Just finished a new screenplay outline, wondering if it has been done before?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Vince Maskeeper, Oct 14, 2001.

  1. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    Hi guys,
    About to start on my 6th script, and I have just finished the outline. I wondered if this has been done before, and thought I would come to the closest thing I have to experts, the HTF!
    I was inspired by the recent events here in the USA related to the middle east and our American urge to break things down into Good Guys/Bad Guys.
    I have an outline for a movie which is two stories told in about 55 minute pieces.
    The first story is a very strong military story, with very clear cut heroes and villians. The villian's actions are very clear cut villiany, and the heroes react accordingly to squash the evil villian.
    However, the second half of the film is the same story again- this time told from the "villian's" point of view- reversing the villian and hero roles when told from the other guy's perspective.
    I pitched this to a friend, and he made a vague reference to an X-files episode that did a similar thing- one I'm not sure I've ever seen.
    Has this ever been attempted in filmmaking? Has anyone ever done a good job with it?
    -Vince
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  2. Mark Pfeiffer

    Mark Pfeiffer Screenwriter

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    Well, the first thing that comes to mind is Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon, which has an event told from the point of view of more than two characters. (Can't remember how many, but I'd say it was at least four.)
    Not similar in content certainly but similar in stylistic construction.
     
  3. Scott H

    Scott H Supporting Actor

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    Vince, just write good scripts. The first thing they teach you in film school is that everything has been done before, and to one degree or another they're right. But in the end, so what.
    Umm, btw, the first thing you learn oustide of film school is never share your potentially good ideas [​IMG]
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    [Edited last by Scott H on October 14, 2001 at 10:59 PM]
     
  4. Brad_W

    Brad_W Screenwriter

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  5. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    quote: Umm, btw, the first thing you learn oustide of film school is never share your potentially good ideas[/quote]
    Well, I don't write to sell, really- I write for fun. I enjoy writing, so i do it.
    BUt what I hate doing is finishing and realizing some master has already done it better than I could have ever done it 2 decades before I was born. Although I love film, my knowledge of pre-80's film is really lacking (I'm working on it, I swear!)
    Again- even though I know everything has been done before- some themes have been done REALLY WELL before, and since I'm only writing for my own fun and to get response from friends- I hate to spend 2 months to reinvent the wheel!
    [​IMG]
    Vince
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    [Edited last by Vince Maskeeper on October 14, 2001 at 11:06 PM]
     
  6. brian a

    brian a Second Unit

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    You write your scripts in two months? Now that's impressive. My fastest ever was six months with another few of rewrites. Not to mention the couple of months of getting the story straight in my head before strarting on paper.
    What's your technique?
    brianca...
     
  7. Mitty

    Mitty Supporting Actor

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    It does sound a little bit like He Said, She Said, a comedy with Kevin Bacon and Elizabeth Perkins. [​IMG]
    I don't think anyone would accuse you of borrowing that concept though. [​IMG]
    Seriously, it's a fascinating idea, and, as Scott said, even if someone has tackled similar material before, it hasn't been said with your voice and your take on it. It could be a compelling take on the whole "history is written by the victors" adage.
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  8. Doug D

    Doug D Stunt Coordinator

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    HILARY AND JACKIE has a somewhat similar construction, although staggeringly different content, presumably.
     
  9. JohnS

    JohnS Producer

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    Vince,
    I never knew you wrote screenplays.
    We will have to talk!
    Dan Brecher and I are 'trying' to work on a TOP SECRET screenplay.
    And I have LOADS of ideas!
    Speaking of writting, has anybody used FINAL DRAFT software program($199.95)
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    [Edited last by JohnS on October 15, 2001 at 03:11 AM]
     
  10. Will K

    Will K Screenwriter

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    I've used Final Draft for about a year now. I don't know how it compares with other programs, but it's easy to use and helps me hammer out a draft faster.
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  11. Matthew Chmiel

    Matthew Chmiel Cinematographer

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  12. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    quote: You write your scripts in two months? Now that's impressive. My fastest ever was six months with another few of rewrites. Not to mention the couple of months of getting the story straight in my head before strarting on paper.[/quote]
    Well, 2 months is first draft.
    First is an outline- which is like you're idea of getting it straight in your head. I carry around the outline for a few weeks, any time I think of something- pull out the outline and jot it down. Rewrite the outline weekly from scratch , encorporating new ideas (This is the satge I'm just about finished with).
    Then first draft- usually starts out with tons and tons of stage direction and very medium dialog level (or even just dialog placeholders). This takes about a month to a month and a half. I go back and work out the first draft a little until it's close to screenplay, taking another two or three weeks.
    I usually let it sit for a month and then rewrite. I certainly not "done" in 2 months- but I can get a good draft done in that amount of time (helpful that I usually take at least an hour a day to dedicate to writing).
    But, again- it certainly isn't done. Heck, I have one screenplay called "PSYCHO MANIC DEPRESSIVE MOTHERFUCKER" That I just rewrote a few months ago, which is probably the 10th rewrite since I "finished" it in 1998.
    quote: And I have LOADS of ideas![/quote]
    Well John, we all have ideas, the question is if you have any good ideas. [​IMG]
    quote: Speaking of writting, has anybody used FINAL DRAFT software program[/quote]
    I found final draft to be a cool idea- but more tools than I really needed. I do use the screenstyler plugin for word- makes formatting faster. But toolls as far as scene cards and whatnot- I can do aall that by hand, and would prefer to. Also Final Draft makes moving things around easier- but I've always kinda liked it being difficult- it usually means I have to rewrite stuff more often.
    Heck I used to do all my stuff on typewriter so wehn I wanted to make a chnage I would have to rewrite the whiole scene!
    -Vince
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    [Edited last by Vince Maskeeper on October 15, 2001 at 09:39 AM]
     
  13. Dan Brecher

    Dan Brecher Producer

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  14. Iain Lambert

    Iain Lambert Screenwriter

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    Dan, I didn't know you were writing Top Secret; is it a remake, or a sequel? [​IMG]
     
  15. Jude Faelnar

    Jude Faelnar Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm reminded of Courage Under Fire. Different versions of the same event told by different characters.
    JUDE
     
  16. DaveF

    DaveF Moderator
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    Off hand, I can't think of a movie doing what you're saying. But it's been done it literature. I believe that that Orson Scott Card wrote a novella using that structure. And I've read other sci-fi / fantasy books with similar concepts.
    Somewhat related are movies like "Princess Mononoke" where the "good" character is flawed, and the "villain" has many redemptive traits, and in the end there isn't really a good or bad guy.
    One "X-Files" episode about a girl claiming her date date-raped her. The boy claims they were abducted by aliens, and she is making up the story to avoid facing what really happened. Mulder & Scully investigate. But it's told as a "he-said / she-said" type story, primarily with Sculley narrating events to a fiction author. For me, it was one of the funniest episodes they've done, but the details are vague.
    And as others have said, it's all been done before. It's just about re-doing it well, with your own particular style.
     
  17. Joel Mack

    Joel Mack Cinematographer

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    "Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space'" and "Bad Blood" are both X-Files episodes that sort of follow that format...
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  18. Chad R

    Chad R Cinematographer

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    The X-Files that comes to mind is the Vampire one with Luke Wilson. It'a about Mulder chasing down then stabbing a boy in teh heart only to find his fangs are plastic. The events leading up to it are told from Mulder's point of view, then again through Scully's - and finally the follow-up is told 'truthfully' showing where each of their exaggerations were.
    But, Vince, if you're writing for yourself and have no intention of selling it, why does it matter if it's been done before? If it interests you, do it. The more you write the better writer you will become. Your first couple of screenplays will not sell. You're still looking for your voice, discovering the nuances of structure, etc.
    And Final Draft is excellent. I've tried many others, and Final Draft is the best. Not only is it easy to use, but it's easier sometimes for submission. Since most of Hollywood uses it (and I live on the other side of the country) I can just send my agent the file over e-mail, she loads it up and reads it. It really saves on printing and postage.
     
  19. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    Wow...
    I have had this story in my mind for quite a few years now, something strongly inspired from Babylon 5 + St Seiya (an anime) + Tolkien etc... some huge futuristic epic thing. It is not very original, but that is what I enjoy [​IMG]. I know how it starts, I know the main characters,I am not sure how it ends... Also it is so long it would have to be a series.
    My point is with all this talk about screen play, I might actually sit down and start writing this. I never seriously thought about it before. This would be like ... new hobby [​IMG]
    Any site you guys could point me to for a total beginner?
    --
    Holadem
     
  20. Ted Todorov

    Ted Todorov Cinematographer

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    To my knowledge, it hasn’t been done quite so schematically as you propose, at least in the context of a military conflict, but there is one truly great movie, one of the best ever made (and I don’t say that lightly) that follows your general outline of forcefully presenting both sides: The Battle of Algiers http://us.imdb.com/Title?0058946
    Unfortunately it isn’t out on DVD. So run, don’t walk, to your nearest revival movie theater that’s showing it. My local theater used to show it as a double feature with Z several times a year.
    Another example is Tora! Tora! Tora! which even had two directors, one Japanese and one American, but it really doesn’t delve at all in the rightness or wrongness of either side besides pointing out their battlefield errors.
    Ted
    [Edited last by Ted Todorov on October 16, 2001 at 03:55 PM]
     

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