The Culprit

Martin Sasek

Book Cover

GENRE

COMEDY MEMOIR FUNNY SATIRE FAMILY

    Core Theme

    ANIMALS, FAMILY, PERSEVERANCE

    TIME PERIOD

    Contemporary,2000s,1980s & '90s

    COMPARABLE TITLES

    MARLEY AND ME

    CHARACTER LIST

    MARTIN SASEK (M/50S-60S) -- WITTY, SARCASTIC, MULTI-TALENTED, PATIENT; HUSBAND OF DIANE.

    DIANE SASEK (F/50S-60S) -- THOUGHTFUL, PATIENT, KIND-HEARTED, AND DETERMINED; WIFE OF MARTIN.

    ZAHRA (F) -- FIERCELY ADVENTUROUS, DEFIANT, AND INTELLIGENT KITTEN ADOPTED BY DIANE AND MARTIN.

    DORON (M/50S) -- HUMBLE, AMIABLE, RESERVED; FRIEND AND BUSINESS PARTNER OF MARTIN AND DIANE, HUSBAND OF ANNIE.

    ANNIE (F/50S) -- RESERVED, ELEGANT, FRIENDLY; FRIEND AND BUSINESS PARTNER OF MARTIN AND DIANE; WIFE OF DORON.

    KARLY (F/30S) -- INDEPENDENT, BLUE-COLLAR, CONFIDENT; MECHANIC DAUGHTER OF MARTIN AND DIANE.

    Logline

    The Culprit is a cleverly crafted and well written MEMOIR about the author and his wife's crazy life experiences and their relationship with an uncanny Bengal kitten that turned their empty nest upside-down.

    Target Audiences

    Age: 35-54,55+,18-34

    Target Gender: Universal

    Setting

    Canada

    Based on a True Story

    Yes

    Publishing Details

    Status: Yes: self-published

    Publisher: Myself

    Year Published: 2020

    Starting Description

    After twenty-seven years of marriage, Diane and I had finally graduated, earning and acquiring our combined degree with all the rights and privileges awarded to those now holding the official and distinguished title of Empty Nester!

    Ending Description

    To be continued.....

    Group Specific

    Information not completed

    Hard Copy Available

    Yes

    ISBN

    978-1777180508

    Mature Audience Themes

    Information not completed

    Plot - Other Elements

    Other

    Plot - Premise

    Rags to Riches,Other

    Main Character Details

    Name: Martin Sasek

    Age: in his 20's to 50's

    Gender: Male

    Role: Protagonist

    Key Traits: Adventurous,Sarcastic,Romantic,Empathetic,Engaging,Funny

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Diane Sasek

    Age: 20's to 50's

    Gender: Female

    Role: Sidekick

    Key Traits: Adventurous,Faithful,Romantic,Sarcastic,Funny

    Additional Character Details

    Name: Zahra

    Age: 6 month old kitten

    Gender: Female

    Role: antagonist

    Key Traits: Adventurous,Charming,Confident,Crazy,Empathetic,Engaging,Manipulative

    Additional Character Details

    The author has not yet written this

    Development Pitch

    No doubt a film that would win audiences with its sarcastic and self deprecating humorous depiction of the author's trials and tribulations. A story that is both heartwarming, hilarious and relatable to anyone with a modicum of life experiences. A - "She's Having a Baby," Father of the Bride and Marley and Me," all wrapped into one!

    Genre

    COMEDY, DRAMA

    Brief

    An autobiographical account of a Canadian couple who adopts a fiercely energetic and defiant kitten and the many comical moments that ensue as a result.

    Overall Rating

    FAIR

    Point of View

    FIRST PERSON

    Narrative Elements

    Authors Writing Style: FAIR

    Characterization: GOOD

    Commerciality: FAIR

    Franchise Potential: FAIR

    Pace: FAIR

    Premise: GOOD

    Structure: FAIR

    Theme: FAIR

    Accuracy of Book Profile

    More can be done to iterate how much the narrator departs from Zahra experiences to speak about his life before adopting her. This work is much more expansive than being a niche tale about adopting a defiant kitten, despite Zahra dominating the cover art and logline.

    Draw of Story

    Zahra. She is the wild card that gives life to much of this text. She stands out for how well-rendered her personality is-- She is somehow as well-rounded as person in this text, it seems.

    Possible Drawbacks

    It is an odd choice to depart from Zahra and her antics for much of the middle third of this text. In fact, it feels like the middle third of this text, despite being part of Martin's story, belongs in a different book altogether. All in all, this book is at its best when Zahra is a center-stage element. The problems she causes and the opportunities for laughs she creates are not rivaled by many elements in Martin's pure personal memoir chapters.

    Use of Special Effects

    THE STORY DOES NOT RELY ON SPECIAL EFFECTS

    Primary Hook of Story

    The hook, simply put, is Zahra. She is the variable that causes trouble and creates comedy when immersed in the lives of a mostly ordinary Canadian family. The audience will fall for her almost instantly, despite her difficulties, just like her parents did.

    Fanbase Potential

    No. This is more of a niche project with a very small scale. The small overall profile would not be nearly enough to beat out other properties and types of stories that organically accrue or rely on large fanbases.

    Awards Potential

    No. This is not an awards contender. The likes PG live action family comedies, despite playing their roles well enough in the marketplace at large, do not fare well in awards season, and there is not enough here to transcend the status quo.

    Envisioned Budget

    LOW BUDGET

    Similar Films/TV Series

    MARLEY AND ME

    What’s New About the Story

    Zahra, as noted, is an X factor that brings a specific energy to any given scene. She is the type of character/element that cannot be made up. Her complexities and originality are welcome. What can be done to make this work more unique would be to better layer in Martin's personal history and to better tie it to Zahra and his experiences in the present. Right now, everything feels rather segmented and cookie-cutter in how it is laid out.

    Lead Characters

    As a lead character, it is Martin's voice that makes him stand out. Despite some early adulthood financial struggles and some interesting experiences with animals, Martin is a rather ordinary fellow. His sense of humor, although obvious at times, is what gives life to some of the more mundane scenes in this work. Take his visit to the urologist for an example-- Something that could have been dry and one-note is elevated by Martin's nervous joking.

    Uniqueness of Story

    There are a few commendable qualities about this work, and it feels fresh that it embodies a "cat story" when there have been endless "dog stories." However, this falls short of being a rare gem due to its strange structure and its elongated departures from its most interesting and most fully advertised subject-- Zahra. More can be done to take this work to the next level thematically, too, as it seems to fall in line with the same lessons and values of the general "family takes in a difficult pet" stories that have come before.

    Possible Formats

    Film - Indie

    Analyst Recommendation

    WORK IN PROGRESS

    Justification

    The structure, in its current form, seems to stunt the most interesting narrative progression in this work. Also, although Zahra gives way to much drama and comedy with her uncanny intelligence, this work seems to fall in line with other "family takes in a challenging animal/pet" storylines that we have seen before.

    Tips for Improvement

    The structure would need to be retooled, and the author would need to reconsider what can be condense, simplified, or hopefully cut in the more personal backstories to make this work more palatable and smooth. Also, the massive cliffhanger ending is a bit frustrating. If audiences are to give their time and consideration to a new and niche story like this, it almost feels like hitting a paywall. It feels like we DESERVE a resolution here, for our time spent, despite how enticing it might have been for the author to try to lock in an audience for part two.

    Brief

    Empty nesters Martin and Diane get more than they bargained for when they adopt a fiercely adventurous, defiant, and intelligent kitten. Feline-prompted hijinks ensue, spurring Martin to reflect on his life and younger self along the way.

    What We Liked

    Zahra is what stands out about this work for the way she challenges the family she joins. Not only does she have an unmistakable swagger about her, but she is also a complex and interesting being for her contradictions and for her challenging qualities that pair nicely with her adorable ones.

    All in all, audiences will be sure to fall in love with Zahra just as fast as her owners do. THE CULPRIT is primed to slot in nicely alongside other animal and pet properties, standing out a little better for centering on a cat, rather than a dog.

    Film: This work would be a solid adaptation for film in that it contains a fair share of action and hijinks despite a decisive narrow focus on few players. The conflicts and comedy that Zahra causes in THE CULPRIT will be sure to be solid foundations for memorable sequences on the big screen. Also, it is interesting that this work focuses on a feline. As there have been so many canine movies, it feels fresh to be switching gears.

    TV: This would be a good adaptation for TV in that it check off many of the boxes one looks for in a 30-minute format. It's a closed-off world and a small scale story focusing on few players, making it economical and comparatively simple to execute. TV is a perfect window into this family's life, affording a kind of proximity and intimacy that are best suited to the small screen over time.

    Key points: 1. Zahra creates many tricky and comedic moments.
    2. The author's tone of voice is quite sarcastic and often funny.
    3. There is an interesting progression as Zahra settles into her new life, becoming more restrained.
    4. Zahra is an emotionally complex figure from the audience's perspective in that she is so adorable, yet causes so many problems for her owners.
    5. There is some valuable theme work as far as family, animals, and perseverance go.

    Synopsis

    Canadian couple MARTIN and DIANE SASEK are spouses of 27 years. Having recently become empty nesters, they revel in their newfound freedom. Soon, they decide to explore getting a pet, and they quickly begin seeking a silver bengal kitten to adopt, joined on one occasion by their mechanic daughter, KARLY. After several unproductive visits to kooky breeders, Martin and Diane finally find their match-- A spunky little female, ZAHRA. They immediately take note of Zahra's distinct personality-- how curious, adventurous, mischievous, and defiant she is. On one occasion, Zahra even bounds out of the car into a drive through window. Diane and Martin struggle to tire her out, much less to tame her.

    With Christmas approaching, Zahra shows little signs of calming down. On one occasion, she causes her parents to stumble in the snow, and on another, she makes a run for it, up and away. Martin has to get a ladder in order to retrieve the mischievous kitten. Soon, son TALON and his wife JOANNA arrive for the holidays. Daughter HEIDI and her loyal dog MAX arrive, too. Zahra immediately takes an interest in Max, who wants nothing to do with her. On Christmas, Zahra begins attacking family members' feet. Spring soon comes, and Zahra grows into a fiercely opinionated cat, enjoying games, being read to, and listening to Martin play guitar.

    Martin takes us back to him first meeting Diane. She was a 14-year old lifeguard, while he was a 15-year old ne'er-do-well. After a summer together, Martin is taken away to live with his father and stepmother. Years later, in their early 20s, the couple reunites, and a whirlwind romance ensues. When Diane gets pregnant, high school dropout Martin frets over how to provide for the family. Over several years, as their family grows, Martin works toward becoming a special education teacher. He chronicles some of his experiences-- a memorable one being his struggle to corral a frightened student into getting a blood test. With their kids growing, Martin and Diane decide to start an indoor soccer venture, much better suited to Martin's passions. Before long, despite the risks, the venture is a success, and the family ascends from poverty.

    With their newfound wealth, the family decides to buy horses for their enthusiastic daughter. A pair of untrained ponies results in endless work. They grow rapidly, and Martin and Diane struggle to control the strong creatures. On a whim, the couple heads to a horse symposium where they win a live auction for yet another mare-- Daisy, who they dub ""Crazy Daisy."" One day, Daisy tries to escape and ends up goring herself on a tree stump. After a 6-week stay at a veterinary hospital, Daisy returns healthy as ever. Soon, the family realizes that Daisy genes make her a great candidate for racing, so they equip her with a trainer with the intent to have her race. However, Daisy proves quite defiant, dismounting her jockeys at every turn. Martin turns to ROB and CINDY, who wrangle Daisy's fierce will and attitude. Daisy progresses and goes on to place third in a first major race. However, Daisy sulks after the race, depleted. Her owners decide to retire her from racing as a result. Martin reflects on another time, one where he went fishing with some buddies and hooked a massive fish only for the rod to be torn asunder.

    Back in the present, with Zahra in their lives, Diane and Martin watch as Zahra takes an interest in their koi fish. Diane ends up submerged when trying to restrain her. When trying to help Diane, Martin falls in, too. Soon, they are approached by DORON and ANNIE, an Indian couple who want to forge a business partnership in the soccer world. Martin and Diane soon invite their full family over for dinner, unaware that many Indian people are afraid of cats. Zahra, naturally, causes a mass hysterical stampede among the guests. Soon, Martin is diagnosed with prostate cancer. A surgery renders Martin bedridden for several weeks. One day, Zahra disappears from the backyard, and it's feared an owl might have gotten her or that she has been taken. Martin and Diane mourn for her, but Martin alludes to this not being the end, teasing ""The Culprit Part II.""

    About The Author

    A former special education teacher, Martin Sasek is a man of many talents, including but not limited to soccer, music, horse racing, and flying. A father three--not including Zahra--Martin lives with his wife Diane in Toronto.