Screenwriting II — Week 4 & 5 — Spring 2014

February 25, 2014

Greetings everyone,

Highlights of the past two weeks.

First, congrats to  Robert, David, Amanda, Jennifer, Apolos and Sharah. Good job pitching.

All of you did well. Now the real work begins. Below is the one-page synopsis of Collateral I promised you.
Plus the 12 Hero’s Journey beats for The Matrix.

Your assignment:Do all the assigned reading and be prepared for the quiz.

Group 1 and 2 — your ONE-PAGE SYNOPSIS is due in your respective folders no later than 11:59 PM this Friday, Feb. 28th.

Group 3 — your ONE-PAGE SYNOPSIS is due in your respective folders no later than 9:25 AM on Monday, March 3rd.

Also, several of you have asked about commenting on your classmates’ assignments.  Is it a requirement? No.

What’s required of you is class particiipation. So if you don’t participate in a face-to-face class discussion (you’re shy, not fully awake, too self-concious, etc.),

then you had better use the online platform to make your voice heard, i.e. comment on your GROUPMATES’ work (you can comment on all your classmates’ work,

if you like). Otherwise you will receive a ZERO for class participation when the final grade is calculated.

Here’s a one-page synopsis for Collateral.

COLLATERAL

Screenplay written by Stuart Beattie

LA cabbie Max Durocher is the type of person who can wax poetic about other people’s lives, which impresses U.S. Justice Department prosecutor Annie Farrell, one of his fares, so much that she gives him her telephone number at the end of her ride. Although he’s good at his job, Max is unable to make a better life for himself. He deludes himself into believing that his now twelve year cabbie job is temporary and that someday he will own his own limousine service.

 

One night, Max picks up a well-dressed man named Vincent, who asks Max to be his only fare for the evening. For a flat fee of $600, plus an extra $100 if he gets to the airport on time – Vincent wants Max to drive him to five stops that evening. Max somewhat reluctantly agrees. Max learns the hard way at their first stop when a body falls from a third story apartment window and lands dead on top of his cab that Vincent is a contract hit man. Vincent’s main goal, as per his current contract, is to kill five people, one at each of the stops, but he will not let others get in the way of that goal, even if it means killing them, including Max.

 

Meanwhile, a Detective Fanning is chasing the two, slowly figuring out what is going on. He pieces together several clues involving the people Vincent has killed, determining that the killer has used the same method to shoot them all; two shots in the chest and one in the skull.

 

Despite the circumstances, Vincent seems to take a liking to Max. When Vincent finds out Max’s mother is ill, he insists they visit her in the hospital. While Vincent talks with the mother,  Max manages to slip away with Vincent’s briefcase containing his laptop and the identity records of his targets. Max throws the briefcase off the bridge onto the highway below, where it’s run over by a truck. Vincent responds by forcing Max to go to the man who ordered the hits and retrieve the information. Against all odds, Max manages to get the information Vincent needs. They now have to complete the final two hits.

 

Vincent and Max go to a busy night club to kill a heavily guarded target. The FBI, LAPD, and Fanning also show up.  During a big shootout inside the club Fanning finds Max and tries to escort him to safety. Vincent appears from behind and shoots Fanning dead.

 

Max and Vincent escape the carnage and head for the next mark. By this time Max has reached his breaking point and deliberately wrecks his cab. Vincent crawls out and leaves him behind. A police officer approaches Max to help him but sees the bodies Vincent hid in the trunk. While on the ground, Max sees Vincent’s new computer screen and realizes that Annie is the final target, which explains why Vincent was outside that particular building earlier; he was studying the building’s security systems.

Max overpowers the cop and takes his gun. He races to Annie’s building and reaches her at the same time Vincent does.  A battle between Max and Vincent ensues. Max manages to kill Vincent and save Annie’s life.  He and Annie get off at the next station. The rampage is over. It’s the dawn of a new day.

And this is a Here’s Journey outline for The Matrix.

Ordinary world

Neo works as a programmer for a software company replete with boring cubicles, an obnoxious boss, and indifferent coworkers.
(Why did the writers choose to open the story with Trinity fighting Agent Smith and his cronies? To have a running start and give us a whiff of the magical world. Now we know Trinity can kick ass. It’s a welcome sight at the end of the film when she accompanies Neo on the rescue-Morpheus mission.)

Call to Adventure

“Follow the white rabbit.”  Neo goes to the club with Choi and meets Trinity there.
Trinity claims she knows the answer to “What is the Matrix?”

Refusal of the call

Neo is at work when he receives a call from Morpheus, who wants to help him escape from the agents. But Neo drops his phone and chickens out. He steps back inside and is arrested by the agents.

Meetingwith the Mentor / Crossing the First Threshold

Neo meets Morpheus, who offers Neo a choice between the red and the blue pill. “This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.”
Neo goes for the red pill. He makes a conscious choice to enter the magical world and go on a journey.

Tests,Allies and Enemies

Neo learns about the Matrix and his potential role in it. He learns how to fight and who his friends are.

Approachto the Inmost Cave

Neo is taken to see the Oracle. He’s faced with some of the doubts and fears that first surfaced upon his call to adventure. Is he the One or isn’t he?

Ordeal(Lowest Point)

Morpheus is captured by Agents. Cypher is a traitor. Everything seems lost. Neo chooses to risk his life to save Morpheus.  Trinity comes with him.

Reward

Neo chooses to risk his life to save Morpheus.  Trinity comes with him. They succeed in rescuing Morpheus. All three are going back to reality.

TheRoad Back

The Agents pursue them. Only Morpheus and Trinity get back to the ship. Neo is stuck in the Matrix.

Resurrection ( Final Battle / Climax)

Neo fights Agent Smith and is killed by him. But Trinity’s kiss in reality literally resurrects Neo in the Matrix.
The Matrix no longer controls Neo. He controls the Matrix. Neo easily defeats the Agents.

Return with the Elixir

Neo now believes in himself. He’s the One who will end the oppression of the machines.


Screenwriting II — Week 4

October 2, 2013

Posted on: Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Hello all,Even those of you who didn’t have your story fully worked out, did a very nice job on your pitches. I know how tough it is to present your not-yet-fully-formed ideas in front of a class. I’ve been there myself.
So congrats to all for accomplishing that.

Now the real work begins. You’ve know left your ordinary world and (by remaining in the class) have chosen to walk through the gates of the magical world. I can hear the fairies and dragons say “welcome”.
As I said in class today,  I think the hardest assignment this semester is writing a synopsis. Not only do you have to have your story worked out from the beginning to end, but it also has to be well written (using grammatically-correct sentences — check for typos too, please), entertaining, and succinct. It’s difficult to do well and requires several drafts. But what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? Right.

Here are a few links to sample synopses and on how to write one:

House of Games,   SAMPLE-SYNOPSIS

Also, I promised to give you a link to the 1st Episode of The Writer’s Room on Sundance Channel (Breaking Bad writers).  Here it is:
http://www.sundancechannel.com/series/the-writers-room/videos/breaking-bad-the-writers-room-episode-1-season-1-full-episode

Here’s something to inspire you:http://vimeo.com/24715531#

If the above links don’t take you outside of Blackboard, copy and paste them in your browser.
YOUR HOMEWORK:

Story (McKee): Ch.2 through 8

Assignment #2: SYNOPSIS. Due October 15th, no later than 9:30am (in your respective group’s folder). The maximum length for the synopsis is TWO PAGES, SINGLE-SPACED. The IDEAL length for the synopsis is a page and a half or two pages, double-spaced (see the samples).
Do not turn in your synopsis if it’s longer than two pages.  Sure, your first, and even your second. draft can be as many pages as you think you need to lay your story out for yourself. But then you have to put on your editor’s hat, pull out the “writer’s axe and chisel” from under your desk, and  go to work. Hack your sentences down to two pages and chisel your words to a presentable state.  Pretend that you’re submitting it to a producer who will write you a check if he likes your story.  Even if you’re writing a synopsis for your eyes only, do it as if you’d be presenting it to the whole world.

 ak