Script Frenzy 2011

Script Frenzy 2011Two years ago, I attempted an adaptation of the Punisher: Circle of Blood graphic novel.  It isn’t bad, and I might even show it to someone someday.  Last year, I took a short story I wrote and did an adaptation of it.  It also isn’t bad, and it too I might show to other people in the future.  Both need another couple of passes before I’m happy with them though.

This year, I decided to write an original screenplay instead.  And it was much harder.

I’m sure the screenplay itself won’t actually be harder to write, once I get to it.  See, the hard part this year was that by working on an adaptation, like I had the previous two years, there is less prep work.  The characters and the plot is around 90% there.  Sure, you’ll have to make changes, but the foundations are there.  But with an original, I have to make all that stuff up myself, which I didn’t do before hand, and so I’ve spent the last four weeks fleshing out characters and plot points, layout out arcs, and doing everything I should have done in March but never got around to.

Lesson learned: start prepping in March next year.

That said, I like what I’ve got, even if with a day and a half to go I don’t have a single page of screenplay.  I’ve got notes.  Lots of notes.  And I really like the idea I’ve come up with, so I will continue to work on this and hope to have a finished screenplay in a couple of months.  What’s it about?  I’d rather not say, but I will leave you with one little tidbit.  The title.

“Ursa Major”

Script Frenzy 2010 – Results

Pretty much as I expected, I didn’t make the 100 pages.  However, I more than doubled my attempt from 2009.  I have, what I consider, 28 very solid pages.  I really enjoyed working on this and am going to continue because I want to see it through.

One thing I’ve heard of other people doing that I have decided to start myself is what is called “Morning Pages”.  Essentially, most people are better at planning in the early part of the day before conflicts and new items can screw up your plans, so you write three pages a day in the early morning to get them done.  Seeing as how these days I tend to get up at 6 A.M. but don’t go to work until 8 A.M. I’ve got time I currently spend reading message boards and watching TV.  Writing would be a better use of my time.

If I had done this throughout April, I might have been able to hit the 100 page mark.  There’s always next year.

Writing and writing

Script Frenzy has begun.  If you care, you can follow my progress on their site.  A good start for two days, I’m on target anyway.  While working on it, I found myself needing to step away, not from writing but specifically from the script while I sorted out a detail, and found myself polishing up chapter 2 of T.A.S.E.T. I finished it.

It feels good to make progress.

Good News, Bad News

The good news is that I am writing.  The bad news is that most of it isn’t for Script Frenzy.

See, I had this idea.  I was going to take a graphic novel and write a screenplay out of it.  Its actually coming along quite well, but a lot more slowly than I had hoped.  Ultimately, since the graphic novel is from the early 80’s there is actually very little dialogue that I can steal directly from the text.  Did people actually talk like that?  Did people actually think street thugs and criminals talked like that?  Wow…  Anyway, there are also plot elements I can’t use, either because they don’t make sense, or because they can’t be made to make sense in 120 pages or less, or… well…

Oh hell, its not like I need to be secretive… the graphic novel I am working on taking to screenplay is The Punisher: Circle of Blood.  In my opinion, taking the Punisher to screen should be done in three parts: An origin story, then Circle of Blood, and then Suicide Run.  The reasons for this are simple.  The origin story, or at least one set near the beginning of his career sets up the character and puts him on the road of killing bad guys.  Circle of Blood involves Frank dealing with the consequences of his actions.  Suicide Run puts Frank in a place where he has to seriously consider whether he’s actually helping anymore.

The 1989 Dolph Lundgren film was a travesty.  The 2004 Thomas Jane film actually told the origin well, but it changed the origin a lot and the villain was lame.  The 2008 Ray Stevenson film actually got Frank as close to right as I think they could, but then they ruined the film with a terrible misuse of Jigsaw, horrible accents and dumb ultra-violence.  However, when it came to approaching my take on Circle of Blood, I didn’t want to be stuck with the legacy of these films, and yet I also didn’t want to ignore them.  The first scene in my script doesn’t exist in the book.  My version opens in a courtroom where the DA is laying out his closing arguments against Frank Castle, the Punisher.  Its important because this DA’s monologue touches on the idea that legend and rumor are a factor, and it is the job of police detectives to sift through that to the truth.  This opens the door to allowing the audience to feel like maybe they haven’t seen 100% of the truth so far.  That maybe the other three films were just versions of the truth, stories told and retold, much of the details being filled in by the tellers since real witnesses are few and far between.  It even opens the film up to allow a fourth actor into the role of Frank if that is something that has to happen.

The next major hurdle for me was in trying to decide if I needed Jigsaw.  Circle of Blood makes use of that character, but the makers of the 2008 film saw fit to kill him off.  So now I am managing two versions of the script going forward.  One is Circle of Blood without Jigsaw, which just seems a little off, and the other is Circle of Blood with Jigsaw’s introductory scene including a jab at the previous film as Frank says, “I thought you were dead” and Jigsaw replies (without a lame cartoony New York accent), “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated,” alluding back to the courthouse scene as well as setting Jigsaw up to be more than the semi-brainless thug of the 2008 movie by actually having him quote Mark Twain.  I really like the second version, but I’m not sure other people will be so ready to buy it.

The last hurdle is in taking some of the extraordinarily fantastic action of the comic and trying to ground it more firmly in reality without losing the spectacle of it.

All of this, as I said, has been tougher than I first imagined, mostly because it had been years since I’d actually read Circle of Blood and I didn’t realize how much of it I wasn’t going to be able to just take from the page.  Due to this, I’ve found myself wandering off and writing other things while I ponder decisions.  I’m afraid I won’t make 100 pages by the end of the month, but this has been a good experience none the less, and I plan to try to finish this screenplay even if I miss the deadline.

30 Days, 100 Pages

Tomorrow begins Script Frenzy.

You know, for the last few years I’ve made an effort to participate in the NaNoWriMo, but November is just such as awful time of year.  Everything always seems up in the air, crazy, and trying to add novel writing on top of it just never works out for me.  Threats of unemployment, actual unemployment, holidays, budget concerns, falling temperatures and people who get sick and then don’t stay home getting everyone else sick… I suppose there are people who thrive on that, but for me its just distracting.  I’m going to make an effort this year to try to clear up as many things as possible before November to take away some of the stress and see if I can make a real honest go at it.

April, however, is a much better month.  Temperatures actually rising, taxes sorted out and filed already (or at least sorted out and waiting for the last possible moment to mail them in).  April just seems to have much less drama and stress for me.  Maybe its just me, but whatever the cause, unlike November and the NaNoWriMo, I am ready for April and Script Frenzy.

30 Days, 100 Pages… here I come.

Script Frenzy

Every year I attempt the NaNoWriMo.  Every year, so far, I have failed to achieve the goal of 50,000 words by the end of the month.  November tends to always be a harsh month for me.  But even though I fail, I do still love the effort, which is why this year I’ll also be giving a shot at Script Frenzy.

I love movies and TV, and I’ve always got ideas floating around in my head, but until recently the tools I used to write scripts (Word) didn’t support the format very well.  I’ve discovered that the more effort you have to put into formatting the less desire you have to actually write.  Of course, I could always adopt a “write now, format later” attitude, but that just isn’t my style.  I don’t have a problem with rewrites, but if it just looks wrong to start with… anyway… through my brother, through a friend of his, I discovered celtx.  I’ve always wanted to own one of those cool screenwriting programs, but never could get beyond paying the money for them, an often non-trivial amount (they start around $150 and go up from there).  I did once get Write Brothers Writer’s DreamKit 4, but it turned out to be more complicated to use that I had hoped, or maybe I just sucked at using it.  Celtx, on the other hand, is simple.  I downloaded it, installed it, and spent just a couple minutes familiarizing myself with the menus.  Then I watched one of the five or so minute video walkthrus from their website, and then I pounded out ten pages of script.  All perfectly formatted.  Awesome.

So, with celtx in my arsenal, on April 1st, I’ll be undertaking the Script Frenzy challenge: 30 days, 100 pages.  At first, I was going to tackle one of the many ideas I have scribbled on bits of paper or filed away in documents on my PC, but then I went and saw Watchmen.  It got me to thinking about all the comic book based movies I’ve seen and how some I felt nailed the material, even when they strayed from it, and how others totally blew it and left me thinking “I could writer better than that.”  To that end, I went to my bookshelf full of graphic novels and picked one out.  I’ve got 12 days now to read my source material, get familiar with it and make some preliminary notes, and then, come April, I’ll start drafting my adaptation.  By May, we’ll see which category of comic book adaptation writer I fall into.