Monday, January 2, 2012

HearthTales - a screenplay

Okay, this is just funny, I guess. I set this blog to post today, but in 2011, forgetting to increment one year, forgetting it's no longer 2011. As you can see, I've now corrected this. It happens to me every year, until I write the new year date for the very first time. Usually I catch it, but I was tired last night when I had realized I hadn't set up a blog for today.

So, obviously, we're off to a bang up New Year here! Anyway, all the best to you and yours, and may your new year start off better for you.

I have been working on a kind of portmanteaux screenplay called, "HearthTales". It was a concept I came up with in the late 90s and put away. Just submitted this to InkTips. I put it online for their week trial, and submitted to a ProdCo who was looking for pretty much that type of script. Again, maybe nothing will come of it, but it's either scary or exhilarating. I'm going with the latter. :)

The original thought was to build a screenplay around three short stories I had and wanted to do something with. So I threw them into a quickly drawn up screenplay. I thought it had potential and needed a lot more work. So I put it away as I was getting ready to move with my family and then I forgot about it. About a year ago I was looking through my old writings and found it again. So I brought it back out and started working on it. I found it was pretty entertaining to play with and then I had to put it away again.

I had come across Producer, Writer, Actor Chris Soth and spent a few months working with him on another script called, "America". I had to stop that for a while and went back to my novel. Then I got a reader review from WILDSound on HearthTales and they liked it but found some problems. I decided to fix those. So I fixed the easy ones.

Some others were harder to fix and one or two were structural. Not big changes, just changes, but still at a structural level. So I put it away and went back to the novel. But then something came up where I might have to show it to someone and I was back on the screenplay and have been ever since. Because I think I can finish up pretty quickly, and have a decent draft available if I need it and then go back to the novel. But also because I'm enjoying working on it.

A few things evolved since then in the screenplay that have come off quite well.

Initially, I liked the image of friends sitting around a warm fire on a cold, rainy Seattle night, eating snacks, drinking something tasty and a little inebriating, and telling stories, entertaining one another. I liked the idea of two of them being old friends, and one of them being a new friend. Romance in the air, is always nice. Add to that a touch of scary stories and a clock ticking with doom on its way.

To add to that, while this is going on, the wife down in Beverly Hills has her own much darker, threesome (of a kind) going on. Bryce's den is styled in antique Middle Eastern. Franks living room is styled with some antique Japanese.

HearthTales is the story of Bryce, a world class Horror writer, a cross between Stephen King and Clive Barker. An Irish ex-patriot who had fought along with Frank, in the Irish unit of the UK Special Services in Iraq and Afghanistan, his heroics had been honored in his saving his men and his friend Frank.

The story revolves around a trip he makes to Seattle for business. He takes his assistant, Eva, an attractive and faithful individual who crosses that line between perfect manager and good friend. H leaves behind his wife, Dawn, a sexy, attractive, manipulative woman who will walk over anyone to get what she wants and takes whatever she wants, whenever she wants. His home life is unsatisfactory, even to that of his friends. For a good friend, he must travel. Bryce is at the end of his rope with his unfaithful, conniving wife, but having been raised Catholic, he has difficulty in getting divorced... again.

He figures if he can just stop by his friend, Frank's house, to blow off some steam and have a mini vacation, maybe he can go back home and face his life again. Maybe he hopes she will leave him. But he is also approaching the point of no return with his spouse, and avoiding that as much as possible. Eva would like nothing better than for Dawn to be out of the picture and Frank feels the same way.

Connolly in Boondock Saints
Frank is an old Scottish warrior and another ex-patriot who is based on comedian and actor, Billy Connolly. The character of Frank has much of that same humorous view on life and a bit of the acerbic. And he can't stand Dawn.

Bryce has recently received a book of the occult from his and Frank's old friend from Afghanistan, Saleel. But this book cannot be given away unless someone accepts it or there will literally be Hell to Pay. There is danger in the transfer for both the giver and the receiver. Because of this book now being in his protection, Bryce has made two major mistakes. One, he unknowingly let his wife find out the combination to his safe; and two, he told her too much about what the book can do. Worse, she believes it.

Thinking she can use it to kill her husband (or, use it as a ruse for the guy she hires to perform the ritual to simply have him killed), she hires through an intermediary, Jacques, a Voodoo Priest, to perform a conjuring ceremony. A demon conjuring ceremony. A demon to find and kill Bryce. She also figures that even if the ceremony doesn't work, she will at very least have an interesting experience in the dark arts, one including including sex with a random anonymous model type.

She had a damaged childhood, what can I say?

pictured, Geoffrey Holder
Jacques is nothing like she expected when he arrives and she finds herself attracted to him. But he isn't all she thinks he is. Assuming he is just some sleazy witch doctor for hire. But, he puts in a call, in order to protect those for whom he really is going to set a demon upon with murderous intent. Those to whom he assigns this task, are the Steampunk duo of Gray and Lover.

The other night I was on a Vokle video chat with the truly warm and lovely, Felicia Day (Eureka, The Guild, Dragon Age: Redemption, Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog, etc.) and her crew and fans. Vokle is an interesting platform. Everyone was enjoying it quite a lot.

 During the two hours and ten minutes, someone asked Felicia if she would consider doing anything with the SteamPunk motif. She said yes, but she hadn't come across a good concept as yet. I was quite enjoying the interaction between the Dragon Age production crew and fans, including myself. Then it occured to me. I was working on a screenplay with two women in it who are Steampunk. So I've been trying to contact her so she can take a read and see if she might want to extract and use them.

Back to HearthTales....

Dawn invites Jacques in, little realizing he has a hidden agenda. He sees the book, meets the duo, the anonymous model type needed as a sacrifice to conjure the demon and once satisfied, calls his protection team of demon fighting steampunk warrior girls: Gray and Lover. Up in Seattle, they are partying at the bar of their friend and fellow ("heavyweight") demon fighter, Patrick. See, Patrick takes on the really tough cases. Getting the call from Jacques, they are now on assignment and just wait for Jacques "Go" call, once the demon is in town.

Eventually, the demon appears and happens by the bar the girls are at. As Jacques has programmed in that the demon will pass by their bar before taking off after Bryce, the girls sit tight. Once Gray sees the demon through the window, they are off.

However, because of Dawn's interference in the ceremony, the demon has been incorrectly conjured to no fault of Jacques and a smooth situation evades rapid resolution and the girls have trouble tracking down the demon, just as the demon is having trouble tracking down Bryce. This is dangerous for Jacques, more so for Bryce however, as well as the city of Seattle. But this also leads to rather humorous situations with the demon as his powers are slightly off and so is he. Or, it.

After a few encounters with Seattle citizens and the Space Needle, the demon finally tracks Bryce down. But his trail has been easy for the girls to follow and hopefully, they can arrive in time for Bryce to survive.

What is unclear is, what is Jacques alternative agenda? Will the girls make it in time? What will happen to Dawn, no matter what happens? Will Frank and Eva survive? How many people will die before the demon finds its prey? And once found, then what? After all, the ceremony was defective and can the girls take down a demon like this alone? Or will they need Patrick, too? Who is Jacques working for and why does he want the book? What happened to Saleel?

We also see the demon's dimension that he lives in, the horrors it has to live with and its mortal enemies.

Then there is the burning question, just what does Osama Bin Laden have to do with all of this? That is something you find out in the opening just after, FADE IN.

Wrapped by all this are the three stories the friends tell around the hearth at Frank's house. Can Eva hold her own in telling stories around a fire with two of the greatest Horror writers in the world today? Do they try to "out Horror" one another, or just mess with each other's minds?

The screenplay has been well received so far and I've made some very good changes since then and blended in some good advice I've received.. Now all I need to do, is sell it. Wish me luck!

You know in writing this article, I really didn't give away any of the good stuff that happens and I leave out a lot of the twists and turns, but I discovered two elements I need to fix, one of which I hadn't seen until I wrote this summary up. So, thanks guys!

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