The Crazy Girl – scriptwriting

Nellie Bly (Elizabeth J Cochrane)

Nellie Bly (Elizabeth J Cochrane)

I’m not really a massive fan of discussing my own film ideas online for the world to see, especially when they’re only just beginning to form. But, I’ll make an exception because…in my head right now, it seems like maybe I could write a decent script from my premise.

If you’re a student or professional in Psychology or journalism, I expect you may have heard of Elizabeth Jane Cochrane – also known as Nellie Bly. Ring any bells?

Well if not, don’t fret. Elizabeth Cochrane was a very famous American journalist for the New York World in the late 1800’s. She was pretty adventurous and inspiring as far as women from the era go, she held the world record for fastest travel around the world for a time, the trip taking her 72 days, six hours, eleven minutes and fourteen seconds I believe. But let’s not get bogged down in the specifics.

Basically for a woman living in a very sexist world she did extraordinarily well for herself – but that’s not what really interests me. In the 1880’s Elizabeth went undercover, she convinced Doctors and healthcare professionals, police and courts that she was insane so that she could investigate reports of brutality and neglect at the Women’s Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell’s Island; then write about it for the world to see. The article she wrote was received so well that the people demanded she turn it into a book – which, she did. ( – link to the book there for you, welcome.)

“Positively demented,” he said. “I consider it a hopeless case. She needs to be put where some one will take care of her.”

And so I passed my second medical expert.’ (Bly, N (1887). Ten Days in a Mad-House. New York: Ian L. Munro. VI).

I don’t literally want to take what she wrote and put it on screen, that is way too easy. Where’s the fun? However, this Patient-Beds-in-Hallway-Due-to-Overcrowding-Colorado-Insane-Asylumpremise blew up in my mind with possible narratives jumping out at me everywhere. I have narrowed it down to four main ideas, so I’ll have to work on each of them intently and decide on the most effective. None of the ideas I have put down on paper are too similar with Nellie Bly’s experience – obviously historical accuracy is a must, but it’s important to remember that my character is not Bly. And her story is going to be totally different to mine. Nellie Bly is the basic premise, which I am tearing a part and re-writing in an even more shell-shocking tale.

images (1) Insane asylums have always really intrigued me, and creeped me out to be completely honest. Visually, I think that they have so much potential and the true-life stories are just as hard hitting as fictional compilations.

I didn’t want to delve into the four different ideas that I have until I have looked even deeper into them myself, but…watch out for more – The pitches will be up soon.