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.

Progress Report – Friday 13th

Sorry to have skipped last week but things are busy but I hope to be able to continue in the current pace.

I can’t believe I’ve been doing 13 of these (short) reports and I think I’ll use todays post to talk a bit about the whole #ProjectMomentum and my progress so far, I feel like this is a good time to take stock but let’s look at the numbers first.

NewImage

Mr. Sandman, bring me a dream.

One book/screenplay: I finally started reading Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. I had it n my list for a long time but I just never got around to it so I finally bought the 1st TPB and I’m hooked. Great storytelling, awesome art.

Two movies: I wrote a post about Captain America – Civil War, an awesome movie that inspired me to revisit some of the other Marvel movies. Obviously I started with Iron Man and that movie really holds up. Sure “The Marvel Formula” is already visible but the movie really works.

Seven pages: Almost there.

Seven hours: Orlindo fell of the wagon1, so I have to focus those hours on my own ideas and to be perfectly honest, is not working as good as it should. But I’m working in it.

So let’s take some general stock. I feel that #ProjectMomentum has been a modest success, well on my side and that’s kind of the problem. A key idea was to make each other write by making the other person feel bad for not writing. Apparently Orlindo decided to totally ignore that. I’m not pointing fingers, well actually I kind of am but I mean well. Maybe two people isn’t enough to keep the momentum up but I hope that wehen Orlindo solves his problem #ProjectMomentum will rise from the ashes and we’ll finish our projects.

But It’s not just Orlindo who didn’t do his part, I’m a little behind as well. I have 50 pages, that’s about half a script. As you know I had some star and characters issues that slowed me down a bit but I should at least have 75 or so. I hope to use my day off tomorrow to get a few pages done and I’m confident that to reach the 60 page mark this or next week.

It actually comes down to willpower. I want to do this, I just have to will myself to the keyboard. I’m in my early 30s, if I want to become I writer I have to get going. I just have to decide how much I want this.

  1. I hope he’s going to write a post about it but long story short, he needs a quite place to wrte and until he has that, he has a hard time getting into the flow. Let’s cross our fingers and wish him luck in finding a nice place to write.

Captain America – Civil War

We interrupt our regular program for some quick thoughts on Captain America – Civil War.

This is not a review and spoiler free!!!

NewImage

Team Cap all the way!

I’m not sure how well you know me, but I’m a bit of a Marvel geek. I’m into comics and I have a decent collection, not total social suicide big, but big enough. I know my basic storylines and I can tell you a few things about most characters. I read DC as well (and other publishers of course) but if asked, I’m a Marvel guy.

I love the MCU, there are some misses but the hits make more than up for that. I do see problems and issues in some of the Marvel movies but overall I find those movies to be well-crafted and entertaining and to be honest, that’s what I’m looking for in a movie. Good craftsmanship and entertainment.

Unlike BvS, Marvel’s latest flick, the 3rd Captain America Movie, titled Civil War is being received well by fans and most critics alike, but there is this undercurrent, this “but” that keeps coming up and it is starting to bug me a bit. I’m not going to link to these articles1 but I’m sure you know what I’m talking about: “Is the Marvel Formula going to work for ever?”.

I’m not saying that Captain America – Civil War is a perfect movie, maybe Marvel has a bit of a third act problem, I don’t know, I’m not a critic, I’m just a guy who likes movies and thinks he knows a few things about how they are made and what kind of deliberations go into storytelling. I’m not sure that I’ve could come up with a better third act than Markus and McFeely, probably not (it’s fair to say that this is also true for act 1 and 2) but for me the important thing is that act 3 doesn’t suck, and guess what…IT DOESN’T!

It’s a perfectly fine story that works and you can feel that the writers, directors and everyone involved cared enough about the audience to tell a story that makes sense and doesn’t insult people intelligence. Some people invoke the “Marvel Formula” but I don’t think that the issue is any formula. Look at other tentpole blockbusters, that’s just the way how those stories are told today. it was a bit different in the 80s in it will be different in 10 years, that’s just how it has always been.

What I love about Marvel is easily exemplified in the Airport scene, no its not the spectacle, that’s fun too though, it’s the fact I can can tell why each character is on the side he’s on, I know why they are fighting their friends and so do they. In fact, the one (or two) character whose alliance is not totally understandable due to their history (or lack thereof) they movie takes it’s time to explain this fact.

I could go on and start comparing BvS to Civil War but I’m not going to do that. This is a screenwriting blog and not a movie review blog so I try to draw the screenwriting conclusion. In Civil War that conclusion ist definitely that you have to make sure that your audience cares about your characters and that you don’t betray that by compromising the integrity of your characters for a plot point.

So that’s it. Go see the movie now, it’s awesome.

Btw, the score is quite good too, guess what I’m currently listening to.

  1. I’m too lazy and I don’t want to generate clicks for them.

Project Report – 12 Monkeys

I’m having a really busy week so as usual I’m going to make this quick.

One book/screenplay: I had to do some grading so I didn’t have too much time but I’ve line up The Truman Show by Andrew Niccol. I also got my copy of the critical edition of Mein Kampf. Don’t worry, I’m not one of those people, it’s for study purposes.

Two movies: I Went to see the new Jungle Book movie and I really liked it. A great example on how to remake/adapt a beloved classic, seems like Disney is on a roll. I quite enjoyed Cinderella and I’m looking forward to the Beauty and the Beast now.

Seven pages: I realized that I shied away from letting my characters actually speak. I decided to let my characters say what I think, so my movie isn’t just an homage to those great times, it’s also about my worldview and to some extent how that worldview got shaped. So yes, I’m on those seven pages.

seven hours: I had to cut this time short, I already mentioned, busy week and I decided to focus on my pages. Orlindo is still AWOL. I think I have to get on that.

Lets end with a nice picture illustrating what I’m really looking forward to….

NewImage

DIVIDED WE FALL!

Project Report – Oceans’s Eleven

It’s that time of the week again.

One book/screenplay: Not too much reading this week, I finished some books for school but I have to find something good for me to read.

Two movies: I watched a couple and I’m planing to go see Jungle Book today.

Seven pages: I rewrote one of the flashbacks and outlined some scenes. I have to outline a lot because even though I have all the moments and I know how it all ends, getting there is harder than I thought.

Seven hours: Orlindo is still dormant when it comes to #ProjectMomentum, I hope he’s alright. So I’m still researching my rewrite of Tomorrow. I haven’t gotten around to the Saber Rider pass but I’ll get to that.

Sorry, but that’s it for today. I have a lot of work to do. So lets end with something fun….

Progress Report – Ten-hut

Ok….after a prolonged hiatus, lets do this again.

One book/screenplay: I did quite some reading. Unfortunately I’m not at liberty to say, well liberty is not the right word. I prepared oral exams for my students and revealing which books I, might give them an unfair hint on what to expect.

Two movies: I watched a lot. While I was sick I binged “Daredevil”, rewatched some classics and I finally saw BvS. No I’m not going to review these things. I’m a writer, not a reviewer.

Seven pages: As I mentioned in my last post, I got rid of a character and applied those changes. This week I focused on the next big sequence, actually the first and ver important sequence where I plan to reveal the characters, their motivations and their flaws. It’s a pub-crawl and it’s coming along great.

seven hours: Judging from his blog, Orlindo is probably dead. I spent some time on Tomorrow and I’m prepping a last pass on Saber Rider. There are a few tiny problems with easy fixes. I want to have a look at each of the characters and refine their arks, especially April. I had an idea on how to make her journey more appealing and relevant.

$ 32

I type, therefore I am.

So thats it for the rundown…and now for something completely different…typing.

Let’s type some words about typing. I’m a decent typer. Not the fastest one and I’m not too good with the way you’re supposed to type but I get get fairly quickly across a keyboard and get my thoughts across at a nice pace. But it always bugged me that I’m not a really good typist (is that a word?) so I googled typing course and lo and behold, the internet is full of them.

I found out that I’m a really bad typer. I’m decently fast but I hit some of the keys with the wrong finger. Seriously, the “C”? How’s that possible without being a contortionist?

But I decided to hang non there. I doubt I’ll be able to type perfectly but I hope to improve my typing speed and accuracy. I’m aiming for better, not perfect. At some point though I have to give the dictation feature of my mac another try. I started to use Siri for a couple of things like setting alarms and so and It works really well,maybe dictation will soon catch up to that.

I’m using https://www.typing.com and I quite like it.

This is about it, As you now know, this took me really long to type. 🙂

Mea culpa, aka I got a cold

So, yeah, I’m a week late. I caught a cold and was not able to attend to the duties of #ProjectMomentum. On the bright side, Orlindo is doing way worse.
I didn’t really do anything, so I don’t have to say a lot but I hope to get going again. I’m not totally throng the cold but I’m better.

I watched a couple of things while in bed, but I don’t really want to comment on them. It’s not fair to give opinions on stuff you watched while you were sick, for better and worse.

This is it for today, it’s not much but it’s all there’s going to be. I’ll be back next week with a long post.