Progress Report 25 – An anniversary and more Space Cowboys

Firefly class ship


Another week, another post but this time I actually have something to report. First of all, I think it’s time for some celebration, 25 progress reports, #ProjectMomentum is going strong.

Congratulations to myself. 🙂

A couple of weeks ago I told you about this Masterclass I’m taking. Aaron Sorking talking about screenplay, it’s really interesting and enjoyable. I decided to participate in one of their group assignments. Together with some others, I’m supposed to write the next episode of Firefly, yeah, more space cowboys.

The group seems nice so far and I’m pretty sure that we’re going to be able to come up with an interesting addition to the firefly universe.

I’m a little worried though, I never worked with so many people on a story. I’ll keep you posted.

One book/screenplay: Got some homework from that writing group: read 3 Firefly teleplays. I cheated a bit, I read the Train Job, Out of Gas and Serenity (the movie, not the pilot). Afterwards I felt really annoyed, why was that show canceled again?
Two movies:Some episodes of Firefly, Serenity and I’m on a West Wing Marathon. Seems like I left that silly romantic comedy and action movie phase behind. I just hope it doesn’t come back, If it does…it’s time for the big guns, Richard Curtis and Stallone, but fingers crossed.
Seven pages: No new pages, waiting on feedback.
Seven hours: Still no concrete idea, I have a few things floating in my head but so far nothing worthy has emerged. I probably focus on that Firefly thing though, maybe afterwards the new idea will present itself.

So how did that Blacklist feedback for The Passion of the Geek go, you ask? Well, good and bad. It’s no surprise that they criticized my lack of thorough proof reading, they also disliked the meta jokes, no surprise there, but the one thing that made my day was the fact that both reviewers liked some of my original jokes/set pieces. They liked the absurdist nature of it, even though they criticized a lack of escalation. It’s starts pretty wild and there’s no room for build up anymore.

They disliked quite a lot though, some of it deservedly so, with some of their findings I plainly disagree, they didn’t get it and maybe I did’t do a good enough job of explaining or setting those jokes up properly.

What do I take from this? Well, apparently I have (at least in some sort of way) a voice. It’s still in development and I have to stop hiding it behind the meta crap. That’s probably what I’m going to do in the long run. Write a Passion of the Geek with the meta turned down and the humor turned up.

Maybe that’s what my next, german project could be as well, a german Passion with less meta and more fun. There seems to be a market in Germany for comedies, who knows, maybe I could write the next one.
The downside to this is the fact that I’m planing to write something with a female protagonist and The Passion is too personal for me to gender switch and I doubt it would work as well.

So I’ll probably do something else first. I’m toying with the idea of a workplace romance comedy with a female protagonist, a single mom or so, new job, stupid boss, strange coworkers and some gender reversals like a male nanny or something like that. The more I think about this, the more I like it.

Stay tuned.


Mal and his Crew.

Featured Screenplay: Saber Rider & the Star Sheriffs

$ 32Finally, the third (and hopefully not last) part in this ongoing series. Today I want to talk a bit about “Saber Rider & the Star Sheriffs” and what went on behind the scenes.

If you visited the “Saber Rider & the Star Sheriffs” section on you are probably familiar with the basics.

After “Skyscraper” we wanted to write a big space adventure. We tried to come up with original ideas but the more we worked on our ideas, the more we realised that our minds were set in something else. During Comic-Con in 2012 we decided that instead of an original space opera, we were going to write a “Saber Rider & the Star Sheriffs” movie.

Right from the beginning, the process was very different than before. Unlike “Skyscraper” we had underlying material and we had something to build, admittedly, flawed material but there was stuff to build on. The was/is a world, characters, rules and plot-points that just need to happen. Looking back, it’s quite interesting to realise that we probably had the same discussions that are happening right now at big studios when they decide to reboot an old property.

What has to be in the movie? What has to go? How do you make fans happy? How do you recruit new fans? It’s impossible to keep everyone happy. I joined a “Saber Rider & the Star Sheriffs” message board and I floated some ideas, and to say that reactions were mixed is an understatement. Some people feel very protective of the thing they liked as a kid and are not able to talk about its shortcomings, and trust me “Saber Rider & the Star Sheriffs” has a lot of those.

Our main job was to turn the pilot into a movie that makes sense and is not too different from the show to alienate fans. That’s a tall order from the get go. How do you turn 20 minutes into two hours? Well, we fleshed out the backstory of the worlds and decided to turn the Outriders into an old enemy that returns after many years. We put Fireballs dad into the prologue (you might need him in movie 2 or 3, who knows) and tried to give the characters more of a reason to join, be selected to become a Star Sheriff.

We added some big disasters and some nice action set-pieces, sky-beam finale included and made sure that the story had some urgency, the basic structure was that of a “chase-movie”, our characters have to get there before the enemy, simple but effective.

The first version wasn’t bad but it’s wasn’t that good either. We were looking for the idea to tie everything together and we found it. We went bold and made some changes to the main character. We turned Saber Rider into an old guy. Needless to say, the message board wasn’t too happy about that but we stand by this decision. It made everything more personal for Saber Rider, he was there when it all started and he is now there to finish it, 25 years later, after 25 years of him being laughed at for his views but suddenly, as the Outrider return, the Cavalry Command needs him. It also makes sense that he assumes the role of the leader and it makes for a good surprise that he doesn’t know about Project RAMROD. I actually talked about this change in an earlier post.

But enough about the history of “Saber Rider & the Star Sheriffs”, you’re here to get a sample and here it is. It’s one of my favourite sequences. Orlindo came up with most of it and i translated and fleshed it out. It’s the in the first act, Vena1 escapes from the hospital and kidnaps April. A chase ensues. Enjoy.


Saber looks around and catches a glimpse of Vena pushing her bed along the hallway.


Stop her!

Vena turns around, smiles and keeps running -- still cuffed to the hovering bed.

Colt steps out of the room, smiling.


Wow, I’m not sure what’s more impressive. That she can still walk or that you let a gal with two broken legs slip.

Saber turns and looks really annoyed, he had it with this guy.


You were there too, so stop talking and get to the ground floor to cut her off.

But too late -- Colt is already running.

Saber pursues him.

Then Fireball -- paddling in the air -- using his hover bed as a boat -- floats out of the room.



But they’re gone. Fireball looks around and an OLD LADY in an electric wheelchair passes him. Fireball smiles at her.


Excuse me ma’am!

The old lady turns and smiles as well -- she looks quite smitten with him.


Are you my grandson?


Vena runs along the hallway, still pushing the bed she’s cuffed to.

She runs past a supply station and grabs a pair of scissors. She tries to open the cuffs but the scissors break in half.

A GUARD tries to stop her but Vena stabs him in the neck with the broken scissors. The guard SCREAMS and falls to the ground.

Vena stops, takes the guard’s gun and aims at the cuffs. Still -- no luck.

Vena starts running again and turns around a corner -- a dead end. The doors are too narrow to get the bed through.

Then -- Colt and Saber come around the corner. They have Vena cornered but she is not giving up.

Vena turns the bed around and runs towards Saber and Colt and FIRES at them.

Colt and Saber duck and FIRE back.

Vena starts running again, she picks up speed and presses some buttons on the bed’s hover controls.

The bed picks up height. Vena slides onto the bed and uses the momentum to float past Saber and Colt.

Vena FIRES at the large panoramic window ahead, turns and smiles at Colt and Saber.

Saber and Colt look astonished.


Vena CRASHES through the window. For a moment she’s floating in the air.

She presses the button again and reverses the hover engine -- the bed is now vertically attached to the building; Vena slides off the bed but the cuffs save her from falling.

The bed picks up speed. Racing down the wall.

Vena pulls herself back onto the bed.

Saber and Colt look out the broken window. They are speechless.

Vena waves at them with a smile. She presses another button and the bed slows down.


Cuffing her was a great idea.

Colt GROWLS. Saber turns on his heels and runs away to the elevator.

Colt presses some buttons on his wrist and we can hear an ENGINE ROARING and the Bronco Buster approaches the broken window. The cockpit opens and Colt jumps into the cockpit.

He looks back through the broken window. Saber is still waiting for the elevator.

Colt smiles at tips his head.


See you later!

The cockpit closes and the Bronco Buster dives.

Saber frowns and presses the elevator button again.


Vena doesn’t slow down. Below her a large glass ceiling.

She presses the buttons again -- but this time she’s not so lucky -- the strain is too much for the bed -- it breaks in half.

Vena keeps falling and with a BANG she CRASHES through the glass ceiling into:


SHATTERING GLASS. Vena lands on her feet, the cuffs dangling from her hands.

Vena wipes away the glass shards and looks around. She stares directly at April. She is sitting on a hovering gurney and is being examined by a DOCTOR. Jesse stands next to her.

Vena grins. Jesse gets in front of April to protect her. Vena grins even more.


I love it when a plan comes together?

Jesse pulls his gun.


What the...

April wants go get up but Jesse signals her to stay down.

Vena moves her hand towards her stomach, she’s bleeding.

The doctor looks at Vena and then at the emergency button.

Vena smiles and pulls out a big glass shard and throws the shard at the doctor.

April SCREAMS and jumps up.

The doctor collapses, Jesse turns towards him -- Vena kicks the gun out of Jesses hand, catches it mid air and roundhouse kicks Jesse across the room.


(smiling gleefully)

Best day ever.

Jesse lies unconscious on the ground.

Vena points her gun at April, takes a step towards her and smiles.


Do you fancy a little trip little dove ... or should I say little eagle?


Under the giant glass ceiling people are running around, doctors SHOUTING for nurses and gurneys.

The elevator door opens. A DOCTOR IN WHITE emerges with a hovering gurney with a body bag on it.

It’s Vena. She steadily walks across the hall towards the exit. Even through her disguise we can see her smiling.

The Bronco Buster lands in front of the entrance. Colt exits the Bronco, an ambulance approaches and lands next to him.

Nurses and doctors start running towards the ambulance.

Vena sees her chance and walks towards the ambulance.


Saber stands in the elevator. A muzak version of the “Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs” theme song is playing.


The nurses and doctors get close to ambulance. Vena, hiding in the CROWD, passes Colt.

Colt is looking around but he doesn’t pay attention to the people attending the ambulance.

Three people get pulled out of the ambulance. Vena waits and then shoves her gurney into the now empty ambulance. She climbs in and shuts the door.

Colt is still screening the crowd.

The ambulance’s front door opens and a dead body falls out. The body hits the ground. Colt turns towards the ambulance.

The engine ignites and the ambulance lifts off. Colt draws his gun and fires -- A HIT. Parts of the engine get blown away.

The ambulance sinks to the ground.



Stupid mutton-puncher, praise NEMESIS for ground propulsion.


Colt keeps firing. The ambulance pulls back and crashes into the Bronco.

Colt almost gets squashed and the ambulance races away towards the main gate.

On a terrace above the entrance hall Fireball has seen the scene unfold. He sits in a motorised wheelchair. The engine cover is missing and it looks like Fireball rewired the whole thing.


(shouting at Colt)

Now you know how that feels!

Colt looks up mumbles something and looks at the big dent in his Bronco, parts of the engine are broken.

Fireball takes a look at his wheelchair and sighs.


Here comes nothing!

He presses the controller forward and accelerates, the wheelchair sound like a race car -- Fireball built himself a “race chair”.

He drives (or slides) down the glass ceiling and tries to steer towards the side closer to the main gate.

He jumps off the glass roof and lands on the grass hill that leads down to the main gate.

In his face we can see equal parts excitement and terror.

The ambulance reaches the gate and CRASHES through, turns into the main road and -- a SCREAM.



He flies through the air and reaches the ambulance and manages to grab the door handle. The ambulance accelerates.

Fireball is dangling from the ambulance and his splinted leg is stuck in the wheelchair. His excitement turns into pain.

The speed is too much for the wheelchair and the wheelchair falls apart.

Fireball still has part of the wheelchairs arm rest in his hand. His splinted leg grinds along the pavement.

Fireball pulls himself further up, opens the door and climbs into the ambulance.


Fireball lays on top of a body bag. The bag starts to move.

He opens the zipper and finds a gorgeous blonde, April. She is cuffed and gagged.

Fireball starts removing the gag. April MUMBLES.

Fireball points at Vena who is busy steering the ambulance and signals April to be quiet.

He tries to remove the cuffs but as he looks up he sees that Vena is doing something on the steering wheel.


Fireball lips mouth the word SORRY.

He puts the gag back, April protests silently; he closes the body bag and rolls under the gurney.

Vena opens the slide door and walks towards the body bag, unzips it and removes the gag.


So, Miss Eagle, tell me, where is it?


I have no idea what you’re talking about.


I really thought we could solve this issue like reasonable people, woman to woman so to speak. I just need to know where you stored the RAMROD...

This word makes April shudder.


... device. Ahh, so you do know what I’m talking about.


I’ll never talk. I’ll rather die than talk.

Vena smiles.


They always say that.

Fireball is quietly looking for a weapon of some sorts.


I’m quite good at figuring out what motivates people.

Vena presses a button, the gurney sinks down and Fireball is caught between gurney and floor. He can’t move.

Vena looks at him and smiles.


Hi Raceboy! This is perfect, just when you need someone to prove a point.

Vena pulls a knife and shows it to April.


So Miss Eagle, please picture me cutting his throat very slowly. I know you would sacrifice yourself, but can you sacrifice someone else?


What are you waiting for, tell her everything.

The autopilot starts to BEEP. On the HUD: COLLISION ALERT.


I’m really sorry! Just give me a second to take care of this mess.

Vena returns to the steering wheel.


The ambulance races towards a road block, about a mile ahead, heavily guarded by armed POLICEMEN.


Vena accelerates -- then someone knocks on the window.

It is Saber, riding on Steed.

Vena lowers the window.


Stop the car now and let them go.

Vena smiles.


A welcoming committee, how nice of you.

She turns around and looks at Fireball and April.


Just as we thought you might get out of this alive.

Vena turns the wheel hard left.


The ambulance almost knocks Saber and Steed over and CRASHES through the beam barrier into oncoming traffic.

Breaks SCREECHING. Cars CRASHING into each other but the ambulance evades them almost effortlessly.

Saber keeps pursuing. He closes in on the ambulance -- but then -- hard left again -- the ambulance CRASHES through another beam barrier and flies off the motorway.

The ambulance CRASHES through a big billboard -- Fireball selling “Pearl White Toothpaste – The fastest way to pearl white teeth” and lands on an other motorway lane -- two cars break hard and two others CRASH into them.


Vena looks into the rear mirror. Behind her cars are piling up. Total car mayhem.

She smiles.


This is getting better and better.

She switches on the autopilot and gets back to April and Fireball.


So where were we? Oh yes....

She pulls his knife out and puts it at Fireballs throat.


... last chance before I cut him up, where...

She gets interrupted by a voice over the radio.


It’s useless Vena. You can’t escape.


I’m trying to work here, all I want is just a few minutes without being interrupted? Is that too much to ask?

She gets up and switches the radio to hands-free.


I’d love to chat with you about the two or three times you almost caught me but I’m hitting it off with this cute blonde.

(to April)

Do you want to say something?



We are fine Sir! Just get her!


You call this fine?

Vena kicks him and knocks him out.


Hey, I didn’t say it was your turn to talk.

The autopilot BEEPS again. The HUD reads: Energy levels low.


Looks like I have to hurry. Talk to you later Sheriff.

She switches the radio off and looks around in the ambulance. She takes a bottle off the shelf and fills a syringe and injects April.


What are you doing?


Let’s see if this makes you more cooperative?

Vena rips Aprils cloth off, puts sensor patches on her bare skin and switches the heart monitor on.

April looks dizzy.


This should do the trick. Where is the RAMROD weapon?


(with a weak voice)

I don’t know what you’re talking about.

The monitor shows some spikes.


Naughty girl. You shouldn’t tell lies. Is it on Yuma by any chance?

No spike on the device.


I guess not. What about Ganymede?


The ambulance is racing along the motorway.

Saber and Steed still in pursuit but he’s not alone. The Bronco Buster is approaching fast.


Hey old geezer, missed me?


Go away, or I’ll have you arrested for obstruction of justice.


Because you’re doing such a bang up job arresting people.

Then someone else joins the conversation.


Can’t you solve this after we get her?

Jesse, with a black eye and a swollen nose, is standing behind a road block and stares at the fast approaching ambulance.


Slow him down and we’ll take care of the rest.


That we can do.

The Bronco Buster FIRES a rocket at the ambulance -- a hit.

The back door gets blown to bits. Saber can see Vena interrogating April.


Vena stares at Saber who is just a few horses lengths behind. Saber has to evade debris from the door and loses ground.

For the first time in all this Vena looks nervous. Fireball slowly regains consciousness.

Then -- on the radio.


Surrender now and you will get a fair trial. Hurt her and I will personally make your life a living hell.

Vena starts smiling again.


(to April)

OK, last chance girl, is RAMROD on Alamo?

The drugs have kicked in fully. April MOANS, and the device spikes.

Vena looks pleased with herself.


Alamo it is. Thank you very much.

Right at this moment -- the Bronco Buster is directly behind the ambulance


(over loud speakers)

Hands up! It’s dead or alive so I don’t mind if I have to shoot you.

Vena turns toward Colt and starts laughing.


Be my guest cowboy.

Vena starts dancing around.


Am I moving too fast? C’mon, shoot already.

Colt fires but it’s not a rocket, it is a grappling hook. Vena looks disappointed.


That’s it?

Colt hits the breaks and the ambulance slows down. Vena stumbles.

Fireball, fully conscious again sees his chance, he pushes the gurney up and manages to move a few feet, enough to free himself.

He pulls himself up and tries to punch Vena but Vena doesn’t even blink when he hits her straight in the face.


Is that all you’ve got? I barely felt that. Want to try again?

Fireball punches her again -- no reaction.



Vena kicks Fireball right into the stomach and he falls out of the Ambulance and lands on the Bronco. He stares at Colt through the window.

Colt tries to look past Fireball but Fireball tries to evade him as well and they keep staring at each other.

The Bronco starts to trundle and with it the ambulance.

The Bronco CRASHES into the ambulance’s rear suspension, gets stuck and rips the suspension off. Fireball gets thrown back into the ambulance.

The ambulance starts to grind on the road.

Vena is back at the wheel. She hits the breaks and turns the wheel hard left.

The ambulance flips over -- flying over the road block -- and lands in the side. There -- a small fire at the bottom of the ambulance.

Jesse looks at the flipped over ambulance and starts running towards it.

He signals the other policemen to stay back.


Stay back! It’s going to blow!

Jesse climbs into the Ambulance. Fireball is picking up April.


Let me!

Fireball nods and hobbles away. Jesse takes her.


April? You all right?

April MOANS, she’s barely conscious.

Up front he sees Vena. Still sitting in the chair -- fixed with a piece of metal through her chest.

Vena, barely alive, turns around and smiles.


I’ll greet the other side from you.

She picks up a bottle of sterilizer with a “highly flammable” sign on it.

Jesse grins and carries April out of the ambulance.


Jesse and April exit the ambulance. Fireball is still crawling. Saber and Colt run towards them. Colt picks up Fireball.


Where’s your wheelchair?

Fireball smiles.

Saber keeps running towards the ambulance but Jesse signals to get down.


Get down! The ambulance...

The ambulance EXPLODES in a big ball of fire.

The blast blows everybody down.

Saber is the first one to get back up and stares at the burning ambulance.


So much for my only lead.


The ambulance is burning and the fire has reached a lifeless Vena, her face is already melting away and leaves behind a strange looking skeleton that gets consumed by the flames.


Saber, Jesse are staring at the burning ambulance.

Colts gets up and wipes away the dust.


There goes my reward.

TWO MEDICS are attending Fireball and April.

Saber turns towards fireball and starts interrogating him.


What did she say?


I don’t know, something about a secret project and then she started to call out planets.


What planets?


I don’t know. I was knocked out.

Hearing this, April regains consciousness.

Everybody turns towards her.


April, are you all right?

But April ignores the question, she looks at Saber.


Nice to see you again sir.


Likewise, but you can drop the sir Miss Eagle. Your father fired me today.

April looks surprised. Saber turns to Jesse.


Mr. Blue.

Jesse nods.


We have to go to Alamo!


What about the attacks.


You don’t understand. She knew about the RAMROD project! We have to go there, now!


RAMROD? It can’t be more important than the attacks.

April touches her pendant.


But it is.


More important than 4000 lives?



Saber nods. He seems to understand. For now.


And how shall we get there? I doubt they have a spare ship down at the cavalry command.


We could borrow one.

Everybody turns to Fireball.

Fireball smiles shyly, he’s not happy, not at all.



I’m not going anywhere until someone fixes my leg.

A bit long but, at least in my opinion, a really great sequence. I^d love to see it realised one day. I’m sure people would really like it. If you want to read more, head over to and read the rest. You’re welcome.

  1. Another one of these changes me made that not everyone is happy about.

Progress Report 24 – The One with the unique Voice


Voice! Where are you?

A new week but unfortunately no real news. I’m still on track though, the rewrite is going well and I really think I have a decent TV movie there. I’m not saying it’s perfect and there is a lot of work to do but I feel that I’m definitely on track. Who knows, maybe I can report my first sell sooner than later…but maybe not.

Lets’s have a look at the numbers.

One book/screenplay: School reading.
Two movies: I’m still in “that” kind of mood s it’s still mostly silly action movies and cheesy romantic comedies. I saw “Playing it Cool” with Chris Evans and for some reason that movie hot way too close to home. It reminded me a bit about the “Passion of the Geek” obviously not that crazy but I’m pretty sure that the writers had to work though something. I also watched “New Year’s Eve”, what a messy dud of a movie.
Seven pages: Not new Pages but reworked pages, besides “Die Klientin” I also polished “The Passion of the Geek” but more on that later.
Seven hours: Orlindo is giving me great feedback and I hope that his new office makes him productive enough to return the favor. I’m also trying to come up with my next idea. I have some thoughts, but nothing conclusive yet, I wrote a bit for my immortal idea but that was just finger stretching, all I know is, that I want to write something with a female protagonist.

But let’s talk a bit about why I decided to polish, “The Passion of the Geek”. Every time someone talks about breaking into screenwriting, well writing in general, they talk about finding your voice, your unique voice, that thing that is special about you, the story only you can write. When I look at everything I’ve written, for me that’s the “The Passion of the Geek”. It’s my strangest but also most personal movie. I’m not saying that I loved through all of that but some of the moments, some of the emotions are 100% real, and that’s saying something for a strange movie like that.

Full disclosure, I’m not sure if “The Passion of the Geek”has a unique voice or if I even have one, but it’s definitely the thing I’ve written that comes close. It’s totally me on every page, I still love all the jokes and all the choices and there are countless moments in the script I’d do almost anything1 to see them realized. That has to count for something, doesn’t it.

I decided to add the current version to the Blacklist site to get some feedback. I doubt that they’ll discover my voice but I might get some pointers on how to discover it and maybe I get some ideas on how to improve the script and get it to the next level.

Stay tuned.

  1. If some studio executive is reading this, I’m really willing to do almost anything. I’m sure we can figure something out, I’m willing.

Progress Report 23 – Back in the Saddle


Doesn’t look too complicated.

Howdy, friends. After two weeks on the road I’m back at the keyboard and eager to get writing again. even though I planned to get sone work done while on the road, once more I had to realise that not everything is going according to plan.

I’m going to skip the numbers, there’s not too much to report. Maybe a quick word about my last post, everything is alright. Not alright, alright, but I’ll live. Writing my thoughts down actually helped me a lot. I felt a lot better afterwards and I continue to see things much clearer. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that I’ve come to a conclusion but I understand the problem. The options haven’t changed and I’m still not ready to make a decision but for the moment this “limbo state” seems like “as good as it gets” so I’ll guess I’ll have to take it. It’s not too bad for my writing so I don’t care too much. Obviously it’s not a long term solution but sometimes “not making a decision” doesn’t necessarily has to be a bad thing.

The two weeks away haven’t been that great to my weight-loss project but as of yesterday I’m back on track. It might take a few days to get back to where I was but it seems that I’m losing the pounds I gained while away fairly quickly. At least one thing is going according to plan.

Orlindo sent me some feedback on the current version of “Die Klientin” and I’m working through that, this is probably the rewrite that either turns this into something good or makes me quit it for something else. I hope (and I have a good feeling) it’s the former though. After the first 50 pages I’m having a good feeling. The characters are finally turning into real people and some feel needed cuts improved the flow of the story. I’ll keep you updated.

Oktober is also the time when TV season starts again and watching pilots is one of my favourite things. Some of them are quite promising others don’t excite me but that’s just the way it is. I’m really excited about “Westworld” though. The pilot was awesome and I hope they continue to deliver. On the other side of the spectrum, how many silly boring procedurals (or formulas for procedurals) are they going to try and shove down our throats? I get that many people like them but can’t we just agree that it’s not enough to get a lead character with a problem and bad social skills to solve crime in a ridiculous way.

That’s it for today. I have to get back to work.

Star-crossed Screenplay Ideas

Charlie Brown and Snoopy

Life really is hard but unfair…

This is going to be a bit different.

I’m pretty sure you know that feeling, there is this really important thing, let’s say a screenplay or the idea for a screenplay. You love it, you never felt about an idea like that before. You can see every scene clearly in front of you. You know, or at least you think you know all the twists and turns and the ending, oh the ending it’s going to be marvellous.

You just know that this is going to be it, the screenplay that launches your career or wins you an Oscar or whatever dream you’re trying to achieve. You get this warm feeling when you think about writing it and you can’t wait to have the finished product in front of you. It’s not just a screenplay anymore, it turns into the whole reason for your existence. You and your idea become one, your blood flows though this unfinished thing waiting to reveal who you really are, who you’ve been all along.

I probably sound a bit crazy but please indulge me, it will make sense.

Ok, so you’re picturing this perfect unwritten screenplay. Now imagine that you’re not getting the chance to write it. It’s not even your fault. It’s just not meant to be. There are thousands of reasons why this might happen and all of the suck. Some reasons might be your fault but even if you solved all the issues, it still wouldn’t work. Not being able to write this thing just drains the life out of you. You know that it would be the best thing ever, but your “relationship” to the script is like those star-crossed lovers. It’s just not meant to be and it’s not even your fault. All you want is the chance to write that screenplay and find out if it’s as great as you imagined but that fucking screenplay doesn’t want to be written.

Still with me? Ok, so when do you stop obsessing over this? When do you move on? Can you move on? We all know that’s probably best to move on and not obsess too much but you’re just so in love with the idea and there’s this little part of your brain that just won’t accept the fact that its not going to work out for you and that screenplay. But that little part won’t shut up and even though you want it to shut up, there’s an other little part that doesn’t want that other little part to shut up because it want’s all those things you imagined that script might get you.

In fact, your brain is going crazy at the moment. You know what you’re supposed to do and you might even want to do “the right” thing but giving up on the screenplay feels like giving up on all your dreams. It feels like giving up on your last chance to be happy. You know that it isn’t, there are other ideas probably even better ones, easier ones, not so complicated, not so annoying, not so…. but theses ideas are not the idea you have in your mind right know and you can’t come up with another idea because it feels like cheating on the best idea you ever had.

I’m so screwed. Good thing I’m going away for two weeks. I hope I can clear my mind and who knows, maybe the idea suddenly becomes more cooperative or maybe I’ll finally be able to move on. I honestly don’t know what I would prefer. I know that one of the options is highly unlikely but I feel the same about the other. I’m just so screwed. Why did I have to come up with that stupid idea. Everything would be so much easier, but then again, life isn’t supposed to be easy. Life is hard but unfair… and yes, it’s not really about a screenplay.

Progress Report 22 – Writing is Rewriting

NewImageI’m a few days early but who cares.

I’ve spent a few days with my first draft and I received some great feedback, not feedback that my first draft is great but feedback that will help me get there. The script has many problems right now, some are fixable others are part of the story, I just hope that they are not too big for the people in charge.

One big change I made though is the ending. I completely changed the ending. I tried to do something different at first but I was told in no uncertain terms that the ending sucks. It did, in part intentionally but I have to admit that id did not work with the rest.

I’m currently waiting for some more notes and then I’ll tackle those issues. I have some ideas on how to dress some problems. The supporting characters need some more space to breathe, something to do and I think I have an idea to accomplish that. The script is still a couple of pages short so that should work out nicely.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m quite happy with what I wrote but if I really want someone to buy it, it needs to be better, a lot better. In preparation I watched some German TV, and while I think that my story is better than what I saw, my execution is still a bit lacking. I think I have my work cut out for me.

Let’s get down to the numbers.

One book/screenplay: Does my own screenplay count?
Two movies: Writing is going really well but other aspects of my life are seriously lacking, so I do what I always do when I’m in “that” kind of mood: Silly action movies and cheesy romantic comedies. No, I’m not going into details about “that” kind of mood, I’m way too obsessed without involving you.
Seven pages: I think we established in the last few weeks, that seven pages isn’t the issue anymore. Seven good pages, that’s harder.
Seven hours: Orlindo is hard at work and I’m already thinking about my next, probably also german, project.

I’m currently filling a piece of paper with some random ideas. I don’t know which one is going to make it, they all seem equally bad but If I’m totally honest, now that I’m looking at the piece of paper, I think I have a favorite. I’ll probably have to sleep over it but I think I know what my next thing is going to be. I know that I should probably return to “Down Under” but I don’t have an idea on how to include a villain yet, maybe after this one. Who knows maybe I have a great idea tonight.

Coming up with ideas is probably one of my favorite parts of writing. That feeling you have when you think of that crucial part of the story, priceless. Unfortunately it’s hard work after that and for my next Project I’m starting with the characters and not with the plot. I have a setting but then it’s about the characters, what they need and what the want and then I’ll try to figure out a story that helps them achieve that.

It’s going to be a different process for me but I’m optimistic that it will improve the finished product.

Progress Report 21 – First Draft

The first draft

He was right.

This is a big one. I did it. I finished my script.

Well, not really (you’re never really done) but I have a first draft that I’m quite happy with. I’m not doing the numbers this week. You can probably imagine that I spent most of my time writing and everything else had to take a little break. I have to give some props to John August, his tweets about his write sprints were really helpful and made me write regularly.

“Die Klientin” is probably the fastest I ever wrote a script. It took me less than a month. I mentioned in an earlier post, that I’m really focused at the moment and I hope to keep that momentum (#ProjectMomentum) going. I’m a bit short at the moment but that’s something I’m going to fix in the next couple of days and weeks. I’m confident to have a decent 90 page version by the end of September.

I don’t know what I’ll do after that, I might go back and rework the Australia idea or I might start something from scratch (or a really old outline). I might have to do a vision quest or something to figure that one out. Riding my bike to work and my (almost) daily runs have proven quite fruitful in this area. Seems there is something to the saying: “Mens sana in corpore sano”. I feel really great. My weight is dropping and the more weight I drop the more pages I churn out. I should have started this years ago. In a way it’s fitting that I finished my screenplay roughly around the same time I reached the 10kg weight drop point. If 10 kilos of weight loss equal a first draft, I think that another then should get me to the final draft.

I’I’m going to tell you more about “Die Klientin” and what I learned during the process in the following weeks, while I rework it and correct all the silly mistakes I made but let me mention I few things while the memory is still fresh.

“Die Klientin” was my first german screenplay in a while. It was really strange at first not to write in English. I’m so used to writing in English that I had to look up some german words. It’s strange feeling when you have to look up words in your mother tongue. I think I have to start reading german books again and maybe even watch some German movies or TV shows.

I mentioned in an earlier post, that the idea is actually quite old. I found a document with a 2003 timestamp on it. It felt strange to come back to such an old idea but it was fascinating how fully formed most of it was in my brain. I’m not saying that the 2003 outline didn’t change but you can’t deny that it is the same story with the same basic plot points. Even more strangely, it seems like I had similar experiences 13 years ago that made me write something that I can still relate to 13 years later.

I’ll keep you updated on my progress.

There’s other exciting new though. Orlindo finally did some writing. He cleaned up his pitch for his current idea and it’s finally something one can work with, in the sense of there’s enough there to actually think about how to improve and tell the story. I’m really excited about his idea. It’s really different from my sensibilities and that’s what makes it interesting.

Stay tuned.

Progress Report 20 – Not A Teenager Anymore

Progress Report 20, #ProjectMomentum is not a teenager anymore and I feel confident enough to call it a success. I’m especially happy with the last couple of weeks. If you read my last few progress reports, you know that my writing has been quite steady and that #ProjectMomentum bled out into other areas of my life. Overall I feel great about how much I improved (writing wise and personally) over the last couple of weeks and I hope to keep going at this pace. I’d be a shame to fall behind again.

There’s one thing I have to admit though. 20 weeks doesn’t equal 140 pages, far from it. I’m a lot better than Orlindo but that’s not saying much (…sorry…but it’s the truth…). My Australia script amassed a decent page count but ultimately that project is doomed in its current form. I still have a great feeling about “Die Klientin”and the plan is to be done around October. I’m away the for two weeks (end of September beginning of October) and I hope to use at least one of those weeks for finishing touches on the first draft.

But let’s look at the numbers:

One book/screenplay: I’m reading along with Aaron Sorkin’s Masterclass and I started with another Graphic Novel “Black Hole” by Charles Burnes, good and inspiring stuff.
Two movies: I caught up on some movies and queued a few for inspiration and research. “Sing Street” still stands out as one of my favorites this year but “500 Days of Summer”, “The Assassination of a High School President”, “Billy Elliot” and “The Man Who Knew Infinity” were all really enjoyable.
Seven pages: They keep coming. I had to adjust a few things and I’m probably have to add a few things in the beginning but so far I feel really confident with my 43 pages. I went through it and I really liked the fact, that there is almost no “fat”, every scene leads somewhere or introduces something new. I know that’s supposed to be the car ein all screenplays but it never came together so easily for me.
Seven hours: Still waiting on stuff from Orlindo. I cobbled together the idea/premise for “The Company” but that doesn’t really count. Through the Masterclass course I met a german writer and we exchanged feedback on our projects.

That’s it for today. I’m quite busy and can’t think of anything interesting right now.

Random Screenplay Idea: The Company

Blackbox L5IA TeaseIt’s another one of these. I had a couple of ideas over the summer (vacation time is very stimulating), you might remember Sempa Trupka and today I’m going to talk to you about “The Company”.

This one is a low-budget sci-fi thriller about a guy who gets messages from his future self. I’m imagining something in the vein of Primer or other movies like that. What sets my movie apart though, is the fact, that everything turns to shit, ok it’s kinda like Primer.

The ability to change the past is very powerful and I think that this power would ultimately corrupt the person wielding it, and that’s exactly what I’m envisioning. Imagine what you would do, what crazy ideas you would get or what you were willing to do, to change your life for the better only to realize that by doing that you end up alone and miserable.

It starts with these two friends and their garage, picture Jobs and Wozniak and they have a breakthrough, a new form of computing, let’s say quantum-computing. One of them is really surprised when he gets a message from the future through this device. The prototype is connected to its future version and that’s how this communication works.

The movie deals with moments and decisions our protagonist makes, influenced by his future self he tries to optimize everything. Unfortunately he can’t reverse his decisions and after some initial success the shit hits the fan and the future version is forced to use drastic measures.

The movie deals with love, friendship and business. Unfortunately you can’t have everything and our protagonist turns into an “evil” version of himself, only looking out for his own gain, ignoring everyone on the way, he becomes a version of himself he would’ve hated as a young man.

In the end he has wealth and power but no friends and no-one to love. He the king of his empire but he’s alone and miserable.

I don’t have a fleshed out premise or a story yet but after I finish my current project, I might tackle this one.