Let's write a movie. How hard could it be?

Continuing the discussion from All female Ghostbusters cast:

That, in my extremely limited experience, is sometimes the most exhilarating and fun part: bouncing ideas off each other’s heads and seeing what we can come up with. I don’t think the bad blood comes into play until either credit arbitration or when one of us too heavily (or completely) rewrites another’s dialogue. But there’s plenty of time to kill before that point! :wink:

I think there are several (thousand) ways to go about this, the vast majority of them guaranteed to be diverting little timewasters that are doomed to go nowhere. But that’s okay: Hollywood is built on exactly that sort of firmament. The book club is something that we’re taking relatively seriously, and so we narrowed down our focus and selected our text, and now, just over a full month after it was first suggested, we’re almost ready to begin reading. Now, I’m not suggesting that that took too long (and anyway, the laser focus and tight scheduling of Badass Dragons of the Wasteland proves that my scheduling and estimating skills, coupled with my discipline and devotion to brevity, suggest images of Apocalypse Now-era Coppola mating with King Kong-era Peter Jackson in Michael Cimino’s opium-filled hot tub behind the Heaven’s Gate production office, but with Lloyd Kaufman’s devotion to quality and The Asylum’s insistence on 100% originality.), no, the book club is proceeding at a quite proper pace worthy of its intellectual and cultural standing.


Sometime maybe later this month we anticipate another Badass Space Dragon popping up hereabouts, and the Book Club Thingie isn’t a tremendously demanding time commitment, and the show I’m working on is finally winding down after seven years, and dammit I need an outlet, and I need one fast. Telling stories is fun, and doing it in screenplay format is… well, both harder and easier than it looks, but pretty damn easy if there’s absolutely nothing riding on it and you don’t care too much about it ending up good, or filmable or (heaven forfend) profitable. So I propose we write one together. You and me and whoever. For as long as it takes until it falls apart. Which might take precisely one post, I dunno.

Now, certainly there’s a “right” way to go about doing this, which I am all for, if anyone really wants to do it the right way. We could pick a genre and a target length, and spend a whole lotta time breaking a story, plotting out twists and turns and sketching out characters and all that Serious Writerly stuff. But I, myself, am not a Serious Writer. I am a 100% unpublished Amateur Hack, and though I do actually have screenwriting software (Scriptware of old, and Final Draft 7 for the past decade or so), that would be my sole advantage here. And it wouldn’t be much of an advantage if we’re trying to write something on a BBS.

We could just completely half-ass it, like those games where you write a story together and everyone just takes turns adding a sentence to the end and seeing where it goes. I like to think we could do a bit better than that, but… well, hell, the lower we set our expectations, the more likely we are to be pleasantly surprised rather than bitterly disappointed, I always say. We could maintain a Google Document that we collaborate on, and use this space here on the BBS for discussion and argument and pitching ideas… but I have a couple of caveats about that.

  1. Even though we used a collaborative Google Docs spreadsheet or three for the Badass game, I didn’t create it, and I don’t really know how to.

  2. Ideally, if we’re going to the trouble of creating a mutually editable document, it should be formatted like a screenplay. In other words, like this:

…and as far as I know, it might be more trouble than it’s worth to create the tabbing and capitalization macros necessary to semiautomate that formatting (which is why we use Final Draft et al). If we were to write this script purely in the BBS, we’d just go like so:

The squirrel looks darker somehow, a little more wild. It BARES ITS TEETH and displays startlingly carnivorous FANGS.


Yeah, about what I figured. You’re a bloodsucking devil-squirrel, ain’tcha?
Well, you don’t scare me none.

The kid produces another stone from his pocket: a shiny, black obsidian ball. He holds it up proudly. The squirrel HISSES.

…or some similar easy kludge. But if we’re even a wee bit serious about this, then we’d need to think of a proper mutually-editable document. And on that, I can offer no guidance, for I am a mere babe in the woods.

So whaddaya think? Should we do this fast and cheap and easy and hopelessly chaotic (but still fun), or should we try to put some, like, real effort into it?

If the former, we could just toss out a chunk (like the script page quoted above, which is the beginning of one of my own unproduced masterworks), and just take turns adding a page to it.

I dunno. I just wanna play make-believe with you guys until Badass 2 starts, and if it’s fun, even afterward.

What think you?


19A0’s-Apocalypse, SciFi/Psychedelic Action-Comedy. :smile:

I’m all for outlining some boundaries first, if only so we can ignore them.

Should we be aiming for ‘KLF-The Manual’ style success*, or something more idiosyncratic?

*Success in achieving the goal


Maybe I’ll buy Film Critic Hulk’s Screenwriting 101.


Wow, I’d never heard of The Manual, but y’know, that sounds like the right approach, attitude-wise. I’m not quite skint, nor (yet) on the dole, but IMHO they’re absolutely right when they say,

“Anybody with a proper job or tied up with full time education will not have the time to devote to see it through… Being on the dole gives you a clearer perspective on how much of society is run… having no money sharpens the wits. Forces you never to make the wrong decision. There is no safety net to catch you when you fall.”

But then, we’re not trying to make a script that is necessarily filmable, or viable in any way other than as a lark.

Unless. Unless you guys want to.

But that’s a can we can kick waaaay down the road for now. “More idiosyncratic” is today’s watchword, I’d say.

Apocalypse=Good. SciFi=Swell. Psychedelic=Okay, why not. Action-Comedy, well, I think we’d struggle to do anything else, at least at first.

Got any kind of elevator pitches you’ve always wanted to realize? Or maybe a kernel of an idea that might be fun? I’ve got a couple that I’ve had floating around in my headsoup for a while, but never got very far with for (get this:) lack of a writing partner to help me flesh them out. They’re neither commercial enough nor beloved enough to want to keep for myself, so I wouldn’t mind tossing them into the stewpot for you guys to consider fleshing out with me.

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The Wife is a writer-person, I’ll poke her for ideas and see what she suggests a group of yobbos on the internet to start writing about.

What can go wrong?!

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Oh, she’s gonna tell you ninety-six ways we’re doin’ it wrong. If nothing else, arbitration at the WGA would be an enormous pain in the fundament.

But hey, according to IMDB, “almost three dozen people worked on the script” for the 1994 Flintstones movie. What, indeed, could go wrong?


Post trans-human wasteland. (Almost) Everyone who wasn’t a billionaire has fought and died over scant resources, whilst post-human intelligences manipulate the very fabric of reality from extra-dimensional impossibility.

Our hero, in trying to scavenge together some semblance of a life has found some artefact from the great exodus of super-intelligent humanity, which makes use of many-world theory in making her immortal.

Catch. She can be killed, but her consciousness is instantly transferred to the ‘closest’ universe in which she was not killed in extremely similar circumstances. The gun misfired, the train derailed, you get the idea.

She must attempt to solve the riddle of her newfound powers and deal with the suddenly very interested, usually very disinterested and infinitely aloof post-humans.

Blah blah blah, she resets the universe to the point at which humanity is transcending and either:

  • Transcends with them
  • Stops the transcendence
  • Modifies the transcendence in such a way as to make the miserable post-apocalyptic conditions liveable and perhaps utopian

My favourite

  • It’s never revealed because reasons. (The human mind cannot comprehend!)

ps- that when my bbs door game will be set.

EXTERIOR: A panorama of the California coastline, the sky clear and blue.

Slow zoom in to a bluff overlooking the shoreline. There's an table and a chair on the bluff, reminiscent of interrogation rooms. A man is sitting in the chair. On the other side, a man and a woman are standing and facing him. 

Cutaway reveals several remote controlled drones circling and filming the trio, buzzing about. Close up shots show the seated man, his spiked hair and his neon plaid pants of red and green. He is chained to the chair at his feet. The standing people face him menacingly, both clad in dark uniforms with spurred boots. A single banana rests in the center of the table. The waves of the Pacific are a soft rumble at this distance.

        STANDING MAN: Let me rephrase the question: tell me about the origins of your tribe. 

        SITTING MAN: We have an "about page." 

        STANDING MAN: Yes, but we want to know more about what happened in the decade before.

        SITTING MAN: Is this where you ask me to look at the banana again? Man, I *told* you, we had this idea to form a zine in nineteenahteeaight. 

        STANDING WOMAN: Mark. We know. (slightly impertinently). Tell us about nineteenahtwo.

       SITTING MAN: Did you say A-2?


I’d always read it as aee-'ees… ehy-'ees. This is hard.
I mean ‘eɪ’ in IPA.
Nine Teen eɪ 'ees.

With a glottal-stopped ‘t’ in ‘tees’.

I’ve thought about this too much. :neutral_face:

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I think the gag of mis-hearing 80s for A0s could work in several accents.

But Boston accent is Best Accent.


I’m fairly certain nobody’s getting rich over this one…

She suggested we crank this up and see what comes out.

“He’s a sword-wielding devious master criminal with a robot buddy named Sparky. She’s a ditzy Buddhist fairy princess from a family of eight older brothers. They fight crime!”

He’s an all-American gay paranormal investigator with a mysterious suitcase handcuffed to his arm. She’s a radical bisexual bodyguard living homeless in New York’s sewers. They fight crime!


Wow. That is almost too good an idea to waste on this. Is there a way we can make the Artifact MacGuffin into something more sensible than, say, an Infinity Gem? Because my only issue is this:

Nope! Can’t do it! I cannot abide such lazy writing! The human mind can comprehend more than we give it credit for, and anyway we’re talking about post-human minds here! We don’t have to go into any detail about MacGuffin mechanics (storylines do tend to go off the rails if they spend too much attention on such matters), but I do sincerely hope that we can at least imagine a reason for it all… or certainly an excuse!

(Look, our first “Creative Differences” spat!)

Naw, I don’t mean to crap on your favorite approach to such a setup, but I do tend to be allergic to works that handwave too much because the writer couldn’t be bothered to think up a remotely plausible explanation. I, personally, tend to favor the Well-Made Play approach, though it’s quite easily mocked. I do so like to have things make sense, or stand up to logical scrutiny, which admittedly might well be a problem when dealing with psychedelia. At the least, I demand that a story’s own internal logic be consistent, even if it’s not necessarily playing by the rules of real life.

And now, a practical question:

This seems like it might fall somewhere between Groundhog Day and that Tom Cruise Edge of Tomorrow flick in terms of the instant resuscitation. I don’t mean it’s derivative, but rather, in terms of keeping her going, where would dying fall on a spectrum from “very brief inconvenience” to “enormous setback”? In Groundhog Day, when Phil Connors dies, he just instantly resets back to that same morning in bed, and all he has lost is whatever progress he made that day, which is annoying but what the hell, he’s stuck in that loop with literally nothing else to do until he figures out what he’s doing wrong. And though I didn’t see Edge of Tomorrow, it strikes me as using a similar mechanic that, as far as I know, probably works like a videogame, where everytime he dies, he resets to a certain time and place having gained experience and skill, so each time he’s slightly more likely to triumph. But as far as I can tell, his deaths are nastier and more unpleasant than Phil’s quick cuts to black followed by a clock radio playing “I Got You Babe.”

So, in your scenario, when her consciousness transfers, it’s more or less instantaneous, like getting shot, then a second or two later finding herself in a world where that bullet missed, and she continues in her mission with these little hiccups happening every now and then? Is it automatic? If so, it seems kinda low-stakes, even lower than in Bioshock when you could throw yourself at a Big Daddy over and over again, die a messy death but do a bit more damage each time, revive in a Vita-Chamber and be given a couple more bullets and some Eve, and just rinse and repeat endlessly until the Big Daddy finally falls down out of Death By A Thousand Sternly-Worded Insults. I think the hero, if given the power of these second chances, must be required to have some agency to get past the obstacle. Like, if she gets shot in the head from behind, perhaps she is transferred to another reality (or even the same one, come to think of it) a few seconds before the shot is fired… and she must figure out where the shot came from (is going to have come from) and dodge it in time.

Heh. Maybe there can even be a bit of Bill and Ted about it, where she’ll have to note what bad thing is befalling her, and she has to go back in time to make preparations of some sort to leave herself an escape route, though hopefully something less goofy than paying a confederate to be poised to drop a trash can over the head of the would-be assassin just in time.

Anyway, my point is that if the insta-reincarnation is made automatic or too low-impact, it diminishes the stakes for her. Maybe she could, like a cat, be limited to a finite number of reincarnations? (Another videogame trope, five lives for a quarter.)



Dollar Babies

These stories are not under contract for movies, which means they are available for film students who want to try their hands at a Stephen King story. If you want to be one of my dollar babies, send us your info.

Some good stuff there.

He’s an uncontrollable shark-wrestling cyborg from a doomed world. She’s a foxy goth mercenary from Mars. They fight crime!

My inner 10-year old just went and made a massive bowl of cereal to watch that show.

I can’t write for shit, but if you guys have a test audience or focus group or something, let me know and I’ll make popcorn.


Let’s write a movie. How hard could it be?

:laughing: I did once. It’s happily buried on some 133Mhz laptop that probably no longer turns on. We are all the better for it.

What I’m about to talk about will seem slightly offtopic for a moment but I promise not to post this until I bring it back around. In 2004, self-publishing was still something that largely meant print books but generally involved a lot of Publish On Demand (think Lulu but most of them were scammy).

For all I know, this is still going on but all of us semi-serious self-publishing folks moved onto either ebooks or freelancing or something. Anyway. Everyone with a lick of sense knew that self-publishing was not, by itself, going to turn any of us into serious authors but those of us who managed to get something book-length together tried anyhow (not the time for me to talk about how many novellas I finished but never did self-publish :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: ). There was one self-publishing / POD house that tried to pass itself off as a real publisher with the claim that 1) they actually paid an advance (which was something in the $1-5 range if I recall correctly) and 2) they were a real publisher because they actually vetted the books before publishing them.

Well, this was annoying enough for a group of SF&F writers to call their bluff and submit the ultimate unpublishable novel called Atlanta Nights. I couldn’t tell you precisely how many authors contributed but there were “41” chapters (quotes because some chapters were intentionally missing) and the authors largely wrote their chapters without looking at each others’ work. One chapter was written by the Bonsai Story Generator.

To quote from wikipedia:

Teresa Nielsen Hayden’s review said, "The world is full of bad books written by amateurs. But why settle for the merely regrettable? Atlanta Nights is a bad book written by experts.

And, of course, our beloved faux publishers initially took the bait before the cadre of authors realized that going through with publishing a hoax might cause them some trouble.

So, I think it would be hilarious to come up with a basic premise, set of characters, and vague sequence of events and then divide it up amongst several of us who are not allowed to directly collaborate with each other.

Alternately, if BBS came up with a premise that required no particular budget, I suspect happy mutants might actually be able to pull off a no budget film. Despite having most of the requisite equipment, I probably wouldn’t participate in that owing to work considerations and social anxiety.

Not one to sully a good pessimism with cold bitter regular pessimism … what could go wrong = “we could write the sequel to the 1994 Flinstones movie.”


Sounds suspiciously like The X-Files.

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Can we put a dragon in it?


I was inspired by Run Lola Run but thought the instantaneous mechanic could provide a fresh approach to the re-live it dynamic.

Many situations could highlight the trippy nature of potential foreknowledge of one’s death, how would her consciousness change? Would she see a room full of assailants as a myriad of potential paths through it? Intersecting world lines of potential, terminating here, flowing there. The idea being that the ability is in some way preparing her and us for extra dimensionality. Finding a way to put into ideas that which cannot be imagined.

I like your idea with a certain play to the effect. One of my first philosophic musings was to notice that consciousness seems to be spread… smudged over a period of time (time-space), related to our concentration span, the differential between audial and visual inputs (which is made even more lengthy through psychedelics IMO). This has echoes ( :smile: ) of Prince of Persia too, choosing the moment to pop back into reality.

Diminishing the stakes? I’m sure the mechanic has enough play that an imaginative bunch could find all sorts of ways for it to back fire, cause issues that can only be solved through sacrifice, the realisation that even with her new powers she is still embedded in the vulgar world of her dystopia.

At any rate, emphasis on the imagining of what the transition into post-human consciousness might be like, through the exploration of a taste of extra-dimensional consciousness.

As for leaving the impossible untold, we could still resolve the world scenario as made into a utopia by the transcendence of our saviour, a non billionaire, but tease with what actually happens to her as The Ninth Gate did. Damn I love that movie. What balls!

The form of the macguffin… Hmm, I’m getting perilously close to those precious ideas I hold close to my chest… What about it being a personality in and of itself. Pissed at the heroine for dragging it back into the dystopia, at once a guide and a foe, the genie that grants the wish but debases it. Echoes of Banks’ The Lazy Gun.

Oh, yeah, I mean to within an appreciably small amount of time since her death, the span of time her consciousness inhabits, perhaps growing with her experience, blossoming with her knowledge of the extra-dimensional but making her less human as she goes. Approaching the aloofness of the billionaire transcendants, looking like we are losing her to the dark side but ultimately saved by her experience of poverty.


I don’t say this often, but you should see this Tom Cruise movie. It’s actually really well done and very clever this time around. You’re basically right on the mechanics until Act III. The mechanic is more of a “this will always happen this way so you can time it right every time” sort of thing, think of it as being able to take the random out of the world but it’s very well done and more enjoyable than his usual work recently.

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