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.

Progress Report 19 – Life Lessons and Space Cowboys

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Sadly he’s not alive anymore. 🙁

I’m skipping that whole numbering scheme. There aren’t enough decent movies with numbers in the title. From time to time one might pop up…but I’m done looking for them.

I had a busy week. I’m still on track with pretty much all my projects. Some things are still in shambles though, totally my fault, no-one else to blame but that’s life. But more about that later.
#ProjectMomentum is experiencing a “soft-reboot”. We’re (Orlindo and I) are still committed but we need some more structure, especially him. He’s contemplating abandoning his blog (at least for #ProjectMomentum purposes) but he promises to comment here more often. We also established a “mail answer rule” to make sure that things don’t fall through the cracks and on of us (usually me) has to wait 4 weeks for an answer. 🙂

We are confident that these changes will help us relaunch #ProjectMomentum1 and make us more productive….speaking of productive, this weeks numbers are:

One book/screenplay: Reading a lot for school.
Two movies: I’m really saddened by Gene Wilders passing so I popped in Blazing Saddles and Young Frankenstein and for a little while I wasn’t so sad anymore.
Seven pages: I’m currently on page 25, I have to go back though and adjust a few things, but more on that later.
Seven hours: That bloody project still keeps me up at night but it’s a bit on the back burner right now. I hope that Orlindo has some new material ready to have a look at.

Let’s get down to some actual blogging.

I’m quite happy with the pages I wrote so far but there is something in my writing that I need to address and I’m not just talking about “Die Klientin”, I’m talking about pretty much everything I wrote. The protagonist is usually some version of me, I’m not saying that that is necessarily a bad thing but I’m realizing that I’m protecting my protagonist too much. He needs to suffer more, he needs more flaws (not that I’m lacking in that area). The same is true for antagonists and/or love interests, even if they are inspired by real people or are mashup versions of real people, they need more flaws, they need to create more drama, even if I really liked those people, I have to turn some of them into assholes. Maybe that’s the reason I got stuck with “Down Under”, everyone was/is too bloody perfect.

Typing this, it seems quite obvious but It’s harder than it sounds. In a way I’m writing about friends and who wants to hurt his friends? Maybe that’s why I gravitated towards animation and sci-fi. Too removed from reality, no problem in torturing your space cowboys.

You’re probably wondering what the life lesson part is, well, if you shouldn’t treat your characters like real people, maybe real people shouldn’t be treated like characters, I mean let’s face it, when was the last time your life worked out like a movie? When was one romantic gesture ever enough to change some girl’s mind? I’m not saying it never happens but the odds are slim.

I should stick to space cowboys.

  1. It just occured to me that #ProjectMomentum sounds an awful lot like Project Mayhem, I say very fitting.

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

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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. But 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 rewatched Seven Years in Tibet an Kundun. I recommend those 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 a 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 I’m playing a bit of No Man’s Sky. There’s a lot going on but I hope to get started again next week but I wanted to write a post1. At first I wanted to to another featured Screenplay but I’ll 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 mean 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 until one day 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 most 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.