Faeries makes semi-finals at Shriekfest

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Our horror script “Faeries” has made the semi-finals in the Shriekfest Horror and Sci Fi Film Festival screenplay competition.

Chip and Sean,
Your screenplay has been selected as a semi-finalist in the 2009 Shriekfest Screenplay competition.  Congratulations on making it this far.  The judges are currently in the process of selecting the finalists for the festival.  We will be contacting everyone sometime this coming week.  Thank you for your patience.

Don’t know if we get laurels for it, but I’ll take it anyway. Not bad for a script we wrote in 6 weeks, huh?

And let’s not forget that Faeries is also under consideration by a prodco in Vancouver

Everybody cross your fingers for the finals… it’s a solid script and deserves some more lovin’.

[CLICK FOR UPDATE…]

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.

New horror project: "faeries"

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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!

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

New horror project: day twenty-one writing

And… scene!

Spent a few hours today tightening up some loose ends on the first draft.

Gave the dog some more face time.

Figured out how we could keep the spray can of bear piss, have it still be relevant, then when to get rid of it.

Wrote a new stanza for the Victorian poetry book that explains some of the creature’s mythos.

Toughest thing was that early scene that we’d skipped… a flashback/fantasy sequence that demonstrates the old lady is living in the past, fixated on her father. We’d finished the beginning and end of the scene but were unsure just what events/dialogue needed to be in there to communicate the two points we thought the scene needed to communicate. It was a deliciously creepy scene that we loved, but couldn’t put a bow on.

The longer we struggled with it, we decided that if it was that hard to decide how the scene should say what it needed to say, maybe it didn’t need to say it. So as hard as it was, we CUT the scene.

45 minutes later, an epiphany, and we realized how we could simply and elegantly, with 3 simple passages of dialogue, do everything we needed to do, PLUS foreshadow some later existing points. Luckily, I’d copied it off to WORD and stored it so we pulled it up, made a few changes, and put it back. SO happy. It’s still creepy, still a favorite, and now is perfect in content as well. The whole thing only added a third of a page.

TOTAL PAGE COUNT: 93.5 — or 97.5 — or 99.8 — depending. (Good ol’ Zhura)

So here we are, with a (pleasantly readable) finished first draft in just:

95.33 hours.

Sean’s got about 88 hours.

96% percent of those hours we worked side by side, so that’s man hours, not clock hours. Clock hours we’re at about 95.33.

Full time 8 hour days would put us at about 12 days to complete this first draft from story outline through last word.

Of course, we worked an average of probably 3.5 hours a day, and not every day. So we’ve used about 6.5 actual weeks to get here.

Copies are now out to our favorite readers for some honest feedback. We hope to live with it for a week, read our hardcopies, get notes from others, and jump on the next rev in about a week.

Till then — WOO HOO!

New horror project: day twenty writing

Wrote for about 7 hours today.

Finished 11.5 pages of sheer craziness.

Another man dead… this time sacrificed to the beasties by someone else.

A building destroyed in a massive explosion.

Two survivors with a gun in each hand run a gauntlet of creatures.

The lead beastie confronted.

And escape for our heroes.

Plus, we save the last dog.

Fuckin’ A.

We reached the end of our story. 92 pages.

It’s not quite done… there’s one scene we purposefully skipped early on around page 30 that we need to go back and fill in. Just one page, if that.

And a few loose ends… in our fervor to muscle through the action sequences, we neglected to clarify where the dog was from moment to moment. He deserves some lovin’, so we need to sprinkle in a couple references to him.

And somewhere along the way the old lady suddenly was no longer carrying her spray bottle full of bear piss. We have to decide whether she just loses it somewhere, put it in where it’s missing, or just remove it from the story all together. I like giving a character a spray bottle full of bear piss, so I’m hoping we find a way to keep it.

But all in all, it’s DONE (with an asterisk)!

Pages: 92.33

Hours (chip):  89.5

Hours (sean): He says he’s around 85.

New horror project: day nineteen writing

Another 6.66 pages today. We’re SO close to being finished we just want to get back at it right away tonight.

But ah, duty calls. Sean had to take his Aunt to the doctor again, and my son has a baseball game tonight.

Then later it’s American Idol Finals!

And Dancing With The Stars results!

Oh lord. Did I just say that?

Luckily, today I read something from John August that made me feel a little better:

[to a reader’s question] Here’s the thing: writing sucks. It’s difficult on a good day, and intolerable on most others. That’s why I’ll gladly answer your question rather than spend these 20 minutes of staring at the scene I ought to be writing.

So I don’t feel TOO bad that I may forgo finishing till tomorrow, that I may see Adam Lambert and Gilles Marini take their respective prizes. I think. Or maybe Kris and Melissa. Or Shawn. Though I may not be able to forgive Shawn for the lame Jabbawockeez ripoff.

Starting Thursday, So You Think You Can Dance will be my excuse.

Anyway, today our characters reached the goal that they’ve been trying to get to throughout the third act. Unfortunately, things are not all hunky dory… not yet. Someone else is dead, another is missing. And someone else is about to die – he just doesn’t know it yet.

Salvation is not forthcoming. Looks like if they’re getting out of this, they’re doing it the hard way…

Alone. With a gun.

Or two or three.

Pages: 82.66

Hours (chip): 82.5

New horror project: day eighteen writing

Another day online through Zhura. Got a kinda late start… Sean’s Aunt needed a cast. Long story. Ends with a broken fibula. Another time.

Pounded through 5 pages… saved our heroes from the mountain lion, took them up the mountain trail, and trapped them as the beasties advance. Gave them a harrowing adventure crossing a gorge to get to safety… lost the gun… and ended with a joke.

Interesting note: The “adventure crossing a gorge” was one of the three trials we arranged for our heroes on their journey to safety. We’d promised ourselves no “deus ex machina” moments… that these dramatic road blocks should ring organic and true. (Yeah, I know, deus ex machina is usually reserved for unlikely convenient salvation. I’m using it to mean any unlikely convenient event, good or bad, that clearly simply exists as a plot device).

Anyways, we ended up creating this “gorge crossing” via an old rusted cable/pully/two man bucket type thing. We don’t know exactly what it does, but we borrowed the general idea from The River Wild (who has any idea what that old cable doohickey is that David Strathairn uses to flip the raft?) and it does exactly what we need it to do. So is it deus ex machina?

We think not… our heroes have just passed through an old abandoned mill. We’ve established that the area is BLM forestry land, had been logged (and probably mined) in the first half of the 1900’s, that the old woman was familiar with the mill and knew the mechanism was there. So there’s an organic precedent for the device. We don’t believe it “feels” contrived, because it seems to grow out of the elements already in place in the story… even if we don’t know exactly what the device is.

Nevertheless, we’ve lovingly come to refer to the mechanism as the “rusty plot device”. And it’ll probably always remain so.

At this point my biggest concern is that the pacing is reading as it should. We’re doing our best to keep the left-margin to short declarative sentences, one sentence per line to establish a ‘shot shot shot’ quality, and the dialogue is sparse and without subtext.

We’ve always got future revs in which to edit, of course. But I’d like this first version to be readable enough to send it to the prodco discussed earlier. I know it’s close. But I’m never satisfied.

Added 5 pages today.

Total Pages: 76

Hours (chip): 78