Sunday, March 30, 2008

Fade Out Tomorrow

I’m typing as fast as I can!

My 5 pages a day plan kind of worked out... that was probably my average on this script, even though I didn't work six days a week.

Though the original plan was to finish the script early, and have a week for rewrites and maybe some new Script Tips... I had a few days where I wrote nada. Original plan was to write more pages and work on Sundays... but I never really did the “make up pages” after a full day’s work, and never worked on a Sunday. A zillion problems came up while I was writing this script... but I will finish tomorrow on deadline. And I’m happy with the script.

One thing that happened were rewrites as I was writing - something that I have done before, but usually don't do too much of. On this script, I did whole scenes, rewrote major chunks, and made a big change to my protagonist at the last minute (really improved a later scene) - which meant going back and doing touch up work on every single scene he was in. And the monster got killed in a much more interesting way than originally planned, and that required rewriting a few scenes to set that up. Lots of rewriting while writing.

I still have one day left, but I have already written the ending - the last few scenes are finished, I need to fill in a few scenes before the end sequence. That will happen on Monday, and I will turn it in on time on Tuesday.

Some of the things that put me behind were a couple of magazine emergencies - a magazine I write for had an article by another writer fall out an the editor asked if I could fill in - so I had to write two articles I hadn’t planned on writing. That's a few days that took time away from the script. Plus I had some momentum problems - I haven't done a 0 to 60 assignment script on a deadline in a while... a long while! CROOKED was a spec, and since then I've written specs without any deadline. Jusk poked along at my own speed. Th last time I had to blast out a script was... well, a couple of years ago.

And my “Friday fiasco” from the beginning of the month continued to be a big problem - just one of those dumb things that screw up your life every once in a while - too boring to even mention. It’s happened to you. But these real life things take time away from writing... and that put me behind. One of the things about writing is that you're also living a life. You have a couple of nights where you don't sleep well - that impacts the page count. But even with all of the bumps in the road, I crossed the finish line on time...

Or, I will. I still have a day's work to do on it...

But I'm really happy with how it turned out - and re-reading it I laughed a couple of times at lines I'd forgotten I'd written. This will be a fun movie... I hope.

- Bill

TODAY'S SCRIPT TIP: Take Us Someplace Cool.
Yesterday’s Dinner: Kung pao chicken at City Wok.

Movies: DOOMSDAY - When this film comes out on DVD, there needs to be a drinking game on what movie this scene or line or character is stolen from. I don't mean homage - I mean outright theft. From the trailer it looked like an ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK “inspired” film, and that can be okay if they make enough changes so that it’s its own movie. So far, the worst rip-off of ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK has been ESCAPE FROM LA - it’s as if Carpenter was just cashing in! A “serach & replace” screenplay. So DOOMSDAY could have been “inspired by” and still been a cool film... but they even steal the *music* from ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK.

Rhona Mitra plays the nihilistic hero, who wears an eyepatch... just like Snake Plisken from ESCAPE. She also has a fake eye that works as a remote camera if she pops it out and rolls it down a hallway. Kind of cool... but still inspired by ESCAPE. Just like Snake, sizzling hot Mitra (from THE PRACTICE) is sent by a tough cop (Bob Hoskins) over the walls into hell to bring something back... not the President, but a scientist played by Malcolm McDowell. Though they don’t put an explosive device in her neck, they do give her a time limit.

Just when you think they’ve just remade ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK, they change scripts and give us a big chunk from ALIENS - she is the Ripley character going in with a military team - and we get the ALIENS script from the introduction of the Space Marines to the scene where they crash the tank - every scene, with Mad Max type gangs instead of Aliens. They keep stealing whole sequences and characters and scenes from other movies - without changing anything!

Funniest bit is when the Gimp from PULP FICTION ends up as the Gimp on the front of the ROAD WARRIOR dune buggy...

And then a whole bit from THE WARRIORS pops up in the scenes from ALIENS, and they somehow get to EXCALIBUR combined with GLADIATOR and...

Weird thing is, this is a mash-up from all of my favorite movies... so while half of me is thinking it's just wrong to do the Mad Max hits the brakes and the bad guys shoot arrows at each other shot-for-shot, the other half is going "Yeah, that was a cool scene!"

But how is this legal? Are the copyright police asleep?

I was a huge fan of THE DESCENT - and even though I knew this film was going to be modeled after ESCAPE, I expected it to use that as a framework and do something interesting within that framework... and they mostly add scenes from other movies - and whole sections from other movies.

My NIGHT HUNTER movie was about stopping a vampire infestation in Los Angeles, and for the sequel I pitched an ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK kind of thing where San Francisco gets hit while our hero is in prison, they block the exits and lock down the city... but the President's daughter is trapped in the city, and they spring John Cutter to get her out... but that's about it for ESCAPE theft, and after that it's one man in a world of vampires. I really wanted to do this one, for a scene with a white picket fence used against a charging hoard of vampires.

The thing with DOOMSDAY is that it's like a fan film - not only do we get our favorite scenes from our favorite films (well, my favorite films) we also get some *savage* gore material - cartoony and kind of played for laughs. No one gets killed in a polite way, and all of the kills are right there on camera (or the aftermath is). In one scene a head gets blown to bits by a shotgun... and it's like firecrackers in a watermelon! Whenever they run over someone in their tank - we see the squished body - kind of like the aftermath in a Roadrunner Cartoon. And severed heads often fly right at the camera as if the director is throwing them at you. Call me a sick bastard, but I laughed and cheered at these things. That's what I paid for.

So I enjoyed the film... though I thought it was outright theft.

Pages: Seven of them... and tomorrow I finish.


Martin said...

Congratulations on finishing a script or almost finishing. Though I admire Kasdan and really liked “Body Heat” -- I could never understand how it lifted so much including scenes and lines directly from “Double Indemnity”??? How was that done?

Da Weave said...

Stole the music from Escape from NY? Hell he stole the FONT. Check the opening titles - 2035 - NOW - same font. As I was watching Doomsday liberally knitting itself from a pile of some of the best action SF films ever, I had to wonder if the teenagers in the audience knew or cared where the bits came from. That aside, the biggest problem I saw was too much sloppy writing resulting in too many stupid plot points and details. Even still, was entertaining in a Grindhouse kinda way. Gotta love a naked blonde in a bathtub wielding a shotgun.

ObiDonWan said...

Loved your tuesday tip on using friends within the industry to circulate scripts. I just wrote a quick note to a friend who's been in LA for years, working on movies as a PA, as I recall, and I thought he may be able to give my script(s) a boost, so I wrote him. Nice to get my thinking turned around, thanks!
my blog is at

Laura Reyna said...

Didn't know much about DOOMSDAY so I went to IMDB to check it out. Everyone is saying pretty much the same thing: mish mash/ripoff of various 80s action movies.

I know this movie isn't supposed to be high art or anything, but still... splicing together bits of other movies-- even if you call it an "homage"-- is fucked up. It shows an incredible lack of imagination.

Use a movie as inspiration or a jumping off point, but don't ripoff specific sequences & iconography from other movies to pad your movie b/c you can't think of anything better.

I wish these filmmakers would stop making movies (GRINDHOUSE & most of Tarantino's stuff) about other movies and make movies about, y'know, PEOPLE... characters... real emotions. In most of these cases they're just making bad movies about other bad movies.

I thought THE DESCENT was OK. Didn't blow me away. But at least it demonstrated a certain thoughtfulness in dealing with story & characterization. This one doesn't sound like Marshall was even trying.

But I will still probably rent the DVD and goof on it.

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