on strong women characters

strong_womanGiven the positive response to the female characters in Faeries, I’ve been giving some thought to the issue of writing strong women characters. As a man, I’m often told that it’s not possible for me to do so.

It is true that Lacey, the young girl in Rocket Summer, is probably the least complex character in the script (and that has been pointed out by some readers). But it’s also true that she is the glue for that group of dysfunctional friends… a caretaker, a realist, and a “person of interest” for a pair of boys with very fucked up home lives, one of whom lost his mother at a young age.

Unfortunately, to some, that makes her “stereotypical”… a character whose only job it is to fulfill the traditional “female” roles of mother, lover, nurturer. Me, I take exception to the word “only”. It’s important stuff. And she’s conflicted about it in the process, and seems to be setting aside some of her own desires to take on that role. For me, that’s a strong, flawed, and thus interesting female character.

Some people are never satisfied. Continue reading on strong women characters

grampa: prodco request

grampa was a superhero movie posterYup, it’s true.

We’ve already got one script being considered by a reputable production company. Now we”ve got two irons in the fire.

Grampa Was A Superhero is being looked at by a production company in the Midwest… East… Southeast… Hell, I don’t know. Where’s Tennessee?

Anyway, the producer has a string of recognizable titles with a string of recognizable talents and a string of partnerships with a bushel of recognizable networks and… well, you get the idea.

Interestingly, this inquiry came to us mere hours after tweaking the logline and synopsis ever so slightly on InkTip. Correlation is not causation, but it makes one wonder. Hmmm. (That’s me, wondering.)

All the same caveats apply here as they do for the Faeries connection. No chicken counting prior to hatching. Likely as not nothing comes of it. But it’s the momentum that counts… nothing makes you more confident than knowing someone thought enough of your logline or synopsis to say “Sure, I’ll read that.”

Well, maybe a check.

But other than that, nothing.

I’m highly confident that one day soon we’ll look back at our naive excitement here and think “Ah, yes, those were the days, when a mere considerate nod from a mid-size prodco would make us swoon!”

But until then, I’ll take my jollies where I can, and savor the slightest attention.

Everyone who cares at all about us, cross your fingers. And tell a friend.

And join us on Facebook! Faeries page, Grampa page, Rocket Summer page.

Faeries: prodco request

faeries-posterA minor new development in the ongoing story of our feature horror script “Faeries“.

Thanks to a lead from InkTip, the logline and synopsis were submitted to a Canadian production company with some solid success in the creature feature genre. They’ve asked to read the script, which in our book is a success. Obviously no decision has been made (we’ll post when we have a reply) but here’s why it’s already a success:

Previously on InkTip, we had posted our other feature script “Grampa Was A Superhero“. The script has been available through the site for nearly a year, and the logline has been reviewed over a hundred times. More than 10 percent of those viewers have clicked on through to the synopsis (a conversion rate we sense is good, but plan on talking with InkTip to learn more). Of those, one prodco (Ice Cube’s “Cube Vision Productions” of Are We There Yet fame) has viewed the entire script but apparently chosen to pass. So it’s still available, if you’re looking for a fun family comedy road movie (Home Alone meets Wild Hogs).

Similarly, Rocket Summer has had some success, being optioned for a total of two years (it’s now available again if anybody needs a great coming-of-age story in the vein of Stand By Me, October Sky and Breaking Away). But its conversion rate on InkTip was poor.

We see the request for Faeries as a success not because we expect a sale or option to come out of it (that would be great though – written in 125 hours, optioned within a month of completion… great ROI) but because it shows that this logline and synopsis are working for us better than those for the other scripts. Sure, it could mean a lot of other things too, like Faeries is simply a more commercial, genre specific project (true) with a simpler hook and more straightforward storyline (also true). But we’re definitely motivated to refine the synopses and loglines for the other scripts in short order, as we’re learning more and more every day.

john august on 'making of'

John August was interviewed on Making Of, where he talks about adaptations and choosing projects.

“My favorite genre of movies are movies that get made.”

Something you and I have in common, JA. 🙂

Full interview here.

New horror project: "faeries"

faeries-poster

Well, that’s it! We spent a couple more hours beefing up some scenes, fixing some final typos, and tweaking the formatting in Final Draft to bring us in at a perfect 100 pages.

As always, we’ll continually refine the text… we’d like to keep looking closely at the dialogue and left margin, to assure we’ve got just the right verb here, just the perfect turn of phrase there… but it’s braces on a pretty smile… tiny incremental adjustments.

So we can officially release the logline and synopsis… we’ve given the script its own page here, and we’ve created a Facebook page for it as well.

Thanks to our readers for all the great feedback and encouragement. Now we’re off to find some good horror screenplay competitions, get it in front of a few good people in Hollywood, and find a producer who wants a fun, classic horror story with a unique twist — The Descent meets The Birds.

Total man hours: 115 (chip) + 105 (sean) = 220

As Sean and I worked side by side most of the time, total linear clock hours: 125

Total calendar time (since we couldn’t get together as often or for as long as we’d have liked): 11 weeks

To see the blogs that chronicled “the writing of”, click here.

New horror project: the polish

We’ve spent the past few days polishing the script… folded in much (but not all) of the feedback we got, fixed the typos, found some new words that sounded more better.

Still very pleased with the first draft, the structure overall. The polishing is putting that final sheen on it, but it really isn’t getting what I’d call a “second draft”. Don’t think it needed it. Is that hubris? Could be… time will tell. It is after all a genre movie, and it was pretty carefully outlined as such before we set to writing, so we had a clear structural target from the get-go.

Important changes: Continue reading New horror project: the polish

New horror project: more feedback

Well, it’s been a while since this series has been updated. We’ve had a series of illnesses, a wake to attend, a short road trip (to attend said wake and then to forget about said wake), some storyboards for a music video to get done, and on and on.

But now we’re back at it.

We did hear from the InkTip lead that was looking for just this kind of script: It was a no-go. I suspect that it was largely a budgetary concern… they wanted to make a movie for under a million dollars but our script has heavy CGI, a house that burns down, another building that blows up, and lots of gunfire. Chances are the synopsis alone told them they couldn’t afford it. Just as well… I think the script deserves more lovin’ than that.

We did get feedback from two more readers (here’s the first set of feedback). Reader C called for a little more back story and a little more humor, but overall:

Great job … I think it is ready to rock.

Reader D was very positive:

GOOD FUN! I would really like to see the movie. Excellent gore levels. I particularly enjoyed the character depth and the complex relationships… Thank you for having strong female characters that are actually friends and not having it become a big jealous catfight over a guy. That is so tired. Overall, it was awesome and fun. I’m impressed.

So the feedback overall is solid. Both readers suggested a small amount of additional back story to help explain the Crazy Old Lady’s history with her missing father, as well as some small clarification on the two female leads relationship… this is similar to what we heard before.

We’re folding in many of the minor suggestions people have given us, and expect to have it ready for primetime within a week.

Thanks for following along!

Boxing Helena

Finally just watched this film, as I’m working on a script that (I was told) might bear some resemblance to it (not this one).

I’m happy to say that it doesn’t.

What a terrible film, in so many ways. I don’t like to go on and on, but just truly dreadful writing, the performances are ham-fisted (but perhaps only because the players had so little to work with), the editing is clumsy.

A representative example: The guy is obsessed with the girl. He is excruciatingly boring to her. The girl has left her address book at the guy’s house. The guy is driving her to his house so she can retrieve the book. The two pull into the driveway. We must show that the drive has been miserable for the girl, and heaven for the guy. So the guy says:

Here we are at the house, Helena. I’m so glad I got to tell you that story… in such depth and detail. I’m really sorry, Helena. We’ll find your book.

Really. He really says that. Oh my God.*

There is simply no trust that the audience will give enough of a shit to even remember from moment to moment what is going on in the story, or who these people even are. So her name (Helena) is repeated every few seconds; we are told that we are arriving at the house (even though we are seeing a shot of them pulling up to the house); rather than hear the tail end of the story and trust her expression, he exposes to us that he told a long story (and in excruciating detail); and then they remind us why we’re at the house at all (to find the book). It’s a fucking radio play for alzheimer’s patients.

It is a good example, I suppose, of what was probably a terrific idea on paper (and a terrific logline – “An obsessed surgeon kidnaps the woman of his dreams, removes her arms and legs, and makes her his prize possession”), and could have been a terrifically twisted film, but clearly needed a rewrite. Someone needed to say “Hey, this has promise. The story’s all there. Let’s get someone in to polish the dialogue so the characters don’t play like shallow schoolchildren and then let’s make us a movie!”

But alas.

Oh well. Now I’ve checked it off my to-do list.**

*Yes. Verbatim. Can you believe it?
**Late I know. The film’s been out a long time, and already been universally panned. This isn’t news. It’s just news to me.

greatest screenplay ever not made

According to ScriptShadow, [one of] the best scripts ever written but never made is “Harrow Alley“, written by Walter Brown Newman in the 1960’s.

This is it folks. This is the one. Considered to be the best script that’s never been made in Hollywood. It was written in the 60s and has been optioned dozens of times. Yet because of its dreary subject matter and…aggressive length, it never made it in front of the camera. I’ve personally spoken to a couple of people who call this the best script they’ve ever read.

Harrow Alley takes place in England around the 17th century, or whenever the hell the Bubonic Plague was wreaking havoc. Although there are dozens of characters in the script, the two we focus on the most are Ratsey, a common thief who’s been sentenced to death, and Harry, an alderman for a town in London called Harrow Alley.

Follow the link to read more about it, and to find the download link.

Let me know what you think.

New horror project: feedback

Well, we’ve gotten feedback from two of our first-draft readers so far.

It was great!! Wow. You guys really put some work into this piece and it shows. Excellent job on many levels … I was intrigued, involved and enjoyed the ride. Felt like a mash-up between Gremlins and The Descent. I don’t think you’ll have any problems getting the right people behind this script!

Of course I lead with the most positive points, and leave out the dumb things he said like “make it better” and whatnot. 🙂 Seriously, he gave us some great feedback, pointed out the weak spots, gave us direction for the second draft but overall, the review was pretty positive.

Then came:

I think it’s a great first draft. No real notes on structure, some scenes need to be a little more kinetic though.

Somewhat more reserved, as you can see. This reader is an asshole, obviously, and doesn’t realize just how groundbreaking this script is. Continue reading New horror project: feedback