Degree Type

Honors Capstone Project

Date of Submission

Spring 5-1-2012

Capstone Advisor

Richard Breyer

Honors Reader

Tom Seeley

Capstone Major


Capstone College

Public Communications

Audio/Visual Component


Capstone Prize Winner


Won Capstone Funding


Honors Categories


Subject Categories

Broadcast and Video Studies | Communication | Creative Writing | Film and Media Studies


Film has been an invaluable part of American society for nearly a century. From having political significance, to solely entertaining purposes, this versatile medium has only garnered more and more cultural investment each year of its existence. While it may not always be a vital component to a completed project, it is within the script writing process that ideas, themes, and messages are negotiated and developed. The real meaning of a story is encoded within the words. The script can be considered provocative, emotional, informative, and may incite a unique effect for each of its readers. While no reader is identical, the producers’ goal often is: get the most consumers, at whatever cost it takes.

This idea proved to be my motivation in writing Nothing is Free. In a world dominated by reality television and horrifying news stories, it seems like some person, group or institution is being exploited everyday at the expense of a successful, and profitable story. Simultaneously, it is scandal, sex and violence that prove time and time again to be most lucrative and dominate the media world. This is, what I consider, a flawed cultural trend that, with time, only continues to worsen. People often seem to forget the adverse effects of this exploitation. Nothing is Free serves as a severe reminder of just why these things always need to be considered.

This story is not to be taken lightly. Even though I had always envisioned the script to be completely fictional, I always intended for the story to be considered a real possibility. I thought the script would be more realistic if I stayed true to what I know. While the issue at hand can arise in a number of situations and environments, I didn’t want to place the story in a context I wasn’t familiar with. Therefore, the story takes place in a high school environment, in which I could most truthfully write dialogue. While I did not want to use such a dramatic device as a murder in Nothing is Free, I think the story’s climax is more of an inevitable reality of the circumstances created by this theme. The script, without a doubt, serves to deliver an emotional message.

This isn’t the first successful script to have an unfortunate climax in attempts to shed light on a problem or injustice. This script definitely seems to bear elements prevalent in several other effective stories. Characters, themes, and even scenes may strike resonance from works such as American History X, Crash, and Hardball.

This script also proves to give a peak into the high school journalism scene and the nature of the writing process. If you have ever been interested in journalism, this script is worth a read. However, its understanding requires no journalistic prowess, and can appeal to a more general audience as well, delving into everyday, national problems and the personal decision making process.

If you are looking for a happy ending, this is not the script for you. The conclusion rather leaves the audience with some important questions to speculate. When is it fair to censor a journalist? When is a job more important than morals? Protagonist Thomas Harper’s story only proves to highlight why these questions are so controversial.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.



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