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

Let’s See You Do Better: Update 3

Okay now I’m getting to the fun parts. The best parts of these movies are the deaths. Because they take place in a dream world you really have no limits so you can get as creative as you want. You need them to be creepy and disturbing. Not sure if it’s just me but I like when the deaths link into the persons character. I feel that makes sense as people dream about things that affect them, so it only makes sense that their dream deaths would be linked to them. That’s what I’m attempting to do in this. I’m about to enter the “adding new characters” stage and I know who some of them are already based solely on how I want them to die. That’s probably a backwards way of doing it but it works for me.  Anyway, here’s what the deaths will be like

deaths

A little bit of background on these two characters:

Alex is a wannabe bodybuilder, who in the scene before this we found out has a real complex about his strength, he has the need to always be the toughest guy in the room, that’s why I had his death take place on one of those “test your strength” fairground machines. Originally I was going to have it take place in a gym but realised that had already been done (I think in the fourth one) in a REALLY creepy piece of body horror where a set of weights were pushed down and used to break a characters arms. I wouldn’t be able to top that so I decided to go in a different direction. Plus I figured it wouldn’t be bad enough for him to be outmuscled, the worst thing would be for him to be outmuscled in public so everybody sees. The little girl being the one to do it came about because it’s a good opportunity to use the creepy Freddy girls in this movie. You know, the ones in the blue dress who sing the rhyme? If I dressed the little girl in it similarly it would be a nice way for me to give a shout out to the original series without being distracting. Originally I had the final blow be done by a random bodybuilder, to show him that no matter how hard he works out, there will always be someone better. I then mentioned in passing to someone that I was considering having the small girl do it instead, and that was received much more favourably so I changed it to that. Someone else mentioned having the head hit the bell at the top. Didn’t do that as I wanted the skull to be shattered, but I did like the concept so I modified it slightly and instead had a small segment of the head hit the bell. This had the double advantage of leading to the next scene. The next scene takes place in a class, so I could easily match up the piece of skull hitting the bell, and the bell ringing in the class.

Now, the second one takes place in a swimming pool. I will freely admit this one was inspired heavily by a graphic novel I found called Clean Room by Gail Simone. If you get a chance I highly suggest you read it as it’s incredibly creepy and inspired some imagery which I will use in this. What was most useful to me from it was these two scenes:

I saw that and thought “I could definitely use that”. I named the child Terry in homage to this scene. The challenge with this was making it different enough so that it wasn’t just “me stealing shit from women writers and claiming it as my own”. I wanted to use it as a jumping-off point for something else, and I like to think I did that. It’s why his death ends the way it does; with him being swallowed by the water (and it’s why I had him responsible for his death again in the dream). I might need to change it more but I’m happy with what I did and think I made it different enough from the original to claim it as my own.

So yeah, those are the deaths, let me know what you think of them, whether they worked etc. And then go read Clean Room as it’s f*cking superb.

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.

The Isolation Scripts: Script 3 (and 3.5)

I wasn’t sure what to do for this one, so I went into my folder of script ideas and tried to find one I could do. I found one:

Screenshot 2020-04-18 at 11.37.53

That was it, that was all I had. It was an idea discussed YEARS ago, just that one sentence and nothing else. We had that idea then quickly moved onto something else. So I did that, twice. The first one, I’ll admit the idea slightly ran away from me and I definitely went on too long. So I did a second one which was completely dialogue-free. I’m not sure which I prefer, or which one works better so I thought I’d show both.

Live

Live short

So, would I make these? I think I would. They’d need heavily adjusting, I think the general concept needs to come through more in the long one, I feel like the “gimmick” is sort of in the background a bit too much. I focused too much on the story being told and not how I was telling it. Plus it’s tonally inconsistent at times, and some of the background characters need to be fleshed out more. On the plus side, I feel it’s more mature than I usually do, in the end, the guy doesn’t get the girl as he fucked up too badly. There are some things that “I’m sorry” just doesn’t fix, some things are hard to get past. The short one is a little trickier to fix, especially since it was mainly made just by cutting out everything from the longer one that I didn’t need, so there are probably things that don’t make sense in it.

I feel these ideas may be improved if I worked on it with people. This idea was made for discussing over drinks with someone, bouncing ideas off each other and come up with it there.

The Isolation Scripts: Bonus Script

Still continuing with this. I haven’t posted anything for a while and there’s a good reason for that; this exercise is based on just writing as I go, making up the plot on the fly. I attempted to write a spy film, and let me tell you now, that’s a TERRIBLE way to write a film of that genre. Those films need to be INCREDIBLY tightly plotted, and making it up as you go means you end up backing yourself into many corners. You need to plan these things out in great detail otherwise they just don’t work. It’s a shame as I had a motivation I was quite proud of, and some good dialogue, but that wasn’t going to be enough. I realised as I approached what should be the end that I had no way to get from where I was at the moment to where I needed to be. Not just narratively, in terms of geography too. The “bad guy” sent the protagonist far away from him so he could do something, so they were a fair distance away from each other, and I needed them to be close to each other within a few hours, the rest of the story took place almost in real-time, so doing a time-jump that late in the script would have been jarring. So yeah I didn’t finish it, decided to scrap it. To make up for it I decided to publish this script I wrote a few years ago for a scriptwriting competition. I’m quite proud of it as it’s a fantasy script, and it’s not a genre I would usually write, but I think I did quite well, especially since it was done in about 48 hours. So, enjoy:

The Journey

The Isolation Scripts: Script Two

For more details on this read this.

So here’s the second one. I hesitate to call this “enjoyable” but hope you appreciate it

The Night

I had multiple issues with tone on this, going from too comedic to gross with no filter between them. Yeah, I had no idea what I was doing with this, I was mostly freestyling it to get to the moment of the neighbour not letting her in due to social distancing rules. But looking back at it that’s the section I’d cut. That entire section at that house doesn’t really add much, not once I got to the end. Now the end of this completely changed my enthusiasm for this. Before that, I thought “okay I’m not dealing with this script, but some of the deaths I could use in a slasher”, but as soon as I hit upon that final few pages (after she leaves the second house) I got excited. The idea of a film where a group of people (lets face it, it would be a group of guys) dress up as their favourite horror movie characters and go around killing people. There’s the traditional aspect could be fun, but crucially I could add in A LOT of detail about how we consume horror movies, about how horror focuses more on the killers than the victims, so it’s natural that people will end up idolizing them. Not only that but a lot of horror movie villains are shot like heroes, the angles are the same that were given to heroes in old Westerns. Suddenly I got very excited about this as an idea, and importantly; an idea I think I could write. In that context the tonal changes might not be as jarring as the villains will be movie-obsessed people, so will give me a lot of chances for comedic moments. Plus, just think of the number of references I could put in. The “Freddy” could mix and match costume aspects from the different iterations of the character.

In summary; I’m not that proud of this script as it is, it’s just a collection of scenes and spots more than a coherent narrative, but I can definitely change it into something very exciting if I put the effort in.

The Isolation Scripts, Script One

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

So, here’s the first script, hope you enjoy it:

Isolation Script One

This was the first place my head went when I tried to think of a script based in these times. The idea of two people communicating and falling in love through a clear window without being unable to actually speak to each other. I think if I was doing a second draft of this I’d add a little more focus on his upstairs neighbour, he’s mentioned in one scene, really just a way to answer the “why don’t they just call/email each other?” question people would have. I feel if I extended the script slightly I could give him more to do, or even not have him actually do anything but the fear of him watching her inspires more of the story. I did consider having a scene where the guy walks out his flat and punches the upstairs neighbour in the face (or throws him off the balcony) but tonally that didn’t really seem to fit what I had. I feel the same about the ending if I’m honest, it feels a little too, I don’t know, cruel? Which is weird as that was a core part of the script when I came up with it, it was all building towards that moment where they sit across from each other and find themselves with nothing to say (it was either going to be that or one of them actually is deaf). So the whole thing was building up to that ending, but now I’ve actually written it I don’t think I like it. Maybe I should have ended it at the moment where they meet. Have a sappy emotionally charged song playing as they go towards each other. I feel I should have done more on the background world as well, using radio announcements to build up a better idea of what’s going on outside of their flat. Overall I’m not too disappointed with it, I don’t think it’s filmable in its current state but I feel it could be workable in a few drafts time, I just need to feel the personal passion towards it.

The Isolation Scripts: Introduction

So this is a weird time, we’ve done a lot of different post types here but mainly it is film reviews. So what do we do when there are no films to review? I thought I’d attempt to use this new free time to do something else; mini scripts. I realise when I write scripts lately I’ve been aiming for either features or television episodes, which are fine but will be impossible to make. I need to write stuff that I could actually make if I wanted to, but I’ve kind of lost the ability to do short scripts. So I might as well use this new free time to work on that. To stop myself focusing too much on it I set up a few rules:

  1. No longer than 20 pages.
  2. No longer than 2 days spent writing.
  3. No second drafts.

This could be a terrible idea, as one of the most important parts of writing is rewriting. But I feel if I do that I could let standards slip as “well I just need to put something down, then I can fix that in a second draft”. This way I will have to train myself to work on writing instincts. If I do end up feeling passionate about one of these then I could develop it first, but these are primarily a writing exercise. I’ll be posting the first one tomorrow, then from then on posting as I finish them.

Let’s See You Do Better (Update #1)

So, last month I posted this. So since writing the opening scene, what have I done? To be honest, nowhere near as much as I feel I should have done. Still kind of finding the rhythm of what this story is. The main thing is I still need to plan out who the main characters are. I’ve got ideas for set pieces and general plot etc, but the characters will be what makes it work. So far I’ve got some ideas. One is Bruce and Carol. Carol is a middle-aged single mother who starred in some low budget horror movies in her youth. Bruce is her teenage son. This is what that leads to:

Nightmare Carol

I’m going to set up the abuse throughout the film. Decided on this because it’s not really something that’s seen that much in horror films, not in that way anyway. When we do see a parent sexually abusing a child it’s a father abusing his daughter, I wanted to showcase the horror of when the genders are flipped. I’m considering making Bruce one of the main characters, have him kind of bring Freddy back by striking a deal; he’ll scare his friends by telling them the stories of Freddy, leaving them more open to Freddy’s influence and danger. In return, Freddy will stop Bruce’s recurring nightmares. Essentially like a mafia protection racket. That scene, in particular, will be used to kick off the third act. Bruce being in a coma will also allow me to have an absolute mindfuck of a final act.

Now onto the second scene that I’ve done. This will be about halfway through. My plan is to set up two stories; a group of children being abducted and killed by Freddy when he was alive in the past (so essentially a slasher movie mixed with IT), and the same kids when they’re older being haunted by Freddy in their dreams. The two stories will run alongside each other, leading to this:

The Death Of Freddy

So yeah, I lie. It’s not actually them, it’s someone elses memory. I’m not going to lie, this is mainly because I was fed up with the number of horror films that have flashbacks of the main characters near death, I hate them as you know the characters are not going to die so the scenes have no tension. I’m going to set up the truth subtly, so characters we establish as having no siblings in the present, will have a brother/sister in the past, and characters who are allergic to certain things will be seen eating them in the past. The main focus of this section though; the death of human Freddy. My plan for this was to have it go from “yeah, get that bastard” to “this is kind of uncomfortable”. I think I can go slightly further with what happens to him, but not certain.