Scripting Thoughts

Nizzibet and I are having a mini Vin Diesel film festival. Monday night we watched XXX and tonight we’re seeing The Fast and the Furious. We watched Pitch Black months ago. That’s one I liked enough to pick up off the clearance rack at Safeway when they were selling off their excess copies. That was before we got the DVD player for a wedding present. Now I don’t buy videos because DVDs are a more permanent format and I don’t buy DVDs because we’re working at saving money. Which is an unnecessary tangent.

We’re having this retrospect of Mr. Diesel’s career in order to prep for our screenwriting session this Saturday. The Nizz and I have an infant partnership writing screenplays with ScarletBlue and PresiD. They own a high definition film/video/audio production house with studios here and in Los Angeles. They’ve produced a number of documentaries and some television series and are wanting to get into making “real” movies. ScarletBlue, the wife, is a fairly decent writer who suffers from a huge case of niceness. PresiD has hooked her up with other partners in the past to try and assist her in producing a salable script. When we first started working together last fall we were working on rewriting a love story that ScarletBlue had already done a script for.

She’d actually already done and redone the script with various partners over the years and was pretty attached to it. Being very nice, she tried not to get upset when we started taking it all apart, but she wasn’t enjoying the process. I understand that. I’m not interested in having someone rewrite one of my projects. If we’re writing in collaboration that’s different. Myself, I wouldn’t have offered up one of my projects as a test subject to see whether we would be good writing partners.

We put the writing on hiatus at Thanksgiving due to the crazy packedness of all our holiday schedules. Last weekend we got the word that ScarletBlue and PresiD wanted to shelve the love story and jam out an action adventure script for Mr. Charisma. This is a bad idea for all kinds of reasons. Shelving the love story is the least bad part of it. I’ve met Mr. Charisma. He’s very entertaining. He’s intelligent and dynamic and very used to running his show his way. He wants to get into starring in action movies. He and PresiD have been working on putting together a partnership to produce those movies.

Now we’re not going to write a spec script for Mr.Charisma. Nizzibet and I are agreed on that. We’d be trying to hack out a script quickly in order to beat out one of his friends. That’s a recipe for disaster. We are, however interested in writing action adventure scripts. That’s genre we both enjoy – more so than romance. We may both be sentimentalists but we do like to see stuff blow up. We’re looking at the Vin Diesel films as inspiration for our session this Saturday. Apparently Mr. Charisma wants to be the next Vin Diesel.

Pitch Black is a nifty little science fiction horror movie that I think works in part because Diesel’s character isn’t the hero. Radha Mitchell’s character is. She’s the one whose viewpoint we mainly follow and one we can most relate to. Riddick, Diesel’s character, is a dangerous killer with the ability to see in the dark. Not exactly Mr. Normal. It also has some nasty antagonists in the native lifeforms of the planet on which our protagonists are shipwrecked.

I enjoyed XXX less than I probably would have if I had been watching it because I wanted to watch it. Vivisection takes some of the fun out of a story. I’m spending more time looking for plot holes and inciting events and character arcs and other oh-so-significant script structures than I normally would. XXX is an entertaining movie but it doesn’t tell a terribly interesting story. Xander is basically the same guy at the end of the movie that he is at the beginning. He hasn’t really challenged himself any differently than he would have if Mr. Gibbons hadn’t recruited him. Nothing wrong with that. The movie isn’t boring. Lots of stuff blows up. It’s basically a James Bond movie with an American extreme sports jock in the place of an English secret agent. James Bond doesn’t exactly go through any character arcs in his films either.

XXX is the movie that ScarletBlue and PresiD are apparently thinking of when they’re talking about writing a script for the next Vin Diesel. Fine. I like a challenge. The subtext of the assignment is that we’re writing a story that’s filled with enough action that the star doesn’t have to be a good actor. (Not commenting on Diesel’s acting ability. If we were writing a script for Mr. Charisma we would be writing a script for someone who has never acted on film or stage before.) So I spent a good part of yesterday thinking of possible action movie protagonists. I got stumped after a trio of ideas.

A protagonist is defined by his antagonist. I don’t got to Bond movies to see a British secret agent. If that were that case I’d enjoy a John Le Carre movie as much as a Bond movie. I go to Bond movies to see a suave and dynamic British secret agent take on a powerful villain who has an excess of money, power and interesting henchmen and is threatening to destroy the world as we know it. It’s the villain, baby. A good villain is priceless. The more ways your villain can smack the hero the more interesting he is.

So today I’m thinking about bad guys.