Petra’s-spective: Update 1

Update to this

Very quick update today. And possibly the least indicative of what I’m going for with this script. This is the opening, where I’m showing the Petra’s sitting down to watch the film. This is mainly to not only introduce the characters, but also to introduce the different filming styles. I know it may seem like I’m spending a lot of time on the introductions, but that’s mainly because I need time for the differences in the visuals and audio to become apparent so that when they happen later in the film-within-a-film it’s easier for the audience to understand what’s happening without having to actually explain it.

So, here’s the opening, hope you enjoy it.

I do give a peak of the fictional film there and I had to try and remember what christmas films were like back then. Decided on rap because it was used as shorthand for “cool”, and chose Silver Bells because a rap version of that actually exists and I love it.

That’s the tricky part, those films were generally terrible and I have to remember that, but I also need to make sure that this script is actually still watchable. So it needs to kind of suck, but in an entertaining way. That’s a really tricky balance to do and it’s not going to be easy, should be fun though. I just need to make sure my love for the genre shines through.

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.

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,

Toni And Cleo (feature-length script)

So as you may know, I occasionally post my own scripts on here, and that’s what today’s is about. Sometimes with my longer scripts I’ll post updates as I go so that you can see it all develop and come together. That’s not the case here, all I’m giving you is that it’s a follow-up episode to this. For those of you who didn’t click that, first off; rude. Second: a school shooting occurred. That’s all that’s relevant from that episode to this one. It features the same situation, but different characters and a different time frame. I hope you enjoy, worked really hard on it and incredibly proud of what I’ve managed to do:

Spoilers, so read that before you read on.

This went through quite a few different iterations while I was writing it. The moment where she burns the pictures of her son as she thinks he’s the killer, and only finds out the truth too late? That was originally the ending. Decided against that as it meant I was unnaturally delaying the characters from getting to that location. They would have gone straight there so narratively it was difficult to make that interesting. Would have just been people driving and talking, and that’s quite difficult to make compelling. My next ending was her finding out that her son was actually a good person, and beat people up for a good reason. Again, I brought that forward, because Toni was too sad and I needed to do something to cheer her up. The other major change was introducing the character of Esther. I never planned her to be in it, she turned up in the script one day and I was intrigued by what I could do with this character. I then decided to adjust the timeline and have a lot of it take place in flashbacks, so the show started on the set of Esther and we kind of worked the story back towards that point. The original opening was Toni’s husband leaving her. I don’t think it added anything to the story or the characters, so I deleted it and it doesn’t feel like it’s missing so worked out for the best.

The introduction of Esther also allowed me an antagonist. In the original draft the antagonist role was taken by someone very different: Toni’s sister Cleo. This is why the way they interact in the car from the airport is drastically different from how they do otherwise. I felt Toni needed someone who supports her, and Cleo was the best choice. It didn’t require much changing, I changed some of their dialogue to take place between Toni and Esther instead, other than that I kept it the same. That’s kind of weird but I feel it makes sense in the story, the two sisters do react with some hostility when they meet, and that relationship does change so there is the chance it could come off as unnatural. But luckily I made this change when I got to the part of the story where the shooting happens, so the audience just sees it as “they’ve put aside their petty differences because they’ve realised what’s important”. So it weirdly makes sense (albeit completely accidentally).

The other change was the ending. It did end with Esther shooting herself, and ending I was never really happy with, only had it happen because it needed an ending and it needed to be at that point (was going to make it twenty pages longer but when I got to that point I just felt “this has to end in the next few pages, otherwise it would feel wrong”). I’ve changed it so she walks out in shame (was going to have her arrested, but despite being a horrible person, she never technically broke any laws, plus, I knew enough about her character to know she’d flourish in prison). A fantastic ending is out there somewhere, I just need to try and find it.

Yeah, that was that. I hope you enjoyed it, any feedback will be greatly appreciated, and thank you for your time. Oh, and I am aware I labelled this a “feature-length” script, despite it being a television episode. My aim for every episode of this is that they could work as stand alone features with a little tweaking, and I firmly believe that to be the case here. Plus, if I said it was episode three people would feel they would have had to read the first two (which considering I haven’t written the second one yet, would be difficult)

Let’s See You Do Better: Update 5

I’ve actually finished. A 104 page script complete. It’s not perfect, I added a plot point half-way through writing that I’m going to need to set up better. And I’m thinking of completely changing the opening (as seen here). But other than that I’m pretty proud off what I’ve done. It’s not the greatest Freddy film, but I am confident it’s better than the worst, and really that’s all this was for, was to prove there’s no excuse for film studios to churn out bad scripts. I’m not going to post it all yet, will do once I go through it, but I will give you the ending as it’s probably the most “controversial” part of it.

So to bring you up to speed with the characters:

  • Bruce, summons Freddy to help him stop having nightmares about his mother molesting him. In this he just came out of a coma where he spent every moment in an empty void of nothingness which has driven him slightly mad. He’s also written a screenplay based on Freddy (which is implied to be the first Nightmare On Elm Street film) and posted it.
  • James and Molly. The last survivors. Just before this scene they entered a police station to dispose of evidence of Freddy. In this universe, the town are using Freddy as a form of justice, unleashed on someone if they break the law (or become “undesirable”, which is a fucking chilling thing to think of by the way). All the information about Freddy is at the station, so they hope by destroying it, the town won’t be able to use it as a form of justice anymore because if nobody finds out about Freddy, he can’t be effective.

So without further ado, here’s the ending:

Read it? Good. So yeah, I did the ending to a Freddy film where he barely features. I know some people won’t like that but I think it suits this film better. This was never Freddy against the teens, this was always about someone using Freddy for his own ends, and that person is more important to the story than Freddy is.

Quite like the ending i’ve got (even though I blatantly stole the final scene from Watchmen), because I went abstract as hell. It made sense as if it’s a dream world, you don’t want a normal fist fight, you want something that can only exist in this film.

Let’s See You Do Better: Update 4

So it’s been a while since the last update. Last time I was still feeling out this story, and now I’ve got it: I’ve done 75 pages, and I’ve got things in my head which will add easily another 10 pages. I’ve got a good sense of the characters (I’ll post more details about that later) with the exception of one. I’ve got one character who I know I’ll have to change. There’s a character called Scott who was a very rich kid (as in, “his parents got him a boat for his birthday” rich) who was pretending to be an abused drug addict as he thought that was more “authentic”. I like the character but I feel it’s not really suited for this so I have to change it, I’m not sure what to do to change it but I’ll think of something.

So I know you’re not that interested in the plotting so far, because then you’ll have to see the whole thing, you want the deaths. So here goes my newest death: Nikki. Background on her character: a wannabe celebrity who has an eating disorder.

I’ve done a few other deaths but this is the most important one I’ve done because it firmly establishes who Freddy is in this universe. He’s not a serial killer in the “I will stab you” way. He’s a god, he sets up a situation in which a death occurs. He lets the situations play themselves out and sits back and observes.

So I was making progress, and then disaster happened. Quick background on this script: it involves pills that can suppress dreams, some of the adults are on them because they’re aware of Freddy, now obviously they die in the film when those pills get taken away. I was writing one of the parents deaths and came up with this (for clarification, Danny is Taryn’s dad, this is his dream, and Taryn is secretly Freddy trying to find information out):

That one section excites me so much. The idea of a town weaponising Freddy to rid the town of criminals is terrifying. It’s a horror dystopia, and it’s disturbing as hell. But whilst I’m excited, I’m also aware that I now have to go through the whole fucking script and change things to set up this society. I’m going to have to write every adult character as having the knowledge that they are compliant in this. How would that effect the town? Well now I have to write it. Damnit! But also: ooooo fun

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