Below is the pitch for Meet John Snow: A Ski Movie for the Rest of Us. I’m hoping for Wes Anderson to get attached as he handled the skiing during the giant slalom with puppets climax in The Grand Budapest Hotel much better than Ridley Scott would have. Anderson also said he’s interested in making a James Bond movie where nothing happens and I feel that nothing really happens in ski movies—especially this one. So it should be a good fit. (Apologies to GOT fans on title character’s name. That’s negotiable.)
After spending the eternity of his late-20s/early 30s in his cubicle, John drops everything and moves to the mountains. Though he’s never skied before his goal is to have a segment in a ski movie. He has a plan of action that includes: 1) Making the right ski town connections 2) Learning to ski and 3) Becoming a star. Along the way he ends up with bad roommates, gets drunk and stoned a bunch and has a bunch of shitty stuff happen. As he’s about to give up, he magically gets laid by a rich mountain town cougar and that keeps him going.
John is bored at work. He’s bored at home. He’s bored with his life. The food he eats from high-end fast food chains tastes like shit. The dates he goes on are short and awkward and horrible. The conversations he hears at parties don’t interest him. The ironic mustache he tried to grow didn’t look ironic at all. His Camry fucking sucks (even though it is reliable). He is a member of of a couple organizations: The Dollar Shave Club and Birchbox, but none of it makes him happy.
One evening as he’s sifting through a sea of porn choices online trying to find something new, he stumbles across ski porn and watches a ski movie. John believes these skiers are on to something. He also thinks they are just actors who have stunt men and women, so why not?
John believes he can get cast as one of these hard-charging/hard-partying actors if he moves to…where else? Squallywood.
8-Point Plot Arc:
John is unhappy. John hates his job at WorkLynes (an online staffing agency whose motto is: “Working at the speed of work”) and his apartment and the fact he sits all day. John feels like he might be dying. Or maybe he just wants to die. John needs to make big changes besides buying running shoes and kale and an expensive blender. John discovers skiing when he accidentally streams a ski movie. He realizes it’s probably too late to become a professional skier and he knows he can’t act. But he feels like the men and women he sees in the ski movies he becomes obsessed with really can’t do those things either. John decides to drop everything and move to a mountain town with the goal of starring in a ski movie.
Unlike most unfortunate slobs like John who have something big happen to shake them out of their 9-to-5/condo/frozen Trader Joe’s burrito/laptop porn coma, John doesn’t lose his job and he doesn’t get dumped. He’s sort of just single and miserable and lost in the ether. He realizes one day as he passes by a coworker that is twenty years his elder—who he’s never talked to and has never talked to anyone—that that could be him one day. The next day, that coworker is gone. Vanished. Nothing in his cubicle, no sign he ever existed. John starts asking around and nobody’s ever heard of the guy. Nobody knew his name and nobody even remembers anyone sitting there. John wonders whether that man was actually him from the future instead of someone who left and was completely forgotten as soon as he was gone. Either way, John knows he must do something, quickly.
The only thing John takes pleasure in is jerking off at night before bed. It is the thing that keeps him going from sunup till sundown. On the night he accidentally stumbles across ski porn, everything changes. He watches these videos with such intent that he starts obsessing over the athletes. He feels like these are average people, just like him, who have somehow cracked the code. John sends an email to his HR department that says, “I quit”, pauses and then sends a second email: “So there.” He puts all his stuff on a curb and sets off for Squallywood in his Camry. Along the way, he meets an enthusiastic Moonlight Graham-type hitchhiker (Tugger Cox) sent to him from skiing’s neon late-‘80s and early ‘90s glory days. Upon arrival, John immediately runs into Andi, the mountain town girl of his dreams who is putting gas in an old Tacoma (she’s hides her identity as the ski resort’s heiress a la Jordan in Cocktail but is working as a part-time nanny/pilates instructor/baker/rental shop girl—in other words, she pops up everywhere). In a moment of unexpected chivalry, John buys her gas because her card isn’t working—she has plenty of back up cards and cash but she’s too afraid to blow her cover.
John regrets coming to a mountain town almost immediately. He and Tugger end up in a terrible house with awful roommates, a bunch of Massholes and H-2Bs from New Zealand and Australia who are loud and dimwitted and think they’re awesome. There are many disgusting orgies splashed in bong water and Rolling Rock and scored to the most awful mix of EDM and heavy metal. The fun-loving, carefree sunny ski days as portrayed in the films John is obsessed with are played out as a series of all-too-real cloud-covered dirty snow berm incidents of watching ill-fated would-be liftees hitch their way to work only to find those jobs have been taken by snow robots once they arrive at the state-of-the-art mountain. Even worse, John, who spent all his money on first-last month’s rent finds the barrier to entry too great for the sport he’s there to learn—all the gear, lift tickets, transportation, is too much. He is stuck in this nightmarish 2 a.m. vision of wanting to leave the party but never finding a door for the way out.
John plots his exit like Andy Dufresne, complete with a Great Escape-style plan which results in him chipping through his bedroom wall behind a tapestry next to his futon and a digging out from a snowbank on the other side. He lets Tugger, who is by now resigned to staying in the mountain town for his life sentence, know that the break-out is happening. Though Tugger tries to stop him, telling him he may be the chosen one, John has his mind made up. One stormy night, he makes it out of the bro compound, gets his Camry to turn over for the first time in months and proceeds to drive away to freedom, only to be t-boned by a massive Land Rover at the first stop light. John wakes up in a plush lakefront mountain mansion retreat, clothed only in a bear rug in front of a crackling fire. It is there, a Rich Cougar tends to him and nurses him back to health. She becomes his sugar mama on the mountain and he learns to ski and mingle with the elite. John even meets a famous ski film Director who takes notice of his unorthodox throwback style (he learns his swishy hip form from the Rich Coug) and even offers him a segment in his next film.
The day of the shoot of John’s big scene, everything is set. The sun is out. There’s a foot of fresh snow on the ground. He’s wearing his finest fur-collared onesie. Breakfast is served to him under glass and he is ready to deliver on his wish fulfillment. He and the Rich Coug stop at the ski shop to pick up his skis, which were tuned for the occasion. It is there John runs into Tugger, now a ski tech. Tugger hardly recognizes John but once it kicks in, he tries to reconnect with his long-lost buddy. John wants nothing to do with Tugger and when walking out the Rich Coug asks him who that was. John says, “Nobody.” Upon his exit, John catches the eye of Andi, who is restocking a shelf with shirts. She heard what he said and shoots him a look of disappointment and dismay. John shakes it off and gets in the Rich Coug’s Land Rover and readies himself for the shoot. There, standing on the top of the hill, he looks out over the mountain town valley and surveys it all as if it’s his. As the assistant director gets the go-ahead over the walkie talkie and John adjusts his goggles and takes a deep breath. Just then, Andi skis up to him and tells him she needs to tell him something before he sends it. She’s been watching him this whole time. The Rich Cougar is her aunt and the wife of the Director. Every year they find a mark for their Gaper Segment of their ski movie, use him and discard him. That it’s all a set-up—a cruel, cruel joke. But there’s one thing they can do to stop John from becoming a laughing stock.
Suddenly, all the town bros, including the old roommates and dirtbags he’s met along the way…even Tugger, ski up to join Andi and John. They run over the assistant director and bomb down the hill. Everyone is wearing their Gaper finery and skiing powder eights with their knees together, pulling double daffies and backflips and spread eagles and blowing giant bubbles with their gum. John is no pariah. Instead, he’s found his people and helped them, in turn, rediscover the fun in skiing. The Rich Cougar and the Director are screaming cut cut, until they realize there’s a little bit of magic happening in front of them and they shrug and join the gleeful parade with Tugger leading the charge. By the time he’s at the bottom of the hill, John realizes these people are all kindred spirits and that he made it in a mountain town—but was only able to do it with the help of his friends.
Down at the mountain town bar everyone is dancing on the tabletops and whooping it up—once more to horrible EDM and heavy metal. This time, John doesn’t seem to mind. In fact, everything came together just fine. He ponies up to the bar to order a couple pitchers and gets out his cash to pay. Andi comes around, “Don’t worry,” she says. “I got this.” John looks in dismay. He can’t let her pay. She tells him she owes him one anyway. Still, he refuses. Then she puts her foot down. “Your money’s no good here, ever.” She whispers into his ear and points to a photo tucked in a back corner behind the bar. It’s her and her family, the resort’s owners. John turns gives her a look, shakes his head and, moves in for a kiss….Just as they’re about to lock lips, Tugger and the roommates come up with a loaded shot ski. “First, you gotta do this, then you can kiss,” Tugger says.
“He’s right,” Andi says. “House rules!”
Everyone laughs and takes the shot.