Saturday, December 31, 2005

Eternal

Think “Basic Instinct” meets “The Hunger”. Another one of those psychological/erotic thrillers than true horror movie. In the olden days, Countess Elizabeth Bathory murdered hundreds of maidens and bathed in their blood, thinking it would give her eternal (get it?) youth.
In the present, a cop (of questionable morals) while searching for his missing wife, encounters a mysterious woman who was the last person to see her alive.“Eternal” gets cool points for some stylish locations and charismatic female lead, Caroline Neron. I can’t say that I got a whole lot out this movie. Act I is pretty solid. Act II kinda veers off into “Basic Instinct” territory. The third act ends rather abruptly (say it with me, set up for a sequel), the protagonist does something incredibly stupid even though he was warned a few minutes prior.
We get a lot of is-she-or-isn’t-she but it doesn’t really have any bearing on the plot so I’m not sure why all the fuss. A good-looking film with good-looking stars and with some decent twists.



Friday, December 30, 2005

The Island

Maybe it was poor marketing, spoiler-filled trailers, or the lack of big name stars but for whatever reason, “The Island” tanked big time at the box office. I had no desire to see the darned thing, but after coming across an early draft on the www.dailyscript.com, I’m more than a little intrigued about the final product. The script clocks in at 139 pages(!) but the story doesn’t lag. The DVD might be worth checking out for a little compare and contrast.



Thursday, December 15, 2005

One Page

Before the great hard drive crash of ‘03, I had tons of unfinished scripts, outlines and ideas. I’m not feeling warm and fuzzy about my current projects so I had to do a little digging, in order to meet Red Right Hand's challenge. This page is from an early draft of my werewolf script that I eventually scrapped. Not a lot happens, but you get a sense of what I was trying to do...


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Slamdance Teleplay Contest

The Slamdance Teleplay semi-finalists won't be announced until January 2, 2006. Which do you think is worse, getting eliminated before Christmas or after the New Year?





Saturday, December 10, 2005

Project Greenlight's "FEAST"



EDITED on 2/1/06: The trailer has been taken down.




Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Triangle


Just finished watching the conclusion. Good effects, okay story (I didn't buy the fact that the little girl on the plane just happened to be the granddaughter of the scientist who was the key to it all and how did Eric Stoltz's character know he could go back in time?). I wasn't wowed or anything. The Sci-Fi Channel was crowing about the ratings so I guess it was a success.


Monday, December 05, 2005

Update: Fantasy Spec

And so it begins, that unmistakable feeling of bliss when starting a new screenplay, the honeymoon period. You’re practically overflowing with ideas and they’re *all* good. It’s as if elves climb down the chimney at night and knock off a couple pages for you, the way the darn thing almost seems to write itself. Of course, you know full well that it won’t last.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, there’s this prophecy and an unlikely chosen one who has to learn--Now I’m not saying I’m a hack but I can be hackish. I spent way too much time dreaming up the world my characters inhabit and not enough on my by-the-numbers story. Sometimes we (okay, maybe it’s just me) think a cool premise is all that’s needed and Hollywood will come a knockin’. After my epiphany, I dumped a lot of what I planned and went back to square one. Those elves must have been working overtime because I was able to come up with a new direction, pretty quickly. So quickly, that I felt comfortable enough to churn out a few pages. I don’t have everything figured out, but the story feels less derivative and more my wacky, unique take on things.



Saturday, December 03, 2005

Story Starters

A few interesting articles:

Man-sized scorpion described.

Pack of squirrels kill dog.

Woman has first face transplant.

Police find semi-nude man with mannequin.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Thresholding Pattern

CBS has put "Threshold" on hiatus, but I think we can all see the fractals on the wall, this show is probably toast (according to E! Online, "Threshold" is cancelled but I wasn't about to throw away that title). The "C.S.I." meets "The X-files" sci-fi drama never really caught on with viewers in a big way. Oh sure, the thinly disguised terrorists as aliens theme seemed like a great opportunity to tap into our post 9/11 anxiety but it all seemed kind of ho-hum. The cast was pretty solid, especially for sci-fi tv but the show was just missing something...maybe not enough from the p.o.v. of the aliens? Too much us good, them bad?


Tuesday, November 22, 2005

M E D I U M in 3-D

I was so busy fumbling with the glasses and rewinding during commercials that I didn't pay attention to the story, which kind of nullifies the point of the gimmick. Most of the time, the 3-D didn't work for me, although I did duck when the killer threw the cleaver.


Thursday, November 17, 2005

I C Dead People in 3-D

I'm all set for Monday's special episode of "Medium". Got my 3-D glasses from the latest TV Guide. Yes, I'm a big geek.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Nightstalker R.I.P.

Frank Spotnitz broke the news on his blog, “The Nightstalker” is no more. Can’t say I didn’t see this one coming: the next to impossible time slot, the terrible pilot and subsequent mediocore episodes. Being the masochist that I am, I sat through every single one of them. And of course, ABC gives it the axe before the second half of the two-parter is shown...bastards




Update: Fantasy Spec

Churned out a couple pages, mostly action scenes. Everything was fine until I decided to spin the premise even further, because a fantasy script involving a prophecy and a chosen one might have been done once or twice. Anyway, I spun and sure, most of my notes are now shot to hell but it was worth it. Hopefully, I'll have it ready for one of the big screenwriting contests next year.



Friday, November 11, 2005

Update: Werewolf Spec

Long time no update. I've been mentally poking a stick at it for a while, not sure if I'm ready to start the rewrite just yet. Originally, I envisioned this tragic love story as the central cog in the screenplay and you know what? The cog ain't that central nor is it that tragic. No worries, though. There's a more interesting relationship that helps drive the story and it was staring me right in the face, the whole darned time.




Sunday, November 06, 2005

Fangs for the memories

Two truly awful movies were on Starz last night, "Van Hesling" and "Blade: Trinity", back to back. While "X-Men" and "Spider-Man" get all the credit for reviving the comic book movie, it was a film about an obscure vampire hunter that really started the trend. "Blade" was full of R-rated goodness, an incredible opening sequence and a porn star cameo! Okay, so what if "Blade II" was a mediocre "Aliens" rip-off? It was a pretty, mediocre "Aliens" rip-off (the screenplays for both films are great reads).
On his worse day, David S. Goyer is probably 100 times the screenwriter I could ever hope to be. "Dark City" and "Batman Begins" speak for themselves, "Blade: Trinity"speaks too, but it mostly says, "crap". Hard to say what happened there. Gobs of money was offered, souls were sold? Maybe it's just as simple as saying he was overwhelmed wearing both hats as writer and director (plus, dealing with a difficult Wesley Snipes). Pair him with creative minds like Nolan, Del Toro or Norrington and there's good product.
I'm not even going to try and explain the convoluted mess which tries to pass itself off as a story, except to highlight the main point: Dracula is in the movie...well, sorta. He calls himself Drake and he's not from Transylvania, he's Sumerian or Babylonian or something. See, Parker Posey, the new head of the vampire nation...seriously, she and Triple-H...I said I wasn't going to do it... Anyway, Dracula is relegated to a supporting role until we get to the predictable showdown with Blade. Huh? I repeat, Huh? Dracula shuffles around in the background doing nothing. Well, he does go out a few times to snatch a baby, kill a blind chick, kill some punks in a novelty store and kidnap the blind chick's little girl. Then later, he has the nerve to talk about honor. Honestly, how do you screw up a movie with Dracula as your big bad? He's the biggest and baddest of the big bads (except for that Lucifer guy). Apparently, there must be some kind of "How To Screw Up Dracula In 21 Days" handbook making the rounds in Hollywood because Stephen Sommers got his paws on a copy when he was writing "Van Helsing". Sommers' Dracula is busy chewing scenery, fixing his hair and trying to pacify his vampire hoes. Now I've seen a lot of dumb archvillain plots in my day, but I could almost feel my I.Q. points dropping with the one in "Van Hesling". Dracula needs the Frankenstein Monster in order to bring his vampire babies to life?! When did CGI become an acceptable replacement for suspense and scares? What's the point of using a classic villain if you're going to alter him to the point where he's barely recognizable to the audience? It's Dracula for Pete's sake! Also, is it too much to ask for a villain so intimidating that your protagonist actually feels vulnerable? Goyer's Drake could change his form. Okay, that could be a cool way to get into Blade's head. Confront him as Whistler, his dead mother, Deacon Frost, Nomak, etc. Have the trilogy come full circle, instead it's just a cheap gimmick that's used once or twice in the movie. One of the better Draculas that I've seen recently was in the animated feature, "The Batman vs. Dracula". It's not perfect (e.g. the dopey Vicky Veil and Dracula subplot) but more satisfying than the aforementioned films. Anyway, post, post Halloween rant over.







Monday, October 31, 2005

Tricks and Treats

Excellent entry at Splinster about creepy films and the definition of horror.

Tired of waiting on Hollywood? Check out, Xombie. It's an amazing animated series done entirely in Flash. I keep meaning to try something like this but I'm afraid of what the end result will be: a bunch of herky-jerky stickmen.

I'm not huge fan of her work (in fact, I'm not even a little one) but it's still blogworthy, Anne Rice has declared that from now on, she will only write for the Lord. I respect her decision but I'm not sure if I understand it. Isn't it possible to be a Christian and a horror writer?




Saturday, October 29, 2005

SAW II cuts down the competition

12.5 Million on Friday alone, whoa! Guess we can expect to see a Saw III, IV and V. "Doom" came out last week and was only able to scare up around 15 million. Perhaps "The Rock" just isn't that big of a draw and/or people are getting tired of lame videogame adaptations. Maybe we're all underestimating the Donnie Walhberg factor. I mean, he was in "Sixth Sense" and look how much that made. Coincidence? I think not.


Monday, October 24, 2005

Greenlight alums do it again!

Talk about taking the bull by the horns. Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan got their big break by winning Project Greenlight with "Feast". They get hired to write "Highlander: The Source" and now they strike again by selling a "Horror Heist" pitch. And hey, maybe they could've made those deals without the benefit of PGL but it sure didn't hurt. Now if "Feast" could just make some kind profit this January, the rest of us could get another shot at the contest.


Saturday, October 22, 2005

Update: Fantasy Spec (outline)

This is ridiculous. I'm starting the damn thing. Today.

Underworld: Evolution



Check out the new trailer here.






Update: TV Pilot

Got it out yesterday, barely. You know how it is, Murphy's Law and all. Took a long time to get all the parts together but I'm glad it's finally done. There's nothing like that sense of satisfaction from finishing a script, sending it off and then waking up in a cold sweat because you had a nightmare about the script missing pages, no entry fee included... Silly, paranoid me. I'm not exactly sure where the teleplay goes from here. I never envisioned it as a screenplay but that wouldn't be an impossible task. The comic book world is another avenue but I'm getting ahead of myself, let's just see how it does in the Slamdance contest. Anyway, the dragon has been slain. Bring on the next dragon! And speaking of dragons....





Saturday, October 15, 2005

Alien vs. Predator

After all the bad publicity, I stayed away from this one like the plague but I caught the premiere on cable last weekend. Honestly, it wasn't the complete train wreck that I had expected. 20th Century Fox overreacted by not having advanced screenings for critics and turning two R-rated franchises into a PG-13 combo "alienated" hardcore fans. Screenwriter and Director Paul W. S. Anderson didn't help matters with his rants about being handcuffed by the studio. Original "Alien vs. Predator" screenwriter Peter Briggs, openly criticized Anderson's version. As luck would have it, both screenplays were on the net and it gave me an opportunity to do a little compare and contrast.
Both scripts have their strengths and weaknesses. Briggs' futuristic version is an all out slugfest. The Aliens aren't limited to humanoid hosts, they impregnate a few rhinos and other animals on the rain forests of planet Ryushi. On the minus side, the script would have been very expensive to produce. Briggs himself says it would have cost somewhere around 80-100 million dollars to produce (and this was a screenplay written in the early 90s). The Anderson version (with a little help from Shane Salerno) is more cost efficient, most of it taking place inside the mother of all pyramids (literally) which happens to be in Antartica (two thousand feet under the ice--don't ask).
I'm aware of the "Alien vs. Predator" books and the "Batman vs. Predator" comic, but most of my knowledge comes from the previous "Alien" and "Predator" movies. Sigourney Weaver's Ellen Ripley is a hard act to follow, both scripts trot out their own female protagonists (Hiroko Noguchi in the Briggs screenplay) and they work for the most part. Independent, resourceful and all the other Girl Power buzz words you can think of. The humans in both scripts are fine. Aside from our female protagonists, they aren't asked to do a whole lot (except scream and die). The Anderson/Salerno version tries to give the characters depth, a little backstory and even tries to bridge the gap of the "Alien" movies by having Lance Henrikson in the film. This focus on character probably drove fanboys crazy because it feels like Act I drags on forever. Briggs levels the playing field a bit by giving the humans guns with automatic tracking and hover bikes but the trouble with both screenplays is that they're just action movies, the horror element that was prevalent in both franchises is almost ignored.
In "Aliens", Burke locks Ripley and Newt in a room with two facehuggers so he can smuggle them past quarantine once they've been impregnated with the parasite. Hudson, the badass space marine becomes a blubbering idiot after a fire-fight with the Aliens. In "Predator", some characters are on the brink of madness while others are in complete denial. In any crisis, there are going to be heroes but there are also going to be villains and cowards. Just because we have mean nasty Aliens running around, it doesn't
mean they should be the sole bad guys. I've always thought the Aliens were the personification of the evil inside all of us. We're the real monsters.
I could nitpick at Weyland's "heroic" death, question how Lex is supposed to survive in the Artic without a hat or jacket or wonder how long the Predators will tolerate Hiroko but I'll let it go. Both screenplays are good study for sci-fi and/or action writers. Would Briggs' script have been more commercially successful? Maybe, although the Anderson version did make 171 million dollars worldwide (most of that, outside the U.S.) Anyway, just my humble my opinion.




Thursday, October 13, 2005

"Serenity"


I was going to make an entry about "Serenity" tanking at the box office, despite mostly good reviews and a rabid cult following but I came across this bit of news on

The Movie Blog
. Those Brits know a good movie when they see it. I'm not sure how to explain the poor showing in the States. My best guess would be the lack of star power. The cast is made up of mostly unknowns with television roots. Chiwetel Ejiofor isn't a big name here but he's well known in the UK, hence the success. Either way, "Serenity" will make a killing when it comes out on DVD.




Saturday, October 08, 2005

Stay

A while back, there was an early draft of the screenplay floating around the net. It involves a shrink trying help a suicidal patient....a lot of strange stuff happens along the way. I'm really curious to see what the finished product looks like, especially with a cast that includes Ewan McGregor, Naomi Watts and Ryan Gosling. The script sold for an eye-popping 1.8 million dollars, almost unheard of these days. A good read but I didn't think it was *that* good.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Story Starters

You gotta love the Obscure Store cause if you're looking for ideas, it always has the best.

Cops find more than 200 rats in man's small house...
Missing man found dressed like a doctor, driving stolen ambulance...

And if you just want the scoop on cattle mutilations, UFOs, gangsters, celebrities, etc. take a gander at the FBI's FOIA reading room.Yes, the F-B-I.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

High Spirits

Curse you woman and your hypnotic charms! "Ghost Whisperer" is getting ratings, really good ratings. The first two episodes averaged around 11 million viewers, higher than any network show on Friday night.You gotta give it to CBS, they were able to dump the struggling "Joan of Arcadia", replace it with a show that caters to the same audience and got even bigger ratings.

Update: TV Pilot

Got a bit of a reprieve the other day, the final deadline for the Slamdance Teleplay contest is now October 21st. Yeah, I could have steamrolled my way through and dropped my entry off at the Post Office yesterday, but I'm happy for an extra couple of days to give everything a proper once over.



Friday, September 30, 2005

The Night Stalker

I've been off the grid the last couple of days (burning the midnight oil for Monday's contest deadline) but I just wanted to type a few words about the "Night Stalker". The fall TV season has been an embarrassment of riches when it comes to sci-fi/supernatural shows, thanks to "Lost" and "Battlestar Galactica". When ABC decided to revive one of the granddaddies of supernatural television and bring in one of the people behind "The X-files" (a show inspired by "NightStalker"), who could have asked for more?

There was some resistance from hardcore fans. They balked at the very thought of their beloved Kolchak being revamped for today's viewers. I'm not one of those people. Yes, I enjoyed the show as a kid but I'm not remake-phobic. Heck, half the fun of the new "Battlestar Galactica" is seeing how they've blended the old with the new. Now my first impulse was to compare it to the old show and/or "The X-files" but after watching the premiere, I had no problem judging the "Night Stalker" on it's own merit.

I once saw a story on "20/20" about a commercial pilot who drank so much that he often blacked out during flights. The premiere of the "Night Stalker" almost drove me to drink. Someone (or something) is attacking women and dragging them off into the night. Carl Kolchak suspects sinister forces are at hand. The same sinister forces that attacked his late wife...or maybe he's just a lunatic who killed his wife then made up stuff about sinister forces. GASP! An FBI agent seems to think so.

The creature's actions have no rhyme or reason. First, it's killing pregnant women, tries to snack on hot female reporter then all of a sudden it kidnaps a little girl and it's up to Kolchak to save her! I've seen episodes of Scooby Doo that made more sense. Perhaps the biggest offense is that no kind of explanation is even attempted. The little girl can't remember what happened and that nasty FBI agent got rid of the physical evidence of a...something that attacks people and um...just a mess.



Sunday, September 25, 2005

White Skin

Last night, I caught this movie purely by accident (missed the first couple of minutes). I thought it was going to be another one of those foreign language relationship dramas, but "White Skin" (aka "La Peau Blanche") goes off in a much different direction. I really liked the deliberate way the story unfolds. No spoilers here. You'll have to see it for yourself (be warned: the imdb entry for the film gives away the twist). A good rental if you're looking for something different.




Saturday, September 24, 2005

Update: Werewolf Spec

I forgot to mention that I pulled a rabbit out of my butt a couple days ago. My final action sequence is back on track, it came as quite a surprise to me (and the rabbit). The solution also created a ripple effect that addresses a couple of nagging bits earlier in the story. So the script and I are on good terms again.

You have to be a little crazy or naive to write a werewolf (or vampire) script because to some it's akin to walking onto the stage of a packed house, holding a sledgehammer and carrying a watermelon. You're thought to have reached into the hack grab bag and removed the biggest, most uncreative box. The genre has been beaten so much into the ground (by bad movies and even worse scripts), it's no wonder that folks give it a weary eye. Hopefully, this script is exception.



Thursday, September 22, 2005

"Lost"

Refusing to buy the first season on DVD was my protest of the crappy season finale. I've had it up to here with polar bears, the others, cursed numbers and mystery websites. There's no way I'm gonna get sucked into another season of answering questions with more questions. They're making it up as they go along, people! The emperor has no clothes! Only a complete idiot would continue to watch this crap!


Great episode, huh?


This season, I'm just going to sit back and enjoy the ride, cause it just doesn't get much better than this.




Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Update: TV Pilot

Starting working on storyline ideas but I've got a decent amount already. I really took Todd McFarlane's DVD comments on monster-of-the-week stories to heart. Yeah, the very nature of the show is supernatural but I didn't want a monster to pop up every week, just to create conflict.

Initially, I dove headfirst into all kinds of phenomena, folklore and mythology then tried to build episodes around them...after a dozen or so, I suddenly felt an urge to raise a clenched fist and shout, "And I would've gotten away with it too, if it weren't for you meddling kids!" That's when I decided to go back to the drawing board.

If there's anything I've learned in this mostly uneventful quest is that character is king, especially when it comes to television. Good stories put characters in places they don't want to be, bringing out the best or worst in them. So when I tried coming up with future storylines, I looked at my characters and everything else fell in place. Now it still might be crap but it's far more interesting crap.




Sunday, September 18, 2005

Thoughts on "Threshold"

Above average cast for a TV show. Kinda reminds me of the "X-Files" meets "C.S.I.". As much I as loved "X-Files", I'm not so sure I want to revisit that territory so quickly. The first hour of the premiere was beaten by "Dateline" and the second hour was beaten by a rerun of "Special Victims Unit". Of course, the spin CBS will put on this is that "Threshold" won in the magical 18-49 demo.

A government geek squad investigating alien contact. It was okay. Didn't really grab me. CBS has a short leash when it comes to sci-fi shows and "Threshold" stumbled out the gate. I wish the show focused more on the characters and not much on the freaky stuff (is William Malpother typecast to always play creepy guys with super strength?). Lots of crazy stuff happens on "The 4400" and "Lost" but the characters come first.

I tend to watch/write stuff that feature the everyman thrown into fantastic/horrific situations so maybe I'm way off base. I do think "Invasion" will probably do better than "Threshold" because it'll be more of a human story (and having "Lost" as its lead-in won't hurt either).

Friday, September 16, 2005

Idea for a script

Can you see the potential?

LONDON (AFP) - A British newspaper said that a Chinese cosmetics company was using skin harvested from the corpses of executed convicts to develop beauty products for sale in Europe...(more)

Update: Zombie Spec

Hallelujah! I came up with an ending (and correctly guessed the spelling of hallelujah). It's still light years away from a presentable draft but now I've got all the parts. Even in this rough state, I think the script meets one of the goals that I set initially: write a less is more story that slowly builds until all hell breakes loose.

Looks like a couple of characters weren't as necessary as I thought. The location of the "last stand" needs some tweaking. If I'm lucky, I should have this vomit draft done in a few days. I'll probably take a break before starting the dreaded rewrite.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Another Night Stalker Review

Like the title says, follow the link:

The Night Stalker






Tuesday, September 13, 2005

"Supernatural" Premiere

I already predicted this show was going to do well for the WB. Even though it was up against the season premiere of "House", I think tonight's ratings will be just fine. I liked the concept, horror is hot right now, the promos were intriguing but when I finally got a taste...

A couple of things bugged me (kind of spoilery, look away if you haven't seen it yet):

It's established that the ghost preys on unfaithful men but when we she encounters someone who is faithful she decides to attack him anyway. Huh?

Why would bullets bother a ghost? Did I miss the part where someone said the bullets were blessed, dipped in holy water or something like that?

Before the woman became a ghost, she drowned her children then took her own life by jumping off a bridge. In her ghostly form, she sucks the life force out of men. She obviously has a connection to water, why not have her drown her victims inside their cars? What became of her victims?

What was the purpose of talking to the widower, other than to provide some exposition to the audience about the nature of the ghost?

Why kill the girlfriend after giving her only a few minutes of screen time? Didn't they do the same exact thing to the Mother?

I'm probably being a little too harsh, it is a pilot after all. Maybe I'll revisit this topic after a more couple episodes.




Monday, September 12, 2005

Series Bibles

Series Bibles

Here's a collection of series bibles that I've come across over the years. I'm sure most of you are familiar with them but just in case..... some are very brief (just an excerpt or summary) while others are quite detailed.

Buck Rogers

UPDATE: February 23, 2010

If you're looking for TV Bibles and Scripts, forget about my dead links. Go here:

TV Writing

Friday, September 09, 2005

Update: Werewolf Spec

Actually made some real headway since last time. I don't think it was the stuff I had planned (comics, movies, etc). I think the problem was my approach. I was too busy trying to think of what would look cool. Instead, I tried coming up with the worst case scenarios for my protagonist. Force him to confront the thing he fears the most. Came up with some good ideas which lead to cool scenes. I'm still thinking about how to make the stakes higher than they already are.

Another thing that needs to be addressed, quite frankly, the screenplay isn't all that scary (lowers head in shame). It's a little too much action and not enough horror.

Hollow Man 2

As a young lad, H.G. Wells' "The Invisible Man" was one of my favorite books. Forget flying, super strength or super speed, I wanted to be invisible. Got bullies? Poof! A dirty room and an angry Mom? Poof! A bunch of cheerleaders chan--you get the idea. I say this all to say, now I have "Hollow Man 2" to look forward to.

According to The Movie Blog, Christian Slater and Peter Facinelli are set to star and this time we'll get dueling invisible men. Probably coming soon to a video store near you.



Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Update: Zombie Spec

Okay, who was I kidding? There's no way in H-E-double hockey sticks this script would be ready for a Sept. 16th contest deadline. It is a vomit draft after all and I've got a lot cleaning up to do. Instead of saying how pleased I am with it, I figured I'd be more specific and vague at the same time. The dialogue is barely there, really rough. I've started smoothing out the edges in a couple spots. My second act is akin to a big bowl of alphabet soup. There are lot of letters floating around, some of them form the occasional word but it's nothing I'd let any sane person read.



Cliches

There was really good entry posted at Scriptwriting and Script Reading in the UK on cliched openings. Nothing wrong with a popular cliche if you know what you're doing, case and point: The teaser in the "Buffy" pilot goes a little something like this: a boy and girl sneak into the high school. They start making out. The girl stops and asks, "Did you just hear something?" He goes, "No." She says, "Good" then procedes to vamp out and bite him. Maybe some of you are rocket scientists and knew what was coming but they got me. Along with a cliche comes the expectation, play your cards right and it can work to your advantage.

Serenity Poster



Nimble little minx isn't she? Here I was, wondering how a cancelled sci-fi show, headed for the big screen, was going to attract an audience. Summer Glau's bad ass pose might strike the fancy of one or two people.



Monday, September 05, 2005

Spawn: The Animated Series

Todd McFarlane says the series will be making a return. I'm not exactly sure how it's going to work since he says it's not a continuation of the HBO series. Keith David is back as the voice of "Spawn". Other voice actors include: Michael Jai White, Mark Hamil, Clancy Brown and Cree Summer. Really looking forward to this.

The Spawn: Ultimate Collection DVD is a pretty cool set. McFarlane loves to talk on the commentary and often has some interesting things to say when it comes to the look of the series, establishing tone and developing storylines. For one, he talks about avoiding monster-of-the-week episodes. Filling the world with endless creatures makes your own special character less unique. This is exactly the sort of thing that hurt "Smallville", all those Kryptonite villains (and giving too many of them the same motivation, revenge).

Watching the complete series on DVD is a lot more satisfying than the weekly piecemeal. If you're interested in coming up with your own comic/toon, TV show idea, it might be worth a look. Here's a link to the teaser trailer:

Spawn

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Update: TV Pilot

Still polishing the teleplay. I'm going with Slamdance over Scriptapaloozatv. I've been working on the concept summary, which prompted me to change the title...several times. I finally settled on something that better captures the spirit of the show...for now. There's nothing like a writing contest to make me slowly unravel.




Thursday, September 01, 2005

Update: Zombie Spec

I haven't updated the progress bar in a while but I'm on the verge of 80%. I still have a way to go but I'm satisfied with the way I was able to put the story together. The International Horror and Sci-Fi screenplay contest (and its September 16th deadline) is tempting. I know can complete the screenplay in time but will it be ready? There's a difference. Either way, it'll motivate me to crank out pages at a faster pace.



Update: Werewolf Spec

A couple of cosmetic changes here and there but honestly, not a whole lot of progress. Basically, I'm stuck on the final action sequence in Act III. I think I'll watch a couple action movies for some inspiration...on second thought, I have some old comic books lying around...that might really do the trick.



Friday, August 26, 2005

Update: TV Pilot

Decisions, decisions. Originally, I was all geared up for Scriptapaloozatv but the Slamdance Teleplay contest caught my eye (or should I say, the $45,000 prize and blind script deal). Both of the contests have good histories. I've submitted to Slamdance in the past and recieved some decent feedback. Scriptapaloozatv does a lot to promote their winners. It's still a crapshoot though.

I have a character that disappears early on and her fate isn't revealed until ACT III, but it seemed get lost among the other things that were happening in the story. I had to fix a couple scenes to hammer home the fact that so and so is missing.

Pilots are hard because you're trying to define the world where the story takes place, the characters, relationships, etc. and wrapping it up in a compelling story.

Update: Fantasy spec outline

Overcame a big hurdle, figured out the love interest. Once I did that, a lot of other things started falling in place. As far as I'm concerned, my rough outline is done. I was going to hold off a couple weeks before starting the script but I'll probably knock off a couple of pages over the weekend.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

She's My Heroine

I decided to watch "Elektra" on ppv yesterday. I heard all the bad word of mouth and bad reviews but bad buzz is still buzz. Plus, I have a spec or two that involve female protagonists so maybe there'd be some lessons to learn.

I got the distinct impression that the marketing people came up with a movie poster then gave it to a bunch of writers and said, 'Here, make a movie about this!' Before the "Elektra" came out, I read a quote from either Director Rob Bowman or Jennifer Garner talking about how the budget was going to be signifcantly smaller than "Daredevil" and as a result, "Elektra" would be more character driven. Maybe there's a ton of character driven material in the upcoming director's cut but it sure as hell wasn't in the theatrical release. Now I'm not about to beat dead horse here, the movie didn't fare well, I'm just wondering out loud why female driven action movies have a hard time at the box office. Here are a couple of theories:

1. Nobody wants to see women kick butt. Small doses are fine but too much of it makes them intimidating and masculine. There have been plenty of butt-kicking women on television ("Buffy", "Xena", "Alias", "La Femme Nikita", etc.) but even their viewing audiences (however loyal) were limited. Sure, "Charlie's Angels" and "Tomb Raider" were successful but their sequels flopped. Society is just not comfortable with women who are entirely self-sufficient. We prefer to see them as damsels in distress or in more "traditional" situations (man trouble, dealing with children, makeovers, etc.)

2. They're not marketed properly. Hollywood spends too much time catering to adolescent boys instead of the female audience. I remember one of the producers of "Catwoman" responding to the criticism of Halle's skimpy costume and high heels (how it would have been a shame to cover up her beautiful body).

3. The stories aren't that good. Period.

4. Women aren't big box-office draws. They need genres with built-in audiences like Thrillers and Horror (damsels in distress). The premise of "werewolves vs. vampires" probably sold "Underworld" more than Kate Beckinsale. It'll be very interesting to see how "Aeon Flux", "Domino" and "Wonderwoman" perform at the box office.

Any other theories?




Monday, August 22, 2005

Spider-man vs. Spider-man

Just finished reading the "Spider-man" script, circa 1985 by Ted Newsom and John Brancato (you can find it on simplyscripts). It's a much different take on the story than the David Koepp version most of us have come to know and love. For one thing, the villain is Doc Ock and not the Green Goblin. Another is the complete absence of Mary Jane. Instead we get Liz Allen as the object of Peter's (and Flash Thompson's) affection. My comic book days are well behind me and I wasn't that big of a Spidey fan to begin with (I was too busy latching on to obscure heroes like "Justice" and "Cloak and Dagger") but I thought I knew his history fairly well. A little bit of Googling filled me in on Peter and Liz's relationship. I still wish I was a fly on the wall to hear the reasoning on why her and not the more well-known Mary Jane Watson.

The plot itself, an insane Doc Ock wants to build a machine that could destroy the world (the universe actually) and it's up to Spider-man to stop him. The screenplay works but it lacks the heart that was present in the Koepp version (and the James Cameron scriptment that's been floating around the net for a couple of years). Sure, the stakes are high, there's a pretty girl (really well written, she has flaws but is also resourceful and smart), a bad guy and the world to save but it's all kind of...meh. If I had to put my finger on it, I'd say that 1985 version was written for Spider-man comic book fans, while the current movies were written for the non-fan.

One of the first things that Peter Parker tells us in the Koepp version is that this is a story about a girl and it never loses sight of that. It also flies directly in the face what most people expect out of a superhero movie. Back to the Newsom and Brancato, they did an excellent job of capturing Spidey's quick wit from the comics. The script is a quick read (light on angst and soap opera love triangles). I doubt the technology was sufficient to do Spider-man justice on the silver screen. No matter how good the script, it would have come off cheesy. Oh, by the way, Spider-man saves the day.



Friday, August 19, 2005

Writing Update: Zombie spec

Big jump, huh? Well sorta. Before this year, my biggest problem was getting the idea from head to paper. I was too wrapped up in perfecting that first draft. Guess what? Your first draft is never going to be perfect, in fact it will probably suck...badly. But it's supposed to be bad. Writing is rewriting.

Some pro writers advocate what's called the vomit draft. Basically, you pour everything, every scene idea, dialogue exchange and plot twist into your screenplay then sort it out later. At first, it seemed like a waste of time because I felt like I was writing scenes just to fill up the page, but after a while I got into a pretty good groove. I started coming up with "trailer moments" then building around them. In the end, the script isn't as random and full of fat as you'd expect but like any early draft, it needs work. So far, the vomit draft method has worked for me and I'm satisfied with the results.

Anyway, back to the script. I haven't totally figured out the ending yet (that could be an entry for another day, people who write endings first). Managed to come up with some effective dark humor and a couple of scares (another future entry). No out of this world set pieces or special effects (one scene does push it though). The hardest thing is keeping my character count low. I like lots of characters but when you're trying to do a low-modest budget script, less is best.



Thursday, August 18, 2005

Project Greenlight's "Feast"

There's a new review posted on aintitcool.com. I read an interview with Matt Damon stating that unless "Feast" makes a profit there won't be another Project Greenlight. It's supposed to be released in late January. Here's the link to the review: Feast Review




Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Outline update: Fantasy spec

I should be further ahead on this but I just haven't come up with an opening that grabs me. Sword and sorcery stuff. It's an idea that I kicked around in my head for a while. Once I get to around eighty-five percent with one of my other scripts, I'm gonna put this bad boy on the front burner.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Script Update: TV pilot

The script itself is done. I just keep tweaking it. I have some character profiles, a synopsis and future eps to write up. Overall, I'm satisfied with the job I've done. It's a much more traditional horror show than the trendy is-it-scifi or isn't-scifi shows like "Lost" and the slew of pilots coming this fall. It's not like I'm expecting it to make a network lineup or anything. It's a nice writing sample. A good showing in a contest might get me a foot in the door...somewhere.

Script Update: Werewolf spec

A couple tweaks here and there but nothing major. I've always wanted to do a werewolf script but the trouble was coming up with an interesting enough story. Inspiration struck and I put together a premise that really works for me. It's tricky though. Sometimes you have an idea, love it a lot then not so much. There are a lot of good things in the script but overall, I don't think the parts are coming together like they should.

There's a twist late in story that gives me pause. It's one of those moments where everything comes together for the audience or they scream, "Oh, come on!" and demand their $8.50 back. Ultimately, you gotta go with your gut and write the damn thing.

I also need to flesh out my supporting characters a bit more.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Making them suffer

There's a really good entry on screenwriterbones about why your character has to suffer. Here's the direct link:

why must there be suffering

Angel: Season 5 on DVD

I readily admit to worshiping at the feet of Whedon but I gotta admit the last season of "Angel" was mostly a mixed bag. I thought the show hit the skids in season 4: Cordelia and Connor doing the nasty, the Cordelia pregnancy and subsequent coma. It never quite recovered from all that. I also don't think it was a coincidence that "Buffy" season 6 also suffered while Joss was busy with "Firefly".

There are some good episodes here and there ("Lineage", "Harm's Way", "The Cautionary Tale of Numero Cinco" and of course "Not Fade Away") but it's mostly...meh. Of course, a so-so episode of "Angel" is still light years ahead of what passes for entertainment on tv. Considering the fact that the WB cut the show's budget, losing Charisma Carpenter and adding James Marsters to the mix, it's amazing how they were able to reinvent the show as they did. The transformation was great, the end result....meh.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Writing update: Zombie spec

Actually got that progress bar to creep up a few ticks. Zombie is a bit misleading since there's only one in the story and she's the protagonist. Horror/Thriller would probably be more appropriate. Originally, I was trying to develop this for one of those B-movie production companies but I have trouble coming up with reasons for people to drop dead every 8-10 minutes. I'm still working on the first draft but I find myself liking it more than I had expected. Really fell into some good ideas a few days ago and now I'm trying to incorporate them into the story. Right now, I feel more confident about entering this screenplay in a genre contest than my werewolf spec, even though I'm further along in that one.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Underworld: Extended Cut vs. Theatrical Release

Not much here, except a prettier package and "extended" footage. By extended, they mean a couple of shots of people walking around doing nothing, some exposition heavy dialogue between Michael and Selene, a scene with the blonde vampire who kinda looks like Julia Stiles, throwing herself at Kraven (btw, what ever happened to good ole fashioned nudity in R-rated films? It's perfectly fine to decapitate someone on screen but heaven forbid you see a boobie) and a genuine kiss between Michael and Selene. My eyes glazed over the rest. The bottom line is that the extra footage was cut for good reason. The "Fang vs. Fiction" documentary aired on cable a couple times ("I'm a real vampire! Look at my fangs!"). The commentary from Scott Speedman, Kate Beckinsale and Len Wiseman is pleasant enough, but not a lot of insight for screenwriting geeks like myself.

I saw an interview with Wiseman and wifey Beckinsale talking about the sequel, "Underworld: Evolution". He promises more action and gore. A little hand to paw combat would be nice. Hopefully, they've done a better job with the werewolves this time around so they don't look like shaved hamsters. We'll see. If I'm not mistaken, it's supposed to be released in December. Nothing like a little Christmas cheer to put me in the mood for a horror movie. Good luck against the Narnia crowd.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Mother of the Matrix

I love a good conspiracy theory and this one has being floating around the net for a while now. Sophia Stewart is a sci-fi writer who claims that she is responsible for "The Matrix". The Wachowski brothers and Time Warner/AOL have conspired to keep the truth from the masses and the profits from her coffers. According to Ms. Stewart, "The Matrix" is based on her comic book script, "The Third Eye", which she mailed to the Wachowski brothers (or someone high up the Hollywood ladder) many years ago. I'm leaving out the wacky details so here's a link to an article about a recent court ruling regarding her lawsuit:

http://www.latimes.com/features/printedition/magazine/la-tm-mothermatrix31jul31,1,6817238.story

Anyway, I say this all to say, this is part of the reason why it's so hard to get anyone to read our material. Everyone thinks their ideas are unique. A couple months back, I read about some guy suing the Wayans brothers because he claimed to have written "White Chicks" (who would want to admit to that). Stuff like this happens all the time. Every idea has been done already, a thousand times over. Any teenager can plot your basic action flick. Most of us know the 36 dramatic situations without ever studying them. I think the biggest downfall of most newbie scripts is that they regurgitate the plots of existing movies. Ideas and concepts don't make a story unique. It all comes down to execution, how the story unfolds. Most newbie writers ignore all this, if a movie is similar to their screenplay, those bastards MUST have stolen it!






Thursday, August 04, 2005

"The Inside" Out

Originally, this was supposed to be the new "21 Jumpstreet". When Tim Minear took over, it became the new "Silence of the Lambs". Kept the same lead actress, Rachel Nichols, which probably was a mistake. I mean, yeah, she's got the hot-model-turned-actress thing going for her but seemed in over her head in this dark and occasionally gruesome drama. The rest of the cast was okay, I thought Peter Coyote was the only stand out. It's one of those shows that might have been a hit ten or fifteen years ago. Audiences have seen this sort of thing for a while now so there aren't a ton of surprises. Fox axed it not too long ago. Depending on what kind of goodies are on the DVD, I might consider picking it up.

There's a good interview with Tim Minear in iFMagazine.com. Here's the link:

iFMagazine

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Oh, the horror!

For vampires, it's sunlight. Silver bullets for werewolves, unsold screenwriters? One word, "remake". Over the last couple of years, a thought process in Hollywood has become increasingly popular and it goes something like this: if a movie, tv show, comic book, etc. from the past was a big hit or even somewhat successful, it can be modernized and adapted for the big screen. Twentieth Century Fox is busy putting together a new version of the "Omen" for a June 6, 2006 release. Get it? 6-06-06? 666? Muhaha. They're in the process of looking for a spooky little boy to cast as Damien.
I'm not gonna say this is a terrible idea and the movie will bomb because it might work. "Blade" was an obscure comicbook character from the seventies, languishing in the back of the file cabinet at Marvel Comics before it was transformed into a movie trilogy that grossed hundreds of millions worldwide; but lately the gamble doesn't seem to be paying off. Movie audiences aren't filling the seats as much as they used to, and the grumbling about the quality of today's films seems to be getting louder.
In all fairness, for all the rehashed crap we see on screen, there's tons of unsolicited, original and stinkier crap sitting in the mail rooms of literary agencies and production companies. Most unsold screenwriters are like bad American Idol contestants. We have absolutely no idea how terrible our stuff is. If I got invited to the cool table and had some of my scripts produced, you'd probably think they were crap. But I would be at the cool table and wouldn't care.

Sunday, July 31, 2005

"(insert crisis here) on a plane"

What's with all these upcoming thriller/horror flicks set on an airplane? We've got Wes Craven's soon to be released "Red Eye", Jodie Foster in "Flight Plan", Samuel Jackson and Ben McKenzie trapped on a plane with venomous snakes in "Pacific Air 121" and there's a zombie flick, "Flight of the Dead". What gives? Maybe Hollywood is trying to tap into our post 9/11 fears about flying?

"The Forgotten"


Just caught this on STARZ! last night. Probably would have worked better as an "Outer Limits" or "Twilight Zone" episode. Julianne Moore was great though. She brought a certain level of credibility to Telly, but lots of chases and a really cool special effect, does not make a great movie. I guess my problem with "The Forgotten" is that very early on, it's pretty clear who is behind the conspiracy so all that's left is to stick around to find out why. The answer isn't very satisfying (I haven't seen the alternate ending on the DVD). Still, it's interesting how they were able to take a fear that runs through every parent's mind and create a mostly successful thriller out of it. Apparently, they're doing it again in "Flight Plan". Speaking of which....

"Bloodsuckers" on SCIFI

It's pretty easy to dismiss this kind of flick, but it has an audience and somebody got a check for writing it. I'm a sucker (pun intended) for a good b-movie and it was obviously "inspired" by a lot of sci-fi classics. While "Bloodsuckers" isn't on the level of my favorite space vampire flick, "Lifeforce", it gets a couple of cool points for throwing in Michael Ironside as a vampire baddie. There's definately an art to churning out these movies and it's as good as anyplace to get a foot into the business. My problem is that can't whip up scripts quickly (I am getting better at it though) because I tend to overthink my ideas.

"Point Pleasant" coming to DVD


If only this show were as cool as the box. Whoa, did it ever underwhelm. "Point Pleasant" seemed like a dynamite idea on paper, a hot chick washes up on the shore of a small town and spooky things happen. Turns out that the hot chick is actually Satan's daughter! And get this, her name is Christina! She's got Jesus' other name! With "Buffy" producer Marti Noxon behind the scenes, you'd expect it to rock, right?Wrong. You see, Satan's daughter is trying to fight the evil and be good. Whaaa? I'm not a huge fan of mustache-twirling villains in black but it really would have worked here. Imagine Christina as the anti-"Joan of Arcadia", just running around wreaking havoc in said small town. Instead we the get the cliche of the whoa-is-me-I-have-superpowers character. I get enough of that on "Smallville". To be fair, Christina probably succumbs to her dark side, the show just didn't stick around long enough for that to happen. All thirteen (unlucky) episdoes will be available on DVD around Halloween (zoinks).

Thursday, July 28, 2005

ABC's "Nightstalker" series

There's a review for the new "Nightstalker" series posted on the futoncritic.com. I'm not sure what to expect with this modern take on Karl Kolchak. It's got great eye candy in Gabrielle Union and Stuart Townsend, plus "X-Files" executive producer Frank Spotnitz. Growing up, "The Nightstalker" was one of my favorites. It's hard to believe those cheesy monsters used to scare the bejesus out of me like they did. I hope Sponitz is able to capture the spirit of the original show and not have it come off as a bad "X-Files" clone. You have to wonder how much faith ABC has in the show when they're putting it on Thursday nights against the juggernaut known as "C.S.I." on CBS. Their other paranormal show, "Invasion", gets Wednesdays at 10pm, right after the new 9pm timeslot for "Lost". Anyway, here's the link to the review:

http://www.thefutoncritic.com/cgi/rant.cgi?id=20050719

Edited on 10/13/05:

Click the link to read my review of the pilot.

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