Film Script:”Pitch Perfect 2″


Kay Cannon has made a name for herself in the world of comedy by writing for many popular projects. She started out as a performer in Chicago before meeting her friend, comedy icon, Tina Fey. Fey was a Second City alumna like Cannon and she helped to jump start Kay’s writing career by giving her a job on 30 Rock. Kay would earn three Emmy nominations for her work on 30 Rock as a writer. She won the Writer’s Guild of America award three times and also a Peabody all for efforts on Rock. Cannon would eventually work as a producer on the film Baby Mama and also work on the show New Girl as a writer/producer.

The 2012 surprise film hit Pitch Perfect was Cannon’s first screenplay credit. Cannon returned to write the sequel that opens on May 15th. We spoke to Kay Cannon about her career and the upcoming Pitch Perfect 2.

As a writer—how do you approach the blank page?

I’m not intimidated by the blank page. I will throw up terrible shit and just write whatever—I will bark out anything. Because at that point if I am writing the script then I have taken the time to layout the story. When I am transferring all that work I have done to the blank page I fill pretty good about putting all of it down.

Sounds like you are very structured when it comes to your writing, is that fair to say?

Yeah. When I work as a TV writer we have to write an outline. For film I don’t write an outline for whatever reason—maybe because it feels too massive for me. But, I live or die by using index cards and carving out what the story is. I spend a lot of time thinking about the characters.

Does your performance background help you as a writer?

I’d like to think that it helps me. I try to think about how my characters talk. I do a lot of acting out. Around my 3rd or 4th season of 30 Rock I felt like I had the ability to do impressions of every character. Each character had a different rhythm and it helped to be a performer that could understand the rhythm of everything. It helps with jokes too.

But, with the Pitch Perfect films, Rebel Wilson has such different rhythms. She says something that often sounds quite different than what I had in my head. It’s exciting to see how she takes something in my head and makes it better and funnier.

Your screenplay for the first Perfect film was your very first attempt at writing a screenplay. Why did you decide to try cinematic writing with Pitch Perfect?

During my first season of 30 Rock we had a line in an episode about one of the characters being in an A cappella group. I thought it was a joke but I was informed that there actually is an A cappella world that is very popular. I said right then that, ‘someone should write a movie about that.’ I thought it was really interesting. I didn’t have the time to do the research. I didn’t want my first screenplay to be about a world I didn’t really know anything about.

I was friends with Elizabeth Banks (producer of Pitch Perfect and the director of Pitch Perfect 2) and I was just talking to her and saying I want to write a film about the world of A cappella but I know nothing about it. About a year after telling her that she called me…her husband found a book called Pitch Perfect: The Quest for Collegiate A Cappella Glory. Mickey Rapkin wrote it and it’s about following three A cappella groups around for a year. That was the research I needed.


Sequels can often be a tough endeavor to take on. Pitch Perfect was a huge hit and it earned a large following rather quickly. Were you worried about meeting the fan’s high expectations with the sequel?

I obsessed about that. I didn’t want to screw it up. Pitch Perfect was my first screenplay and it was my little baby. Sometimes when you see a sequel and it doesn’t live up to your standards it taints the first movie. I was really worried about that. The fans of Pitch Perfect are so wonderful and loyal that my biggest concern was making the sequel joyful. The word “joyful” might be weird but I want the fans to leave the theater feeling joy. I really hope we did that. I really hope the fans like it and I hope we didn’t mess it up.

Besides the pressure of writing it—was the sequel easier for you to undertake since you had such a strong understanding of the characters?

Once I knew the story it was so fun to sit with these characters I knew so well. It basically was just about coming up with the comedy. Personally it was much harder to write the sequel because my father passed away and I had a baby while I was putting the story and script together. I was writing while I was crazy pregnant and I gained like 70 pounds—it was not a pretty sight.

I turned in my first draft of the script to the studio a couple of months after having my daughter. I look at that first draft and it wasn’t terrible but it definitely reeked of someone who had just become a mother. I had a lot of work to do in regards to getting the script in to shape. Everyday I was breastfeeding and writing. I had to get the script to where it needed to be.

You talked earlier about wanting to achieve a joyful tone with Pitch 2. Was that made more difficult by the passing of your father and having to deal with that loss?

I think that it was quite difficult. But the Green Bay Packers are in the movie and they are really funny in it. I am from Chicago and my father was a die hard Chicago Bears fan. I remember the studio telling me that the Packers were big fans of Pitch Perfect and wanted to be in the sequel. As a Bear fan I was like, ‘are you fucking kidding me? No! I’m not putting them in the movie.’ I knew that they were fans and they tweeted about the movie a lot. They said if you put us in the movie we will rehearse and take it seriously. They did a great job.

Once I knew they were going to be in the movie and I had to write jokes for Clay Matthews (Green Bay linebacker) and the others it ended up being really fun. It made me laugh because I would joke, ‘my dad is turning over in his grave’ knowing I’m working with the Packers. I felt like it was a nice little nod to him. If you are going to work on something after a parent passes…something full of joy can make you feel a lot better.

Have you thought about possibly writing Pitch Perfect 3?

It all depends on how the second one does. You would hate to be the group of people that are like, ‘ we are making a third,’ and then nobody goes to see the second one. I wouldn’t want to jinx it.

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