Monday, November 8, 2010

Project Wilson Phillips - Team Chynna: Day 2

Download the Team Chynna version of the script here

Max Bowen (p. 62-71): My assignment was pages 61-70. As I read the first 60 I noticed a couple of things bumped me logically, and I had some story concerns given that we were heading into the homestretch.

1) There was a passage where a couple of journos were suddenly pulling "service revolvers." It seemed like the writer got confused about which characters he/she was working with, and nobody carries a revolver anymore.

2) There were a shitload of characters and it was difficult to keep them straight, especially when there were shifting loyalties and undercover types. There were also FBI and LAPD, which was muddying the water for me.

3) When the police station blew Trenton and the Russian were allegedly in there and Jackson was walking in to interrogate them when the building blew. This seemed like a bit of logic that the previous writer missed.

4) There were allusions to a bombing plan, but no one had spelled it out, and we were about to be 70 pages in.

5) The homeless guy had been dropped.

The first thing I did was copy the entire script and paste it into a text file. Then I trimmed out all the dialogue and synopsized each scene to give me an outline of the story to date. Because there were so many characters, I listed the major players to help me keep them straight.

[Note: he included these, but I’m not reprinting them due to space constraints – Bitter]

As I thought about the issues the main goal I set for myself in outlining my 10 pages was to set Trenton's plan in stone. So I decided that he was going really big with this and was going to blackmail the entire world. Big stakes. Big box office. right?

I also wanted to prune back the dramatis personae and make sure that the three different teams were now clearly defined (FBI/cops, Trenton/badguys, and journos). Since this was going to be a world wide plot I figured that the FBI would be a better counterpoint to an international terrorist, so I decided on a reveal that the intern and Agent Jude were actually working for the feds, sort of, since Jude was actually with Trenton and I decided to trim Viper. I also wanted to get out some pipe that explained how Trenton wasn't killed in the police station blast in case anyone else was wondering besides me. There was also the Russian to consider. His character had been dropped, so he had the pleasure of dying in the explosion. I also wanted to use the ringing cell phone as the reveal, because that seemed to be what the previous writer was aiming for, and it's always a fun device (possibly overused, but fun). I realized that my best shot at getting the homeless guy back in was after Jude whacked Jackson, and I wanted something dramatic for her so why not call in a chopper to pick her up after she'd gotten far enough away from Jackson.

I added the following four scene outline to the previous outline:

[Note: not reprinting this either – Bitter again]

Then I scripted it, did a quick polish and emailed it back to Bitter.

Nicole Hill (p. 72-87): When I first read the script, I saw a lot of intrigue, and action. I usually write more character-based relationship heavy scripts, so, I wanted to use my pages, not only to sort of tie up some loose ends, but to bring the motivations of the characters to light.

I wanted to bring reason behind the madness and slow it down a tad bit to enter some back story. Yes, there's a lot of killing and explosions, and double-crossing, but why? I also wanted to bring some closure to some of the early beats, like the dead guy in the trunk. I also wanted to show that Agent Jude had a method behind her madness. Yes, she screwed around, but, all the sex was really just to get to her end goal of paying homage to her father's legacy. I also wanted to create a situation where you had some sympathy for Agent Jude. She did lose her father, and her brother is crazy. I wanted Rogers to feel this sympathy also, and ultimately, that's why he allows himself to land in bed with her. Since we were heading towards the finish line, also wanted the reporter, Doug to start to be suspicious of Jude. She's always around when there's trouble, so, there must be a reason.

[Note: I gave the final writers some leeway in the length of their final pages. I let them know if they needed more than ten pages to wrap things up that was fine. I didn't expect that Philip would go above and beyond and produce 24 pages of writing!]

Philip Prince (p. 88-112): Being as I was the last 10 pages of the screenplay, one of my key issues to combat would be somehow putting my personal twist in, how others had done it before me. And believe me, I tried. I wrote the way I wanted the story to go, while still taking into account a beat sheet mentality.

Basically speaking, I had to wrap the story up, and couldn't go wasting pages forever. Unfortunately, while I did successfully add in the kind of story I wanted to tell, I actually did a disservice to the work that was done before me. It wasn't that I refuted the plot points that were brought up before me. But in some cases I out and out ignored them to do the ending I wanted to do. And not only was that a disservice to the writers, but it was a disservice to the characters. They had been grown into three dimensional people over the course of 87 pages, who was I to make decisions for them because I had wanted them to be somewhat different than what others interpreted them as.

So, I went back to page 1. Not page 1 of my part but page 1 of the entire script. I sat with a pad in hand and marked every character tick I saw in each character to reveal more about their inner thoughts, actions, desires and emotions. I also had to look for themes that resonate with every character and what happened to them over the course of the story. Whether it was from their action, their inaction, or the actions of other, and what did that mean when it came to the theme for the story.

The last thing that I wanted to make sure to include, as I believe it is in all proper endings, were callbacks. One of my favorite screenplays ever written is "Back to the Future". It is a callback bible for how to include them in your screenplay. It also also makes the movie more watchable as you notice the tiny things about the plot that later come back in funny or dramatic ways(see: Twin Pines Mall changed to One Pine Mall). So I sat back, read, and found what callbacks I could use to wrap up the story in a neat bow. Or as neat a bow as I could wrap it.

With all that together, I wrote down a scene-by-scene breakdown of where the groups are when I received my portion, who was with each group of characters, why where they there, and what were they ultimately hoping to accomplish in terms of plot and inner resolution. And what you will read is the culmination of that. There are some things that I might have missed to hit on, and some of you may not like the theme I ended the story on. But these are the things that stuck with me as the essence of the characters and story every subsequent read I had, and I did read over it alot.

So enjoy, and I think this was a great experiment and hopefully can get annually done. Although, next time someone else can deal with the stress of not making a sucky ending with such great writing before you. LOL. Enjoy!


  1. Bravo! I think we did rather well with that.

    To address the point Max made, as I was the writer who introduced the "service revolver": I did not get confused about my characters. I needed Doug to have a gun in that scene to make the stand-off with Viper worth having, so I gave a brief nod to a military history in my wording (may be showing my Britishness a little there, as characters need more of a reason to own a gun in the UK than in the US).

    As for using a revolver, see here. ;)

  2. 1. Max - It was an experiment. Lighten up.

    2. Rosie - We like our guns. I'm proud of that.

  3. There are revolvers used in the first episode of "The walking dead".

    I write them into scenes all the time they lend a little history and weight to a character just by revealing his/her choice of weapon.

    I personally like a semi-auto, but I've been known to take the .38 to the range.


    Just to make everybody giggly and warm n' fuzzy again...

  5. Oh I'm so sorry Nicole. I didn't realize that was your motivation for their sex scene. Lol. I found their sudden tryst to be because of the tension they had when they got in each others face in sterns office, not the emotional understanding at the plight of her and her father's history.

    Lmao. Kind of a good example at how male and female writers can see two different things in the same scenario.

    But, to be honest with you, because I didn't feel like they would really jump bones that quickly and this new developement so late in the script had me scratching my head hard. I had to make the decision to kill that off.

    The reveal of the latina waitress, and sudden Jude-Rogers tag team didn't seem to mesh with what the story had been leading to so I made the decision to streamline the final confrontation. From my point of view, it's the final act where we should clearly have one side against the other, both teams atleast "thinking" they are all on the same page with their allies. How can I explain Trenton's and Jude's photo reveals of their history, Rogers and Jude's new relationship(If rogers was sympathetic enough to help her goals), and the fact that Jude and trenton had been all over each other when they shot viper. So rogers had to go, Jude had to finally be outsmarted, by who she's so good at outsmarting, Doug definitely define his relationship and grow balls, and stern come to grips with his duplicitous relationship with Jude in regards to himself and the FBI's past.

    Plus I thought, "He couldn't handle civillian life so he offed himself?". What if he didn't necessarily off himself with a gun to his uvula?

    Thus, our favorite meat-loving, vegan hating, change jockey came to play.

  6. I'm surprised by some of the writers choosing to focus on what other writers did "wrong" instead of what they think they did right. When I got the script for my team (Wendy), I was a little baffled by some of the choices, but instead of trying to retcon the script I just saw it as an opportunity to heighten the craziness.

    It's a fun collaborative first draft, not a salable script.

  7. Reread the scenes and don't see one place where it says A.J. Trenton was actually inside the station when it blew.

    Jackson Mack says he wants to interrogate him. He asks Murphy to keep him in there, though never asking if he actually is inside. Murphy, at the station, asks if Trenton has lawyered up.

    All very vague. No one ever says: "He's in the back room."

    The point of starting off the next scene with A.J. Trenton was to reveal that he got out. Then revealing that he actually designed the bomb that exploded the station would explain how he got out: He devised the entire plot.

    That seems like a bit of logic that was lost on the next writer.

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  9. @Escarondito -
    Yes, Jude in two words, was "fucked up". so basically her sleeping with men was how she dealt with issues in her life. I always felt there was a hint of tension from when they first met. I just wanted to bring that element back. I never expected them to get married, so ending that relationship was one of several choices, although I would have liked to see a little bit of cat and mouse.

    As far as the dad, most fucked up girls have daddy issues. I felt it necessary to add a twist that explained her emotionally, not just some killing machine who went both ways.

    All in all, I thought the process would allow us as writers to sit back, relax, and take this story to unbelievable creative heights.

  10. LOl. Perfect. So when I brought in 00-No-Home I fulfilled that aspect of your story I thought you were hitting at. The past history of her father.

  11. @Carlos - It was a deliberately vague point re: AJ's location. If the next writer wanted AJ, Vitaly, the Chief and/or Murphy dead with the explosion, those were all options.

    Or they could all survive. I experienced a gasp of shock when AJ was alive - it was a good ploy.