Friday, December 30, 2011

Underworld: Endless War


Thought I posted this already...

I was always a big advocate of taking the Underworld universe into the realm of animation, so I was excited to see a clip of the animated short included as an extra on the upcoming DVD boxset. Apparently, it's a prequel to Underworld: Awakening and explains what happened to Michael -- you might have noticed that he isn't in the trailer. Can't say that I'm a huge fan of the artwork. Reminds me of Van Helsing: The London Assignment.



At one point, I seriously toyed with the idea of creating concept art for my werewolf script and putting it on youtube. Nothing fancy, just a simple slideshow set to music. Maybe I'll revisit the concept in 2012.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

17th Precinct


17th Precinct is was a police procedural set in a world governed by magic and intuition. Science and reason? Ha! Created by Battlestar Galactica's (SYFY) Ron Moore, it didn't make the cut for NBC's 2011-2012 season, but you can check out the pilot below...

17th Precinct from ddt73 on Vimeo.

UPDATE: Well, that didn't last very long. I'm sure it's floating around the net somewhere... *cough*youtube*cough*

A little clunky, which is the case with most pilots, but certainly watchable -- perhaps a little too fantastical for casual viewers. I don't think they'd be willing to invest the time to learn the rules of an alternate and magical reality. The cast had good chemistry. Battlestar vets like Tricia Helfer, Jamie Bamber and James Callis probably helped with that. I enjoyed the way things came together at the end. Two opposing beliefs on a collision course: head vs. heart.

Overall, 17th Precinct seems better suited as a mini-series than an episodic drama. Still, it was nice to see someone try something off the beaten path.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Pre-New Year!


It's never too early to start thinking about New Year's resolutions. I have two simple screenwriting-related goals for 2012: read and write more. Back in the day, I used to read anything I could get my hands on. But after a while, I started to focus more on screenwriting articles rather than actual screenplays. I'd peruse a script here and there, but it was no longer a priority. Guess I thought I had passed that stage. Silly me.

Meaningless contest placements and read requests aside, the shimmering Golden Apple is not yet within the reach of my scrawny fingers. My writing still has a long ways to go. I learned a great deal from reading produced scripts. I reckon they have a few more lessons to teach.

Recently, I came across a script goldmine, the BBC Writersroom. A few feature scripts, but primarily teleplays. You can find teleplays for shows like Being Human, The Fades, Luther and Doctor Who.

Enjoy!

Friday, December 16, 2011

It Was All A Dream

Remember the production company that requested my script a few months back? Well, I finally sent out the dreaded follow-up email. And what was their response?



Guess I'll take that as a pass... but don't cry for me, Argentina. I received another request two weeks ago from a low budget producer. We'll see how that pans out...

Overall, if I were to grade my 2011 Script Marketing Campaign, I'd give it a C. I don't have any regrets about entering only one screenwriting contest (Nicholl). The money was better served finding contacts on imdbpro. Okay, the majority of those contacts resulted in a cricket symphony, but a few were receptive to queries, so that counts as a positive.

A stronger logline probably could have gotten me a few more reads. However, I have to be a little honest here and admit the story doesn't get a lot of points for originality. I've always suspected this was its Achilles heel in the bigger screenwriting contests like Austin and Nicholl. I might have overestimated my ability to elevate a mundane story and/or underestimated the sheer number of werewolf scripts out there. A little cockiness on my part.

So what's next? Finish up the supernatural thriller -- this one's got originality coming out the wazoo. Polish it for Nicholl. Start querying again in mid-January. Write. Write some more. Repeat. Rinse.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Horror on the 2011 Black List

You can download the complete list here: http://blcklst.com/lists/2011_black_list.pdf

Nice to see a couple of scripts on The Blood List making an appearance:

Maggie
by John Scott

As a “walking dead” virus spreads across the country, a farm family helps their eldest daughter come to terms with her infection as she slowly becomes a flesh-eating zombie.

Bethlehem
by Larry Brenner

A group of people struggling to survive a zombie apocalypse make an alliance with a vampire, trading themselves as food in exchange for protection since zombies don’t eat vampire.

Subject Zero
by Dave Cohen

A Frankenstein-like tale of a scientist who develops a powerful new drug that brings his son back to life after he dies in a terrible car accident. Unfortunately, the desperate experiment of a loving father leads to the creation of a flesh-eating zombie epidemic with horrific consequences.

That sounds much better than the logline that was on the Blood List:

It's a love story on par with Romeo & Juliet. It's a father and son movie. It's a tragedy. It's a monster movie tipping it's hat to Frankenstein and most importantly it's an origin story explaining the birth of a viral scourge.


In The Event of a Moon Disaster
by Mike Jones

An alternate telling of the historic APOLLO 11 mission to land on the moon that examines what might have happened if the astronauts had crash landed there.


A few more caught my eye:

HIDDEN

by Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer
An elevated horror-thriller about a family hiding in a bomb shelter after escaping a mysterious outbreak.

Buried in a bomb shelter?


GRIM NIGHT
by Allen Bey, Brandon Bestenheider

A family has to defend themselves from the Grims, strange creatures who attack Earth and kill thousands one night every year.



This one (supposedly) generated a lot of buzz because of the homemade trailer that went along with the script. If it was good enough to make The Black List, I don't think the trailer was that big of a factor. Nice story though.

GASLIGHT
by Ian Fried

Secretly imprisoned in a London insane asylum, the infamous Jack the Ripper helps Scotland Yard investigators solve a series of grisly murders whose victims all share one thing in common: dual puncture wounds to the neck.

I like the sound of this one. Seriously. Silence of the Lambs meets Dracula. Not the most original concept on the list, but probably the easiest to visualize. I'll bet it's a fun read.

Lots of clever ideas here.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ganja & Hess


I meant to post this before it aired last Friday on Turner Classic Movies -- totally fell asleep. At first glance, Ganja & Hess appears to be a run-of-the-mill blaxploitation horror flick, but it has much more in common with films like The Hunger and Thirst. Made for $350,000, it was initially conceived in an attempt to cash in on the success of Blacula. However, writer/director Bill Gunn had other ideas...

Night of the Living Dead's Duane Jones stars as Dr. Hess Green, an anthropologist studying an ancient African civilization known as the Myrthia. Hess' wackjob unstable assistant George (Bill Gunn) stabs him to death with a sacrificial dagger, but he soon awakens unscathed and now immortal. The only drawback being an insatiable thirst for blood -- I hate when that happens. When George's estranged wife Ganja (Marlene Clark) shows up, sparks fly, and she soon becomes Mrs. Bloodsucker.


This is usually the part where I embed the trailer, but I have yet to find one. The random clips on youtube aren't especially helpful. I've never seen a film with so many alternate titles: Blood Couple, Double Possession, Black Vampire, Black Evil, Blackout: The Moment of Terror, and Vampires of Harlem.

Ganja & Hess is an artsy film that uses vampirism as metaphor for addiction. No fangs, aversion to sunlight, changing into bats, coffins, running away from crosses, etc. -- which is probably one of the reasons it was never a commercial success. Gunn does some unusual stuff with the storytelling, like presenting a key piece of exposition as a Gospel song. Still, it's a fascinating and peculiar story about a really, really dysfunctional couple. If you're interested in something off the beaten path, look no further...

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Grimm vs. Once Upon a Time


I still plan to post some thoughts on the new crop of genre shows (hopefully while they're still on the air), but I thought it'd be fun to compare two series that draw heavily from the same source material. You don't need a magic mirror to see that fairy tale properties have become extremely popular. Red Riding Hood and Beastly were released earlier this year (more on them in a future post), we just got a look at not one, but two trailers for upcoming Snow White films, and a picture from the forthcoming Hansel and Gretel: Witchhunters was just released. There are probably a slew of other projects in development as well. It was only a matter of time before Fairy Tale Fever would show up on the small screen. ABC's Once Upon a Time comes from Lost writers, Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis, while Angel/Buffy vet David Greenwalt is one of the minds behind NBC's Grimm.



Nick Burkhardt (David Guintoli) is a Portand cop who discovers that he comes from a long line of monster hunters called Grimms. It's his job to stop the bad ones.



The residents of present-day Storybrooke, Maine are actually our favorite fairytale characters, but they have no memory of their former lives -- the result of a curse from the Evil Queen (Lana Parrilla). Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison), a bounty hunter/bail bondswoman who grew up outside of Storybrooke, is really the long lost daughter of Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming (Joshua Dallas). It's her destiny to rescue the townsfolk and lead the final battle against the Evil Mayor, who looks a lot like the Evil Queen. Now this is all according to Henry, a ten year old with an incredibly active imagination. Henry also happens to be the child that Emma put up for adoption ten years ago. Emma shows up in to Storybrooke to return runaway Henry to his adoptive mother Regina, who just happens to be the Evil Mayor. Hijinks ensue...

CONCEPTS:

Basically, we're talking about a soap vs. procedural. Both have their respective strengths and weaknesses. OUAT hit the ground running with well-defined characters and a clear goal. I like the flashbacks to the fairy tale land -- a touch of Lost? A show with magic, true love, and fairy tales has the potential for broad appeal. Averaging million viewers, it's one of the rare hits of the 2011 Fall season with an average of 11.6 million viewers. However, soaps need an especially steady hand. They can easily spiral out of control with wildly inconsistent characters and goofy plot twists (see Heroes and Desperate Housewives).

While it has a clever premise and generates a few tense moments per episode, Grimm seems to be coasting off the novelty factor and delivering very little in terms of character development. Sure, it's cool to try and guess what monster-of-the-week will be featured, but take away the gimmick and all you have is a very ordinary (at best) cop show that relies on coincidence rather than actual detective work. UPN's Special Unit 2 did it better in 2001.

Given all that, I'm surprised at its healthy Friday night ratings. Stomping on vet genre shows like Fringe (3.4 million) and Supernatural (1.7 million) with an average of 5.79 million viewers. I guess it just goes to show how much viewers love procedurals, except when Maria Bello is the lead (for the record, I happen to like Prime Suspect. I'm ticked it didn't catch on). With the recent full season order and a tryout at the 10pm, Thursday slot, NBC obviously thinks they have a show with potential. We'll see...

Advantage: Once Upon A Time


PROTAGONISTS: Emma vs. Nick

I thought the blind date in the pilot was a cute way to introduce Ms. Swan to viewers. Smart. Resourceful, but somewhat directionless and unlucky at love. She sticks around Storybrooke for Henry's sake. A little too spunky a times? Yeah. But she's a character with a personality and motivations I can understand. She's pretty effective as the audience surrogate.

Am I the only who gets Dylan Dog: Dead of Night flashbacks when watching Detective Burkhardt in action? Except Dylan was more fleshed out than this guy, which is kinda hard to believe. A cop chasing criminals who are actually monsters and only he can see their true form. That's all there is to him. Oh, he has a cute and equally bland girlfriend. I'll be shocked if she lasts the season -- probably turns out to be evil or gets offed of by the big bad.

Advantage: Once Upon a Time


ANTAGONISTS: Evil Queen vs. Captain Renard

No contest. Advantage goes to the hot, Evil Queen. Probably the most compelling character on either show. Your protagonist is useless without a great antagonist. Parrilla shows just the right amount of Regina/Queen's vulnerability so the character doesn't come off as cartoony. She's definitely got some control issues going on, especially with Henry. BTW, did I mention she was hot? Captain Renard is plotting something on Grimm... or he might be constipated. Hard to tell. You can only do so much with what's on the page. I guess you could make the argument that Renard is more like Mr. Gold/Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle) as a puppet master, slowly moving towards his endgame.


KEY ALLIES: Monroe vs. Henry

Monroe is easily the best part of Grimm. He's hilarious in small doses as Nick's reluctant werewolf Blutbad sidekick, but too much of him might ruin things. Henry teeters dangerously between adorable kid and overbearing brat.

Advantage: Grimm


CONCLUSION:

I usually post a knee-jerk reaction after watching a pilot, but I took my time and formed an opinion after several episodes. Even though I enjoy both shows, my opinion of Grimm went down, while Once Upon a Time slowly won me over. It is good to see successful genre shows on television -- I keep getting an itch to write one of my own. It'll be interesting to see where they stand a year from now. Right now, Once Upon a Time has won this battle.

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