Finding Vivian Maier

Synopsis: Real estate agent John Maloof explains how a trip to a local auction house, in search for old pictures to use for a history book about his neighborhood, resulted in him bidding and winning a box full of old negatives. John goes through the massive quantity of negatives, describes how impressed he is by the quality of the images, becomes quickly determined they are not reverent to his project and just puts them away. That could have very likely had been the end of the story, if the power of the images had not pushed him to fall in love with photography. John confides that his photo hobby quickly motivated him to set up a darkroom and devote large amounts of time printing. As he learned more about photography, he recognized that those negatives he had bought, then stored, were the work of a real master. In an attempt to confirm his suspicion, he selected about 100 images and put them online with the hope that the feedback would confirm his judgement as to the strength of the images.
Production: IFC Films
  Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 11 wins & 21 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
83 min


- Bold.

- Yeah.


- Eccentric.

- Eccentric.

- Private.

- She was a very, very private woman.

I never had any idea

she took pictures.

She would take photographs.

Many, many photographs.

She would never have let this happen.

Is there anything that you wish

you had done differently than...

Sure. I wish I would have found

those negatives instead of you.

Ten dollars... Let's go harder.

Ten bucks.

Then I'll have to end in five.

So can I have...

It was winter 2007.

I'll have to go seven, anyone at seven?

Seven and a half. Ten.

And ten, gotta go $10...

The auction house is across

the street from my home.

I found this box that was

loaded with negatives.

$70. 75 there... $80.

I was writing a history book, and I

needed a lot of historic photos.

And so I would, like, you know, take the

negatives and I'd look up into the light,

and I'd look for images of Chicago.

150, 160...

There were several boxes

that went with the set.

I just went for the biggest one.

39 is your buyer, 39 is your buyer.

I won it for, I think it was $380.

The auction house told

me the photographer,

her name was Vivian Maier.

Google searched her...

nothing at all.

I mean, absolutely nothing.

So I just kind of

gave up for a while.

I looked at some of

the stuff that night,

and it was cool, but nothing

worked for the book,

so I just put it in the closet.

I just had to figure out, what am

I going to do with this stuff?

That's what sparked me

to start scanning it.

I have a reflex, where we'll

be driving somewhere,

and I'll just, like, spot

something from down the road

that I know what it is and

I know that it's valuable.

I grew up doing the flea

markets with my brother.

My father did it. His father did it.

I would do storage

auctions with my brother.

And he'd win some,

and we'd clean 'em out.

We threw out tons of negatives.

Cos there's no value in negatives

to most resale people.

And these negatives that

I discovered, what I saw at first,

I didn't know if it was really good.

I knew that I thought it was good.

I contacted a couple of galleries.

I didn't know where to go.

I made a photo blog and I

put about 200 images up.

I put a link on Flickr.

That post, it just went insane.

So I went on this mission to piece

together the rest of her work.

And then, I found the other

people who bought boxes,

and I bought their boxes.

And then I had all these negatives,

like, insane amounts of negatives.

You always want to know

who is behind the work.

I just knew her name

was Vivian Maier.

Was she a journalist?

Professional photographer?

"Let me just Google her name again

to see if there's anything up. "

And I found an obituary that was placed

just a few days before that search.

I found an address in her stuff.

And after some, like,

WhitePages searches,

I called, and I said,

"I have the work...

the negatives of Vivian Maier. "

And he was like,

"Oh, that was my nanny. "

That was his nanny.

Why is a nanny...

taking all these photos?

What they started

to tell me about her

was... was strange.

He said, "She was kind of a loner.

"She didn't have any

family that we knew of.

"She never had any love life

or children that we knew of.

"But she was like our mother. "

So it just caught my curiosity.

So what I said was, "Do you

have any of her stuff?"

And they said, "Well, I've been keeping

up the bills on her storage lockers.

"We wanna throw all the stuff out.

She was a pack rat. "

I said, "No, no, no, don't. "

He's like, "You don't understand.

She was a pack rat.

"We're gonna get a dumpster.

You're welcome to come and help us.

"If you see anything that you like that

we're gonna throw out, you can have. "

I just wanted to go find out

who she was. Just a quick thing.

I found this leather chest.

It was, like, taped shut with just,

like, box tape or something.

And so we cut it and we opened it.

And it was filled to the top

with rolls of undeveloped film.

I took one canister and

I shook it, and it rattled.

So I opened it and there

was teeth inside.

She had stuff wedged and hidden

in everything that she had.

Almost like... it's like a secret little

hiding spot for all of her little things.

A coupon, a note,

a flyer, bus passes, train cards.

Her hats. Shoes.

Her coats, her blouses.

I have uncashed income tax

cheques from the government

amounting to thousands of dollars.

I have around 100,000 negatives.

I have 700 rolls of

undeveloped colour film.

2,000 undeveloped rolls

of black-and-white film.

I realised everything needs to be

organised and scanned and archived.

But it was more than

I could handle myself.

So I thought, "Let's see what

the museums will do to help me.

"Maybe I could get this into MoMA.

Maybe I could get this into Tate Modern. "

I sent them... letters.

And here is the reply.

"Dear Mr Maloof,

on behalf of the curators,

"I would like to thank you for thinking of

the Department of Photography at MoMA.

"Unfortunately, the

museum cannot accommodate

"these photographs at this time. "

At that point,

I just figured, "I'm on my own.

"I'm gonna try to do an exhibition.

"I'm gonna do a book. "

It's an insane amount of work.

I'm kind of compulsive with stuff.

I just wanted people to

see this incredible work.

And I applied for a show at the

Cultural Center in Chicago.

They said this was the biggest turnout

Rate this script:0.0 / 0 votes

John Maloof

All John Maloof scripts | John Maloof Scripts

0 fans

Submitted on August 05, 2018

Discuss this script with the community:



    Translate and read this script in other languages:

    Select another language:

    • - Select -
    • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
    • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
    • Español (Spanish)
    • Esperanto (Esperanto)
    • 日本語 (Japanese)
    • Português (Portuguese)
    • Deutsch (German)
    • العربية (Arabic)
    • Français (French)
    • Русский (Russian)
    • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
    • 한국어 (Korean)
    • עברית (Hebrew)
    • Gaeilge (Irish)
    • Українська (Ukrainian)
    • اردو (Urdu)
    • Magyar (Hungarian)
    • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
    • Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Italiano (Italian)
    • தமிழ் (Tamil)
    • Türkçe (Turkish)
    • తెలుగు (Telugu)
    • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
    • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
    • Čeština (Czech)
    • Polski (Polish)
    • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Românește (Romanian)
    • Nederlands (Dutch)
    • Ελληνικά (Greek)
    • Latinum (Latin)
    • Svenska (Swedish)
    • Dansk (Danish)
    • Suomi (Finnish)
    • فارسی (Persian)
    • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
    • հայերեն (Armenian)
    • Norsk (Norwegian)
    • English (English)


    Use the citation below to add this screenplay to your bibliography:


    "Finding Vivian Maier" STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 19 May 2024. <>.

    We need you!

    Help us build the largest writers community and scripts collection on the web!

    Watch the movie trailer

    Finding Vivian Maier


    The Studio:

    ScreenWriting Tool

    Write your screenplay and focus on the story with many helpful features.