Thursday, November 4, 2010

Project Wilson Phillips - Team Carnie: Day 2

Wrapping up our look at the first group to finish the Collaborative Writing Project dubbed "Project Wilson Phillips," here are the thoughts of the remaining members of Team Carnie reflecting on what they attempted to do with their pages.

Download the Team Carnie draft of the script.

Elena Ostroumova (p. 39-51): I was kind off baffled by the load of information and plots, and twists, and cliffhangers that were left for me after the 30 or so pages, that were written before me. There were the characters, the protags and the villains, and the poor guy, who gets (or doesn't get)
shot in the first scene, and the journalists, and the Russians (the latter two I was most surprised to see, because I'm a Russian journalist).

The story was twisted and action packed as much as it could be possibly done in the first 38 pages. I was going "Whoa!" on every page of the first reading. That was a good thing. I've clearly had the beginning of Act Two to write, so basically my idea was to slow down a bit, to get to know the characters a bit more, to get the insight into the reasons behind their actions, to give them names or tell something new about them, to give the next writers some leverage, so they could continue right on with the action. My ten pages were mostly talking, before the "doing" part, which I hoped would follow. I really wanted to explore the story about Editor Keller and how she was involved with this whole micro-chipping issue, hence the story of her mother and the secret files she passed on to her daughter before her disappearance.

Then I had the unsolved mystery of the note Doug found in the bar and how it lead him to the place where Nina was. And I also really wanted to play around the idea of Nina actually pretending to be VIPER on the island, not actually being zombied into it. So that's how the whole
"antidote" idea came to mind. I also really wanted to keep Jurgens in the story, who turned out to be Keller's long-time ally and friend.

And the most important thing, I really wanted to give some thought to the title - "Project Wilson Phillips". Who the hell is Wilson Phillips? And I sort of liked that intern guy character, and he was the right age, so I thought I'd through in a bit of mystery with the "Phi" clue. So they have to find the antidote, but they are going to go the long way, because he's actually right under their noses.

I also wanted to tell a bit more about A.J., why he turned out the way he did, so that's how I came about his childhood trauma, and long-time vendetta against his father, for not saving his mother, and marrying for a second time. The thing I didn't quite have place to really think
about, is what exactly was Vitaly's business in all this. He was obviously connected to A.J.'s research projects in Russia, and he was delivering the suspected "antidotes" to A.J. But I really wanted to know more, so I hope to find that out from what was written after me.

In the end of my ten pages I've formed an unlikely team of Doug Taylor - Nina Kidwell/Mack - Jackson Mack, with backup from Andy Keller and Jurges Hickey, with a hind that Jacksons partner Murphy could also join into the fun later on in the story.

Mr A (p. 51-60). I was happy to be apart of this experiment, most importantly, as in an exercise. I had intended to, on one hand, keep my segment interesting, and on the other, keep the flow and story intact. It was a concern of mine to continue what was already laid out, move it forward, but contribute to the overall story in my own way. I hoped to keep each aspect of the story intact in the way the previous contributors might appreciate.

I wanted to continue forward as the story had been unfolding, but also add a bit of interesting and revealing information as I fell midway through the story. It took some time, but I hope that the end result is as I intended.

Frank Livorsi (p. 61-70): Things that I tried to do with pages 61-70.

The scenario I was left with:

I was left with our group of commandos landing on an Island in the Pacific Ocean after Hi-jacking a helicopter. One other thing to deal with was the appearance of the “Behemoth” on the Island.

I tried to make it difficult for Nina, Jackson, and Doug. The Dogs, the Patrol boats, the chase. I wanted them worse off then when they got there. That’s why the helicopter was destroyed, stranding them there, with no means of escape. (All is lost.)

At this point it’s really kind of hard to determine who the protagonist is. Nina/Viper might be, but she has been killing off people throughout the script. Do we really like her? Jackson Mack, no. Doug, maybe.

The antagonist is easy, that’s AJ. So going off the earlier information that the newspaper editor, Andi Keller, is the half sister of AJ, I tried to give my team mates the option of making her the protagonist. Andi challenges AJ at page 70. She tells him she knows about , “The Chip.”

I also tried to give a possible explanation for “PHI,” making the intern, Phillips, the possible connection. I tried to tie in the “Fantasy Girls,” from the beginning of the script, using Vitaly to bring them there on a boat. The boat was a way to get Phillips on the Island, and an attempt to give them ( our commandos) a means of escape, if the writing team chose that route.

The Behemoth capturing Phillips, the intern, was a way of keeping both of them active in the script. Phillips handing AJ the phone was a way to introduce Andi Keller as the protagonist and next challenge.

Katy Quigley (p. 71-80): With my pages I tried to sort out a couple of the loose ends that were hanging around and sort out some of the confusion with regards to the relationships between some of the characters. I spent a fair while making notes on what had come before and had a couple of diagrams detailing what had been said by what characters and their relationships, this definitely came in handy when the plot began to get quite confusing. Having written scripts at college before, I thought it might be a fun way to get back in to the process, it was short and other people were relying on you to get it done, which definitely spurred me on.

Hank Pena (p. 80-90): I'll admit that I wrote my pages after a marathon of "N.C.I.S." and "Warehouse 13" the characters in those shows influenced this.

I wanted my pages to show a separation in the character's personalities, be (hopefully) a bit witty, and offer a good explanation to tie what I'd read together.

I searched the internet for examples of PHI and followed all that I read to the conclusions I wrote out. I chose not to write an escape scene and more action because I wanted to leave the final writer with an opportunity to write some cool action ending. Which, as an action writer, pained me. If I didn't take my pages up writing explanation and summation, the movie would have had to end like a Scooby-Doo episode...with everyone explaining what just occurred.

Patrick (p.90-99): I spent a day or so thinking, and had some ideas, but those ideas would take more than 10 pages. I'm a fan of brevity in film, so I decided to use my inability to provide an all inclusive, hit all the bases ending as my ending.

Also, while reading the script, I noticed as it went on, the tone shifted to a more comedic thing, so I figured I'd just end it on comedy.

It was an interesting experience, cuz, I was working two 10 hour a day jobs at the time. I had thought that would effect my writing, but, it didn't. It just gave me more time to think about writing, and play out my ending in my head, a million different ways before I got a chance to sit down and do any actual writing.

Good times.


  1. I found the experiment to be eye-opening. I always read finished scripts online and don't have access to a lot of writers in everyday life. I don't get to see the raw process and compare it to my own. It revealed a lot about my own skills and my feelings about collaborative writing.

    I think I'm doing o.k. in my learning. I was worried that my lack of proper schooling in screenwriting would put my behind my peers. I was relieved to see that I could shoot par.

    I don't care for the collaborative process. Not having control of the entire script frustrated me. That's not to say I didn't like what others wrote, I just like to be in the driver's seat. Having that control issue told me that I'll have to learn to bite my lip and hush up when a producer or director eventually has dominion over my creations.

    Thanks for letting me be part of this!


  2. What happened to pages 39-51?...

  3. First, thanks to TBSR for this fun opportunity. I'll admit, at first glance of the final product, I thought to myself "What the?" I had to remind myself, with a little help from TBSR that this was intended to be fun as well as an experimental challenge. I have since found myself enjoying it that much more.
    The reality is, this is an exercise. It places each of the writers in to a group in order to experience such a setting. There's a ton of thoughts that go through your head, confusion, laughter, possibly frustration. In the end, enjoyment should be fulfilled. At the very least, take away from it that this was something to contribute to, rather than running along at your own pace and attempting to flesh out 90+ pages on your own.
    Another side to it, IS the group setting. A lot of writers tend to want to be the driver. Therein lies the question of how partners get by. Granted, we were unable to collaborate on each piece, there is a level of appreciation and respect that is found from a project like this. Attempting to progress from something that someone else has written is a great challenge.
    In closing, I'd like to convey that a project like this has it's hidden fortune for a writer. If for no other reason than to pry you away from whatever story you've been working on and give you a break.
    TBSR, thanks again. Much appreciated.

    -Mr. A

  4. Lol. Just finished the full read. Thought it was all great in the lead up, and just maybe a little too much comedy once they get to the island. But, since the comedy did have me laughing (lol. We need raises to pay off the mercenaries!) it worked for me. BTW I thought I created a messed up family tree for team chynna. I think you guys take the cake. Out of marriage love babies, evil mastermind children, the forgotten daughter, experimental father, mother dying of an experiment or have the goliath younger son IDK. But jesus thanksgiving must be something to behold in that family.