw of Story
The concept is great in that you can relive your life on reality tv through VR but it comes with a hidden price. There are actually two hidden prices that are discovered: the price of fame and the price of learning what the "what ifs" would change.
The characters outside of Rai and somewhat Amy are static in that they don't really have much transformation. The dialogue tends to lack nuance which creates less realistic scenes at certain junctures. It might be intentional in the deep fake reality portion, but the real life doesn't have a distinction.
Use of Special Effects
THE STORY RELIES A LITTLE BIT ON SPECIAL EFFECTS
Primary Hook of Story
The hook is that Rai has to give up who he loves to do what he loves. This allows him to relive being a rockstar through a VR show, but he risks losing his family and history to keep the fame.
This could have a large fanbase with more three dimensional characters and less overt dialogues. The themes are good, but saying them so overtly is unnatural.
Depending on the genre and production quality, this has the right amount of creativity and strong themes to be nominated after strengthening the characters a bit more.
Similar Films/TV Series
BLACK MIRROR, LIMITLESS, UNREAL, THE MATRIX, A BIGGER SPLASH, READY PLAYER ONE, SWORD ART ONLINE, OTHERLIFE
What’s New About the Story
The originality stems from the concept and themes. By making the characters more memorable to match Rai's three-dimensionality, the characters will be on par with the plot structure.
Rai is a dreamer, creative and loyal. Amy is lonely, overcompensating and slightly manipulative but pitiable. Rachyl is confident and relaxed.
Uniqueness of Story
The concept is amazing, but the dialogue and side characters could be slightly more developed.
Film: Studio, Indie, Streaming TV Series: Network, Cable, Streaming
WORK IN PROGRESS
While the story has many positive points, it has room for improvement (see possible paths below). If you can't change the story at this point, my suggestion is using your notes as a guide to highlight the best aspects of it when taking the next steps, either putting a pitch page together, a treatment, or a presentation.
Tips for Improvement
Would consider on concept alone, but could benefit from a quick tuneup of the side characters to be more proactive as well as tweaking some of the dialogue to less overtly mention the themes. Allowing the themes to be shown instead of told will create more nuance in the narrative.
40-year-old, married-with-kids chef Rai gets a chance to revisit his 20s and the band he played in through reality show REMARKABLE, which hooks Rai's brain to virtual reality so convincingly it soon feels more real than reality.
What We Liked
Everyone over the age of thirty knows how it feels to look back on your life and think, "What if it had worked out differently?" - while everyone under thirty wants to make the most of the present. Therefore, WITH LITTLE MEANS offers universal appeal to a modern audience and could be a big hit at the box office by melding sci-fi with a music-laced coming-of-age tale and young-adult tone. Audiences will thrill at watching Rai return to the glory days of his youth, attempting to live out the dream that never was while gradually losing touch with the reality he came from. The story ends in a touching and inspiring manner as Rai learns that fame has a dark heart and is not all it's cracked up to be while realizing that it is his wife and kids and his life back in the real world that he truly loves. This blend of thrilling sci-fi with a heartwarming family tale is why Spielberg's films are so revered and famous, and this makes WITH LITTLE MEANS a likely contender for box office success.
Film: A film adaptation offers the ideal format for adaptation of WITH LITTLE MEANS. It is perfect summer blockbuster material similar to Spielberg's recent hit READY PLAYER ONE. Audiences young and old would flock to theaters to see this fun, thrilling, heartwarming blend of sci-fi, music, and tender family film. Parents would bring their children, and teenagers would take their dates to see it, as it is structured perfectly for convenient adaptation as a feature film.
TV: WITH LITTLE MEANS is a fantastic contender for TV adaptation as the virtual world it establishes offers infinite possibilities for subplots and future seasons; a whole world is created therein, with limitless potential. Audiences would gladly tune in each week to watch Rai sink further into his virtual world in a manner not dissimilar to how the protagonist of MR. ROBOT falls into the false reality of his mind until the season climaxes with Rai learning the truth about the darkness of fame and realizing that it is his life in reality with his wife and kids that he genuinely loves.
1) Spielbergian blend of sci-fi, thriller, music, and family drama
2) Heartwarming and inspiring
3) Well structured for film adaptation
4) Strikes the right balance of drama and comedy
5) A strong contender for box office success
2005, Toronto: Protagonist RAI (25) is the singer-songwriter of rock band Divine Light, playing the top venues in Toronto and at a venue in New York. New girlfriend RACHYL (fan of the band). The band is beginning to argue, and there is pressure on Rai to perform. One night at a show in the Horseshoe Tavern, Rai is disabled in the bathroom just before Divine Light is supposed to play. Stomach ache. Rachyl fetches him and brings Rai to the dressing room.
There, bandmates MAXX (bass), HIGGINS (guitar), and RIKKI (drums) are furious. This is the last time they are all together as a band.
At the doctor’s, Rai learns he has ulcerative colitis and inflammatory disease of the large intestine. The doctor recommends surgery to remove the damaged organ, and Rai will wear an ostomy bag outside his body. It’s the only way he can resume a normal sense of life without crippling pain and risk.
2020, Toronto: Rai, now 40, works as a chef. He’s a little heavier, and married to Rachyl with two daughters, discusses with Maxx over the phone reality TV show REMARKABLE, in which people who were once very good at something but had their careers ended for one reason or another showcase why they were remarkable. A woman called AMY STRONG went missing during her season of the show and is still missing.
Rai submits an application to the show, sending with the application the recordings of some of his songs from many years ago. Feeling suddenly inspired, he grabs his acoustic guitar and attempts to play one of the songs but messes up and puts the guitar back.
Rai receives an email telling him he has been accepted into the next phase of the audition process. He goes to the studio. When he gets there, a black-suited executive named HENRY tells Rai that only one person is chosen every year to be the star of the show, and this year they have chosen Rai. Henry explains that Rai will be connected to a computer and will be put to sleep and his brain will create the virtual world that will be the show, including the people from Rai’s past, but it will be edited just enough to make it appear like a production on TV, hence why nobody knows the truth. Time works differently in the virtual world and Rai will not be connected to the machine for long at a time, and only a few times per week.
Rai signs the paperwork and is immediately connected to the machine. Henry tells Rai that if he ever feels lost, he should call for Henry.
Rai is instantly 25 again, playing a show at The Reverb on Queen Street with his bandmates. They smoke weed after, and, feeling self-conscious, Rai sneaks out the back of the venue rather than meet with Rachyl. He goes to the “unit,” a small space he and friends rent out above a shop. Some friends are there. Rai chats with them a moment but quickly becomes paranoid and freaked out. He calls for Henry. Instantly, someone knocks on the door. It’s a man Rai does not recognize, but this man says he is Henry.
Henry brings Rai to a car which he explains is a wormhole into the program so that he can come in and out, which he created because a previous star of the show had troubles. Rai says he means Amy. Henry nods and reassures Rai that everything will be fine as long as he focuses on his dream of making it as a musician. Henry warns that, although small wounds won’t harm Rai’s sleeping body, death in the virtual system would cause neurogenic shock in the real world. Rai cannot leave the program until the serum has run its course; there is no other way.
In the unit, the sun comes up, and, alone, Rai plays guitar, writing a song. Eventually it’s after 10 a.m. and Maxx arrives reminding Rai that he has to go to work. Rai plays him the song and Maxx says Rai doesn’t need to go to work anymore because he’s just written the song that’s going to make them famous.
Weeks later, the band is playing new material and has never sounded better. They get to open for Sloan at the Opera House, which is a big deal for them, and a rep for SubRock Records named DANI approaches them. She says they offer full creative control to artists and work with a smaller number of artists than most labels in order to better work with and promote the band. They won’t pay money upfront but are enthusiastic about Divine Light.
At this moment, a rep for the big-deal Reckless Records approaches and gets the name of the band wrong. Rai wants to sign with SubRock but the rest of the band ignore him and sign contracts with Reckless. Rai is furious.
JACK and SAM CRANNEY—husband and wife—are the brains behind RECKLESS as well as the owners of Reckless Records. They discuss Rai going on the show and believe this season will make it the number one show in the world and that Rai’s album will be the number one record as well. Jack praises Sam’s ingenuity for knowing that Rai would accept the cannabis as the easiest way to get rid of Rachyl, who does not approve.
Rai is woken from the machine by Henry and taken to Jack and Sam’s massive penthouse apartment which is connected to the studio. They tell Rai that they want to make sure he can handle this as fame is a powerful thing. Sam is a psychologist and Jack is a doctor. Rai asks about what happened to Amy and Jack and Sam get shifty. Jack says that they don’t know what happened other than fame can be difficult for some people to handle.
At home, Rai and Rachyl argue debate the show. Rachyl is wary but pledges to support Rai if it makes him happy.
Henry drinks whiskey as he searches his program for Amy, secretly. He finds her and goes into the program. In the virtual world, Amy is wrapping a shoot for a Princess Diana biopic, and there is Oscar buzz about the film. She’s been in the program for two years and refuses to come out. Seeing Henry now, she sighs and asks if he will ever stop leaving her alone. Henry keeps her body in an unmarked room in the studio away from everyone else’s. Henry tells her about Rai and tells her that she should go see his show in Toronto while she’s there for TIFF. She agrees, then refuses to leave the program.
One week into REMARKABLE now, Rai goes back in and meets Amy outside his show in Toronto. She says she’s a huge fan since Henry gave her the CD to listen to. They go to a bar and chat. Amy explains that in the real world her parents were killed in a wildfire. But in the virtual world she managed to save their lives and she believes this virtual world to be paradise. Rai is attracted to her. Amy says that from watching Henry for so long, she has figured out how to control the program to allow her to stay forever but she needs Rai’s help. She tells him to think about it, then kisses Rai on the cheek. He responds by kissing her on the lips. They get a cab to Amy’s hotel room and he goes up with her.
In the Reckless Records boardroom, the lawyer outlines the three-record deal with Reckless owning 50% of the music and proceeds of sales. They will record the first album next week, paid for from their royalties. Their signing bonus is $10k each. They will tour North America after the record is recorded, also paid for with their royalties. Rai demands 51% ownership of the music, and all expenses paid by the label. Outside, Maxx screams at Rai, forcing Rai to take the deal. Rai announces that he quits the band.
Rai goes to Dani at SubRock. Plays her some songs. She signs him as a solo artist. She kisses him and Rai asks her to keep this professional.
In the real world, Rai is photographed by paparazzi as he leaves the studio. They ask for his comments on Amy as Amy’s estate is suing the network because they believe Amy is alive and the network is covering it up. The paparazzi imply that Rai is having an affair with Dani, which Rai denies.
Rai convinces Henry to let him hook up to the machine alone on a day off, in secret. There, Rai incapacitates Henry and goes snooping. Rai finds Amy’s body and injects her with a max dose of serum. Then he jacks into the system and meets her at her movie premiere and tells her this.
In the system, Rai records the record with Dani. She kisses him again.
At a bar, Rai bumps into the band. They’re all happy to see him, except Maxx, who has been lost to substance abuse and rage.
Weeks later, Rai is a rockstar and his single is out and everyone loves it. He parties with Amy, spending a lot of time with her. They’re having an affair.
Because of Amy’s estate suing them, Jack and Sam hatch a plan to have Amy’s virtual family killed in a fire in order to get Amy out of the system. They force Henry to write a program to do it or he will be arrested for the kidnapping of Amy as they have video evidence.
In Amy’s hotel room, Amy learns of the news and breaks down in tears. Rai consoles her. Henry appears. Rai knows he did this. They fight, and Amy shoots Henry, and his body entirely disappears leaving only clothes behind.
Jack tries to save Henry’s real life while Sam tells Jack that the new plan should be that they show footage of Amy killing Henry with Rai as it’s the perfect finale to the show. They will say that Amy returned to them and begged to be put back in the show. Rai is awoken to the real world. Sam tells him that Rachyl is in hospital after a car crash. Rai calls Rachyl’s friend and realizes that Sam is lying and Rachyl is in the building here somewhere.
Henry survives. The police arrest Jack and Sam. Rai goes back into the program. He realizes that Dani is in fact Rachyl. Amy is holding her hostage in the hotel, dangling Rachyl from the balcony by a rope. Amy attempts to convince Rai to give up his real-world life to be with her in here, all he has to do is cut the rope. He pretends he will, then throws Amy over the balcony and saves Rachyl. Two weeks later, Amy wakes from a coma I the real world. She’s going to be okay. Henry saved her. Rai visits her in hospital. Rai then, in the virtual world, visits Maxx at rehab and works on their friendship.