State of the Blog: January

Tomorrow we have our one-month Anniversary. Spitball! was officially launched on January 1, 2006. How do we feel about that? What have we been doing?

We started by feeling around in the dark. Shockah's process is much different than mine, appropriately, because I think our talents and weaknesses conveniently dovetail. As he plans to elaborate in a post on the subject, his process is very much from the inside out--from a small picture to the big one. I tend to work in the opposite way, thinking about the big picture and then zeroing in on the topic from outer space.

But, he stumbled on a great way to break through my initial meaderings about the two words we had picked to define or spark our mission: Prison Planet. Shockah penned a post about some ideas for Prison Planet movies based on the cheesy ubiquitous announcer saying "In a World...". This started an all out plot bonanza, with each of us giving 25 to the cause, from which we picked 8 each that we're arguing pros and cons for. In the end, we'll have one plot to rule the blog, and focus our energy rays of writing on.

Re:[3] Round Two: Rise to Vote, Sir

I know -- y'all thought I was gonna post Round Three. Sorry, not yet. Definitely tomorrow.

But a few notes about that last round:

Re:[2] Round Two: Rise to Vote, Sir

Once again, we are in agreement where the rubber meets the road.

I, Burley Grymyz, also vote for La Commune Planet.

I hand the gavel over, sir, and will eagerly await Round Three (subtitle: the tertiarier).

Re: Round Two: Rise to Vote, Sir

I, Urban Shockah, will rise from my seat and vote as well.

And in a rare, double-whammy decision, I'll also name my choice:

Rasputin the Translator

wait, I mean:

La Commune Planet

Round Two: Rise to Vote, Sir

I could write more, but I decided to keep this one clipped. If we disagree, then we'll see how we can bend and twist them.

Burley Grymz has made his choice.

Round 2.2 [La Commune Planet v. Robots in Love]

La Commune Planet (Shockah rank: #3, Burley rank: #7)

v.

Robots in Love (Shockah rank: #2, Burley rank: #11)

FIGHT! AGAIN!

links for 2006-01-30

January 29, 2006 · by Burley Grymz · Permalink · Category: Links, Original Version

Round Two: [La Commune Planet v. Robots in Love]

La Commune Planet (Shokah rank: #3, Burley rank: #7)

v.

Robots in Love (Shokah rank: #2, Burley rank: #11)

FIGHT!

Re:[4] Round One: Rise To Vote, Sir

January 27, 2006 · by The Urban Shockah · Permalink · Category: Original Version, the screenplay

Yep, your turn to go first. I'll probably think about the next two ideas then compose and post my Pro/Con without looking at yours first, and that'll probably happen Monday. Just a heads up.

Rasputin's got a tough road ahead of it; I'm curious to see how it fares.

Re: [3] Round One: Rise to Vote, Sir

January 27, 2006 · by Burley Grymz · Permalink · Category: Original Version, the screenplay

I, Burley Grymz, vote for...

Rasputin the Translator.

It has been settled, this first battle. I found it a difficult one, but in the end I'm drawn to the megalomanic (or, whatever he will turn out to be).

So--for this next round, do I go first?

Re:[2] Round One: Rise To Vote, Sir

January 27, 2006 · by The Urban Shockah · Permalink · Category: Original Version, the screenplay

I, Urban Shockah, vote for...


Rasputin the Translator.

Re: Round One: Rise To Vote, Sir

Burley Grymz, present and ready with a choice.

Round One: Rise To Vote, Sir

I've (somewhat reluctantly) made my choice. What say you?

Round 1.6 [Liber XII v. Rasputin the Translator]

Rasputin
I'm all for finding the way into the story through our bearded man, but it should be said up front that we have very different ideas of what he's like. I see him more as a deliberate man taking advantage of a political situation, and in so doing making Machiavellian plays at power (which, is why I named him Rasputin to begin with, the bearded look that Roky rocks was just a second convenient parallel--for more reading: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rasputin, although the mis-(dis, whatever) information on this page is more like the pop-culture image of the man I raise: http://www.disinfo.com/archive/pages/dossier/id291/pg1/). I also think the pseudo-religious vibe is important with him. Basically, I see him as a 21st century Rasputin in many, many ways.

One option for him, in my view, might be that he's not actually the one with the power, but he's fronting. Maybe he's holding somebody hostage who is the one with the power. In this view (and incorporating some of your ideas): Aliens land > Misunderstanding, bad things happen > tensions rise > Raspy appears out of nowhere and things get calm > Negotiations are tense > Raspy demands mucho somethingo > nation's conservatives dig their heels in > Nation's liberals want to give him everything > Raspy over plays his hand > smart agent finds that Raspy is a charlatan covering for a truly talented young person > Rescues young person in daring event > Raspy falters, having lost his powers > truly talented young person wins the day for the good guys.

I don't see him as evil, per se, but I see him as taking advantage of a situation to his own benefit, and possibly screwing quite a few people in the process. Well, I guess some would call that evil.

I think your plot with a Clarice-like agent tracking him is very clearly laid out and direct, but it's not hitting my excitement nerve for some reason. I know what it is: I want Raspy to take an active role in his accomplishments. So, I can't see him being a reluctant hero-cum-villian, but being a manipulator from day one. Is he evil and doing this really for his own good, or is there some deeper truth? That solution could lead to a: Raspy is asking for something evil > People refuse to give in > one plucky agent realizes great truth > politicians, on her evidence, give in > It turns out Raspy was bluffing and really is an okay guy! Everyone is safe!

So, all of this is to say: yes. I think the key to this story is the Rasputin character, and finding the character that gets us both jazzed about him.

Round 1.5 [Liber XII v. Rasputin the Translator]

POINT OF ODOR!

Lisa stinks.

POINT OF ORDER!

I should let Burley and eveyone else know that, right now at least, I don't plan on Spitball!ing on the weekends. As Burley knows, there are other projects that need my attention as well, and I haven't been able to give them the attention they need. Hopefully, I'll be able to give them the same kind of momentum that this has, and then I'll be able to weave working on them with working on this. But right now, they need their own days. Feed me! Feed me! they say.

AND NOW...

links for 2006-01-27

January 26, 2006 · by Burley Grymz · Permalink · Category: Links, Original Version

Round 1.4 [Liber XII v. Rasputin the Translator]

Ah questions. Do I need them?

Hell yeah! Working, as you said, from the outside in I'm having trouble seeing the plot line continuum in Liber XII story--but, I also think it's funny that you're not seeing it as much in Rasputin--I say funny because it doesn't surprise me that we're having trouble seeing the other person's plot, which tells me that I think there is more imagining going on in our heads that isn't making it to the page here. But, that's okay--that's what this process is for, after all...

Liber XII: In relation to your story, I guess I see it as a more smarty-pants film than you, and maybe that's holding me up. Although I can see that it's man-against-nature, in a sense--a hostile environment, but I guess I don't know why the computer is evil, and that's also holding up the plot for me. I also want to know if its actually possible for a computer to be evil. I mean, some computers can be pretty badass, but are they evil?

Joking aside (Oh wait, was that a joke? I guess they have to be funny to be considered so...), the real deal is this: computers are logic circuits, and if they had a personality it would be an artificial one. Sure, we can get all Star Trek and talk about sentient artificial lives such as Data, but I don't think that's appropriate to the story at hand here. Your plot point is planet goes bad, but how and why? To me, this raises tremendous issues that have to be dealt with before we can figure out plot.

Round 1.3 [Liber XII v. Rasputin the Translator]

Ah, there's nothing like a heartfelt apology first thing in the morning! Gets the blood moving!

I'm not quite ready to put this round to bed just yet. I'm definitely leaning one way, but I want to talk it out some more. Due to the weird circumstances, I feel the need to defend both ideas like they're both gonna get the axe if I don't try hard.

Re[2]: Burley's Ready to Vote

January 26, 2006 · by Burley Grymz · Permalink · Category: Original Version, the screenplay

To the board, the readers, the judges, and most importantly--my compatriot Urban Shockah. I would like to sincerely apologize for my breech of rules and--if appropriate--ethics. Though no words can excuse my actions, I do humbly ask for leniency in the face of our important needlessly complex rules, and will do my best in the future to follow them to the T.

Mr. Shockah, I eagerly await your next post, and will continue as specified in the rules. Thank you for your time, consideration, and--of course--your patience.

Re: Burley's Ready to Vote

January 26, 2006 · by The Urban Shockah · Permalink · Category: Original Version, the screenplay

POINT OF ORDER!

You've gone out of turn, mister. I get to either post or make a choice, then you get to go.

Go back three spaces!

Re: Reading List: Alfred Bester (The Demolished Man)


In 1951 The Catcher in the Rye was published. James Stewart, Spencer Tracey, William Holden and Louis Calhern lost out on the Best Actor Oscar to Jose Ferrer, winning for Cyarno de Bergerac [note: a story in the public domain]. Seoul fell to communists. The Rosenbergs were sentenced to death for treason. The first color television was introduced into the states, and the UNIVAC I mainframe computer was announced--the next year it became famous for successfully predicting the outcome of the US presidential election. Johnnie Ray released "Cry," possibly the first rock n' roll record. Leo Fender patented his Fender Esquire (later Telecaster) guitar, and Alfred Bester's novel The Demolished Man was published.

Why the history lesson? Whenever I look at a historical event--like the publishing of a book--I like to put it into context. All of the events I mentioned, when I think about them, firmly place me in the beginning of the 50s. You can see the decade unfurling in front of you--cold war, literature, music. But Bester kind of existed outside of time, it would seem. Reading this novel gives you very few clues to it's publishing date.

links for 2006-01-26

January 25, 2006 · by Burley Grymz · Permalink · Category: Links, Original Version
  • Vegan donuts? Sounds awful, doesn't it? Well, in the case of Mighty O, you'd be dead wrong. These are incredibly moist and delicious, and compared to most donuts, relatively healthy (no trans fat!) They're also absolutely gorgeous -- the pictures on the website aint lyin. Cool off-the-wall flavors as well: French Toast, Mocha, and Chocolate Peppermint, to name a few.

Software Beat: Between The Lines

In my previous griping about the state of screenwriting software, I said I wanted a native Mac OS X program that was cheap, and saved in an open-sourced, or at least human readable format. Today I stumbled across an obscure program called Between the Lines, currently at version 1.0, that seems to fit the bill. Does it? I hope to answer that, and more, on the first installment of SOFTWARE BEAT.

BETWEEN THE LINES

Icons I found a reference to the program somewhere online--hey--screenwriting software I'd never heard of! And for OS X alone! Whoo-hoo!

I downloaded the demo, which seems to be created by http://www.storymind.com/, which has the distinction of being one of the worst designed websites I've ever visited. The graphics are illegible, the layout and feel cheesy, and the overall effect busy and hard to find what you're looking for. If they were a client of mine, I'd remind them of the golden rule of websites: user experience is your brand. I'll bet they could quadruple their business by hiring a good design team.

But I digress. Somewhere on their site, you can download Between the Lines, an awkwardly named OS X application. At least, ostensibly you can. Despite the fact that the "purchase this software" link in BTL links to storymind.com, I couldn't actually find anywhere on the site to buy and/or download the software. A Google search reveals this spot, which is where I grabbed it.

First impressions: Oh man, you guys need a new icon! OS X (and, now Windows and Linux as well) apps are often judged by the coolness of your icon. Yours: fugly. And not in the cool way. But, I'm game. I click on it and open the program.

Round One: Burley's Ready to Vote

January 25, 2006 · by Burley Grymz · Permalink · Category: Original Version, the screenplay

And that's all he has to say about it.

Round 1.2 [Liber XII v. Rasputin the Translator]

Liber XII (Shockah rank: #1, Burley rank: #8)

v.

Rasputin the Translator (Shockah rank: #1, Burley rank: #13)

DING DING DING! ROUND ONE-POINT-TWO! FIGHT!

Lies, Damn Lies...

and the Spitball! General Enthusiasm Meter.

As Burley knows, I have a fondness for statistics, even though I don't know what most of them mean and I can barely add. But that doesn't stop me. (Nothing stops the Shockah, man.) Below, using a really stupid formula I invented (that I'm sure anyone can figure out if they tried), I've listed the Top 16 story ideas in order of General Enthusiasm, which is based on a 1-100 point scale. It may be a predictor of future success; it could be pure and utter wank; it could be both.

Round One [Liber XII v. Rasputin the Translator]

Liber XII (Shockah rank: #1, Burley rank: #8)

v.

Rasputin the Translator (Shockah rank: #1, Burley rank: #13)

FIGHT!

(Note: As fate would have it, for the very first battle, something that doesn't have any set format and something I've never done before, I have to pit my two favorite story ideas against each other. What I'm saying is, expect this first entry, especially the "con" section, to be a little light.)

Re:[2] The Playoffs! -- Rules of Engagement

Motion passes!

So, barring any other communications or crazy ideas, my next post should be the first salvo.

To those about to rock... we salute you!

Re: The Playoffs! -- Rules of Engagement

I have to confess, needlessly complex rules are intriguing to me as well, despite the fact that I'm not much of a gamer because I tend to get confused by the needlessly complex rules and would rather just read a book. But, I think I'll be able to track these just fine.

I like what you have proposed such far, but have one modification and one suggestion.

Modification: (referring to #4/#5): I want to keep as much as possible online, so I think we should post when we have made choices and not. Let's communicate through the blog alone--otherwise, this turn-based posting is good.

Suggestion: If we come to a stalemate, I propose that the each has to write up an overview of the idea that they don't like as much, and what changes they would make to it to make it better than the post they are arguing for. This can, of course, include adding the plot of the post they are arguing for to the one they don't like as much, so long as it includes or is strongly based on the idea they are modifying--so this may become a compromise, or may spark an idea that draws from one or either, but is superior. Then, we vote again on these hybrid-wildcard versions. If this yields no clear favorite, then I suggest we declare stalemate on this round and move on to the next. We will come back and revisit the stalemate when we are through the next series of rounds.

The Playoffs! -- Rules of Engagement

Again, because I'm a geeky gamer at heart and am stimulated by needlessly complex rules, I present the following guidelines for determining the results of the playoffs:

Re: In A World -- Thoughts on the Process

January 24, 2006 · by Burley Grymz · Permalink · Category: Original Version, the screenplay

Idea length: I agree with you that longer is not necessarily better, but it sure is clearer. I think that, despite the strength of our ideas, what the other person is really reacting to is their own interpretation of the idea. I would guess that we're going to encounter situations where your understanding of my ideas is much different than my original concept, and vice-versa. So, the process becomes one of re-pitching the idea--which might speak to the gap in some of the stories between your ranking and mine. Which leads me to:

The Scabs: I'll defend this one more later, but I loved the encapsulation of class issues recast as android-human issues, starring the robots as the socialists and the humans as the capitalists. That's just damn brilliant. It answers the age-old-question: how can you talk about political issues without activating political triggers?

Rachel My Dear: This one was a bit of a wild card, I'll confess, but it's a psychological thriller that would make Fincher wring his hands. I definitely see something there, that I'll hopefully elucidate well when it goes up against Methane Madness (which, I'm not all that excited about. I'm gonna fight hard...).

Music: Out of your music, I knew: the Burrito's song, Galaxie 500, and (surprise surprise) Stevie & Tom. I'm gonna make some links to all these songs in iTunes later, so we can all hear them, especially the ones we don't know. I feel like I totally scored with my iTunes picks--they were all interesting, and with the exception of Black Little Stray (which is more evocative and less definitive in message) and Because, I had no trouble coming up with stories from the music. Even when Roky threw me a loop, when I thought the line "Will he leave Moscow?" was "Will he eat my scalp?" but then that was just a shoe-in for sci-fi, eh? The interpreter is gonna eat your scalp? That's a motherfucking BADASS interpreter. He rules whatever he interprets. Thus Rasputin....

As for The Angry Youth: you know, that vaguely rings a bell, but I can't say it's more than that. I'll stick with Poochie!

And the playoffs: I'm glad we're starting out with a tough match. I think it will make the whole process more interesting. In the spirit of this, I think we should allow a rule: after the initial defense of the stories, we should be allowed to add detail to them. So, we start out arguing the germ of an idea, but if no clear winner emerges we can offer bargaining chips, such as "What if Poochie! was voiced by Homer?" (which reminds me, if you Google "homer voice", Google is smart enough to say "See reults for Dan Castelleneta"), then we can avoid stalemates, and enhance the stories at the same time. Whattya think?

Personally, I'm ready. Let the games of Spitball! begin!

In A World -- Thoughts on the Process

January 23, 2006 · by The Urban Shockah · Permalink · Category: Original Version, technique

Some random thoughts on what we just did....

The Playoffs!

Okay--now that all the answers are in, we have the first round drafts ready to go head to head. I've taken the liberty of matching them up. Burley won the coin toss, so his picks are listed 1-8 against mine, listed 8-1.

ROUND ONE
Liber XII v. Rasputin the Translator

ROUND TWO
La Commune Planet v. Robots in Love

The Envelope, Please... (Burley's Picks)

Okay--a crazy time picking, but it was much like yours in that my highest ranked came out to 8. I think we have some good concepts on the table, and arguing them is going to be difficult. I'll play along and argue my ground, but I also truthfully can see working on any of these.

So, without further adieu:

8. Liber XII (Shockah rank: #1)
In a world built to hold the accumulated knowledge of the universe, the monks of Liber XII tend to the databases from birth to death. But when an alien computer virus finds its way into the memory banks, the monks are imprisoned on a sentient planet that knows every way to control -- every way to punish -- and every way to kill ever invented. Can the monks stop Liber XII from destroying the universe?

7. La Commune Planet (Shockah rank: #3)
In a world constructed for the pleasure of the ultra-rich, every vice can be had -- for a price. But beneath the smiling exterior of the friendly staff, there lurks a growing resentment. When a group of ascetics destroy access to the planet's hidden interdimensional gateway, the employees sieze the chance to declare independence from the governement and its backers. But as they take the profits and the pleasures for themselves, pressures and conflicting desires threaten to blow the planet to smithereens

Re: In A World -- Google Image Challenge!

I think it's really interesting how we started with these 50 doing simple evocative wisps of ideas, and then ended up writing nearly complete log-lines. These are among your strongest, I think--but also the deepest and best explained--so maybe I'm reacting to that. We'll have to poll my picks and see if I'm weighted towards these.

I particularly like that you broke the time barrier (the past! What a concept!), and broadened the scope into more human concerns. Our struggle, if doing sci-fi, will be in finding that human balance.

One note about The Angry Youth--I'm not sure which MTV program you were referring to, but it made me think about something else entirely.

And The Nominees Are... (Shockah's Envelope)

This is kinda like when Siskel & Ebert used to have thier own awards show, where they'd each open an envelope and announce their best movies of the year, etc.

So I took Burley's 25 ideas and gave them a ranking of 1-3: 1 if I just wasn't interested in the idea, 2 for ideas that had something interesting to them but were lacking some kind of "hook" to really draw me in, and 3 for the ideas I'm ready to jump into. I had plans for what to do if there were too many or too few 3s, but as fate would have it, I came up with exactly eight 3s.

And it's an interesting list -- I think Burley will be surprised. The 3s run the gamut of his Top 25, not really from one particular area, and just because it was in his Top 5, for example, doesn't mean it'll have the same ranking in my Top 8.

As you'll see now. And the nominees are, from least favorite (comparatively; I truly dig all these ideas) to most favorite:

List of Worlds, Shockah Stylee

Here's my 25 contributions, ranked in the order of preference. The criteria: how excited I'd be to just jump in and start writing based on the premise. Please note that the rankings probably contradict previous rankings of favorites. Them's the breaks.

Also, as Burley could (should) tell you, I shouldn't be allowed anywhere near the titling of a piece, nor naming characters. I really suck at that. (Or I hate it, I haven't figured out which.)

The 25:

In A World -- Google Image Challenge!

For my last seven ideas for Ze Prison Planét, Burley challenged me to use, instead of randomly chosen songs, random images from the Google Image search for inspiration. To generate the images, I entered my birthday as a six digit number, and made my choices from the first page of results.

This is freakin' hard. I thought Stevie Nicks was bad. I'm feeling like an all-day sucker :-)

(Actually, one of them is so incredibly perfect for the Prison Planet concept as to be ridiculous. Don't know if I can do justice to it, tho.)

But anyway, here we go yo, here we go yo, so what so what so what's the scenario?:

Reading List: The Real Prison Planet

We make jokes of the ethical and philosophical implications of a prison planet, but this today on Morning Edition I heard Renee Montagne interview author John Tayman (audio of program available at link) about his book "The Colony" in which he describes the real history of lepers on the Hawaiian Islands, and how they were banished to Molokai during the 19th Century.

It also raises the issues of plot that I hadn't thought about: in this case, lepers who wanted to avoid banishment would act out, murdering doctors, or hiding somehow. If they were caught, they were sent to Molokai where they were banished on a volcanic beach with a hoe and told to make a life of it. This makes me think of our screenplay with a more human aspect--plot ideas about the person being banished, and the fear that this must strike. We are, after all, social animals. What's a stronger punishment than banishment? Isn't that essentially what prison's are?

For these new arrivals on leper Molokai, previous colonists would often work to scare and intimidate them. The buying and trading of women and children were common. Interestingly, though, the colony grew into a very tight cooperative community, and when it was broken up, some chose to stay behind and continue to live there.

I'm putting this one on my reading list--it will likely be most informative to our cause. Depending, of course, on what plot we decide.

The List of World's, Burley Style

Okay--here are my 25 In a World's, in order of favorite and with new lovable, easy to use titles. Ordering was a little tricky--some I like more than the order might suggest, and some I dislike more than it might suggest. Some I like the potential for more than the order might suggest. But, we have to start somewhere--so this is where I'm leaving it. Go at it, Urban!

1. The Atheist
In a world devout to an all powerful god, one man uncovers exposes an unspeakable truth: their planet wasn't carved by a deity, it was created to hold the most dangerous prisoners in the galaxy: their ancestors. What crime is so unspeakable that not only you will be punished for committing it, but all of your heirs will as well? And what happens when you find out that your captors are still watching your every move?

2. If it pleases the Court
In a World where crimes are judged and juried by encrypted, anonymous computer terminals, one jury foreman doesn't realize that the man she's arguing so strongly should be committed to the Prison Planet for life is actually her husband--and the crime he's accused of--but hasn't committed yet--is murdering her.

3. Hell on Earth
In a world where your DNA is patented and you are born in debt, one woman's refusal to pay off her birth-deficit lands her in the largest and most violent debtors prison that ever existed: THE PLANET EARTH.

4. Little Black Stray
In a World where violent male offenders are sent to labor camps on the remote prison planet, one crew of hardened men finds something impossible: a young woman in tattered clothes, mute and frightened. A small group protect and feed her, keeping her out of site of the guards and away from those who would use her mercilessly. As she gains in strength it seems that she has an agenda--and the truth of what she was doing on a world where no women stepped before might be a big enough secret to shatter the whole planet of forced labor.

5. The Ancient Word Revenge
In a World where convicted murderers are banished to a planet instead of being put to death, one couple--the parents of a murder victim--want revenge. They plan a trip to the Prison Planet where they will track down the monster that killed their child, and destroy him in the exact same way that he destroyed their lives.

links for 2006-01-22

January 21, 2006 · by Burley Grymz · Permalink · Category: Links, Original Version

Random Worlds, Karaoke Killer

I love this concept. It's great to get some creative input from a random source. John Cage would approve.

My songs were picked by making a smart playlist in iTunes that randomly picked 5 songs rated 4 stars or better. I hereby authenticate that there was no picking, second-guessing, or non-acceptance of the choices that my Apple Audio overlord delivered. Well, originally #5 was "You'll Have To Go Sideways" by the Soft Boys off of the perfect album Underwater Moonlight, but it's an instrumental, so I dumped that and accepted the randomly picked replacement.

I also looked up the lyrics for better absorption (just like the Brawny man!), so I put a link in to them for those who might be curious.

1. In a World where death itself is beaten by genetic regeneration, a guard is killed during a riot on the prison planet. One woman--his wife--faces sure death to retrieve his body in time to bring him back to life. It's a race against time, with one nearly resourceless woman willfully fighting like a juggernaut against the prisoners who are holding his body hostage, and the powers that be that think she should just give up. All to simply save the man she loves from eternal death.
(Inspired by "Kim Wilde", by Charlotte Hatherly | lyrics)

2. In a World where robots are immature, but can easily pass the Turing Test, one young android idolizes a slightly older movie star, and tries everything in his power to become like his idol. As part of his transformation, the robot works at becoming quite the ladies man, but his game is called when he meets a girl who actually likes him and who he doesn't have to chase. She would certainly never sleep with him if she knew he was an android, but being an android he is physically incapable of sleeping with her. Will truth ruin love, or can the technology-crossed-lovers find a way to remain together?
(Inspired by "Big Boys", by Elvis Costello | lyrics)

Re:[3] Choosing the Final Seed: A Proposal

Okay! Rules set, gloves thrown. I'm posting my final six shortly, and then I'll gather my list for the grinding.

Re:[2] Choosing The Final Seed: A Proposal

Motion passes.

When we're done with our 25, we'll each have a post with our 25 contributions listed, in our preferential order. I also think we should give each one some kind of temporary title -- the use of numbers is kind of bland and abstract, not to mention we'll have two different sets of 25.

How does that sound?

Re: Choosing The Final Seed: A Proposal

I accept, with one small alteration. I think when we're done with our 25, we should put up a single post listing them all of our own in preferred order--#1 being our favorite, #25 our least favorite. This may--or may not--influence the first draft from the opposite writer, but it will give us a chance to filter our own work, and potentially communicate something.

Do you accept this change?

Choosing The Final Seed: A Proposal

So anyway, I'm assuming that what we're eventually going to do is choose one of these ideas to be our "seed" that will eventually blossom into a brilliant screenplay that all peoples of the Earth will love and cherish for always. Although I suspect we could easily just pick one (or a group and narrow it down) very quickly, I have an idea, spurred by my love of competitions and needlessly complex rules.

Here's how it would work: You pick 8 of my ideas that you like the best, and I pick 8 of yours, in order of preference. Your first choice will be matched up against my eighth choice, so on up the line, with my first choice against your eighth choice. There will be a series of "battles", so that the original 16 are narrowed down to 8, then to 4, then to 2, until we finally have a winner. (Ideally, the Seahawks.)

These battles will carried out in the following manner: We will both write, as passionately as we can, what is great about both ideas, and we will both write as passionately as we can as to why each idea isn't as good as the other. Once we have 2 pros and 2 cons for each idea, we'll then simply choose the one we like best. If we can't agree, then we continue to argue the merits of our favorite until one of us concedes, or someone in the forum changes the balance of the argument.

And that's it. It would definitely stretch this Spitball! process out a little longer than it normally would've lasted, but I think that's okay -- I don't think we need to hurry here. It would also give us a chance to expand on these skeletal sketches a little further, and give them more flesh and background than they already have.

Or maybe we should just pick one. What say you? Like it? Dislike it? Proposed rule changes?

In A World -- Karaoke Edition!

Another nice set of five, Burley. #2 is really fascinating -- the moral issues are front and center, which is a new one for us. And the specifics of it are really unusual -- I like it. #3 (the creation and aftermath of a Prison Planet) is so obvious I'm kicking myself that I never thought of it. And #5: Prison Planet as Rollerball! Awesome!

And now, in this very special edition of "In A World", I've decided to play a little game, and I hope Burley will join me. The rules are simple: Write five "In A World" story ideas as usual, but the inspiration must come from a different song, randomly chosen by iTunes. (I only let it pick songs that are rated 4 stars or better, cuz I didn't want to be stuck with a song I didn't really like; Burley may be a braver soul.) I'm not necessarily going to try and turn the song into a narrative per se (although some lend themselves to that kind of thing better than others), but there should be some kind of link, however obscure, from the song to the story idea. My criteria is this: if I come up with an idea that I normally wouldn't have, then I've succeeded. Ready? I'm not, but here I go anyway:

Re:[2] When Worlds Collide

Funny, I was totally thinking of Borges, but I'm mostly ignorant when it comes to Rush. However, I think I was listening to Coheed & Cambria when I wrote it -- does that count? Or does that ruin it? :-)

Weird you should mention the Kurzweil book... I had it over Christmas and managed to get through the first 150-200 pages or so before I had to return it to the library. Seems like a great resource for SF. In that vein, I'm reading Oliver Sacks' An Anthropologist on Mars right now.

Coming tomorrow: comments on Burley's last five, plus the debut of In A World -- Karaoke Edition!

Re: When World's Collide

Damn! I'm digging it. Now how the hell are we gonna pick just one? And, still more to go?

Okay--anyway--I have to say this thing right now. #3? Yeah. Like, if somebody told me "Oh, I casually want to write a sentence or two that will both evoke Borges, the most brilliant writer that ever existed, and Rush, the most rockin' Canadian power trio that ever existed." I would have told them to get lost, but you, my friend, have done it. I applaud you.

I applaud all of these ideas, and I want to take a whack at your bonus idea, because it reminds me that I really want to read the new Ray Kurzweil book.

In a World where nanobots cleanse the blood of disease, and people live indefinite lives, a man waiting for the subway in New York explodes, contaminating a large crowd with an aggressive virus--a mechanical virus of microscopic robots. We might stand a chance to fight them, if only they weren't completely sentient, smarter than us, and designed by the only man in the world who we might have trusted to stop them.

Now--everybody sing along with me from the book of Rush, chapter 2112:
We are the priests of the temples of Syrinx.
And our great computers fill the hallowed halls...

Kick out the Worlds

To paraphrase Tom Robbins: In a world where there are two kinds of people, one kind of person will realize that there really are two kinds of people: the kinds of people who think there are two kinds of people in the world, and those that know better.

1. In a World where convicted murderers are banished to a planet instead of being put to death, one couple--the parents of a murder victim--want revenge. They plan a trip to the Prison Planet where they will track down the monster that killed their child, and destroy him in the exact same way that he destroyed their lives.

When Worlds Collide

I'm a curmudgeon about donuts, so it all evens out.

Holy shit, Burley, those are all fucking awesome. I'm particularly taken with #1 (I could jump into that one right now and hit it running) and #5, even if it is similar to Minority Report. [That's okay, cuz a) Minority Report wasn't as great as it could've been, and b) I never get tired of those kind of stories.]

Oh, and dude, let's only go to 25 apiece. Even steven down the middle. 11 more for you; 12 more for me, after these five:

The War of the Worlds

A few ticks off the old goal. Also, just a point of trivia: I consider most Alcatraz movies Prison Planet movies.

1. In a World where stranded humans must guard themselves from a poisonous atmosphere, one scientist finds a process for rendering the air on the planet breathable. The only problem is, the planet is a prison and the guards will kill them all if they found out about the experiments.

2. In a World where humanoids live mostly underwater, and are equipped with gills, an aquatic princess falls for a mysterious air-breather who appears suddenly in their land without warning. He's kind, intelligent and handsome, but will she find out that he's been banished to their planet for an unspeakable crime?

3. In a World where politicians are devastatingly corrupt, and the uncaring populace is consumed with instant feedback news cycles, one pundit goes off her script and screams out a warning live on the air, before being cut off and mysteriously disappearing. Was this part of their plan, or could it be that somebody broke from the ranks of the elite in an attempt to save humanity?

4. In a world where people trust one another and crimes are extremely low, one event threatens to eradicate the long-admired peace: there's been a prison break on Half Moon, where society disposes of all of its criminals. They're coming back for revenge, and they're armed.

5. In a World where crimes are judged and juried by encrypted, anonymous computer terminals, one jury foreman doesn't realize that the man she's arguing so strongly should be committed to the Prison Planet for life is actually her husband--and the crime he's accused of--but hasn't committed yet--is murdering her.

Re:[2] The State of the Software

Okay--let's go with Celtx as our engine. Hear that Celtx? We pick you!

I have to confess I'm rather curmudgeonly about software. I wish I was a true hacker so that I could craft these marvelous things out of thin air, typed commands and lots of { } brackets. A good piece of software is an amazing thing to behold, and a marvelous thing to use.

Re: The State of the Software

Actually, I don't have any problem with using Celtx for Spitball!, and I think it might be fun to try. Regardless, tho, the next thing I write, I'm gonna take a shot and try and write the whole thing in Celtx. There are still some issues that make it weaker than FD (the "stay at the bottom of the page" thing, and the Tabbing isn't as intuitive as FD), but I like where they're going with the latest release (the character and scene notes section is nifty).

I am curious about this Montage thing, however. What does "create your script as a live outline" mean, exactly?

(If you know Burley and me, you know that we salivate like huskies with a gland condition at the mention of "outline" and "software" in the same sentence.)

links for 2006-01-18

January 17, 2006 · by Burley Grymz · Permalink · Category: Links, Original Version

The State of the Software

A few months ago I was so mad at Final Draft, that I started writing a spec for a screenwriting software for Macintosh. In my mind, it would by a Carbon or Cocoa app, and write to an open, human readable format that--should someone stop using the software--they could open with another program. Ideally, that format would be open sourced, and any other program that wanted to write to it could. The program would retail around $30-$40, in the range of a lot of other cool software that I use almost daily.

I was sparked on this quest by an exchange with the Final Draft tech support. I asked them about how I could go about exchanging my disk. I use Final Draft 6, not having found in the newest version any compelling--or, really any--reason to upgrade. I bought Final Draft with version 5, and updated to six only to get OS X support (Both Urban and I are Mac users), since it really lacked any other revolutionary feature additions. When I bought my upgrade it came on a CD-R, which, as anybody can tell you, is a cheaper and softer substrate. Much more prone to scratches than a manufactured CD.

And see, I have this problem that I have to haul the disk everywhere. I have a desktop and a laptop, but I do most of my writing on my desktop. Final Draft kindly allows you to install the program on two computers, but not-so-kindly insists that you boot the program on the second computer with the CD in the drive. This, after the serial number, and having the program "authenticated" by remote connection to the Final Draft headquarters. So, I had to chose: either put the disk in every damn time I start the program on my desktop, which is quite often when we're deep at work and authenticate my laptop which I rarely use, or do the opposite and carry the stupid disk with me. Which I do. Everywhere. So, if I'm inspired, I won't have to open the program in "demo" mode. Which has happened to me. More than once. And I couldn't write.

It's a World World World World World

Did you know if you Google (in quotes) "In a world" the first response is the Beastie Boys website? Now that's another world for pirate treasure.

Anyway--As much as I liked your original 8 "In a World" scenarios (forever now known as IAWS), I think pumping out a big old slew of them is a great idea. Here's the ones I could come up with as quick as possible (I made it to 9--33 to go!):

Brief Moment of Inspiration

January 16, 2006 · by Burley Grymz · Permalink · Category: Original Version, inspiration

I was flipping through an online book on the programming language Python, and came across this great quote. It may be about computer programming, but it applies to writing, plots and other logics:

There are two ways of constructing a software design: one way is to make it so simple that there are obviously no deficiencies; the other is to make it so complicated that there are no obvious deficiencies.
--C. A. R. Hoar

Re:[2] In a World...

The funny thing about the In A World... post was that, by the end, I didn't really care about the specifics of each story. What was useful for me was taking the idea (Prison Planet) and seeing what kind of "movement" each kind of story could give it. For example, when Richard Garfield was designing "Magic: The Gathering" (and presumably when he designed other games) was he would sit down with blank cards and before he even really knew what the rules were, he would play with them. What is it like when I turn a card ninety degrees? What's it like if I lay out cards in a pattern on the table? What's it like to draw cards from a deck? Is there a difference in feel between drawing three cards or seven?

So I ended up thinking about that post in a similar way. When I think of "Prison Planet" as a concept, I think of prisoners on a planet that want to get off. But what else can be done with the concept? For me the breakthrough of #5 is that the character finds the hidden Prison Planet and goes there. In #6, the character wants to break into the Prison Planet, which sounded fun and cool. The idea behind #7 is that escape is impossible, and maybe not even desired by the end. In #4, the idea that the Prison Planet is kind of a front for something else (the "ancient secret underneath") was what was most interesting to me.

So while I do like some of the small specifics of each idea, I'm not married to any of them, and seeing how skeletal they are, I think some cannibalism from the other ideas will be necessary :-)

But here are my favorites:

Re: In A World...

An echoing voice in my head, visions of fast-cut explosions and action set to pounding, pulsing, throbbing music. I have heard your narrator.

So on a quick reaction, here are my top three that I'd like to see (and therefore, write), with a few of my own notes:

#3 Telepathy as a disease? Keeping a secret when everybody can read your mind? Genius. Awesome. Bravo. Tricky, I'd imagine, and complex, but a concept worthy of the challenges.
#5 Ideas like diseases--much like commercial jingles and memes. Also, because I've always loved the Inferno. What about a twist that posits Dante himself visited this land with aliens, and wrote the Inferno as code to the world? Talk about ideas as disease--the Inferno of Dante became the modern hell of the Christians, after all.
#7 We can already figure the market value for a human life, no matter how despicable this might be, but imagine if robotics had advanced to the point where you could transfer consciousness to another being? Then suddenly, the soul would have a value outside of life itself. What if the rebellion was remaining human?

Honorable mention: Robots fighting to help us fight for our humanity? My hat is off, sir.

A question: can we combine some of these ideas? I'll see if you like any of my feedback first, but imagine that only humans who have transferred their souls (#7) to advanced robots have the telepathy (#3).

In A World...

In an attempt to get this ball rolling a little faster, and as the Designated Inside Man digging my way up from the center toward the outside (I'll explain that later), I present to you eight (8) premises for a Prison Planet movie, written in the style of a cheesy trailer voiceover, composed as quickly as I can. I'm not promising quality here, mind you, merely quantity. Enjoy!

Re:[2] Sci Fi?

A. Unless we were seriously going to explore the idea of "Prison Planet" as a metaphor, of course its going to be SF in some sense.

Maybe I should have tagged it with the "humor" category. I posted that because it was a blatantly stupid thing to think, and therefore funny that I caught myself thinking it. Kind of like thinking "Hmmm. Ford is really pushing the F-150 into that truck genre." Or, "Wow. This dialogue is really pushing itself into the webpage genre."

B. Genre isn't for marketers. Genre is legitimate framework or window through which to view a story. Every genre has its conventions, and you can play them straight or subvert them.

I would argue that genre is to movies was genus is to animals. The animal doesn't care if it's a grizzly bear, but the biologist cares that it belongs to the genus Ursinae. By the same token, I don't really care what genre we're in, and see it as a construct of critics, analytics and marketers. I've never once met a musician who said "I'm going for AOR mid-tempo with an alternative edge," and I've never met a story that said "I need to be seen as a love story to be appreciated." Quite the opposite, I think the best of any creative categories are the ones that seem to be within one genre or another, and then transcend it.

links for 2006-01-14

January 13, 2006 · by Burley Grymz · Permalink · Category: Links, Original Version

Re: Sci Fi?

A. Unless we were seriously going to explore the idea of "Prison Planet" as a metaphor, of course its going to be SF in some sense.

B. Genre isn't for marketers. Genre is legitimate framework or window through which to view a story. Every genre has its conventions, and you can play them straight or subvert them. I like subversion myself (or maybe I'm just saying subversion is easier, since playing it straight and doing it well seems much harder to me), but that's also why The Corrections came up so early in this discussion -- one way to avoid the "same ol' same ol" is to start mixing DNA and create mutants.

C. Yet: SF can mean Star Wars, Star Trek. It can mean Terminator or Alien(s). It can mean Primer or Solaris. It can also mean Videodrome, The Brood, or even Crash (1996). (It's both cool and kinda sad that those last three are by the same guy.) SF, to me, is about taking an idea or premise that simply doesn't exist at all in the real world and extrapolating something (usually a story) out of it.

D. Anyway, the point is, when you think "SF" you think of limited boundaries; when I think of "SF", I think of a lack of them. Therefore, SF, to me, really isn't a genre.

E. Five Days of Continuous Blogging -- I did it!

Genre is for Marketers

Prison planet as a banishment planet--interesting idea. Although, it doesn't make so much sense to me that an advanced culture would use a single planet, and all of its resources, for one single crime. Or, let me restate that--I don't see an advanced society using multiple planets for one crime each (if that's what you were saying). I could imagine enclaves on that planet, or a larger population of one type than another. Or, were you saying that the only event that sparks banishment is telepathy? That's the only "crime" that is deemed extreme enough to banish people? In any case, the telepathy idea is great. I think we should play with that and see if we can get any traction.

But what if the telepathy people were having to live on the same planet with murderers and rapists? (by the way--by sexual offenses I wasn't thinking of sexual orientation, although I like that interpretation, but I meant more like molesters of children). What if the telepaths had to defend their turf, what would their society look like? Would they form alliances? What would the politics look like? Would there be rapist nations? Murderer countries? Boy, does that raise issues of intolerance and old-world cultural bigotry.

Sci Fi?

January 12, 2006 · by Burley Grymz · Permalink · Category: Original Version, the screenplay

In reading Mr. Shockah's recent posts I actually caught myself thinking: "Interesting--he wants to take Prison Planet to the sci-fi genre..."

Longer commentary coming when my mind is actually operating the way it should.

Reading List: Alfred Bester


"Reading List" is a new feature I just made up because I need to get my Spitball! quota out of the way. Whether or not it's a continuing feature is up to time and tide. Also, the link to the forum will take you to the "Books" section of the forum, because, well, that makes sense.

Alfred Bester (1913 - 1987) was a SF writer, best known for two seminal novels, The Demolished Man and The Stars, My Destination. Check out the Wikipedia entry for more info cuz the Shockah aint about no biographical sketches. Instead, Reading List is about how these books might inform The Screenplay.

Brass Tacks

Like probably a lot of people, my best ideas seem to come to me at the worst possible times: in the shower, trying to fall asleep, oral sex. (I kid on one of those.) Last night, while watching The Simpsons Season 7, Disc 4 for the umpteenth time (The Simpsons is a sleep-aid around my house), I began to think about how to contribute directly to this Prison Planet idea. I came up with some good ideas. And then I fell asleep.

So now I'm going to try and reconstruct those good thoughts and see if there's soup in 'em. Unfortunately, I probably won't be able to reconstruct the witticisms they were couched in. (I'll probably recapitulate a lot of what Grymz said already in the first post about the Prison Planet, but I think it's a good idea to go over stuff continuously -- I find it's difficult to find something truly new unless the old is as familiar as your own body.)

What is a meta for?

Two interesting points in your last post about Prison Planet (which, I hereby propose is our working title. If voted down, I am happy to consider others, but I'm kind of excited about the fact that if we keep writing about this, anybody searching for the term "prison planet" on Google is gonna get inundated with Spitball! posts about it. Currently, they are drawn to political statement websites).

1. Ultimate point of finding a character.
Yes. Of course, and good point. That is our goal, I'd say. Not, as has been our habit in the past, to entwine ourselves in overly complex plot points and lose site of the character within. I would go so far as to say that one of the metrics we should judge Prison Planet by is the emotional resonance of the characters, whatever their state happens to be.

2. Metaphor
Well, yes--the Prison Planet is kind of obvious as one, but I think we should be careful about how we play with metaphor. I would propose that we define a few rules about the world, and then start a search for our protagonist. We find them and their story, and not worry about potential metaphors until we have the script better plotted out. Then we can tighten things to reinforce subtext if needed, but I'll bet it worms it's own way into our story through our interests.

To that end, I propose that we both spend some time ruminating on what is exciting or cool to us about the idea of a Prison Planet? We can mesh our ideas and come up with a landscape that might suggest a character. Are you game?

Re: what's a Spitball?

January 10, 2006 · by Burley Grymz · Permalink · Category: About, Original Version

I too learned this term from William Goldman, but I didn't think the term originated with him. After a handy search of the online OED (thanks SPL!), my suspicions were confirmed.

And actually, the use of the term to mean a transfer of information pre-date use as a baseball term by quite a few years. In 1888, the OED attributes the following to Judge 10 Nov. 68/1 "All statements to the opposite are spit-balls at the moon." The baseball use starts in 1905, in J.J. McGraw's Official Baseball Guide.

The OED winds up the definition page with our current use: Spitball: "To throw out suggestions for discussion"

The first reference to the movie industry is from 1955, attributed to H. Kurnitz, from his Invasion of Privacy. "I'm just thinking out loud... Spitballing we call it in the movie business." So, it sounds as if it's an old Hollywood term.

Other good quotes included C. Larson, in 1976's Muir's Blood "'Are you serious?' Blixen asked. 'I'm spitballing,' Schreiber replied.'" Most curiously, though, we find a quote in the New Yorker from May 1977: "The spitballer won't grow into his father's jacket."

Please note that none of the following have included a mandatory exclamation point with the term, thus leaving us to break what small new ground we can.

What's a Spitball?

January 10, 2006 · by The Urban Shockah · Permalink · Category: About, Original Version

Just realized there might be people out there unfamiliar with the term "spitball", which makes a lot of our in-jokes (well, maybe only the funny names) incomprehensible.

"Spitballing" is a term invented by William Goldman (author and screenwriter of such classics as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and All The President's Men) as kind of synonym for brainstorming. If you've read any of his books (particularly "Which Lie Did I Tell? More Adventures in the Screen Trade"), then you know that Goldman loooves to spitball -- sit around with other writers and throw out ideas for plots and characters, and, most importantly, taking them to their logical conclusions.

I'd like to think the relevance to our little project goes without saying.

Previously, on "Prison Planet"

This is my first post on The Screenplay, and I'm not sure where to start. So I'm going to start everywhere at once, and just throw this shit at the wall and see what sticks.

The Suggestive Title Inn

January 10, 2006 · by Burley Grymz · Permalink · Category: Original Version, inspiration

Picture of Motel Oral

Oh please, oh please, Mr. Shockah--can we write a scene that takes place here?
(found on Motel Hell)

links for 2006-01-10

January 09, 2006 · by Burley Grymz · Permalink · Category: Links, Original Version

How To Use This Site

(The following is intended for those new to the site as well as co-administrators who are still trying to wrap their feeble minds around the vast, intimidating thing they've helped birth.)

Welcome to Spitball! (Exclamation point is mandatory.)

The point of the site is to write a screenplay, from start to finish, from germinal ideas to 120 pages of dramatic goodness. Although the authors of this site, Burley Grymz and Urban Shockah, are ultimately the authors of the screenplay, we invite everyone on the Blog-o-Web to contribute. That creates some sticky conundrums, so, before you do that, you may want to peruse this and this.

Okay, so you've decided to contribute -- what now?

Are we Open Source?

This is to clarify--or at least talk about--the idea that we are open source. Are we?

The open source movement started in an effort to develop free software, at a time when commercial software, with proprietary code, was becoming commonplace. The commonly heard refrain is that the software should be free-as-in-speech, not free-as-in-free-beer. That is, the code itself should always be open, even if the software is commercial in nature.

An impressive infrastructure has been grown to promote, grow and release free software. The concept is usually that somebody gets an idea, does some coding and then puts the code into a repository where others can download it and work on it, if they're interested. Those other coders can submit their code back to the originators, and if the originators like the work done by the submitters, they'll commit it to the code base.

I've often thought that writers could learn a lot about organization from software developers--especially using version control, but that said, we're not really open source. We're not writing a screenplay for you to work on and contribute scenes to, which will get added if we like them.

Most free software is released under a number of licenses (GNU, Berkely, etc) with the intention that the creators are retaining the copyright to the works, but that you are free to take that work and modify it for your needs, or to modify it and submit it back to the community.

So, how are we different?

links for 2006-01-09

January 08, 2006 · by Burley Grymz · Permalink · Category: Links, Original Version

Contemplating the contemplation

Mr. Shockah and I have more ideas than time to flesh them out. That's just the nature of writing--the fullest screenplays start with a singular query--something that captures your attention. For me, it's usually a question--in this case, what would a prison planet be like?

Now that we have to answer that question--have to, mind you--I'm trying to think about it from a different angle. Could you tell a love story on a Prison Planet (a: yes). Could you tell a comedy on a Prison Planet (a: yes). Could you make an action-adventure / horror / gory mess on a prison planet (a: yes). Political movie, chick flick--it could be all be done there--the setting suggests a plot, but doesn't have to be the plot. Of course, if it's not important to what happens, then there is no sense but pure whimsy to put the thing on the damn planet to begin with, so the plot will have to revolve somehow with the fact that the setting is a prison planet.

But, that caveat aside, we could really do anything we want. So, where do we start? Maybe we start with a character. Maybe that character is a prisoner just being sent to the planet. So, if that is indeed where we're going to start (I'll wait for Mr. Shockah to opine before I start spinning too far), then a bunch of questions pop up. Why is he there? What did she do? How did he get there? How is she put on the planet's surface? Where on the planet is he put down? Are their guards on the planet surface? Are their guards in space? Do they monitor technology on the surface? What is the weather on the planet?

Suddenly, these questions start getting answered and a hazy picture starts being drawn:

links for 2006-01-06

January 05, 2006 · by Burley Grymz · Permalink · Category: Links, Original Version

Just What The Hell Do We Think We're Doing? (And How Do You Fit In?)

Good question. I'm not entirely sure, either.

Again, the Big Idea, as Burley posted below in "Statement of Purpose" is to write a screenplay completely through this newfangled medium called the InterWeb. Every idea, every outline, every piece of communication between the Mic Rockah and B-to-the-G, will be posted here.

(This will be slightly harder than it seems, since we've been known to talk on the phone and hang out every once in a while. I believe we decided that if -- horrorz! -- we should accidentally talk about the screenplay in a non-Spitball!-approved medium, we'll post the contents of said dialogue here. That should be interesting.)

So far, so good. But what about you, Dear Reader? It would be fine and dandy if this site was just a collection tank for our Bob Loblaw, but would anyone care? If we built a screenplay on the Web and no one read it, would it exist?

links for 2006-01-04

January 03, 2006 · by Burley Grymz · Permalink · Category: Links, Original Version

Contemplating the Engine

What does a prison planet look like? Does a culture that has a prison planet pick a planet bereft of resources? What if the Prison Planet is old--centuries old? Does it become a viable culture and government (hello Australia!)?

What kind of prisoners does this culture send there? What kind of crime is so subversive that you must abandon the people that commit them? Rape? Murder? Sexual Offenses? If so, what level of offense? What if the government could legally, and culturally acceptably, get rid of their political opponents, would they do so?

How does the culture get their prisoners there? Prison planets could only exist in a culture that has very inexpensive space travel. Does that mean that there are aliens there? How does the alien government feel about this culture banishing their citizens?

The cliche of Prison Planet seems to be the Mad Max landscape--post-apocalyptic--but Prison Planet isn't post-anything, it's pre-something. Also, it seems to me that it wouldn't resemble prison movies or shows that we have seen--the engine of those being the following recipe: 1. Take violent and unpredictable men, 2. Put them in an incredibly confined space.

links for 2006-01-03

January 02, 2006 · by Burley Grymz · Permalink · Category: Links, Original Version

links for 2006-01-02

January 01, 2006 · by Burley Grymz · Permalink · Category: Links, Original Version

Statement of Purpose

To listen to the stereotype, all that one needs to break into the exciting and lucrative world of Hollywood screenwriting is an idea. After all, you'll only get that one chance to wheedle up to some cigar-puffing exec and say in your midwestern white-boy (Screenwriting is still tragically overrun by white guys. Like us.) voice-just-breaking drawl "It's a sci-fi story about time travel starring Martin Luther transported to the American Revolution—he pins the Declaration of Independence on Hitler's ass!" Or, maybe you'll squeal through the studio gates in your 1970s beat-to-shit Range Rover, with a day pass won by seducing a secretary with your manly Testeszterhaus swagger. You'll slap the big guy on the back—already looking ahead to that weekend in Acapulco with him and some hookers—and say "Rejected teenage fat chick turns into Femme Fatale and seeks revenge by detonating a nuclear suitcase bomb at her class reunion. Only, she didn't know that little Jimmy Parson, who was always nice to her ungrateful ass, grew up to be the fucking head of the F.B.I. Bamm! Bitch gets what's coming—but not without three acts and lots of tits." Rube and Joe here get contracts, big pads in the Hollywood Hills, and more blow than they can snort.

In the beginning were two words

Kent and I have had a lot of conversations about the project that you're looking at here. We've talked about the forums and the blog, what each post needs, what each post doesn't need, should we have a blogroll or not, and a myriad of other subjects under the sun.

There's one topic we have not broached at all, save for two words. That's about the screenplay we're going to write here. After all, the idea is that every conversation we have; every attempt at outlining, writing and arguing about what parts should be in and what should be kept out--all of those conversations are going to take place here on the blog. In public. With you watching and commenting, hopefully.

Bio - Kent M. Beeson

January 01, 2006 · by The Urban Shockah · Permalink · Category: About, Original Version

Kent M. Beeson (aka Urban Shockah the Mic Rocka) Urban ShockerHow many aliases does a non-rhyming white boy from Modesto need? According to Kent M. Beeson (a.k.a. Urban Shockah, a.k.a. Kza), a minimum of two. Kent graduated from Humboldt State University with a degree in Theater Arts, and then proceeded to walk away from theater forever for the "life" of a cinephile. He spends most of his time locked away in his apartment with his wife and cat, looking out the window and idly wondering if that Flexcar that was in the church parking lot across the street is ever coming back.

His credits include writing the short film The Somnambulist (2004, Mary Agnes Krell), Saint Callistus (2002, 2nd place, The Underexposed Screenwriting Contest) and Yellow (Project Greenlight Top 100, 2003) and appearing in Kent Beeson is a Classic and an Absolutely New Thing (2001, Tim Etchells) and Untitled Ty Huffer Project a.k.a. Douglas (2005, Ty Huffer). You can sometimes catch him writing film reviews over at his other blog, he loved him some movies.

Bio - Martin McClellan

January 01, 2006 · by Burley Grymz · Permalink · Category: About, Original Version

Martin McClellan (aka Burley Grymz) Urban Shocker Martin was born on April 1st, and takes his birthright as a fool very seriously. He’s a graphic designer living in Seattle, with a BFA in graphic design from Cornish College of the Arts. He studied writing at Seattle Central Community College, where he was co-editor of the Ark, the school’s yearly literary magazine, and holds a certificate in creative fiction writing from the University of Washington extension.

His screenwriting credits include the short Lost in Time (1999), YELLOW (Project Greenlight top 100, 2003), and the soon to be filmed sci-fi short Q-DASH-1. He journals about movies at http://www.hellbox.org/movies, and about lots of other things at http://www.hellbox.org/.