Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Writing Week (Vol. 5) part 253 - The Elephant Graveyard

I like to think that I'm far from alone in having what I call an elephant graveyard of scripts. You know what I'm talking about; years ago, you had a great idea for a new spec, and you flew through draft one, and then... stopped. Or you wrote that draft, and while letting it settle, you decided to jump onto something new. And then never jumped back. Or you were in a rut, so you decided to just write something - anything - and got out of your rut successfully, leaving a draft of something you were lukewarm about in your wake. The end result of all those efforts (and others)? First drafts. Lots of them. Sitting on your hard drive or in your desk drawer with nothing to do but take up space. 

However, that's not quite true, is it? With any luck, even projects that we abandon entirely after typing THE END for the first and last time on them teach us something. My theory is that a piece of writing should never be a total waste. Even if the lesson learned is that that specific type of script or genre isn't your cup of tea, then it's been valuable. But what of all the other scripts that you have a draft of, which you like the concept of, but that you haven't touched in years? What becomes of them?

I've come to realize that, for me personally, the desired answer to this is, "something." The sci-fi project I'm collaborating on, which just saw a very upsetting similar project announced, is still in the works. The holiday week will hopefully bring forth a necessarily strong draft two from me that I can give my partner in early January. Of course, I also have other ideas that I want to work on when that is done. And, somewhere, the post-apocalyptic spec is still floating in the Hollywood ether. But let's go back to that elephant graveyard, shall we?

I don't quite know how many first drafts (or second drafts) or projects sit on my computer. Off the top of my head, I can easily count seven projects that I took from initial idea to at least one full draft (not including the three mentioned above). I'm probably forgetting some. I also have at least as many that I developed to some degree outlines, partial drafts, etc. Beyond that, there's a slew of two dozen or so loglines I came up with for completely different concepts. Bottom line: there's a lot of material there. Of the seven I did a draft of, there is not one I refuse to work on again. In fact, I still feel excited by most of them. At the very least, I would be willing to commit to getting them more industry ready.

I don't know what my next project will be. I have one idea in particular that I am really stoked to work on, but I don't know nearly enough about it yet to begin writing. As I keep thinking about what to do next, I can't help but mentally revisiting some of these other ideas. More than that I like any of them better than the other projects I'm tossing around, I dislike the notion that I poured myself into these works once, and then abandoned them. I try to make it a rule that I will only write things I would want to see, and I would still want to see all seven of those. So why not revisit them? If nothing else, I am farther along in their development for the sheer fact that they each have a full script to work off. Is there any reason not to try to bring one of them to fruition?

Do you have an elephant graveyard of scripts? Does it grow each year, or do you try to cull the proverbial skeletal herd?

Monday, December 17, 2012

2012 Black List Announced

December brings many things - holidays, family and friend gatherings, best (and worst) of the year lists. For the past eight years now, one of the more prestigious lists a screenwriter can find his or her work on is one that chronicles not the best films to come out that year, but rather the best unproduced screenplays that made their way around Hollywood in the past twelve years. Collected from mentions by agents and producers and those of a similar ilk, the Black List catalogs the best scripts of the year that have yet to begin production. 

A quick aside - the impetus behind the original Black List was to call out lesser known work by lesser known writers, to then forward their careers and thrust them (and their films) into production. Many of the titles and writers that show up nowadays are by known commodities (some very high profile talent makes it into the mix), which has caused the ranking to lose some of its street cred. That said, I know most (unproduced) writers dream of being on the Black List. I sure do.

Click over to Deadline for a full list, including titles, writers, who is repping them, and loglines of the chosen material. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Writing Week (Vol. 5) part 252 - Thinking about Threats

It's not fun to be threatened in real life (unless someone is threatening to buy you a shot or make you eat another bite of dessert), nor is it fun to watch a movie in which there's no threat posed to the protagonist. Every good protagonist needs a good (or maybe even great) antagonist. Otherwise, what's the point? If Batman had no Joker or Zsasz or Bane, he'd be just a guy in black tights fighting pickpockets. That would be dull. But that's not the case. Batman's villains are - literally or not - more colorful than him, and they provide the driving force behind his continued crusade against crime. So, too, do the heroes of our stores need someone or something to work against them in order to challenge them and force them to become the champions we want them to be.

My sci-fi spec has an antagonist, a really pretty interesting antagonist at the end of the day. He's twisted, warped, and a hero in his own mind. If the shoe was on the other foot, we would probably root for him over the protagonist. He's compelling and driven and has goals that make sense to him and within the context of the world in which he lives. He's also wickedly violent.

A lot of that of that violent nature will be toned down in the second draft of the script. My writing partner and I discussed it, and given the scenario that we've established, it doesn't make sense for either our protagonist or antagonist to be awesome combatants. That trait is not inherent in either of their characters, and neither my partner nor I want to write a movie in which an ordinary person becomes Rambo. That's just not the kind of film we're doing, and especially because our sci-fi is heavy on the "sci" portion, we need people who are smart first and physically threatening second. It doesn't make sense that our scientists would be able to pick up a gun for the first time and hold their own in a shootout. 

We were wrapping our brains around what exactly this would mean for our film, trying to make connections to established work we could point to for comparison. The Matrix is not quite sciency enough, and though we have an alternate earth situation like Children of Men, the threats are too common, too human for what we're doing. Finally, I thought of it - Jurassic Park! No, we don't have dinosaurs, but what we do have is a group of scientists who are thinkers, not fighters, and who are dropped into a world that is very far from their day-to-day realities, but still connected to them. In that world, very much as in ours, there are human "antagonists" of a certain sort, but the real threats come from within the world itself. The environment (and in this case, the inhabitants that come with it) causes the most compelling peril. And, in the midst of all of the action and nail-biting, there's a film with some humor that can be enjoyed by the whole family. That's what we're going for.

A tall order, for sure, but I think that we can do it. 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Script Alerts!

Rope of Silicon has a list of links to just over two dozen scripts that could be up for Best Screenplay (adapted or original categories) this year. It's always great practice to read industry material, especially those that are considered stronger showings in their year. 

Click the above link to check out and download scripts for, among other things:

Arbitrage
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Hitchcock
Hyde Park on Hudson
Lincoln
Looper
The Lorax
The Master
Moonrise Kingdom
Quartet
The Sessions
Ted
This is 40
Snow White and the Huntsman

Happy reading!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Writing Week (Vol. 5) part 251 - A Four and a Half Hour Notes Session

Yesterday was a first for me. My writing partner, W.A., and I sat down to meet about the first draft of our sci-fi spec. Before the Thanksgiving holiday, I turned in a 130 page draft to him, and yesterday was our first chance to really go into it in real detail together. What resulted was a four and a half hour meeting in which we talked mostly about character detail, goals, and tone. That is the longest script meeting I have ever had, probably by three or four times. 

Never before have I sat down for such a dedicated amount of time to talk about a script at both the macro and micro levels. It was one hell of a fruitful meeting. For one, W.A. and I identified the tonal inconsistencies that made the draft rocky. Actually, I should amend that a bit; we finally settled on a tone that we both felt was right for the script, and I will be able to make it consistent throughout the entire screenplay in my next draft. We'd fluctuated between adult action sci-fi (like CHILDREN OF MEN), and more family-oriented fare (JURASSIC PARK), but never wanted this to be a children's movie, despite having younger protagonists. In talking it out over the morning/afternoon, we nailed down the type of film we want it to be, which will inform all of the other notes that we have to address in round two.

Besides the tone, the nature of the protagonist's character is the meatiest element we needed to focus on. He's sort of a slacker, sort of a genius, sort of scared, sort of scarred, sort of way too many things. We came into the meeting with a question; who is he? What does he want and why is he the way he is? A lot of the solutions to that stem from the tonal decisions we made; after such a long sit-down, we both know this character a lot more than we did yesterday morning. Character can be one of the hardest things to get right. Your character has to be enjoyable to watch (even if he/she's not likable) and, ideally, has to have an arc that we can follow for 90 to 120 minutes. It can take multiple drafts to figure out what drives your protag - don't be alarmed or ashamed if that's the case. I did seven months of outlines before I wrote this draft, and it wasn't until our meeting that both W.A. and I were content that we had finally identified the person that is our story's hero. It takes time, patience, and sometimes seeing him or her on the page to get there. But it will happen. 

From that, followed the characters' goals - not just the protagonist's, but the antagonist's, as well. The antagonist's wants should be in direct conflict with the protagonist's, or should so mirror them that when one succeeds, the other inherently fails. By understanding our protagonist and his journey, we are better equipped to stack the deck (and the antagonist) against him.

W.A. has decades more industry experience than I do. In fact, though he probably would cringe at hearing it stated this way, he's been in the industry longer than I've been alive. This reason alone is why, despite some great script-work, the last half hour might have been one of the best parts of the meeting for me. As we were wrapping up, I asked him how he thought we'd proceed with the script when it was ready to be show around the industry. From there, we wound up talking about the business side of things, and he showed himself to be incredibly willing to share with and inform me about navigating Hollywood movie-making. He offered quips and insights and experiences; he foretold of things to come, should the movie get greenlit. And, maybe most valuable of all, he indicated his commitment to keeping me on board throughout the process. I am under no deception that the project is more mine than his; he's been working on it for years and brought me on to help. He wants to direct it. Granted, I've been a part of it for nine months now, almost ten, but in the end I know I defer to him. His comments, however, assured me that I will have a place in the future of this project, whatever happens with it, which is invaluable. Not that I expected him to drop me after it gets sold, mind you, but we all know that writers are all too often treated as expendable. W.A. is conscious of my time and effort on this project and doesn't want me to waste any of it. And at the end of the day, he expects me to remain a part of it. Let the learning process begin in earnest soon (with a sale after a couple more drafts, I hope). 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Writing Week (Vol. 5) part 250 - Flash Back to First Draft

The big news for my own writing this week is that I finished the first draft of my sci-fi spec! After about nine months of collaborating on this project with a writer/director/actor (whom I have dubbed W.A. here), we finally have a full draft to dig into. It's a bit of a doozie at 130 pages, but that's perfectly okay as far as first drafts go. And, W.A. is looking at it with the notion of potentially directing, so that gives us even less cause to worry about a long script at this point. We're going to go over the material page by page during what will probably be an epic meeting after Thanksgiving, but we have plans to touch base about the major elements next week before the holiday. Until then, both of us are giving ourselves some time apart from the script to let it simmer and enable us to come at it with fresher eyes when we do finally meet up.

However, I don't really want to focus on my own writing this week. Rather, I want to share with you something that happened, that reminded me of a lot of fundamentals - and my first days as a nascent writer. A friend of mine, someone I actually met abroad, wrote a script and asked me to give it a read. I was happy to. This is the first draft of a piece he's working on on spec - oddly, it has some startling thematic and circumstantial similarities to my project with W.A., but that's beside the point (for now). He asked me to weigh in with any thoughts I had, knowing that this is his first script.

What struck me first is how this script was so similar in myriad ways to many of my earliest efforts. Disclaimer before I say anything else, this is in no way meant to be a criticism of his work; these are purely observations. For one, a lot of first drafts are written in the passive voice. "Gunfire is seen coming from the house" and "he is sitting." It took me a long time to break the habit, and sometimes it's easiest to use the passive voice, but if you can find a more active way to say something, please do. "Gunfire erupts from the house" or "he straddles the chair" - not only are these more active sentences, but they paint a more exciting and vibrant picture of what's happening. They also enable you as a writer to expand the vocabulary of your script and engage the reader on a deeper level.

When I first began writing, I relied heavily on the use of "we" in my descriptive passages. "We hear glass crunching" or "we see them run through the park." As with passive, this is a method of writing that, if possible, you'll want to transition out of. "Glass CRUNCHES" or "they run through the park" are more exciting and more concise. Both of those are good things. 

Action is also tough to write. I used to be guilty of describing every punch. A five second fight would take up a half page or more, because I choreographed it down to the inch. "He takes one step and punches twice. Bill punches back - uppercut. Jim shoves him with both hands and trips him with his right leg. Bill gets back up and..." on it goes. It's fun and cool, but unless there's something pivotal about that right leg, it doesn't matter. "Bill and Jim wail on one another. It's a brutal, animalistic fight. Jim ultimately gets the upper hand, sending Bill to the ground with a kick and keeping him down with a solid punch." You get it, the reader gets it, and the fight choreographer has enough information to do his or her job freely. The same goes with rooms and sets. Unless it's vital that we see four chairs at the kitchen table in a house for five, we don't need to know how many the dining set can accommodate. Just say, "an elegant dining room" or something of the kind. 

All of the above tips and more go to the fact that, as a writer, you are that - a writer. As readers, we should have an idea of what you want us to see. If it's something routine, you don't need to go into every detail for us (most kitchen tables have four or six chairs, unless it's essential, don't tell us which). If something is atypical - your protag lives in a rondavel - describe it in a bit more detail. But don't get lost in telling us what color of blue the wall in the foyer is if your character runs through there in two steps and we never see it again. Your production team will involve designers and a director who will take care of that. Your focus, is the story, and that can get mired in the details if you're not careful. 

Jumping back to the similarities between that script and mine, I only want to say one thing. Reading other people's material is a great thing to do, provided they actually want your feedback, and not just your praise. However, it can also be risky. Especially the more established you get and more likely you are to have a sale, keep in mind that you never know how someone will react if they feel you're using their material or otherwise stealing from them. Granted, I first saw this script about a week ago, and I trust that the writer will understand that my project was in no way influenced by his, but you never know. The similarities are such that, if two years from now he went to the theater and saw my movie, he could cause quite the commotion by saying, "Zach stole my ideas, and I have the evidence of sending him a script to prove it." Sure, I have an email trail with W.A. that predates this writer's interaction with me by nine months, as well as daily email backups of the script and outlines I sent myself, but you can never be 100% certain who will do what. As they said at my high school, "verbum sap sat."

Monday, November 05, 2012

The Writing Week (Vol. 5) part 249 - Surviving Sandy

"I wonder if I should sleep in the living room," I thought to myself Sunday night. My bed is right under a window, and it hadn't occurred to me until my boss sent a cautionary email that being near exposed glass in the hurricane might not be the wisest idea. "Eh, the futon's not that comfortable," I dissuaded myself, "and I'm too tired to go collect blankets and pillows."

My gamble paid off - I was fortunate, and my windows all remained intact. In fact, my neighborhood in Astoria, Queens was quite lucky throughout the ordeal. Unbeknownst to me, I was near an evacuation zone, but I didn't lose power (just internet for a bit), and Netflix streaming helped my housemates and I pass the time in restless comfort. We ate. We watched. We ate. We watched. I broke the pattern to read and write. While much of New York City flooded, burned, or literally washed away, I plugged away at the sci-fi spec, spinning a long second act into a 70 page yarn that needs adjusting but doesn't have any obvious cuts yet.

As I mentioned before, the script is getting long. I submitted a 74 page first "half" to my writing partner a week ago, and this morning I sent him the first two acts. He got an email with a 104 page pdf. We both know that this draft is going to be long - maybe 130, 135. I don't want to start with edits now; it would just be counterproductive. I want to keep my momentum going, so I'm ignoring what I know to be a page count issue. Some stories demand long scripts - this just isn't one of them. Also, though, I know that I can't short-change Act Three to come in at the desired 120. I want to strip 5 pages from Act One and 10 from the first half of Two, but I'm not going to do a disservice to the script by trying to preemptively trim Act Three. My writing partner told me to keep going, and I'm certainly not going to argue with that. 

We've been in touch over the past week - when you are stranded and can't get to work, you feel guilty when you're not working on your scripts. He has notes, for sure - some tonal, others about character motivations - but we're setting those aside for the time being, too. Neither of us is displeased with the draft. More than that, we're also learning a lot about the story from my pages, what's working what isn't, and where we're falling short. Character motivations are still a little rocky, especially with the protagonist. But we're seeing that clearly now, and our game plan is to do a full, line by line edit/review after I send him the completed first draft. Only then will we really know where we've landed and what we need to focus on next. 

I know I was fortunate to have made it through Sandy the way I did. Friends of friends lost everything. My cousin lost his roof (literally). Even other Leaguers went without power or water for days. I'm grateful that I was able to get so much done during the storm, especially when I know so many artists and theatres that have lost or suspended everything. 

I hope all you writers out there who have been affected by Sandy - or whose families have been - are back up and running and writing at full speed. 


Friday, October 26, 2012

Logline Central - Left Behind

Logline Central is an irregular segment that takes a deeper look at loglines of scripts or projects that have just been purchased, as listed on DoneDealPro.

For this issue of Logline Central, I want to take a look at a logline that I at first wrote off, then thought about for a second, and the wheels just started spinning. Ultimately, I think it succeeds on a number of levels and in ways that, if not written exactly as follows, could render it a failed logline.

Title:Left Behind
Logline:Centers on a group of survivors during the first few hours after the Rapture.
Writer:John Patus Paul Lalonde 
Genre:Action Thriller 
More:Reboot of the series which started in 2001. Based on the novels by Tim LaHaye & Jerry Jenkins. Paul Lalonde and Michael Walker will produce. J. David Williams will executive produce. Vic Armstrong is attached to direct. Nicolas Cage is in talks to star. The film is budgeted around $15 million. Production is planned for early spring of 2013 in Baton Rouge. 


My first reaction when reading it was, meh. What does it mean to have to "survive" for "the first few hours" after the Rapture? I don't care.

Then I thought about it. Wait a sec. This is actually pretty cool (potentially). In the Rapture, those destined to go to Heaven ascend - body and all - at either the end of days or before the second coming of Christ. As I highly doubt the Nic Cage starrer will be a theological debate, all I believe we need to know to get a handle on the idea is that the good people are all gone. The population of Earth will be (at least marginally) reduced, and those "left behind" are... not good individuals. Think, the airplane in ConAir, only it's the entire planet, and there's no John Cusack cop trying to save the day.


So, we know that the planet is now inhabited exclusively by bad people, and Nic Cage is among them. Presumably, he has to stop even worse people from doing very bad things, which, because Heaven has already been introduced via the Rapture, might earn him salvation in the end. If not full, go to Heaven salvation, then he might at least come away with the hope of entering heaven during a later Rapture (there are thought to be stages of Rapture). Either way, this could be a really interesting set up for a movie rife with bad people doing bad things in an action-packed way. 

It also has the potential to be just that and to not capitalize on the theological elements at all. The basic setup introduces the empyrean, so I have to assume that Heaven and Hell, maybe even angels or demons will be a part of the film. But that's not a guarantee. Perhaps all this is is a setup, and the rest is Nic Cage shooting people from his motorcycle. The logline doesn't offer much, but the questions it does provide are ones that pique my interest and make me want to read more. The script could very well suck for all I know, but if I was a producer and that came across my desk, I would ask to see the pages.

I looked up the writers, and they don't have many credits on imdb. That doesn't mean anything - they could have a hundred uncredited rewrite or script doctor jobs under their belts apiece, or might have sold material that never made it to the screen. (Oddly, John Patus has a writer and producer credit for something called Left Behind: World at War from 2005, about a nuclear war - no relation to this project from what I can tell.) Regardless, I think I'll track this one. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Writing Week (Vol. 5) part 248 - Concerns About Page Count

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly the term "page count" became a part of my - and the other Leaguers' - lexicon. Much like the tools and knowledge that any craftsman wields in his labor, so is assessing the length of a script a key skill for a screenwriter. (I'm sure there are people who will disagree with me on this, but the fact of it is, people will always read the shorter script first when given material that they feel equally curious about. I know this, because that's what I did when I was a reader, it's what all readers I talk to do, and it's what my manager and producers have confirmed.)

These days, when I begin writing a screenplay, I usually have a pretty solid idea of my target page count. "This shouldn't be any more than 105, tops," I'll tell the League. And, more often than not, the finished drat will clock in at 105 on the dot - maybe a page or two shy of that, but rarely longer. Keeping track of the length of the script is closely related (in my mind) to paying attention to your outline as you write. With the outline, you know what's coming in the next scene, you know how you got there, and you know where you and your characters and story have to end up. Page count is an excellent barometer for all of this. If you look at your outline - as I did for my sci-fi thriller - and you think to yourself that a particular section seems undeniably longer than all the other parts, then there's a damn good chance that the pages will vindicate you. 

For example, in my 16 page outline, the first half of Act Two wound up coming in at about 6 full pages. That's nearly a third of the outline. Granted, some beats are overwritten in there, and many in other sections were underwritten, but my gut was telling me it was going to be a very heavily weighted section. Forget about how many outline pages it consumed for a moment; I counted the number of beats, and that quarter of the script contained far more than the other acts (or half act). With much trepidation, I set out writing the pages. Sure enough, I saw that my hunch was right before I had gotten very far. This morning, I completed my 29th page in Act Two; the script is currently 64 pages long, and the "midpoint" is at least a good 5 to 7 pages away. The next quarters of the script are a bit thinner, but I know I'm coming in at way over target. (A 35 page first act is partially responsible for that, too).

Now, if you're balking at what I'm saying, I'll give you a free shot. You're totally right in thinking a) it's only a first draft and b) scripts can be longer than 120 pages and c) who really cares? The fact is, a lot of readers still turn to pages 30, 60, and 90 to make sure you have a solid grasp of structure, so I want to make sure that I at least nail the end of act one, page 30 beat. The rest will fluctuate depending on ultimate page count. My charge now is to write the draft and then worry about how long the script is, but I don't quite want to show such a long piece to the director I'm working with on it - even if he knows it's going to be a length fist showing. 

This makes me sound like an even bigger dork than I am, if that's even possible, but I actually love line editing my scripts for page count. If I see a single word or even a couple short words hanging by themselves, taking up a whole line in the script, I will try to figure out how to say what I want more concisely. This generally results in cutting the words "just" or "seemingly" - two words I use a lot that probably shouldn't be there to begin with. So, that's a great editing and skill builder. Also, with Movie Magic, I know that I get 57 lines to a page. The software will enter a page break starting on line 53 if the next scene opens with a long descriptor paragraph or if there aren't any convenient breaks in a length bit of dialogue. Part of my editing process involves finding these reduced pages and figuring out how I can make use of those additional few lines by editing above and bumping the material that begins on the next page to the bottom of the one preceding it. I can often slice off 6 pages or more just by doing those trims - and they are almost always cosmetic only, a few words removed here or there, but no elimination of scenes or dialogue. And lastly, there are the bigger edits. This scene doesn't work, or this dialogue could be summed up or cut entirely, or that is redundant or unnecessary. 

All in all, I hope to cut about 10 pages from what i have so far. I'm not sure that will all happen before I send it to my collaborator, but that's the target when all is said and done. In the meantime, I'll keep writing with an eye on my page count. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Writing Week (Vol. 5) part 247 - Revising Act One

I normally try to refrain from revising pages in the middle of a draft. It disrupts momentum, slows progress, and perhaps most draining, opens the door for me to get caught up in the minutiae, rather than laying a proper foundation for a second draft. Draft one is all about getting the thoughts down on the page (hopefully successfully) and seeing what works and what doesn't. Ideally, you're working off of an outline and have already been able to piece your story together, instead of writing blindly, but it can be tough to gauge the effectiveness of the structure you're plotted until you see (and read) it in screenplay format. For all these reasons, when I bang out a first draft, I really do try to push it through as quickly, yet intelligently, as possible. I want a draft that I can print first and then edit and evaluate later. 

Last month, I submitted the first draft of act one of my sci-fi script to my writing partner, W.A. He got back to me with notes - three scenes that needed a heavier rewrite and an overall tone adjustment. Neither of us wanted the notes to inhibit continued progress in any major way. For the most part, we both felt the script was by and large on track, especially given that it was just a first draft. Still, the discussion the endued was a valuable one and a timely one. Given that W.A. had thoughts on the tone, I decided to implement that note going forward. I didn't have to redress all tone and dialogue in act one there and then, but the next 75% of the script would be more on par with what he's imagining. Once draft one is done, I will only have one act in which I need to tweak dialogue and descriptors for the tonal adjustment, rather than an entire script. As for the three big scenes, however, I wanted to go back and rewrite them then, rather than after the script's first draft is completed.

I knew that some of the changes were going to have a larger impact on the subsequent, as of yet unwritten pages. What I didn't anticipate, though, was how long they would take to implement. I targeted the second beat first, since it was the smallest. Yet while revising the scene - a fairly expositional one between the protagonist and a character who dies shortly thereafter - I began to realize a lot of things about those characters' relationship, as well as about the protagonist and his motivators. Those realizations then fed the first sequence I needed to revisit, which tie into the antagonist's goals and desires. And the third targeted sequence, well that was the most complex. I changed one thing, which raised questions about the new goals that the antagonist and protagonist had, eliminated the need for a major action piece that was necessary in terms of keeping the pace moving, and fed a lot of information into act one that was intended to come in act two. 

The two day revision became a five day revision; the result, though, is a much stronger first act. The threat, though, is that now I'm in revisionist mode, I need to either tear myself away and move forward (that's the plan) or become mired in minor edits and tweaks that I normally don't get involved in until after the draft is done. In the interest of seeing this draft through, though, I am just going to move forward and hopefully get W.A. the first half of the script within a week.

A final bit of news - my producers on my post-Apocalyptic spec have gone out with that script again, and we're being read at a few places. I have a good feeling about this round, but we'll see what happens with these latest submissions. 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Ken Levine's 2012 Fall Movie Preview

The witty Ken Levine does it again, folks! Check out his three-part Fall Movie Preview (an admittedly belated notice on our part)

here
here
and here.

Enjoy!

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Indiana Jones shoots a sword-wielding menace in lieu of a longer fight.

Matt Damon regales Tom Hanks with tales of his brothers in Saving Private Ryan.

A drunk throws a beer can at the eponymous actor in Being John Malkovich. 

Whether you knew it or not, or believe it or not, all of these moments were unscripted. Screen Rant has posted a list of 32 best unscripted movie moments, many of which might shock you. 

Click above for some fun weekend reading!

Friday, October 05, 2012

The Writing Week (Vol. 5) part 246 - Track Script Sales

It likely comes as little shock that I tune in regularly to Done Deal Pro. If you've read any of our Logline Central posts, you will have gathered that I go there for all my info on what's recently sold, been picked up in turn around, or otherwise been acquired. If you get the trades - Variety or Hollywood Reporter - or read Deadline, you can get a lot of the same info, albeit maybe less of it than through the subscription-based DDP. Regardless of where you gather info on sales and acquisitions, if you're an aspiring writer, this is something that you should make a point of doing.

I find tracking sales invaluable. For one, it lets you know what the industry is leaning toward at the moment. We all witnessed the giant vampire crazy (which I hope is nearing its conclusion). Trends don't tend to last too long in Hollywood, so noting an uptick in vampire related scripts doesn't necessarily mean you'll have time to conceive of, write, and polish a vampire story of your own. It might, however, indicate that now would be a good time to show the world the vampire script that you have already written and deemed ready for the light of day (bad pun intended). 

Tracking sales is also a great idea if you're beginning your query phase. Looking to land an agent for that big action thriller you're so jazzed about? See who is repping those kinds of sales now, and make sure you don't solicit someone who mainly deals with rom-coms. Hone your queries and chances are, you'll have better results. I was very specific in my outreach, and it paid off in forms of finding a manager. 

Speaking of, managers and agents track sales, which is another reason you should. They are busy people. Presumably, writers are also busy people. But my experience with managers and agents is that they will take the time they need, but won't have much to spare. If it is 1998 and you say, "Hey, I have this great idea about a group of soldiers who have to go find another in WW2," your rep will say, "That's already in the works." If you were tracking sales, you would have known that. The similarity doesn't necessarily mean you have to stop writing that idea, but if you have yet to begin, you might want to put it on the back burner. Save them some time by reserving that pitch for later - you'll all appreciate it. 

Most recently, I've been tracking sci-fi projects closely, as both of mine that are out there (post-Apocalyptic and the collaboration) fall heavily into that category. Unfortunately, two projects - one that is a film in theaters and one that was just announced - share more similarities with the sci-fi collaboration than my writing partner and I would like. Because of that, because we are tracking sales, we've decided to implement some large but not drastic changes going forward, so that we share fewer commonalities with these two projects. It's conceivable that the overlap won't wind up mattering, but if it's something we can avoid outright, then we decided that's what we should do. And that's just one more reason it's prudent to track acquisitions. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Writing Week (Vol. 5) part 245 - Thoughts on an Agent

It strikes me that just about two years ago, I was flying out to LA to meet with an agent at UTA about possibly representing me. The meeting went well, and I wound up securing a well-known and popular agent. If you've been following this saga for a while now, then you might know that one of the things my manager promised my agent upon the handshake agreement was that I would deliver two scripts per year to him. 

That hasn't happened.

In fact, I haven't been in touch with my agent since a week after we first met. He has seen no new material from me. 

I would try to argue here that this isn't entirely my fault. I've been writing. I've done multiple drafts of different projects. My manager thought some things just weren't right for the market at the time being. Yadda, yadda, yadda...

The truth of it is, I should have produced more. I wound up going idle for a but most of the remainder of 2010 while trying to determine what to write next. I pushed through drafts of a couple scripts, but my manager thought the one - though good - would be unlikely to sell given similar projects that had recently not scored big at the box office. The other is still sitting on my desk, waiting to be rewritten again. 

Sure, I have the sci-fi collaboration with a working actor/writer/director, but that's not anywhere near ready to be shown to the agent. Now and then, I think that maybe I should reach out and update him, but I know that's foolish. He knows my name - every now and then, my producing team still tries something with the post-Apocalyptic spec, but to no avail. My agent knows that's still in the ether. And, frankly, a non-update email is worse than no email. Until I have something to say, I shouldn't say it.

In the past, I've gone back to those few emails he and I exchanged in 2010, wherein he mentioned a project he thought I could write on spec. I would torture myself by rereading the two laconic sentences he wrote me, something to the effect of, "I have a project in mind that I might slip your script for to a producer as a sample. If he likes it and all goes well, I might suggest you write on spec." And that was the last of it. Until, that is, I realized only very recently that his email indicated no different kind of project than the sci-fi collaboration I'm working on now - someone has and idea and needs a writer to work (for free) on it. I wish it hadn't taken another year and a half for something like that to come about, but it did and that's that.

At the end of the day, I know it's no use fretting about any of the above. I have an agent. When I have a script that's ready, he'll read it. In the meantime, I should draw on my lack of other ready-to-go material as a source of inspiration to write, rather than a weight dragging me down. 

So, folks, off to the races.

Friday, September 21, 2012

The Writing Week (Vol. 5) part 244 - Act One Notes

My collaborator is abroad shooting a movie this and next month, but we managed to grab some time yesterday for a phone call regarding pages I sent him. In an effort to make sure that he and I were on the same page regarding the tone of the piece. Though I am doing the actual writing, this is still his idea first and foremost, and we agreed that it would be better to make adjustments incrementally, rather than discovering after I had written a full draft that we were diametrically opposed in our understandings of the scripts' voice and feel.

The good news is we were on the same page. He had some thoughts about tone, but nothing really that would require me to make sweeping changes to the existing first act I sent him. I'll be better equipped to move forward, but I'm not looking at a major rewrite as far as that is concerned. My partner also had larger notes on two main sequences, but again, they're not immediately pressing. I'll go back and reqork them (one of them implies a location change for many upcoming scenes), but we're not at make or break yet, which is great.

Neither of us can really wait to have our hands on a full draft, but we're approaching the next 75% of the script in a prudent fashion. Just as we caught a few things that are good for me to know going forward, so we'll hope to do so again with the next chunk of pages. I will send him the first half of Act Two next, before going on to finish that act, in case he sees anything else that seems off to him. The point, again, is to address those notes as I continue writing, not to get saddled with rewriting pages before the draft is even done.

at any rate, it's great to be writing again and to have a project solidly under way. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Logline Central - Environmental Awareness

Logline Central is an irregular segment that takes a deeper look at loglines of scripts or projects that have just been purchased, as listed on DoneDealPro.

For this Logline Central, let's take a look at a recurring theme - the environmental crisis. WALL-E was a not-so-thinly veiled look at the climate and environment catastrophe facing us at the moment. Leaguer Onyx wrote a script that indirectly addressed global warming. Countless books cover the problem, and with the elections coming up in November, the environment is on the tip of most politicians' tongues. So, naturally, it makes perfect sense that more and more movies are going to deal with the state of the planet. Here are two recent acquisitions.

Title:Aurora The Spirit Bear of the North
Logline:Revolves around the growing worldwide trend for conservation and preservation of the natural world, a movement that highlights the wonderful richness of the spiritual, earth-centered beliefs and actions of the Indian peoples of the Pacific Northwest.
Writer:Erik Daniel Shein (author)

Genre:Family Adventure 
More:Book. This will be an animated film.


Title:Darwin: A Galapagos Love Story
Logline:A group of unlikely friends, some of the rarest creatures on the planet, attempt to rescue a wise and infinitely kind Galapagos tortoise, who needs to find a mate to continue his endangered line.
Writer:Erik Daniel Shein (author)
Genre:Family Adventure 
More:Children's book. This will be an animated feature film. 


Both of them are adaptations from books, which is no major surprise in this script buying climate. In terms of loglines, the second is far superior to the first. To be honest, I have little idea what the first is about. What we're presented with in this logline is a setting or a context for a film, but it's not a logline. It doesn't convey any plot at all. Perhaps the book has yet to be published, but this statement doesn't give us any insight into the story.  The second, however, sounds fun. We know who the characters are and what they want. We even know where it's set. And, we know what the struggle and challenges are. That, folks, is an effective logline.

I just hope that the trend toward environmental conservation themed family films means that the next generation will be heavily focused on preserving this planet. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Writing Week (Vol. 5) part 243 - Started a New Script

Working with a partner has been a very positive experience for me so far. One of the biggest unforeseen bonuses has been that there's someone holding me back from jumping the gun on starting a new script prematurely. When working by my lonesome, it's easy enough to say to myself, "this outline is ready; might as well jump into the page stage now." Having my collaborator, W.A., along with our producer, however, has made me hold off until the outline was about as ready to go as we could make it.

I'll admit, I used to loathe the thought of outlines. Granted, this was in college when I was a much more novice and pretentious writer. I thought that no good story could be old without giving it the freedom to roam where it might. Outline? Psh. That would only stifle my creativity. For the character to come alive and the plot to go where it needed, I had to strip away all confines and let the beast roam free. 

The result was usually trash.

In the years since, I've become heavily dependent on my outlines. I don't like to embark upon a script without one, and I'll generally do at least one full pass at an outline before getting anywhere near Movie Magic. For the sci-fi collaboration in question this week, I've done seven - count them, seven - full outlines. Probably about a hundred pages or more in different drafts. That tally doesn't even include the versions that preceded my involvement in the project. I came into the script, back in February, to a an outline, that was the result o many other years of development. And by saying I have done seven, I mean there have been seven major incarnations of the outline since I became involved. There have, as with any writing project, been multiple other revisions that were more edits than actual changes. Seven just represents the number of new documents I have created due to overwhelming changes to the story and structure.

And you know what? Draft seven isn't perfect.

There are a lot of smaller things we still have to fix, but W.A. ans I both felt that those, many of which are dependent on visuals and minute details, are best addressed in the actual pages. So, with a solid though still not perfect outline, I finally set off onto the page stage. My hope is to get W.A. a draft of act one by the end of the week. It will be rough. It won't be edited. It will need streamlining and revisions. But it will, if all goes according to plan, be structurally sounds, and I will ask him to focus primarily on the tone.

Off we go. 

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Writing Week (Vol. 5) part 242 - Thoughts on Structure

I spent last weekend at the beach (finally) with some friends from college. As most beach weekends do, the days in the sun with the sand between our toes and salty air in our nostrils faded into nights spent around tables with platters covered in seafood and glasses filled with wine. At the end of the night, when people were tired but didn't want to abandon the fun altogether for bed, we popped a DVD into the player and settled in for a few more drinks and some laughs. The selection? Bridesmaids.

I saw Bridesmaids in theaters and enjoyed it a lot. It's worth a ton of genuine laughs and seems - despite some scatological hilarity - is brainier than many comedies tend to be. As we watched it, I found myself studying the film more than I was simply observing and enjoying it. And I found that Bridesmaids is actually a very strong example of multiple plots and layers of story, which are structured extremely well. You might disagree with me, but the script has an Oscar nomination to back it up. Let's take a look at it. 


SPOILER ALERT if you haven't seen the movie yet.


When the film opens, we're treated to a raunchy and roaring glimpse of Kristen Wiig (Annie) and her sex buddy, played wonderfully by Jon Hamm. This scene represents a portion of the really pretty sad status quo of Annie's life at the moment. We're soon then also exposed to both her work and her living situations. Let's just say, we wouldn't want either. Intermingled with all of that, we get to know Maya Rudolph's Lillian, the bride-to-be and Annie's best friend. Soon, Annie and Lillian find their relationship strained by a new alpha female in Annie's life (Helen), and when things are starting to slip for Annie, she gets pulled over by an endearing cop, Rhodes. 

Annie's hookup buddy. Annie's job. Annie's undesirable roommates and living situation. Annie's fraying friendship with Lillian and  correlating distaste for Helen. Annie's relationship with Rhodes. That amounts to five thing - five - that are going on in the movie. You can further break them down if you want, but they can get lumped into those general categories. Annie's employment woes and difficulty making rent (and subsequent need to live with the odd English siblings) are due to a failed baking business that she put all of her money into. She had a serious relationship, but that dissolved when the business did, and now she's left with the douche she's sleeping with. Lillian and she go back a long way, but Lillian is moving on, and Annie is stuck in a rut. Annie is afraid to let her self open to people again; she is also afraid of flying (which plays out brilliantly later). In short, Annie has a lot of issues.

The script is masterful in its handling of all these seemingly disparate elements. For one, we can see why they all exist at this time in her life, for the reasons above. One thing led to another, which led to another, which splintered her existence. Furthermore, when things get bad for Annie, they don't get singularly bad; all things converge on her at the same time. When Annie hits rock bottom at the end of Act Two, she is really down in the dumps. Her hookup buddy has downgraded her from "sex buddy number three;" she has lost her job at the jewelry store; she's lost the apartment she didn't like and is back at home with her mom; Lillian not only demoted Annie from maid-of-honor but doesn't want her at her wedding; and Rhodes has called things off with Annie. Five concurrent plots that have all bashed together in the terrible train-wreck that is Annie's life. And these things did not happen independently of one another. Rhodes stopped seeing her, because he was frustrated with her antics and disgusted when he met Hamm's character. Annie's increasing loneliness and dejection related to Lillian caused her to act up at work, which cost her her job and meant she couldn't afford rent. Everything comes together wonderfully.

While I was watching Bridesmaids, I kept thinking to myself, "there are five levels to this story, and they're all working so well. Some are small, but they all seem to fit and all warrant screen time. How many layers do I tend to have?" I was dismayed to accept that I often have two at best. Sometimes, shamefully, it's closer to one. Subplots are pivotal in making a screenplay successful. Too many can clutter the structure or slow the pacing, but too few will leave you with nowhere to turn when you need an interlude. 

There are many other successful films out there, but if you haven't seen it, or haven't seen it recently, I suggest going back and rewatching Bridesmaids. It has its structure down pat. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Writing Week (Vol. 5) part 241 - Receiving Notes

One of the most important parts of writing is receiving notes. You work so hard on a script and become so immersed in it, that for a while, it is all you can see. Getting those drafts read by other people whose opinions you value (people who don't jut pat you on the back and congratulate you on your accomplishment, but actually critique the work) becomes integral to developing, writing, and completing an industry-worthy script. That entire notion is why, years ago, we formed The League. 

Last week, we held our monthly meeting. Though I hadn't submitted for a while, my 30 Day Screenplay Challenge script, a demon thriller, was subject of the meeting. Like dutiful group members that they all are, the Leaguers read the material and gave me feedback. Sometimes, I go into these meetings with specific notes for the group. This time, though, I only had a general notion of wanting to know whether or not the script was working, if it was slow or confusing at any point, if anything was missing, or if the rules of the world lacked clarity. 

On the whole, the group provided some very useful feedback. They told me what was working, what was falling short, and what they liked. For the most part, though, with the exception of the introductory scene, they didn't target specific portions of the script as needing a lot of attention. That makes my job both easier and harder. On the one hand, the rewrite becomes about an overall finessing of the script, which means that I can add, subtract, and edit as need be. On the other, there's nothing in particular to concentrate on now, which could make focusing on a start point for the revisions easier.

Either way, it's great to have notes again and to be able to dive back into a rewrite. 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Writing Week (Vol. 5) part 240 - Thoughts on Collaborating

You probably know that I've been working on a sci-fi spec with a collaborator since about February. Let's call my writing partner W.A. He's a known actor/writer/director whose major projects came to fruition in the late 80s and early 90s. Needless to say, he has about two decades of experience on me, which is fecund with knowledge and insight. 

The collaboration has been a really interesting journey so far. For one, this is the first time I've worked on a project that has not been - at least partially - my idea from the get go. I came on board years into the development of the piece, though still in the outline stage. Almost immediately, I began implementing changes, and W.A. has been great from day one about letting me run with my ideas. He's been so open to any and every suggestion, as long as they have been in keeping with the fundamental precepts of the idea. 

In the months since I first got the call about the project, I've rewritten the outline in a major way in at least 4 different ways. (The latest draft was titled Revision 7, but some of the versions might have incorporated minor changes only.) W.A. wants to direct the piece, so his vision has sort of led it this whole time, but the autonomy that I've had has been tremendous. I don't know that I would have come up with the idea on my own, but I've grown increasingly intrigued by it over these past five or so months, especially as it has morphed from something entirely of his own creation to something that we have both weighed in on equally. 

I know that there's a lot of insight I can gain by working with W.A. In the beginning of our time together, our conversations revolved primarily around the project and didn't deviate much from that. In the time since, though, we have become more informal and personal with one another, discussing other projects, as well as the goings on in our lives in general. W.A. is consistently working on other projects - mainly as a director - so I know that he has a lot of wisdom to impart. If nothing else, this experience will be of value for all that I can learn from him.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

The Writing Week (Vol. 5) part 239 - Now What?

After about two months of having two to three projects going on concurrently, I'm down to a lull of zero. Well, that's not technically true. At present, though, I have had to table writing any more on any of them for various reasons. 

The post-Apocalyptic spec that my team and I were talking about converting into a comic book probably isn't going to progress in a different medium at this point. We hoped that we'd be able to get a short comic book story related to the script out soon, and we still might, but the timeline we were going to have to commit to was a lot longer than we had wanted - by about a year. My thinking is that, in a year a lot can change. Another project could take off, which would revive interest in the script. More than that, though, I'll need to focus on new material during that year, rather than on something that's been tested and hasn't taken off. So, that's on the back burner. 

The demon thriller spec, which I worked on for the 30 Day Screenplay Challenge, is out to the League for our meeting next Thursday. I'm eagerly awaiting feedback, but I won't really touch the script until I get notes. That, too, then is just sitting idly by the side of the road for the next week.

Finally, the sci-fi collaboration is moving forward, but also in a way that I have to be hands off with for a little bit. My writing partner and I went back and forth for a while one notes, getting to the knit-picky stage to help address any potential questions that might arise, before we sent it off to our producer for her to take a look at. This incarnation is very different from the last one she saw, but my partner and I both agree it's also a lot cleaner and clearer. I hope she concurs. If she does, then I'll dive into pages as soon as we get the thumbs up. It'd be great to start them well before Labor Day.

With three projects off to the side for the next week or so, I can take a breather. I don't really want to, though. I had an idea for an alien invasion project - might even be a book or a comic book - that I think I'm going to start trying to work out a bit. I've had the creative juices pumping through me for so long now that I don't want to lose the momentum.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

The Writing Week (Vol. 5) part 238 - Reducing Page Count and Tentpole Scene Placement

Two weeks ago, our 30 Day Screenplay Challenge ended. I decided to work on my demon thriller for the month in question, despite the fact that I went into it with an incompletely revised outline. The end result, though, was a full draft of a script I probably would have still been putting off otherwise, so who can complain with that?


One of the very first things I do after I finish writing a draft is I reread the script from start to finish. Well... first I take a few days to a week off and enjoy being done. Then I print and read through the script. My finished scripts tend to come in somewhere between 95 and 105 pages. Drafts, much like this one did, come in about 10 pages more than that on average. When the Challenge was over, I had a 114 page draft to contend with. The page count didn't matter to me quite as much as the placement of key scenes did. 


For example, of 114 pages, my midpoint came in at 65. Frankly, that's 7 pages too late. A midpoint is often not one specific instant or line in a script, but rather a scene or even sequence that can be drawn out over 5 or more pages. I came to terms with the fact that my "midpoint" would not be an altercation between the antagonist and protagonist, but rather the event that immediately preceded and led to their fight. The fight concluded on page 69; the earlier event on 65. There was no way I could have 65 pages before the midpoint and only 49 after it. That would just be way too unbalanced. Also, the moment of despair (which Blake Snyder likes to say should come around page 75, and I now agree with him) - the low moment when everything that didn't crumble at the midpoint just comes crashing down, leaving the protagonist with little to nothing - hit on 80. My Act Two turn into Act Three was about on target at 92, but considering the fact that the inciting incident was not a traditional one and ran onto page 12, I knew that I needed to get those big beats in place. Standard format dictates the inciting incident should come on 10, Act One should end on 25 or 30, the midpoint should be on 60, the moment of despair is on 75, and the turn into Act Three falls on 90. I had to achieve that, yet I didn't have a lot of wiggle room that I saw in the first half - there weren't many gratuitous scenes at all.


So how to go about shrinking the script and getting the beats to land where I wanted them? First, I went through and took a fine look at the dialogue. I often over write lines, reiterating things to make sure that the point comes across, saying in three lines what I really only need one or two to do. Step one: excise extraneous dialogue. Next, I went through and looked for any hanging words. Basically, those are words that sit on a line of dialogue or description by themselves, especially short words. If I see a "one" or "car" or "her" or "did" or anything of the sort taking up its own line in the script, I do back and find a way to trim a few characters out of the lines above in order to consolidate. There's no reason those should hang alone. And it's pretty amazing what cutting a few of those will do.


I use Movie Magic 2000 when I write, which affords a maximum of 57 lines per page. Depending what comes next after a page break, stripping one line of text from a page can bump up nearly a tenth of a page. For example, if a new scene begins on page 10, the program might cut page 9 off at line 53 in order to preserve the intro to a scene. The software won't allow a slugg line with no text after it on the bottom of a page. I can't ask page 9 to end with INT. BAR - NIGHT and start page 10 with the scene description. Even if it's only one line of action or description after the slugg line, the program is designed to require something immediately following the slugg line. Scenes that open with a lot of description will necessitate more space at the bottom of a page. That's why, of 57 lines, if 4 are free but I need 5 to accommodate the intro to a new scene, I will go back and look for hanging words. 


All in all, merely by consolidating some dialogue and cutting out most hanging words, I was able to drop the script from 114 pages to 106. More than that, my inciting incident came to a close on 10, the midpoint bumped down to 59, the despair point hit perfectly at 75, and Act Three began on 89. This was huge for me and made me much more comfortable with both the presentation and the structure of the script. Though the beats themselves might need work (I'll get the League's feedback in two weeks), at least I know they're where they should be. And that is always good.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Writing Week (Vol.5 ) part 237 - The Edit Begins, and More Comic Book Talks

With the 30 Day Screenplay Challenge out of the way, I was free this past week to focus on the two other projects I have going at the moment: my sci-fi collaboration (still in the outline revision stage) and discussions about adapting my post-Apocalyptic spec into a comic book. I made some good headway in both of those this week.


First, the sci-fi project. My writing partner, W.A. and I have been going back and forth on outlines for a few months now. I write them, based on notes and discussions we have, and then he sends his comments. I revise, we meet if need be, and then we show the latest incarnation to our producer. Maybe a month and a half ago, we got some note from her that spurred on a major overhaul of the outline. The result has been a drastically new version of the script, albeit with the fundamentals still in tact, which W.A. and I are both very keen on. He got me some notes on it two weeks ago, and yesterday I was finally able to get the edited copy out to him. I know that W.A. has already mentioned the project to some industry people in general meetings, and there's been interest. He's a bit of a known commodity, so it's nice to already have a bit of an in with it. Either way, I hope to be able to start writing pages soon. Once he - and our producer - gives the thumbs up for the latest draft, it's off to the races.


The post-Apocalyptic spec, meanwhile, is still on its unending and varied ride to a (hoped-for) sale. After being on the market a couple years, it still hasn't sold, much to the bafflement of my producing team. At this point, we're looking into adapting it for the graphic novel medium as a way to generate some "source material" that might make buyers more comfortable with the big budget project. We've been in talks with an artist, who is interested in working on the project. More so, though, we've also had meetings with an editor who works for a known (though not upper echelon, DC or Marvel type) publisher. All in all, the team has managed to get some interesting ideas circulating.


One approach, and perhaps the most obvious, would be to literally convert the script as is into a graphic novel. This would be nearly a page for pag adaptation of the project. It wouldn't be very different (maybe a bit streamlined), so the work on my end would be minimal, but it would require a lot of time and commitment from an artist. We have also talked about doing a full length graphic novel, but a different version of the story all together. This, though, would essentially necessitate me writing a brand new screenplay for a project that's already been tested on the market, which I'm not so sure is a wise investment of time. My producers agree; if the script hasn't sold in two years, and I have other projects in the works, then why focus on rewriting the script for another medium without a guarantee that it would even get picked up in that industry? 


The third (though not final) option that we're starting to gravitate more and more toward is that we do a one-time short story related to the world and characters of the script. If we can produce and print, say, a ten-page story set in the post-Apocalyptic world and use that as a means to attract attention, then why not? We've already found - through that one editor - a means to do it in a way that would enable us to pay the artist (and therefore lessen the extent to which he would require some sort of creator credit). The periodical prints, publishes, and gets distributed, so it's a better bet than self publishing a story. And, we'd have something visual to put before buyers. Given that it's a short, there also wouldn't be an overwhelming time commitment on my end, which is another plus. 


We haven't locked into anything yet, and there is still a ton up in the air, but it's exciting to be exploring these alternatives. Who knows what will come of them.