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.

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,

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.

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