Monday, January 28, 2013

The Following

FOX was Fringeless last Friday -- gonna take a while to get used that -- so I took the opportunity to check out the encore premiere of The Following. Aside from Silence of the Lambs, Se7en, Scream, and Luther on the BBC, I’ve never been especially interested in shows/films dealing with serial killers. The deal-breaker for me is that too many of them focus on being gruesome rather than suspenseful. I don’t mind gore, as long as it goes hand in hand with good storytelling. The Following’s promos seemed interesting enough, and the involvement of Kevin Bacon and Kevin Williamson were a definite plus to get me on board.

A brilliant and charismatic, yet psychotic serial killer communicates with other active serial killers and activates a cult of believers following his every command. 

A couple of well-worn tropes are front and center: the burnt out (ex) FBI agent (Kevin Bacon) who got way too close to his quarry, the brilliant professor-turned-serial killer (James Purefoy), his obsession with a Edgar Allan Poe, the love triangle, a paternity question -- I’m probably missing a few, but you get the idea. Bacon helps. A lot.

Maybe there’s more to come, but I don’t think the pilot illustrated how social media helps these twisted followers come together. Nobody wants to watch people pointing and clicking for 45 minutes, but viewers should get a sense of how they communicate. Note to self: start working on a Techno-thriller.

The other thing that caught my attention: the Hero’s Journey stuff. Joe Carroll (Purefoy) fancies himself an author, and Ryan Hardy (Bacon) is his protagonist. He actually explains to Hardy that a killing was necessary so he would have a call to action. I’m curious to see how much The Following adheres to the stages of Joseph Campbell’s monomyth.

The ratings were pretty solid, around 10 million viewers, so there’s a pretty good chance we’ll get to see all 14 episodes.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Contest Alert: NBC Drama Challenge

NBC is honored to partner with the annual New York Television Festival to discover inspiring, fresh writers. From the network that brings you hit shows like REVOLUTION and GRIMM we are looking for our next big, splashy drama. Here at NBC, no topic or genre is off limits. What excites us most are passionate ideas and strong, bold characters with specific points of view. We are offering a $25,000 prize along with the chance that we may develop your winning script and/or engage you to write additional ideas.

What do I need to submit?

    Produced Pilot Scene (not to exceed 10 minutes in length)
    Pilot Script (1-2 Acts, not to exceed 40 pages in length)
    Series overview (not to exceed 2 pages in length)
    Signed Entry Packet

Click here for details.

I'm currently up to my elbows with my 2013 Nicholl Fellowship entry, but a free contest with a $25,000 prize is mighty tempting. Really wish I had heard about it in November. I have a pilot idea on the back burner, but I doubt it would be ready for the March 15th deadline. The last thing I need right now is distraction. Great opportunity though...

Sunday, January 13, 2013

#goodreads - Prometheus

I’m really late to the party with this one... A few months ago, Hitfix posted links to some early drafts of Prometheus. One from Jon Spaihts (back when it was called Alien Engineers) and a subsequent version from fanboy favorite Damon Lindelof. Haven’t read them yet, but hopefully the links aren’t dead. While many critics and fans felt the film was somewhere between big disappointment and awful, there were a scant few of us in the “liked it” camp.

Maybe it’s my geeky weakness for sci-fi stories about space exploration and beings from other worlds -- I dug John Carter as well -- that made me looked past the *many* nitpicky gaps in logic. Your favorite film has dumb character moments and convenient coincidences. They all do. When a story works for us emotionally, we overlook the flaws. I can’t even begin to explain why I liked Lockout. *hangs head in shame*

Honestly, who could resist a face like that?

As much as some people complained, things could have been worse. Ridley Scott said in an interview that at one point in the story, it would have been revealed that Jesus was an Engineer. His death is what caused them to turn on mankind -- even I would have bailed on that lame plot point.

Don't the Engineers look like Powder on steroids?

The influence of Erich von Däniken’s book, Chariots of the Gods?, is pretty hard to miss here. Technologically advanced race from another world, tinkers with the puny humans. Prometheus probably connects more with fans of Ancient Aliens than moviegoers looking for Round Two of Ripley vs. The Xenomorph Queen. There was a little too much teasing of it being (or not being) a direct prequel to Alien. The final scene felt tacked on just to appease fans.

I absolutely adore the first two Alien films, but I wasn’t clamoring for someone to solve the mystery of the Space Jockey. Some questions are better left unanswered. Not to mention the futility of trying to catch lightning in a decades old bottle. And while it made good money at the box office, I’m not sure if we’ll ever get a sequel. Lindelof recently announced that he wasn’t going to be involved in writing a sequel. Maybe in another 20-30 years, someone will try to tackle the franchise again.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Mama Trailer & Original Short

Here’s the really short film by Andrés Muschietti that attracted Guillermo Del Toro to executive produce the upcoming feature length version. I can’t believe two minutes is all it took to get the attention of a big-time director/producer. Short films, especially on the web, seem to be an effective calling card these days...

Talk about a bad hair day. Wonder how much it cost to produce. And now the trailer...

Although feral children and a ghostly creature certainly sounds like a winning formula, I don’t see a lot beyond the typical jump scares. When Del Toro puts his producer hat on, he goes for out-of-the-box genre stories like Julia’s Eyes and The Orphanage, so I’ll reserve judgement.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

A New Year

First post of the new year ...and it only took me five days! Up this point, I had completely forgotten about my 2012 screenwriting resolutions, so it was quite the surprise to discover that I had met most of them. I didn’t finish the screenplay in 21 days, but I managed to read and write more often. Sorely lacking in specificity, but I’ll take those tiny victories where I can find them.

And while contests and querying didn’t get me anywhere in 2013, there’s nothing like the whiff of a new script to make you believe things will be different this time around. I started it last January, but things only started to come together in the last few months. I stayed away from ghosts, zombies, vampires, and werewolves with this one. The story is a big shout-out to those classic Twilight Zone episodes. I’m really anxious to see how it fares in contests.

My other writing resolution deals with this blog. No more two week gaps between posts.


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