Petra’s-spective

Usually I write scripts for one of two reasons:

  1. Doing the idea genuinely excites me (Superlee, Dark Night)
  2. Spite/to prove a point (Nightmare On Elm Street, Headlines)

This, this is different. This is one made from love, but it also doesn’t excite me. It terrifies me. Not in a “This idea is creepy and horrific” way, but in a “This is going to be incredibly complicated” way. So what is it?

Petra’s-spective

A girls coming of age story framed with how she views a film from her childhood at different points in her life, with the sections of her life and her different takes on the film, being shown and told non-linearly.

Each times she watches the film; it features the same story, actors, and dialogue, but each comes across wildly different in execution, tone, theme and genre, depending on where she is in her life.

The film, Last Christmas (title will change) , she watches is a Christmas based family drama, which she first sees on TV (with adverts), then DVD, then streamed. When she’s young she sees the film as a comedy about a kid pranking his (no films from that time featured a female lead, so she has to identify with a male character) neglecting parents till they realise the errors of their way and give him attention, which her story at the time parallels. When she’s a teen it’s a romantic drama, about their teen daughter and her boyfriend and having to put up with her embarrassing family through the holidays. And when she’s an adult she realises the film is about the parents splitting up while trying to keep a good Christmas going for their bratty kids. The film ends on what appears to be a happy dinner, but with the undertone that this is the end of the parents’ marriage.

Petra 7: Is left to watch the film by her parents as they argue, and draws parallel between the child feeling neglected in the film to how she feels, and tries to gain her parents attention.

Petra 17: After receiving a DVD of Last Christmas for a present, she is forced to watch it with her family, as she waits for her Boyfriend to arrive who she is in the middle of fighting with due to a pregnancy scare. She makes parallels to the teen daughter in the film, seeing it as a drama about the daughter dealing with her nightmare family with her Boyfriend over for Christmas.

Petra 37: Is watching the film with her own daughter on Christmas, as they wait for her husband to come home for Christmas as he has had to work. She sees parallels with the mother and father characters in the film, finally understanding that the film is about the parents getting divorced while trying to have a last good Christmas as a family.

So yeah, that’s a lot of narratives running through one film, where the style and tone will be used as a major narrative device. Best scene to demonstrate the concept is this:

There’s a scene of the younger child pranking their sister’s boyfriend and it being played for laughs from the childs POV. Then when we see it from the Teens POV we see the heartbreak she is going through: she’s lost her first love and her life feels like it’s over. Then from the adult POV we see it as slightly petulant whining, all we can think is “you were together for a week, you’ll get over it”. This will be demonstrated almost entirely by different lighting and scores, and slight modifications to the performance. But it will be the same scene played once through, with the time changing during camera cuts.

The difficult thing for this is how to demonstrate it in the script. This will have to be read by people I can’t converse and explain, the script will have to explain itself. Best way I can think of doing it is this:

Script notes: each section within the fiction film (labelled as “film” in the scene headings) take place in the same location. The colour of the text corresponds with the style of filming and which version of Petra we see in the fictional film:
Age 7. Lots of bright colours and cheerful music (think Home Alone)
Age 17. Darker, overly depressing and angsty music
Age 37. More subtle colours, orchestral music

This will allow me to change the timelines mid-scene and have it easily understandable to the reader.

Dark Night: Episode 1 (Update 2)

For those unaware, read this and this first.

So, I’ve actually finished it. Not showing the whole thing yet as there’s a plot point that at the moment is left unresolved and I can’t find a narrative place to fix it without pausing the story for unnecessary dialogue. Also I changed my mind on how one of the characters operates so I need to go back and modify that, tweak some of the traps to make them more on-brand etc. I’m not sure whether to show any reactions to it from the outside world or not. On the plus side it would allow me to cut between times easily, and getting reactions from people is the easiest way to nudge the audience towards certain things. But another part of me feels that cutting away from a trapped house will make it feel less trapped. I’ll figure it out. But until then, here’s the ending.

Quick summary of what’s happened before this that you haven’t seen: Terri has lost an eye and has had to resort to cannibalism after being locked in a room with a dead body for 63 days, she saved Anna and the two are the last survivors.

Now, as someone else pointed out, Harley Quinn isn’t a nurse, and that’s not her name. In my head her visual aesthetic is the same as from the Arkham Asylum games which just seemed more “nurse” to me. In the second draft I’m likely to change it to a hospital room. The downside of that is it wouldn’t feel as trapped as it is in an ambulance. Although it being set in an ambulance does raise one question: Who’s driving? I need an answer to that in my Harley Quinn episode, and if I can’t think of one I will definitely have to change it. And I’m still not sure whether to actually have the Joker in it more. At the moment he’s almost a cameo, I need a way to remind the audience that this is his doing, and he’s overseeing it all. But it’s hard to figure out a natural way to do that. There is a really obvious way, I know, but I need to realise what it is. Also, I’m still not completely sure whether Harley was lying about whether Anna survived. In my head I had two endings: one where Terri thought she got away with it but then found out Anna survived, and had the realisation of what that meant, and the Harley Quinn one. This was my way of kind of doing both, but I need to pull it off better.

The Journey

I wrote this years ago as part of a script competition. Completely different genre (fantasy) from what I normally do, and the main character is a child, and they’re always hard to write, but hope you enjoy it. Some of the dialogue is a little on-the nose but I think the concept works. Of course I wrote it, so it’s super depressing and bleak at the end.

Dark Night: Episode 1 (update 1)

For those uncertain as to what this is, read this first.

Essentially, here’s the next 12 pages. Was very hard for me to decide where to end this preview section. Since it’s all in one room it can be hard to find a definitive “break” in the action. Was originally only going to post two or three pages, ending when the joker leaves. I had to go really dark with this iteration of him, I had to make him impossible to like. So after showing him being a sociopath, I then focus on a fan of his. This section is probably the most overt I get in terms of referencing the wider universe. It’s a locked room so there’s not exactly many opportunities to showcase characters you know.

Anyway, here it is.

The next update will lead up to the final section. Then I’ll be posting the two endings I have so far so I can ascertain which one people prefer. This section is mainly character building. There’s not too much horror here. I’m just establishing who these characters are, and setting up some dominos for later (and a few red herrings). To make up from that I’ve had to up the horror, and trust me, I’ve got some truly disgusting bits in the next section. It’s a specific moment in the next section which led to me receiving these messages:

Those reactions are pretty much what I’m aiming for in this. It has fucked up my search history though *waves to government agents*.

Should have review of Shang-Chi ready by Wednesday, then another one on Friday. Been a slowdown in new releases at local cinema so it’s slowed how many I’m watching. Until then, enjoy this, and leave comments as to where you think it’s going etc and if you can think of any issues/mistakes I’ve made. I’m aware the dialogue is a little ropey at times, but that’s the point of a first draft.

Dark Night: Episode 1

This isn’t just for reviews, I occasionally post my writing, and if you hadn’t guessed I’m going to be doing that again today. Yet another new project to add to the continuing of Headlines, Headspace, Superlee, and Nightmare On Elm Street (as well as a few I haven’t posted on here). This is my current project though and it comes from a facebook conversation, about how superhero movies need to move into other genres, specifically how cool it would be to see a Batman-themed horror film. Hence this, a short series of horror scripts set in the Batman universe.

Here’s the opening to the first episode:

So yeah, a Saw movie with the Joker as the villain. I know the obvious choice would be the Riddler but I’m having one of the characters be a massive Joker fan, someone who worships him and sees him as actually a good guy, like his craziness is to be looked up to. Because that’s what people actually think. Look online and you will see people saying how they agree with the character and he’s actually a hero, forgetting that he’s a sociopathic rapist and murderer. Riddler doesn’t have that sort of fanbase in real life, so it wouldn’t be as effective. It had to be Joker, and I have to make him as cruel as possible for this story to work, to remind people about who he really is. That’s also going to be difficult, to make him an actual villain and not worthy of worship. Considering that on the next page I show him shooting two toddlers just to prove a point, I think I’ve done that pretty well.

Few things I need to change, one of which is I need to figure out who one of the characters is. Done about 40 pages (this is just the opening) and there’s one who I still haven’t really established so I need to do that, then go back and change them. I’m also working on a sub-plot involving the police searching for victims in other similar rooms around the city. I’ve done parts of that (and it involves a simply BRUTAL death for someone which I’m looking forward to showing people) but it’s difficult to slot them into this narrative without it seeming like it’s disrupting the flow.

Also I definitely need better puzzles, I haven’t got too much experience in escape rooms and I think that shows.

Other than that, I feel confident that I can finish this script and make it a satisfying read. I’ve placed enough subtle clues as to where things are going that I hope will provide satisfying resolutions. I just need to actually settle down and do it now. I’m also very excited by other possible episodes as they will allow me to do different kinds of horror. I’m thinking the Poison Ivy episode will basically be a zombie movie, Scarecrow will be akin to Nightmare On Elm Street, and I definitely need to do one set in Arkham. Other than that, not sure yet. Let’s wait and see.

Normal reviews will be back on Friday, with either Sweat or People Just Do Nothing, only saw those films yesterday so haven’t had time to do a review yet, spoilers, they’re getting good ones,

Once Upon A Time In Nollywood

I noticed something a few weeks ago: the Western viewpoints of cinema. Despite Hollywood and the British film industry being made of people from diverse backgrounds (kinda), it’s only stories about locations we know that we see. This is kind of weird, wouldn’t a compelling story be a compelling story regardless of location? Would a love story not work just as well in Algiers as it does in New York? Studios push diversity in their marketing, and yet still only really do them set in Western world. “Look, a film consisting almost entirely of Asian people, diversity!” “Where’s it set?” “New York”.

As such I decided to be the annoying little prick I have a tendency to do, and write a story set in Africa. This was mainly because a lot of the countries are English speaking (woo colonialism and attempted genocide), yet are still uncharted lands when it comes to cinema. Seriously, how many films can you think of which are set in African countries and aren’t based around:

  • Extreme poverty
  • War
  • Period pieces involving slavery

I mean, I guess there’s Chappie and District 9. But other than that? Not much. So I decided to see if I could, similar to my Nightmare On Elm Street, just to be like “if I can, you can, stop making excuses”. So I present to you:

First off, yes that is a working title. As will become clear, I don’t know that much about Nigerian culture. I probably should have done more research into it, but I don’t know what I need to know. A google search can tell you facts, it can’t show you the random cultural quirks that make a country stand out. So if I was to do this, I would definitely have someone from the country go through and heavily edit it. I put a few cultural references in, a few bits of local slang, a few local locations, and local names (you’ll be surprised how many writers don’t do this). It’s not a perfect script, but I am kind of proud of what I’ve done. Not just because you should always feel proud when you complete a project, but also because it’s a plot I’m genuinely proud of. It has some imagery that I love, some of the most detestable characters I’ve ever done, and a mid-plot character change which doesn’t come off as made up on the spur of the moment (although it totally was). I can probably change the wording of the closing shot, I know exactly the image I want and I’m not sure it comes off quite as I see it in my head. I can probably cut the opening too as it’s just me repeating “this guy’s a dick” again and again. Also, this is not the best genre to write as you go along. You need to plan this, and I didn’t. So I really need to go through and connect a few threads better.

Superlee!

So a few years ago I had a really bad pun I needed to get rid of. It was too bad to use on it’s own on facebook so I had to think of a way to make it somewhat acceptable. In the end I decided on this:

Screenshot 2020-06-27 at 11.31.05

Okay it’s not the best method but it transformed a shit joke into a mediocre one. I then used the “reasons I’d make a terrible superhero” to dump out more bad puns, then shit changed. I started to use jokes about the format of superhero movies, about morality, and about vengeance. People really started to dig it, so I considered having it in another medium. We briefly had a webcomic (visible here) but I needed more. I eventually decided as a sketch show, albeit one where every episode has a running theme. It was when I was thinking of this that I came up with one of the most distinguished parts of the series: Lee would be a male character, but Superlee would be female. I’ll freely admit that this is because the one performer I trust with this character is a woman, plus I found the idea funny. It’s easy to justify too, just say “well, of course, I look different, that’s a point of a secret identity”.  That part has been kept, because I found it funny, and it’s unique. Plus it really sets up the weird pseudo-reality tone that I’m going for. There was just one issue; sketch shows are really fast-paced, and the way I write REALLY isn’t. So I put it on the backburner until last month when I needed to write a sitcom for reasons I can’t be bothered to go into here. It went through a few structural changes as I was writing it. I had a character who was originally supposed to be in one scene but then I decided to make him a season regular. I added a narrator, not so much for the benefit of this episode but it will really come into it’s own later in the season. The format is pretty much settled, and all but one major character. I’ve set up the first season with this episode and I’m pretty proud of what I’ve managed, especially since with the exception of one scene it’s filmable on a cheap budget. I know this isn’t the final draft, but I’ve definitely got the major parts down. I feel different drafts from here on in will be tweaks rather than complete rewrites. Hope you guys enjoy it too, here you go:

superlee begins

Headspace

So yeah, I attempted to write a sitcom. I’ve had this “gimmick” for a while now but didn’t really do much with it. The difficulty with it is how to sell it to people. Outside of the central gimmick, I don’t really know what separates it from others; the situations and characters are pretty standard.

The gimmick: the two main characters have a “Headspace” (Hey, that’s the title of the show). It’s essentially a monologue room/look inside their brain. Both rooms will be relatively blank at the start: containing just a chair. The room itself will be used to show how their minds are at the moment: as they get closer their rooms will start to share certain elements to showcase the closeness of the characters. When the characters start feeling depressed this will be symbolised by their rooms becoming more empty. Within the monologue room, the characters will be interacting with the viewing audience (for example at one point one of the characters will refer to something that a character just said and point out that the show will be coming back to it in a future episode).

I’m aiming for a slightly meta sense of humour, with the occasional joke made about typical sitcom tropes and conventions. As the series goes on these will get larger, so you have entire episodes that deal with tropes specific to a certain genre. For example, there will be a Halloween episode which is based around the characters telling stories. This will be mocking the different trends often used in the different types of horror films. As the series develops I’d be able to develop more emotional storylines which will tug on the heartstrings of the viewer. That is why my first attempt at doing this script failed. I was too miserable to delve too deeply into my own psyche and look at mental health issues. It just made it kind of hateful and cruel, and incredibly disjointed. I think I’ve done better with this, made the characters more likeable, have a much better first episode plot than I did last time too. The tricky thing is setting up the gimmick, I need to do it enough times that the audience grasps it, but not do it so much it becomes annoying. I think I’ve managed that but it’s not really for me to judge.

So, here’s the new first episode:

headspace

I know at the moment it’s not really there yet. I need to delete a few pages, develop the side characters more, and (most importantly) make it funnier. I’m going to need a MUCH higher joke ratio for this to work, but I feel for a first draft I’ve done pretty well here. I’m currently doing a pilot script for another sitcom, and I should be able to post that in a few days time, that one has a MUCH higher joke rate. Jokes are something I really struggle with, I’m okay with comedic situations etc, but I take way too long to get to them and for a sitcom that’s not really suitable. They really need to come thick and fast (title of your sex tape) and to be honest, I kind of suck at that (that’s what she said). It’s a unique skill, and I’m getting there, but it’s obviously going to take practice. I’m going to need to do drafts which are just putting in jokes etc. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed it, notes and feedback always welcome

The Isolation Scripts: Script 4 (Three Kings)

So lately I’ve been working mainly on the Nightmare script, so haven’t really done any shorts. So again, I’m dipping into the vault. This one was knocked up over a weekend a few years ago, I can’t really remember why, though. I assume I had a reason for it, but I can’t recall. I think it did kind of change the way I write though, it’s probably the first script I’ve done where the actions outweighed the dialogue. It’s also one where I went kind of cliche. The “twist” is obvious, plus it doesn’t really have an ending. It has a reveal, but that’s not the same thing. Anyway, here goes Three Kings. Enjoy

Three Kings

Let’s See You Do Better: Update 2

Note: if you’re unsure what this is about, visit here

So it’s been a while since I’ve updated this, been busy on other projects. I thought I’d offer a quick update as to how the story is going. I have an idea of where it’s going and should probably do an outline to establish it. I’ve been reading some of the Nightmare On Elm Street comics too, they’re mostly terrible but there are a few really disturbing parts in them. The trouble with doing a script like this is that theoretically anything is possible, and when you’ve got no limits then it can be boring to do standard things. Like I was going to have a scene where someone dies by having their face held against a hotplate until the skin melts. Very gruesome and could be horrific if done right, but it’s also possible, so would be best used for another film (could work in a Halloween film I think). I’m posting my progress now because after this is when the actual horror starts. I’ve put some creepy moments in there but all of it is setting up the rest of the film. So, here’s the opening:

nightmare

I’m quite proud of what I’ve got here, but I know some of it will HAVE to change. I have to set up his PTSD nightmares more (I’ve got a great idea but at the moment it’s a bit too similar to a scene from Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark), so I’m going to need to think of a better way of doing it before putting it on paper. I need to set up the background characters more, specifically the ones in his class. This should be easily done, it’s a classroom so lots of chance for debate which I could use to showcase character traits. Overall I think I’ll have a better idea of how I want the beginning to go when I get to the end as I know what I’ll have to set up. I’m very wary of timing, I’ve seen A LOT of horror films which seem to take two-thirds of the script before the actual story starts. I hate when it happens and I don’t want to do it. At the moment it’s about 20 minutes, which I think gives me a good basis to start, especially since it is still relatively scare-heavy. I think if I keep that level of intensity up I could extend the beginning by about another ten minutes and keep the momentum going.