The Social Network is one of the all-time best, dialogue-driven scripts. It’s revered by both film-makers and film-instructors for its tight actions, clever quotes, and realistic characters.
Let’s dive into The Social Network script to see what makes it so great.
The Social Network Script
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WHO WROTE THE SOCIAL NETWORK SCRIPT?
Written by Aaron Sorkin.Aaron Sorkin began his career as a playwright in New York City. In 1992, he received his first credit as a screenwriter for the film A Few Good Men. Since then, Sorkin has become one of the most admired screenwriters in the world; with credits on The West Wing, Moneyball, Steve Jobs, and many more productions. His writing is best known for a ‘walk and talk’ method of dialogue, in which two or more characters deliver their dialogue on the move.
The Iron Man PLOT
The Social Network script's story beats
Here is the story structure for the The Social Network screenplay:
STRUCTURE OF THE SOCIAL NETWORK SCREENPLAY
Mark Zuckerberg is a narcissistic computer science student at Harvard. He’s obsessed with social-status, and is driven to be recognized at any cost. After demeaning his girlfriend Erica’s intelligence, she dumps him.
Mark returns to his dorm where he immediately posts derogatory insults about Erica. With the help of his friend Eduardo Saverin, he decides to write a rudimentary program (Facemash) that allows blog users to vote on girls attractiveness.
CLIMAX OF ACT ONE
Mark is given six months of academic probation for Facemash. The Winklevoss Twins, two Harvard rowers, approach him with the prospect of developing Facemash into Harvard Connection. Mark agrees as a facade, as he only wants to be around the twins for their social connections. Instead, he secures capital from his friend Eduardo.
While Eduardo is out partying, Mark works on the new site. Mark becomes jealous that Eduardo is recruited by the ‘prestigious’ Harvard Phoenix club. We cut in and out deposition hearings in which both Eduardo and The Winklevoss Twins accuse Mark of legal crimes.
MIDPOINT (TURNING POINT)
Mark and Eduardo become celebrities at Harvard after the launch of Facebook. Mark is served a cease and desist letter from the Winklevoss Twins, which he ignores. The small Facebook team decides to expand to other Ivy league schools.
Napster creator Sean Parker hears about Facebook at Stanford and sets up a meeting with Mark. Although Mark is smitten with Sean, Eduardo is apprehensive.
TENSION BUILD UP
Mark takes Facebook out to Palo Alto for the Summer, while Eduardo works in New York. Mark meets up with Sean again, and they both express interest in working together. Meanwhile in England, the Winklevoss Twins learn that Facebook has gone international.
Eduardo expresses doubt about Sean’s ethics, which Mark firmly rebuffs. Facebook secures an angel investment which prompts the company to restructure. Eduardo is invited out to the new office where he’s ambushed by a lawyer. Mark had diluted Eduardo’s 34% equity stake to .03%, effectively removing him from the company.
FINALE AND DENOUEMENT
Sean is arrested for drug possession. Eduardo and The Winklevoss Twins both settle with Mark outside of court. Mark logs onto Facebook and looks up his old girlfriend Erica, who he requests to add as a friend.
The Social Network Script Takeaway #1
The Social Network Dialogue and Quotes
As an adapted screenplay based on real people, every quote in The Social Network is subject to heightened scrutiny. But Sorkin does an incredible job of showing us who these people are, in simple and subtle ways.
In this scene, Eduardo details the confrontation that he had with Mark after learning his equity share had been diluted to less than one percent. Although the scene has plenty of memorable quotes, it’s when Eduardo says “Tell me this isn’t about me getting into the Phoenix” that we see the resolution of the subtext that had been building throughout the film.
This quote is an excellent example of using dialogue to develop the story. Facebook was created in response to Mark feeling isolated and alone.
Here are some other great quotes:
“Did you know there are more people with genius IQ’s living in China than there are people of any kind living in the United States?”
“I’m talking about taking the entire social experience of college and putting it online. “
“If you guys were the inventors of Facebook you’d have invented Facebook.”
“She said “Facebook me” and we can all go for a drink later. Which is stunningly great for two reasons. One, she said “Facebook me.” Right? And the other is, you know⏤”
“I did not torture the chicken, I don’t torture chickens, are you crazy? “
“Sorry, my Prada’s at the cleaners along with my hoodie and my fuck-you flip-flops you pretentious douchebag. “
The Social Network Script Takeaway #2
The Social Network Character Building
There are two ways to build character. The first is to show how other characters feel about them. The other is to have the character themself demonstrate their qualities with actions, monologues, and dialogue. The Social Network does a great job of balancing these two methods.
Sean Parker is a character we know very little about; other than that he slept with a Stanford student and once founded Napster. So in this scene, we subconsciously make a critical judgement of his character, since his introduction is so late into the story. Eduardo has already proven to be a character we can trust, so his feelings on Sean are something we should pay attention to.
Eduardo calls him “delusional” and “paranoid.” This is backed up in the script, as Sean goes on diatribes about how everyone is out to get him. Furthermore, his actions are sporadic and expressive, which foils Mark. This suggests that Mark is attracted to the attention Sean draws, something that he’s unable to do on his own.
Building well-developed characters is essential in telling a good story; whether through dialogue, actions, wardrobe, casting, etc.
DID YOU KNOW?
Writer Aaron Sorkin said this about researching for The Social Network; “The defendants, the plaintiffs, and the witnesses all went into the deposition rooms, all swore an oath, and they ended up telling three very different versions of the story. I didn’t pick one and decide on my own that that’s the truth. I didn’t pick one and decide on my own, geez that’s the sexiest, that’s the one that will make the best movie. I liked that there were three different, at times conflicting versions of the truth.”
The Social Network Script Takeaway #3
The Social Network Deposition Scenes
The Social Network is told through the deposition hearings of Mark Zuckerberg. This means that Sorkin decided on an atypical script structure; one that interweaves time periods will still holding onto key story beats. For example, although we know that Mark is sued, we don’t know why. That information is regaled to us through those in the depositions.
This scene is from Mark’s second deposition with the Winklevoss Twins. But the excerpt is more about why Mark sought out financing from Eduardo rather than the Twins. Mark says that Eduardo was his best friend and that’s why he did it, to which a Winklevoss lawyer responds, “your best friend is suing you for 600 million dollars.” This is a strong example, using dialogue to reveal critical information innovatively.
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