Posted by: steveonfilm | December 17, 2008

Hot and Bothered

This whole “high concept” thing has been driving me crazy. I can’t get it out of my head. It’s making me doubt myself, which is never good.

I thought finishing the outline for my murder/mystery idea would make me feel better, but it didn’t. While it’s a good story, I don’t think it’s “high concept” enough. Could it be a good movie? Yeah, I don’t see why not. The problem is that it doesn’t stand out enough (at least in it’s current state) from any other murder/mysteries.

Which brings me back to me action/adventure idea. And honestly, this thing has been in my head for months. MONTHS! I’ve even got 87 pages of a spec script I wrote just to fart around with the idea. I think about this concept at work. When I’m home playing video games. Watching movies. Even writing.

I haven’t committed to it because I think it intimidates me…which might be a good thing. I’m scared the story might be too big. But unless I sit down and put it on paper I’ll never know that, right? And frankly, if I want to do this for a living, I’m going to have to get over it. You can’t run away from stories just because you think they’re too big. And you never know if you can write it if you don’t try.

But enough with the junior high coach pep talk.

Let’s lay down the big concepts and see if maybe something can come out of it. It’s not like I’ve got any deadlines to meet….

So what’s the motivating crisis?
Simple…The end of the world. I’ve got a few ideas of what I’d like that to be.

One, hell on Earth. Literally. Some sort of portal opens and the dimension of hell and Earth mold into one.

Two, everyone’s soul is sucked from their body, leaving nothing but a dead pile of flesh for the animals to eat.

Three, some sort of “end times” beast or beasts are unleashed on Earth. Needless to say, they’d do very bad things. Maybe this could be the four horsemen… not sure.

Either way, all three of these ideas need to have some sort of “end times” religious theme to them.

Who is the main character?
Right now his name is John, but I just picked that because it’s a traditionally Christian name. I’m not stuck with it or anything.

He’s a half angel, or Nephilim. He doesn’t know it, but his father was Michael, the archangel. He’s basically (and the fact I use the qualifier basically is important) immortal. Doesn’t age. Been around for a few hundred years. Looks basically 35. Ruggedly handsome. When I think of him I sorta see Matthew Fox’s character, Jack, from LOST. Cropped hair. Stubble. Stuff like that.

John is wicked strong. Like, ungodly strong. Literally. Then again, he is a half angel, so that sort of goes with the territory. I sort of envision him living as a sort of “thug for hire” that does odd jobs for various members of the “Awake Community” (more on that later).

Got a cerberus on the loose? John’s your dog catcher. Conjure up a demon you can no longer control? John’s your Ghostbuster. Your kid somehow fall into a well that just happens to be linked to another dimension? John’s the search and rescue team. He’ll do whatever you need….for a price. After all, he’s got debts to pay.

Who’s the main bad guy?
Rashnu, the angel (seraphim) who stands at the bridge to heaven and passes judgement on those who pass. Basically, before you get to see St. Peter, you gotta get through Rashnu.

Rashnu, like all minor Seraphim he has both masculine and feminine qualities. White hair. Pale skin. Thin but not frail. When I think of him I see Johan Leibert from the manga Monster…except, you know, with the white hair.

Rashnu, has the same powers as all other angels. Immortality. Strength. No bellybutton. The experience that only a creature around since the beginning of time would have. The only angels more powerful are the archangels (Michael, Gabriel, Azreal, etc.).

Rashnu has had it with human’s in heaven. He’s done his job, without complaint, since it was assigned to him (without his input mind you) some two thousand some odd years earlier. Before humans Heaven was perfect. Tranquil. A place of dreams and wonder. But ever since humans showed up, it’s become…less than stellar.

See, God let’s humans keep their free will when their souls enter Heaven. So, of course, what do humans do when they get into Heaven? They act like humans! Obnoxious. Conniving. Questioning. Loud. Get into fights. Argue. Think about the red neck family that wins the lottery and moves into the rich neighborhood and pisses off all the “old money” by throwing parties, letting their kids run around naked, and generally just being hooligans. Yeah, that’s pretty much how humans are acting in Heaven.

And Rashnu has had enough. He wants to cut them off. No more humans allowed in. And he’s got some other angels to help him out.

So how does John factor in?
Three fold. One, he’s half human. So if I go with the soul sucking thing, he’s going to have his soul torn out too. Two, he lives on Earth. If all the humans are killed it’s going to be an obviously lonely place. Three, he’s got a bunch of friends who are humans, and he’s sort of embraced Earth as his home.

What’s the conflict?
This is the problem…I’m not sure yet. John needs to get wrapped up in the plot, and figure out how to diffuse it. But the “golden hero” doesn’t exactly work here. He needs some internal conflict. Maybe he knows he needs to kill Rashnu to prevent the end of the world. And killing an angel would prevent his soul from ever returning to Heaven. Who knows? But there are a lot of possibilities.

I thought you said angels are immortal?
They are…but only in the sense that they don’t die of old age, cancer, meningitis, car accidents, and whathaveyou. There are ways to kill them. That’s why I used the qualifier “basically” when I was describing John. It’s not easy to kill them, but you CAN kill them.

So what’s the “Awake Community”?
That’s the term given to people who know that what we see every day isn’t necessarily reality. They’re the people who know of the angels that walk amongst us. The people who know about demons. They conjure spirits. Maybe they have a deal with the devil. Maybe some of them are married to some sort of immortal creature. Perhaps a Cherub settled down with a nice farm girl from Minnesota.

For example… the son of a well to do merchant in Chinatown does a little dog fighting on the side. No matter what he does, his dog always loses (i.e. dies). So, to increase his odds, he tries to use some Chinese black magic on one of his dogs and turn it into some sort of hell hound. Instead, the pit bull turns into a Cerebus and starts tearing shit up all along Hill Street.

That would be someone who’s in the “Awake Community.” For the fact of the matter, his whole family likely is.

Any idea how it ends?
A big battle on a roof top between John and Rashnu. We’re talking Dragon Ball Z type shit. Big ass angel wings on both of them. All of humanity in the balance. While they’re duking it out, police, citizens, and whomever else, are down below fighting back against the demons and bad things that are starting to come over to our side.

I sort of have this idea for John to have his wings torn off at one point…thus making him mortal. But, maybe through a vision where he learns his father is Michael, he sprouts wings of fire. Gets all pimped out looking really badass. Maybe gets to use the same sword that Michael used to defeat Lucifer back in the day. Sort of figures out what his true purpose in the world is.

Where does that leave you?
With a lot of questions.

I need someone to bounce ideas off of. Get into creative discussions. Decide on motivations for characters. Play with ideas. I’ve got the concept, but not the whole story. This is a big story, in a big world, with some big consequences. But at the same time it’s character focused.

My minor characters each have their own reasons to help, or not help. Their own stories to tell. Why is one of John’s major confidants an alcoholic priest? What’s going to happen to the female detective who stumbles upon Rashnu doing some bad things when she’s investigating a murder?

Has John ever been in love? If so how did it end? If not, how come?

Just how big is Rashnu’s team? Why doesn’t John know his father is Michael? Who is his mother?

What’s needed to pull off Rashnu’s plan? How can John thwart it?

These are all questions that need to be answered before I can move on. I’m just not sure if I can.

That’s gonna be it for now. 1500 words is a big post. I don’t have time to proof read, so please forgive me for spelling and grammar mistakes.

Enjoy.
-Steve

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Responses

  1. Well…you certainly have your work cut out for you. However, John Doe’s (a name I suggest you don’t use – look in the bible for any hundred names to use, and there were 12 apostles as well) conflict bothers me. It’s too common. It’s…typical. you don’t want typical in a story like this. Perhaps john’s an outcast, he’s half human because he really screwed up in heaven and is forced to live on this planet with these people he can’t stand. He and Rashnu have a history (you decide that, perhaps Rashnu had something to do with his ejection?) and so that makes the fight more interesting. John could care less about mankind, but perhaps he sees this as an opportunity to make his way back into heaven, but never could overthrow Rashnu, but in the final fight, he earns his wings of fire (I like that part of your synopsis) for defending/saving his new found (obvious) detective girlfriend. He finally learns to care for humans, which was the reason he was sent to earth in the first place. But hey, that’s just some thoughts. You run with it.

    You really need to work on his character, his conflict inner and outer, and don’t weigh your audience down with too many groups of people, or special groups, or people with special powers, keep it fairly simple or your audience will get lost and lose interest.

    As well this is sorta high concept, but high concept is something simple but crazy enough to be different and exciting. This is and can be exciting, for sure, but it’s more big ticket blockbuster. I have a script you should read first, one I had to read a long time ago when I was a member of Trigger Street. you should read it before you invest too much into your idea, to see where others might have failed. And this guy’s stuff was mediocre AT BEST, so you will see what you have to excel at in order to be good. As far as ideas, well, you can bounce them off me but I can’t guarantee I’ll be a lot of help as I’m working on some old ideas myself, trying to figure out what I am gonna write next, as well as trying to find representation…uggh.

  2. Oh, and don’t write a serial killer script. That seems to be the first script most screenwriters attempt. Ask anyone whose written any sort of screenplay and they ALL written a slasher or serial killer screenplay. I have 🙂 Agents hate them from first time (unknown) writers.


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