Screenwriter Josh Cagan on THE DUFF


The indie sensation that has everyone talking is a new teen comedy about Duffs. What’s a Duff? Designated ugly fat friend. Wait, what? Yep. High school has term for everything nowadays. When Bianca, played by Mae Whitman of Parentood fame, finds out she’s the designated ugly fat friend in her circle at high school, her world starts to fall apart.

Screenwriter Josh Cagan adapted the script from the book of the same name by Kody Keplinger. So, how did he get an awesome gig like this? He had written another teen comedy that came to the attention of the production company who owned the rights to Keplinger’s book. That company was Wonderland Sound and Vision, which just happens to be run by McG, a prominent Hollywood director and producer. His credits include 3 Days to Kill, This Means War, Terminator Salvation and Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, among others.

They liked Cagan’s approach to adapting the novel, so they decided to take the pitch around town to see if anyone was interested in buying… Cagan tells ScreenwritingU a funny story of how the production company created a tri-fold poster board for him to bring to meetings. Unfortunately, it was very windy during the time Cagan was pitching and the DUFF board was constantly hitting him in the face. Things felt doomed when no one bought the pitch. But Cagan didn’t stop there.

When the production company asked him to “spec” the script — that means write it for free – he agreed. And eventually his script became a reality. Cagan says he was pretty stoked “because he says his first movie was seen by “82 people.” Take a chance in Hollywood and you could be the writer on the new number one teen comedy in America. ScreenwritingU sat down with Cagan to get all the details.

The DUFF premiered in theaters February 20 and co-stars Robbie Amell, Bella Thorne and Ken Jeong.

Photo credit: Granville Pictures Inc. 

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