Progress Report – 18

Apparently there’s no decent movie with the number 18 can think of right now. Well, there are movies with that number in the title but this is not one of those blogs.

I’ve been busy. I had a nice weekend with a decent birthday party. My weight loss project is going well (my birthday wasn’t as bad as I feared on that front) and for some reason I feel like I have my “shit” together. I don’t know why. There are so many things that are not going according to plan but for some reason I have this feeling that everything is going to be alright if I keep putting some effort into it. Maybe that’s why I’ve been writing more. I just finished a little writing sprint, I planned to write an hour but after 45 minutes I reached a good spot. I know how to continue and I plan to do that tomorrow.

But let’s talk some numbers.

One book/screenplay: I’m reading “Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi. Wow, what a great read. A friend recommended “Frühling der Barbaren” by Jonas Lüscher, so I’m giving that one a try as well.
Two movies: Still behind on the movies. I still have to finish “Stranger Things”.
Seven pages: As of right now, I’m on page 13 and I know where page 14 leads to.
Seven hours: That bloody project still keeps me up at night. Looks like it might get interesting in springtime.

Let me end today with some music. I promise that one of the next posts will have more text. We’re updating and refining the #ProjectMomentum rules, so stay tuned, it might get interesting.

Progress Report – 17 Again

Smiley face wallpaper 017

The Graphic Novel is so much better than the movie.

Progress report 17 on the 17th of August…admit it, you’re a little impressed. But this is not just a vanity post, I have actual things to report. I mentioned that I’ve returned from an inspiring holiday and I haven’t been lying. It’s not the idea I posted though, for some reason I was drawn to an old idea of mine that I never quite fell in love with but for some reason it just overcame me yesterday and I wrote seven pages. Yeah, seven *fucking* pages in one sitting. Bt let’s not get ahead of ourselves, let’s do the numbers.

One book/screenplay: I’m doing the Aaron Sorkin Masterclass, so that counts a bit but I’m also reading (and re-reading) some books for my students. To Kill a Mockingbird is always a good read and I’m preparing Watchmen for one of my classes. Good times.
Two movies: I’m a bit behind of movies. I skipped a couple of big releases but inspired by my journey I rematched Seven Years in Tibet an Kundun. I recommend tose two as a double feature, it’s interesting that you can make two movies about basically the same thing in two totally different ways. This happens a lot but these two movies are both unique.
Seven pages: Seven pages and I hope to add a couple today. It seems that it makes sense to let ideas settle for a while and return to them, so far all the scenes and moments and characters just seemed to appear on the page in a fully developed way. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that what I wrote is perfect (or even good) but it just made sense to write it this way.
Seven hours: Still thinking about that bloody project. I’ll tell if something interesting happens.

That’s it for today…my fingers are itching for some pages so I’ll leave you once more with stupid YouTube Video.

Random Screenplay Idea: Sempa Trupka

Jelyong

Sempa Trupka – True Love

As You know, I’m back from holiday. I haven’t resumed writing yet. I have to get ready for school next week, I’m doing this Aaron Sorkin Screenwriting Masterclass and I0m playing a bit of No Man’s Sky. There’s a lot going on but I hope to get started again next week butI wanted to write a post1. At first I wanted to to another featured Screenplay but I’l wait till September for that, so I decided to introduce a new segment to the blog, I call it Random Screenplay Idea and that’s pretty much exactly what it is. A random idea, nothing fancy, nothing too elaborate, just an idea, the core of a movie, maybe something I’ll explore in the near future, maybe not.

So without further ado, I present: Sempa Trupka.

Ok, a little ado, here’s some backstory/therapy. Readers of my blog know, that my holidays are great for my creativity. In fact, I can track back most of my good ideas and/or screenplays back to a great holiday. Sometimes it’s the place that inspired me (to keep going), sometimes it’s a person that sparked an idea but most of the time it was both. Every script I associate with places and people2. This year is no exception but its a bit different, this year a song is part of it too. The bus driver was really into Tibetan music and one particular song seemed to be playing all the time. Sempa Trupka. Sempa Trupka is Tibetan for True Love and it’s your typical ballad, it’s not better nor worse than what we have but for some reason it stuck with me. I have no idea what the lyrics men but the title is self explanatory

So on my last day in Crete I suddenly had this idea for a movie based on the song. I’m not sure if it’s a movie I’d like to write (or even see) but the idea was intriguing. Inspired by the song and by what I saw in Tibet, the movie is about this Tibetan boy, his mother loves to sing him to sleep with a traditional song. Bit then, soldiers show up. The family didn’t play by the rules and they have to suffer. The nightmare begins and after a huge ordeal the parents somehow manage to get their little boy to safety. He’s a refugee now and he uses his singing to make other forget their misery. A music producer hears him sing by accident and want’s to monetize they boys talent.

The movie then focuses on how the producer exploits the boy for his own gains. The boy is forced to sing whatever the producer wants. The producer plans his whole life and career, the boy is like a prisoner again, so obviously there are tensions but the producer has one ace, he promises to try to free the parents. He’s obviously lying but the boy young man doesn’t know that. His parents are long dead. What’s even worse for the boy, is the fact that he’s losing all connection to his heritage.

Finally the boy is able to get rid of the producer and become his own man/musician by turning the song his mom sang to him into a worldwide hit. Guess what that song is called….Sempa Trupka. Obviously there’s going to be a romance as well but the main focus/theme is identity, standing up for yourself and being able to relate to your heritage, “True Love” for yourself and where you came from.

It’s probably not the mot original idea and it gets me banned in China but I think it’s a neat little idea. What do you Think?

  1. to get myself typing again and get those creative juices flowing.
  2. …and I’m not just talking about the girl who broke my heart that particular year.

BACK IN BLACK….or slightly reddish due to sunburn

IMG 2354

Potala Palace in Lhasa

I’m back, alive an well. That’s more that I can say about my phone.1 Tibet was an amazing experience and I’m really glad I did this trip. Sometimes I felt a little bit overwhelmed because Asia is just so different but what struck me the most is how rich and interesting all these different cultures are and how valuable traveling is to expand your horizon.

I didn’t meet too man locals but in those little moments I did, I really felt how different life there must be. I’m not sure how much I can use in my writing2 but I definitely grew as a person.

That’s it. I’m still really tired, the washing machine just beeped and I have to fix my phone.

  1. Let’s just say that whirlpools and iPhones don’t go well together.
  2. Well, there is this idea I have about the Tibetan refugee singer who gets used by a big producer to sell records but truly breaks oiut when he gets rid of that leech and rreturns to his roots and the traditional song his mom used to sing to him…Sempa Trupka.

I’m off to see the wizard….

You ll never believe who s in talks to play the ancient one for doctor strange 425189

The Ancient One

…they have wizards in Tibet, don’t they? Isn’t the Ancient one supposed to be from there?

Never mind, I’ll check on my trip. I will be gone for almost 4 weeks, not that this changes anything here on the blog, I just wanted to give you the heads up. As I mentioned in my last post, I hope to fill my head with new and exiting experiences, not just for writing but life in general. I’m really excited and if the trip turns out half as good as I hope, I’m in for a treat.

Maybe I’ll write something for the blog on my journey, my iPad Keyboard is fully loaded, but don’t get your hopes up.

See you in a couple of weeks.

And it’s happening again.. but I keep trying

Never give up

Never give up….

Surprise, surprise…it’s happening again. I’m neglecting my blog again and I have no real excuse. I’m ding many things but unfortunately writing is not one of them, maybe this post makes me feel so bad about not writing that I start immediately but somehow I doubt it.

It seems like #ProjectMomentum has failed (at least for the moment). I totally blame Orlindo for that btw. It seems that he’s not able to find the time. His last post is from May but the last real #ProjectMomentum post is from March. It’s not just his fault but one of the big ideas was to make each other feel bad for not writing and if one person “quits” that part doesn’t work. I’m hopeful that this might change though. It’s another reason why I write this post, to make him feel bad and embarrassed fror not holding his end of the bargain1

I’m going on vacation next week and as always I hope that my writing juices are revitalized by that. I’m going to Tibet and I confident that I’m going to see many new things that spark my creativity. I’m not sure how Internet works in Tibet/China but maybe I’m able to post something from there, either writing or travel related.

I filled my iPad with books, comics and movies and updated all my writing software and made sure that the correct files are on the devise. Who knows, maybe I’ll finish Down Under in the plane2 or maybe I have an awesome new idea.

As for my/our current projects. I’m a little bit stuck with Down Under. I neglected it for a couple of weeks and I lost momentum (pun intended). I hope I’ll find my momentum in tibet or on Crete, that’s where the second part of my journey. Just relaxing, it should be possible to find some time there.

Ok let me end for today with this uplifting message:

  1. Who am I to talk. 🙂
  2. One can dream.

Progress Report – 16 Candles

…well, this is awkward but I have a really good excuse, well a few actually. The last couple ow weeks have been crazy. Work and other things were quite time consuming and I had to prioritize.
I hope that I can readjust my timetable in the following weeks (holidays are on the horizon) and to get the momentum going again.

One book/screenplay: I read quite a few books for the oral matura. Some of them were rereads and others were new discoveries but all of them quite enjoyable.
Two movies: I watched and rewatched a couple of movies as well. I haven’t been to the cinema in a while though. Saw Nice Guys in theaters, that was cool.
Seven pages: Let’s just move on.
Seven hours: There are some developments, too early to talk but there seems to be an interesting opportunity that got my creative juices flowing. I’m not giving you any details (I don’t want to jinx anything) but there’s a tiny chance that something interesting could develop here. As soon as there is something to tell, I’ll tell you. In the meantime I will probably use most of my development time for this.

I’m not going to write something else today. No time, I have to focus but let me end with this:

Progress Report – Slaughterhouse-Fifteen

Let’s get this off our chests, shall we.

One book/screenplay: Sandman still going strong but I’ve had a look at some other comics as well. I’m kinda in the mood.
Two movies: I’ve been looking into some TV, research for the pitch.
Seven pages: I focused on the pitch so I barely managed my page count but I hope to churn some pages out later today.
Seven hours: Definitely. I finished a rough movie outline and I’m collecting notes for the TV idea. I’m quite happy with the TV movie and the idea for the Tv show kind of excites me.

…and now for something completely different…I bought a new toy, well not exactly a toy but I’m the proud owner of one of those e-bikes. But nit just an e-bike one of those that let you drive with 40km/h. It’s awesome and in away it’s also part of #ProjectMomentum, remember that thing about my belly? I decided that driving my bike to work everyday would be great for my weight and my belly so I bought one and I used it for work twice already and it’s everything I hoped it would be.

It’s still cycling, just faster and less exhausting. You might argue that a traditional bike would be even better but I have to be honest, I’m not going to make that “journey” with a normal bike, it’s too slow and too exhausting so this is the only way I’m actually going to do it.

In a way this also relates to writing. You need to have goals but you have to make sure that you have the means to achieve them, don’t set ridiculous goals, make sure that they are realistic and achievable and make sure that if you can, help yourself by making things a little easier for yourself without totally selling out, I didn’t buy a motorbike.

That’s it for today, I have some grading and writing to do. I’ll keep you updated on my belly status.

Progress Report – Fourteen Hours

It’s Wednesday again, time for a shot update and some random thoughts.

One book/screenplay: Still reading Sandman. Still delighted.
Two movies: Due to reasons I will talk about later, I spend some time with some old TV shows.
Seven pages: I’m on a roll. I started to do write sprints 1. Basically I set a timer (I use 45 minutes) and I write until the time is up. Just writing, nothing else. It’s impressive how the clock and the limited time helps you focus.
Seven hours: Orlindo told me about an opportunity to pitch ideas. I decided to work on two ideas and maybe one of them will shape up to be good enough to present.

This is actually what I intend to write about today. I feel confident to share the ideas here, it’s not like I have any readers who might steal (or comment) on them so this is basically just talking to myself about these ideas. The ideas are for TV so I have to keep them simple and cheap, I decided to work on a TV Movie an a TV Show.

Movie idea: A couple of years ago I wrote a story about a guy who reconnects with that girl from High School who broke his heart/ignored him. There are two layers to it. It’s a romance movie and a courtroom movie. Basically he’s a lawyer who helps defend her. Sounds boring and that’s why I added another layer: He’s responsible for her problems. I’m not sure how down German Tv guys are with that kind of story and I’m not are how to end it. Does he get away with it, or not?

Series idea:TV is either about relationships or about some kind of procedure, most of the time it’s kind of both because you have to disguise the one with the other. I don’t have to list all these different kinds of shows but I always hated the ones that were too focused on one aspect. I went through my TV library and watched some pilots and looked for something that might work for German TV, well not in the sense of what show could I remake, what aspects would work in a show for German TV. Here’s what I came up with:

  • Fish out of water – adjusting to new surroundings
  • Why the change? – tragedy?
  • family problems – mother vs. daughter
  • romance with obstacles
  • issue of the week – crime? illness? something else?

So what do I see here? I see a family (or parts of a family) who moves to a new place. I don0t know why yet but it’s a big adjustment. It might be a new country, o just from the city to the countryside. Or why not a refugee family? The mother might be a doctor who helps people who don’t trust her and don’t really want her there and there might be a tiny village where everyone knows each other. And the boy from the family falls on love with the daughter of the local AfD politician.

…hmm…that sound quite interesting. I’ll get back to you on that one.

  1. John August tweets about his write sprints, so thanks to him for the idea.

Featured Screenplay: Skyscraper

$ 32In September I started this new feature called “Featured Screenplay. The idea was/is to showcase some completed screenplays and tell you a bit about them. In September I gave you a glimpse into The Passion of the Geek and today I’m going to tell you a little bit about the screenplay I’m probably most proud of: Skyscraper1.

I still have the original Email I sent to Orlindo about what was then called: Untitled Whiteworms Animation Feature. April 7th 2007, that’s a long time ago and the project took it’s time but what I find most striking about that first email is the fact, that even though there are huge differences between my barebones email pitch and the finished product, there are certain things that are still part of the story. The setting, some of the characters and even some plot points are still visible today and even though the story evolved, the basic premise is still the same. It’s about a bird who has to find its way (wings) and overcome many obstacles to realize who he truly is.

You can read more about the plot and the feedback we got for Skyscraper on the Official Whiteworms Site or in that post from January 2016. I don’t want to talk about all that, I admit though, that getting great feedback from the Blacklist was one of the proudest moments of my “writing career”. No, I want to talk about some of the lessons I learned.

The biggest realization was the importance of character arcs. Our protagonist had a journey and and arc all along but all the minor characters were just along for the ride. The script improved tenfold when we figured out how to make their journey more important and therefore more interesting for the audience.

It’s no secret that the script is heavily influenced by Don Bluth and especially An American Tail. In the initial email, cats were actually the villains2. We turned them into fascist guinea pigs which turned out to be a great idea and a lot of fun to write. Especially Fluffy, the main villain turned into one of my favorite characters to write for. For some reason he just got this distinctive voice that mad him stand out.

But enough history lesson, your here to get a glimpse into the world of Skyscraper and without further ado, please enjoy my favorite scene, the introduction of Fluffy and his army of guinea pigs.

INT. THE GREAT HALL OF THE GUINEA PIGS – DAY

An underground cistern, part of the underground water system, but somehow forgotten a long time ago.

An underground city almost as breathtaking as the New York itself -- the home of the self-declared super-race of the underground -- GUINEA PIGS.

Thousands of guinea pigs are standing, side by side listening to their megalomaniacal leader, General FLUFFY. He is dressed in a very convincing looking uniform made out of trash.

Fluffy speaks from a large STAGE, behind him a giant picture of him made out of different pieces of paper.

FLUFFY

My friends, the day has come. Finally we will take our rightful place in this, our world. Too many of us have been replaced by those vicious cats and these cuddly dogs. Too long have we lived as outcasts, thrown away, flushed down. They treated us like rats. I say enough is enough. It is our birthright and we deserve nothing less than the full unconditional love of the humans.

(beat)

We have to fight for our rightful place as the prime pet. Who is with me?

Everybody CHEERS, in their high guinea pig voices.

ALL THE GUINEA PIGS

Oo-rah!

Fluffy smiles.

INT. THE SEWERS DEAD END – DAY

Scrap is captivated by the speech and doesn’t realize that the cracks in the floor around him grow bigger.

INT. THE GREAT HALL OF THE GUINEA PIGS – DAY

General Fluffy is still speaking to his captivated audience.

The guinea pigs are so mesmerized that they don’t notice the dust from the cracking ceiling.

FLUFFY

We have to prepare ourselves for a long and hard fight. Some of you will not make it but we will be victorious, it’s us or them. It’s about being flushed down or flushing them down.

(beat)

I wont be flushed down again, I say: FLUSH THEM DOWN!

ALL THE GUINEA PIGS

Oo-rah!

FLUFFY

So tonight we will leave our prison and show the humans how cute we really are.

(beat)

Cute faces!

ALL THE GUINEA PIGS

Oo-rah!

After the battle cry all the guinea pigs practice their CUTE FACES, the cutest facial expression ever. They look extremely cute but Fluffy “out-cutes” all of them.

But then, the ceiling breaks and Scrap falls into the middle of the hall.

Complete silence. Nobody moves, not even Scrap who is a bit dazed from the fall.

FLUFFY

Attack faces!!

Every guinea pig turns towards Scrap, this time with their mean and vicious but nevertheless cute ATTACK FACES.

Scrap looks terrified and very awkwardly he waves his wings.

SCRAP

Hi.

The guinea pigs take a step towards him.

Scrap SWALLOWS HARD and Fluffy CRACKS his knuckles.

FLUFFY

Hmm, what have we here?

The guinea pigs take one more step towards Scrap.

INT. THE GREAT HALL OF THE GUINEA PIGS – DAY

Fluffy stands on the stage, Scrap lies next to him, tied up and gagged.

FLUFFY

Look at him. This is the face of the enemy. He might not look like a threat now, but don’t forget for a lot of families birds are the pet of choice these days.

Every guinea pig nods in approval.

FLUFFY

I can’t hear you!

ALL THE GUINEA PIGS

Oo-rah!

But then -- Skip swings through the hall on an improvised rope and kicks Fluffy off the stage. The guinea pigs panic.

Complete chaos ensues. Skip quickly unties Scrap.

SCRAP

What are you doing here?

SKIP

What does it look like, I’m rescuing you.

SCRAP

And who’s rescuing you?

He points at the approaching guinea pigs.

SKIP

If you don’t want to be rescued I can leave you to them.

Fluffy climbs back on the stage, grins and takes a step towards them.

SCRAP

You know what you’re doing? Right? You have a plan, right?

SKIP

Theoretically.

Fluffy and the other guinea pigs come closer and closer.

Skip jumps up and punches Fluffy hard and he falls off the stage into the crowd.

Skip grins.

Fluffy gets back on his feet and tries to stand up but before he can say anything he gets run over by a bunch of panicking guinea pigs.

Skip points at Fluffy.

SKIP

What’s his problem?

SCRAP

He was flushed down a toilet.

SKIP

Okay, that explains a lot.

Fluffy stands up again, this time he manages to get hiss footing. He screams.

FLUFFY

ATTACK FACE!!

The guinea pigs stop panicking instantly. They display their “attack face” and look very menacing, as they walk towards the stage.

At first slowly, step by step -- then faster.

Skip throws Scrap a questioning look.

SCRAP

Attack face?

SKIP

Great, for a moment there I thought we were in trouble.

The guinea pigs charge at them. Skip and Scrap are outnumbered 10000 to 2.

SKIP

Let’s do this!

The first over eager guinea pig reaches them and tries to punch Skip. Skip side steps the attacker, the guinea pig misses him, teeters and falls over.

A first wave of guinea pigs follows, focusing on Scrap.

He ducks. Their momentum is so strong that they fly over him and bounce back from the wall and almost hit Skip.

SKIP

Hey, I’m standing here!

One of them hits Skip but instead of knocking him over it bounces off of him and knocks about 10 other guinea pigs over. Skip CHUCKLES.

SCRAP

Sorry!

Skip is surprised and smiles.

SKIP

I’m beginning to like those little fellas.

The guinea pigs get back up and keep attacking in waves but our two heroes have no problem defending themselves against these two legged FUR-BALLS.

Guinea pigs fly through the air. One, then two, two with a perfect somersault. Four, perfectly choreographed... it looks like an air ballet.

Skip has a great time and his smile grows and grows and even Scrap is amused as he sees how the guinea pigs pile up.

Then -- on top of the pile -- Fluffy appears and he starts to roll down the hill with the intention to knock Skip and Scrap over.

He flies through the air -- Kung-Fu-Style -- heading for Scrap -- Scrap performs a roundhouse-kick and kicks Fluffy to the other end of the great hall.

Fluffy seems to stay in the air forever. In his face we can see equal parts of agony and embarrassment.

Finally he reaches the other end of the hall and hits the wall next to a VALVE.

SCRAP

Did you see that?

SKIP

Not bad, bonus points for punching General furball.

Skip sends another guinea pig flying through the room with a somersault kick and smiles at Scrap.

SKIP

But look what I got!

Scrap smiles.

But then -- a strange NOISE. Scrap gives Skip a questioning look.

The noise gets louder. The guinea pigs stop fighting, they pause, then they panic.

SKIP

What’s going on guys? Already tired?

Far in the distance Fluffy is back on his feet and LAUGHS DIABOLICALLY, his hands on the valve.

FLUFFY

EMERGENCY FLUSH CONDITION DELTA!

The guinea pigs look at each other. A SKINNY GUINEA PIG looks concerned and SQUEALS.

SKINNY GUINEA PIG

(subtitled)

Please let it be freshwater! Please!

Behind him a huge wave of stinking sewage gushes into the hall.

SKINNY GUINEA PIG

(subtitled)

Oh $#!t!!!

The guinea pigs claw themselves to the ground and hold hands.

The Great Hall gets filled almost instantly and the “net” of guinea pigs starts to float.

The wave reaches Scrap and Skip and knocks them over.

Scrap struggles in the water, but he manages to stay afloat.

Skip struggles even more and gets pulled down by the current.

Scrap tries to dive back to help him but the current is too strong. He tries to reach Skip.

Skip looks at his brother.

POV SKIP

For a moment Skip sees Holly being grabbed by a vicious harrier.

Skip hesitates. He looks afraid.

Scrap keeps reaching out. Skip finally reaches out as well but too late. They are too far apart.

Skip moves his lips but they are both underwater so Scrap can’t hear what Skip says.

A second wave reaches Scrap and he gets flushed away. He knocks his head on the ceiling and BLACKS OUT.

That scene gets me every time, I hope you feel the same.

  1. That’s the official title treatment.
  2. I initially picked cats because I kinda hate cats. So I wasn’t ripping off An American Tail completely but then again, I’m pretty sure I hate cats because of An American Tail, it was the first movie I saw in theaters after all.