This short is not far off.
Lots of changes to Exit. I’ve added a new page that includes a smattering of the spec samples I’ve written over the years. Not all are perfect (there’s a lot I would do differently, being a different writer now than I was then), but I’m proud of something in each, and hopefully, they can serve as learning tools for you.
The Ghost of Scripts-mas Past
Occasionally, I’m asked to share “spec” scripts (material designed to show my skills as a writer, but not contracted by any company or official persons). I’ve written several. I’ve decided to include these to give a sense of the process.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, “All Tomorrow’s Parties” – My first spec. This was a terrible sample, in that it made no attempt to mimic the voice of the series. But it was a pretty good indication of what I’d do with the premise. In that sense, and in the sense that it got me work, it has served me well.
Part of what inspired this was the obvious question of sex between Cameron and John, which the show seemed determined to slow burn, but which felt to me something that had to be dealt with from jump. Terminator 2 always felt like a perfect metaphor for puberty. You’re already struggling with all that anger, and then someone gives you a robot that can burn the world. Making the robot look like Summer Glau just makes the metaphor more explicit.
Because it’s science-fiction, the issue of teen sex revolves around a time travel paradox that re-orders our understanding of cause and effect in John’s timeline, as well as posing the question of just who keeps reprogramming all these robots to begin with?
Wolverine and The X-Men: “Weapon 12” – Funny story (maybe I’ll tell it in detail another time), my first job as a writer in Los Angeles was supposed to be for Wolverine and the X-Men, on a season two that never materialized. I found myself with a lot of free time and everyone thought I was already working on the show, so…
This is an adaptation of a few different arcs from Grant Morrison’s run on New X-Men (including “Weapon 12” and “Assault on Weapon Plus”) with the aim of introducing Fantomex, in all his arrogance, improbable powers and charm, into the continuity of a show that is admittedly for children, and shouldn’t get near a character like Fantomex.
Fun fact: Fantomex was based on the Diabolik character from Italian comic strips and grind house cinema, who was himself based on the turn of the century criminal master mind and French answer to Sherlock Holmes, Fantômas.
This is a very early sample from before I knew the rules of writing for animation, but it’s still worthwhile as an artifact.
Film: “The Lucky Strike” – A script for an abandoned short adapted from the story of the same name by Kim Stanley Robinson. What might have happened if the fateful flight over Hiroshima had gone a bit differently? I regard this mostly as practice, though it was shot. The film was abandoned when the production couldn’t secure the rights to the footage they had.
I like this one a lot.
Fringe, “On the Subject of Genies and Bottles” – This is pretty self-explanatory. I had just read Great Mambo Chicken on the recommendation of Warren Ellis and my head was buzzing with nano-swarms. Still one of my favorite books. Script is good, too.
Doctor Who, “The Martian Invasion” – The Doctor meets young Orson Welles on the night of the War of the Worlds broadcast. But what’s the real invasion and what’s the hoax? Clever idea (though some people have pointed out it plays in territory similar to The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai, which I’ve never seen), and putting the Doctor up against someone as brash and arrogant as him was a lot of fun. I still like this, and may do something with it one day.
More to come, particularly for those of you interested in writing. Stay tuned.
There is something important in this story. About a million important things. At this time of night, I don’t have the insight to identify it or the faculties to express it once identified, but it’s there, for certain. Is it the finally-realized result of a decade and a half of terrorism? The strange condition of the human animal, wherein we behave worse in a fake crisis than a real one? Reading about this feels like reading about the Stanford Prison Experiment in real time and if it was an accident. It has the surreal quality of a Twilight Zone episode. Some post-9/11 Monsters Are Due on Maple Street, with a heaping dose of the bizarre banality and boredom of a Beckett play. I’m grasping at straws.
Comic Con was so crazy, so I hadn’t actually gotten around to posting this until now. The best Warners Animated show since the last one. (Seriously. Those guys are geniuses.) I’m pretty sure the first shot (and possibly the first line of dialogue) are from one of my episodes, but I can’t honestly be sure. Regardless, I can’t tell you how much this means to me. Seeing these characters move in final, polished animation vindicates the feeling I’ve had for a year that this show would be something really special. Thanks to Jim Krieg, Alan Burnett, Butch Lukic, Eric Carrasco, Jeremy Adams, Tim Sheridan and Patrick Rieger.
I might be the Snapper Carr of this group, but one thing is for sure: we’re a league more powerful together than we are separate.
And neither should you. I’ve thought about writing a blog before and I always psych myself out. You can put too much thought into this kind of thing. I’ve written three or four first posts and not continued with any of them. People mean well. They’ll tell you to be distinct, that you need a subject or a point of view. And if this were a column, I’d agree. Except it’s not a column, it’s a blog, and that’s now how writing works.
So I’m trying something different. I do a lot of writing: emails, status updates, fan questions, and a lot of it goes to waste.
Check out this video about scaling yourself by Scott Hanselman.
Part of his premise is that you have a limited number of keystrokes in your life and you should endeavor not to waste them. So from now on, if I feel the need to share something, a thought or an answer to a question about writing, I’ll try to put it here.
Some of it will be contemporary, as a lot of this ephemeral Internet stuff is. But the stuff that’s not, the stuff I can use, at least I’ll have a record of.
If that sounds appealing to you, you’re welcome to stick around. If not, I’ll try to keep the promotion on Facebook and Twitter to a reasonable amount.