I have no idea how we pulled it off other than sheer determination and grit.
I’m on cloud nine.
My boys made me so proud to be a Knight tonight.
There was a two week break between UCF’s victory at Penn State and their game against South Carolina. It was two weeks of anticipation combined with a level of fear that UCF might be embarrassed. This game was the prime opportunity that upstart programs trying to prove themselves in college football ache for. A highly ranked team. Nationwide coast to coast TV coverage. Home field advantage. And an under the radar talent roster with the right tools to pull off the upset.
But the upset was not to be.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the soul crushing feeling of defeat. Sure, it’s “just a game.” But in college football it’s never really “just a game.” It means something. Something that at some level doesn’t carry over into professional sports. Your college team is a part of you. It’s a piece of you out on that field. And each weekend that piece of you wants to show that it’s better than everyone else. It shouldn’t be this way, but the reality is that it is.
We’ve lost games before. We’ve won games before. But I’m not sure I’ve ever wanted to win as bad as I did against South Carolina. For the first time it seemed the national college sports press was ready to accept UCF as somewhat of a serious team. “This could be an upset game” was a theme that ran through several articles. It seemed that there was a level of acceptance that UCF had the talent needed to run with a big team, at least they do this season. And while on paper it wasn’t a game that UCF should win, it was a game that if certain variables played out they could win.
The variables didn’t play out that way. And a team with deeper talent and more experience walked away with the victory. That is the way the world usually works. UCF lost to a team that it could have beaten. But it didn’t lose to an inferior team, it very much lost to a superior team. And superior teams are able to adjust to the realities of a game in real time and take advantage of mistakes. That is something that comes with better coaching and better depth. And it was those two areas that no matter how tough UCF’s players could be, they would not be able to overcome. And it was those two areas that made the difference in the game.
I know most of you don’t care about this stuff. And it doesn’t really have a place on this blog. But college football is a part of me. And in a way, rooting for my team to get better and earn respect in the world of cynical college football does have some relation to the world of screenwriting. Talented teams in lesser conferences will never get the same respect that low level teams in power conferences do. Just like talented screenwriters have a hard time getting respect or attention if they don’t have solid representation or any representation.
When you know your talent is superior to what’s being sold and written, yet no matter what you do you can’t get into that next level… it’s frustrating. It makes you angry. It makes you sad. It leaves you emotionally drained. And that’s the same type of feeling that you get when your team loses in college football.
[NOTE: I’m referring generally in the above paragraph, and not about my writing specifically. I have no delusions that my writing is at the ‘pro-level’ yet.]
The difference is… there’s nothing substantial you can do to change what has happened or will happen to UCF in college football. No matter how much more passionate I get about my school, it won’t do anything to make them better or more respected. But with screenwriting, you can do something, you can make a difference.
You have the ability to work harder and change the outcome. And while you may still suffer the pangs of defeat when phone calls aren’t returned, rewrites go bad, script contests fall short, or managers and agents don’t show interest… you are still in control. You are the one directing the contest. You are the one in the trenches. You are the one who will relish the victories first hand.
In college football you are represented by a proxy or avatar every week. An institution and group of players that represents some piece of you, but at the same time isn’t you. In screenwriting there are no proxies or avatars, there is only you and your body of work.
There is no solace in that. There is no happy ending. There is just reality. But it is a reality that you control and directly effect. And I’ll take a reality where I am in control over a reality where I’m not any day.
You pick yourself up, you dust yourself off, and most importantly you keep writing.
In a game that literally gave me high blood pressure (I’m not exaggerating, I have an actual cuff measurement), my UCF Knights held off the late charging Penn State Nittany Lions to win in Beaver Stadium 34-31 to stay unbeaten at 3-0.
This is the Knights first victory over a Big Ten team in, I believe, 6 attempts. We will play Penn State again next year in Ireland.
Here’s some highlights of my Knight’s performance:
It’s amazing how much a great song can be made even better when it’s slowed down.
I can see this being sampled a put into a bunch of other songs going forward.
Especially the beats at the start of the song.
Sort of bizarre to hear how much different Dolly can sound with just the speed of the song being slowed down.
I mean, she still sounds great… even if it sounds like she has the voice of a male ballad singer.
Anyway, thought I’d share.
There’s worse ways to spend 3 minutes of you life than listening to this song.
Go to the biggest, loudest screen you can find.
2D or 3D, it doesn’t matter.
You will stare in amazement.
You will cheer.
You will want to be a robot pilot.
You will feel like a child again.
I was so happy that this film delivered.
We need more movies like this that take a chance with original material.*
[Update: My buddy Aaron summed up Pacific Rim pretty well by saying, “A fun, fresh embrace of childhood fantasy brought to life on the big screen.”
*Also, a clarification on what I mean by “original material”. I’m referring to something not based on preexisting intellectual property (i.e. movie, video game, comic book, novel, etc.).]
Note: This review is merely an opinion piece on how I feel about a specific script, how it compares to other scripts I’ve read, and how I think it would fare as a movie. Opinions expressed do not mean I could have written the script better, am capable of writing the script myself, or that my writing in any way compares to that of the writer or script itself. I try to keep things as general as I can, but I will mention some story elements that could be considered spoilers.
For those of you unaware, Scriptshadow is the pseudonym of Carson Reeves (which is itself a pseudonym for his real name) who runs a website that used to review un-produced screenplays. At one point Carson shared the scripts with his readers, but he stopped doing that a long time ago for various reasons (legal and otherwise). I’ll leave the merits of whether publicly reviewing an un-produced screenplay is a good or bad thing for another discussion (after all, I’m about to do it).
Outside of reviewing professional screenplays, Carson also reviews amateur writer’s screenplays as well. My screenplay “Served Cold” was reviewed about two years ago, and while he didn’t hate it, it was apparent my screenplay and my writing wasn’t ready for prime time. I can’t say I disagreed with the review, or most of the comments, they were fair and offered many positive suggestions.
Back when my script was read, the submission process to Carson was basically e-mail him the logline and script and if it peak his interest he’ll read it. Since then, the submission process has changed so that Carson sends out a series of amateur screenplays on his newsletter, and readers vote for which one they like the most, and he reviews that script on the site a few days later.
The most recent amateur screenplay to be reviewed was “Where Angels Die”, written by Alexander Felix, and Carson went gaga apeshit over it, putting it into his top ten scripts of all time. By “his”, I mean the list is specific to him and his tastes, not necessarily respective of the movie industry as a whole. This has happened once before with a screenplay called “The Disciple Program,” written by Tyler Marceca. However, the difference is Tyler paid Carson for notes, whereas Felix did not exchange any money (as far as I’m aware). Evidently “Where Angels Die” is adapted from the novel “In The Place Where Angels Die”, written by Richard Seal. I can’t find ANYTHING about Seal or the novel, so I’m guessing it isn’t published yet.. I could easily be wrong.
“Where Angels Die” is the story of Parker Jode, a social worker in Detroit with a plethora of mental issues and idiosyncrasies that make him basically a mess. All that aside, he’s 100% dedicated to his job, and you respect that about him. There’s a hinted at romance between Parker and a “stripper with a heart of gold” named Dalia Perez. Is this cliche? Yes. But I thought it was handled pretty well and in and of itself wasn’t anything that really pulled my out of the script. Parker learns that Dahlia’s husband is about to get out of jail, and it’s pretty clear this scares the hell out of her.
The first act sets the tone quite well. I really liked Felix’s writing style, and while some of the dialog was a little rough it’s all stuff I’m sure he’ll polish up as he continues to tinker with the script. I had a clear idea of the world, who the main players were going to be, and decent enough idea of what the stakes were. It wasn’t perfect, but I was entertained and wanted to keep turning those pages to see what happened next.
Quickly in Act Two we meet Horatio, his gang, and soon understand just how evil he is… which was somewhat of a distraction, but I’ll get to that later. Things tend to move quickly through Act Two, too quickly. It felt like there were some missed opportunities for some additional character development, particularly for Horatio. I never really had a clear idea of what exactly he was up to, which was fine, but when you put together a bad guy as cruel and ruthless as Horatio is, you’re left wanting to know more about him. This distracted me a bit and was one of the few things that pulled me out of the script while I was reading. I kept waiting to learn more about him but never got it.
I think about The Joker from “The Dark Knight.” He was ruthless, insane, and cruel. He was a fantastic villain because you never really knew what his motivation was, which was in fantastic contrast to Batman who’s motivation was crystal clear. Horatio and The Joker are similar in this respect, they’re both cyphers. The reason why The Joker worked and Horatio left me wanting more was perspective. The characters in “The Dark Knight” offered it about their villain, the characters in “Where Angels Die” didn’t. As Commissioner Gordon said, “Some people just want to watch the world burn.” That little bit of perspective was missing from Horatio, and I think if there was a way to work that into “Where Angels Die” it would raise Horatio up another level and satisfy one of the few things this script left me wanting.
Act Two and Act Three play out in a fast paced and unpredictable manner. Horatio and his crew do things you’re not going to expect in ways you’re not going to expect. This unpredictability made reading “Where Angels Die” a hell of a lot of fun. It was the key reason why you can easily look past some of the flaws int he script. The tension quickly builds to some set pieces that will certainly be fun on the screen, and kept just enough on the side of plausibility that you never lose that ability to suspend disbelief.
However, there is some bizarre stuff between Parker and his… look, I don’t want to ruin it but you’ll know what I’m talking about when you read it. How it plays out in the third act was kind of odd and left me scratching my head, but it was still enjoyable.
One little tidbit I’m interested to learn more about… “Where Angels Die” takes place in Detroit. As a native Detroiter I found the setting of the script appealing right off the bat. However, I’m not entirely sold that Felix is from Detroit or has ever been there. Several locations noted in the script (such as the Ambassador Bridge) are obvious landmarks of the city. But there was something to me that said, “These places were researched via some Google.” I could be totally wrong. Felix could be completely from Detroit. But, I’ve heard from some friends that they always know when a script that takes place in LA was written by someone who’s never lived there. I kind of got the same feeling here. Again, there’s nothing wrong with this… A LOT of movies are being filmed in Michigan due to tax credits, so it makes a lot of sense to set them there. It’s really just a curiosity on my part that I want to know more about.
Anyway, bottom line is that this was a fun script. It’s worth putting aside 90-120 minutes to read. Parker is an interesting hero. Horatio is a great villain. The supporting characters are fleshed out just enough. It’s fast and exciting. There’s some really good things in here, and it “feels” like a movie. Will it make it into theaters? Hard to say. Scripts are bought up all the time but never make it to the screen. Hopefully the odds fall in Felix’s favor.
Felix certainly has made a name for himself with the buzz this script is getting. I’m no industry expert, but I believe he’s signed with management and the script has gone out to talent, production companies, and I’m sure a ton of other people. Regardless if this gets made, Felix has gotten a rocket strapped to him right now, and I’m interested to see where this opportunity takes him and what he does next!
Off to Houston for business for a few days.
Not exactly excited about it either.
But, it’ll give me some downtime in the evenings to write, so that’s a plus.
It’s not like I’ll have anything else to do.
Also, read an interesting script on Sunday titled, “Where Angels Die.”
It’s the new script that “Scriptshadow” has been pimping on his blog and on Twitter.
I’ll write up my own review later this week, but if you’re interested in seeing what “Scriptshadow” thought, you can read his review here.
I don’t think “Where Angels Die” has as much heat on it as “The Disciple Program,” since “Scriptshadow” hyped that one up for several days before posting it.
But then again, I could be wrong since what the hell do I know, I live in Atlanta and work in IT.
If you’re curious as to why I’m in Houston this week, I took another promotion at work.
I’m now running the project with the highest visibility in the company.