Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mission accomplished

Got my spy logline script pages in just at deadline this evening.  It was fun and even if nothing comes of it, it was still a great exercise in taking on a writing assignment and of thinking outside the box and beyond the obvious.

Writing competitions are starting to get more creative and I'm loving that.  Presented by the Writers Store, the Industry Insider Screenwriting Contest provides a logline from screenwriter Simon Kinberg (Sherlock Holmes, Mr. and Mrs. Smith) and you submit up to the first fifteen pages of the script.  The top ten finalists enter a 12-week mentoring program with the goal of completing a feature spec based on the logline.  When finished, a winner will be chosen from that group.  The contest is judged by Kinberg and production company Benderspink (The Butterfly Effect, The Hangover, Red Eye, A History of Violence).

The logline:
A spy who has spent life wining and dining young women suddenly gets a major surprise when his daughter knocks on his door.
Initially, I was going to blow this off because spy thriller really isn't a genre I have any interest or expertise in, at least as far as writing.  But when I got the second email reminder, I had a burst of inspiration and realized the logline wasn't anywhere near as restrictive as I'd first thought.  Because there were so many things it didn't specify:
  • Genre.  It doesn't have to be a spy thriller, or even a drama.  It could be a comedy or even something supernatural.  Vampires are huge these days, you know.
  • The logline doesn't specify that he's a master spy, or really any good at it at all, just that he likes his women young.  The wining and dining sort of indicates he's smooth and charming, but that could be in his mind - the beautiful young things could be putting up with him because they want or need things from him, like, oh say classified state secrets.  It also doesn't really indicate if he's a current or retired spy.
  • Although it's inferred, nowhere does it say that the daughter is unknown to the spy, just that it's a big surprise when she shows up.  It doesn't say why he's surprised to see her.
  • In fact, there's really not a lot about the daughter provided, other than she's his daughter and her arrival is a unexpected.  She could be anything from a precocious orphan to an accomplished adult.  Or a dysfunctional, non-accomplished adult.  As a writer, I'm pretty much being given carte blanche with the character of the daughter.  I took it, too.
One of the benefits (*procrastination excuse alert!*) of waiting until the last minute to submit is in addition to apparently working best under pressure of deadline (yeah, that's it) I was able to finally find a catalyst for the daughter's arrival and also the threat/conflict in the story: this week's latest Wikileaks scandal!  Thanks Julian Assange, you rat bastard!  And no, you don't get to be in the movie.  I changed your name.  I changed the name of your stupid website too, although it's pretty obvious who I'm talking about.

Hey, not to change the subject, but speaking of Assange and Wikileaks, don't we have Black Ops or something like that to deal with people who endanger our national security?

Gary Don't forget the signal when they come for you, Julian!  (If you don't get this, go here.)

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