Monday, June 26, 2006

Bloody Fun Sunday

Had a great time at Screenplay Lab discussing how low budget DVD Premieres are made. In an experiment of sorts we ran a "meeting" where we came up with the Latino Comedy...


I'm going to take this a bit further than normal and kind of show you what a good title can do in a meeting like that. Unfortunately we didn't get to fully explore this entire concept at the lab, but just using the title and what we know about the genre and the conventions of a Zorro film, I did a little brainstorming and further developed the idea and some scenes:

-- Our "crazy Zorro" is an escapee from a mental institution who thinks he's Zorro.

-- Zorro doesn't wear all black, but has other bright spanish colors to his outfit. How about a scene where he steals his "costume" off of clotheslines in the barrio?

-- He's got to have a love interest so why not a social worker who is also the center of the conflict - she wants to put up a community center amidst all the gangs.

-- Zorro has to get into a sword fight, but he doesn't have a sword - maybe a stick they use to pick up trash?

-- Can't have a horse but maybe a lowrider or a motorcycle... or maybe a hotdog cart on wheels?

-- He's got to uncover the conspiracy as to why the center can't open. Tie the local assemblyman to the gangs.

-- He needs a "Bernardo" - someone to advise him. Maybe another escapee from the institution?

-- At some point this fantasy life needs to come into conflict with reality. (the lowest point for our crazy hero).

-- slapstick comedy has to rule the fight scenes.

-- character and verbal comedy has to rule the dialogue.

Anyone else care to brainstorm?


Grubber said...

Love the idea! Just some thoughts below, I love brainstorming, it is the fun part.

-- He's got to have a love interest so why not a social worker who is also the center of the conflict - she wants to put up a community center amidst all the gangs. -----Does the social worker know he is an escapee? If so, is their inner conflict in that she should actually try and convince him to go back, but he is trying to help her so she uses him but hates herself for that?

-- Zorro has to get into a sword fight, but he doesn't have a sword - maybe a stick they use to pick up trash? -------That’s good, or car aerial, he can just pull it out and expand it when needed.

-- He needs a "Bernardo" - someone to advise him. Maybe another escapee from the institution? ------What era is this in? If it is present day…what about the local comic book geek owner who has read all the action comics. His ideas all come from comic books, Zorro does not know this thinks he is wise, shows awe etc, Comic book guy starts to feel like a heel for deceiving a mentally unbalanced person……and in the end takes up trash sticks(in a small but helpful way) with Zorro to redeem himself, sort of a minor sub-plot.

-- At some point this fantasy life needs to come into conflict with reality. (the lowest point for our crazy hero). ------Maybe the social worker tells him he is just mentally unbalanced and that he should just go back as he is not helping(as up to this point maybe he has stuffed things up rather than helped).

Just some first impression ideas. They might suck.

RogerRmjet said...

Dave (grubber) said:
"what about the local comic book geek owner who has read all the action comics"

That one is excellent. I also like the idea of the car aerial for a sword. You can get some good mileage out of expanding it as he pulls out "his sword."

Dave Fogerson said...

Leaving his trademark "Z" mark could be spray paint tagging. Word gets aroung the gang scene that a rogue tagger is out.

Bill Cunningham said...

1) She can't know he's an escapee. He's disguised as Zorro right?

2) Our Bernardo can be a comic book geek, but from the institution...the way you have it set up requires a comic book shop set.

3) I like the sword, but remember it has to be funny.

4) Yes, the social worker rejecting him has to be the same sort of moment that Jim Carrey had in the courtroom of LIAR LIAR when he declares he's a bad father.

Confronting the reality of who he is - he isn't Zorro - but he can be a hero...

marc bernardin said...

the social worker should also be the daughter of the town/city mayor. You know, the kind of movie girl who has grown up with privledge and wants to give back to the community. Then you can have the great scene where her father (the Alcalde) is throwing a big fancy dinner party and she brings El Zorro Loco (in his civilian guise as Diego de la Camaro). So now her father wants to get rid of El Zorro Loco, because he's threatening to make him look like a fool in the press, AND get rid of Diego de la Camaro because he's a crazy-ass homeless dude who's macking on his daughter...

Bill Cunningham said...

Can't have the fancy dinner party, but there can be a festival where the local assemblyman is giving a speech - but in the background the gangs are there to discuss "business" and Zorro is there to find out who's behind it all.

Great suggestion to tie the daughter to the villain - straight out of the Zorro movies.

The fancy dinner party is a great scene of conflict, but could cost too much. Better to have a festival-like affair which could be cheaply, yet colorfully decorated - streamers, china balls, Pinatas. Your major expense would be extras, but they could be rotated around at different angles to make it appear there are more people than there actually are...

Yes, the "Z" for Zorro could be a tag in spraypaint. Grreat idea. Perfect for a 2nd unit to do. I can see paint on a store, on a car, and on a cholo who happened to be hanging out against the wall as Zorro came by and sprayed the wall.

Chopped Nuts said...

Our Zorro could be something other than Mexican, or at least not fluent in Spanish. Aside from it being an ongoing gag where he has to explain away his not understanding people thanking him - "Must be a regional dialect" - it can act as a ever-widening crack in his dementia.

I've got a production question for you Mr. Pulp, since you're talking about extras. Do you ever pull a Robert Rodriguez and use crew members as extras/bit actors (assuming they're free from crew duties of course). I was just wondering if such a thing would be a union hassle.

Bill Cunningham said...

"Unions? We don't need no stinkin' unions!"

No, seriously we use whomever we can whenever we can. Note Richard Elfman played two roles in SCARECROW. The party scene is filled with crew. I am in a scene in a strip club in FREAKSHOW even though I was the gaffer.

Not to pick on you, but you HAVE to get out of this mentality that you can't do something or that you're going to get "punished" somehow. There are plenty of people out there who want to get on a set and learn - even if it's by observation. I always, always have to turn down people who want to be on the set because we can't feed and provide for them all.

Your sole focus is to get that movie made however possible.

THAT IS NOT to say we skimp on things like SAFETY and CARE. We did a full burn in SCARECROW with a licensed stuntperson, the fire dept, Insurance, etc... We always have water and sodas, and craft service. Porta-potties. If we go long, people get a second meal.

This is not SPARTACUS - no one has to die to make the movie.

As far as unions go - we train people so they can eventually join the union. I've signed off on hours for several camera operators so they can log those hours toward qualifying to join the union.

This is why when people say that eventully everything is going to be union and non-union producers are going to be in trouble - I laugh. Unions need people of experience, and prospective members can get that experience by working on non-union shows (and they will).

People ask me if I'm "anti-union" and the answer is "NO!" Unions have their place as protectors of their members' interests - good wages, sane working hours, health and welfare benefits, etc...

But I am "Pro-Industry" which (in my mind) means that I recognize the need for both union and non-union cast and crew. I see the need for balance and reason and not three drivers sitting around eating doughnuts and making $25/hr apiece for one truck. If the rules don't make sense, they need to be changed.

People want to work. People want to show what they can do. People want to learn. Hopefully, I and others like me provide an environment for that to happen. I want people to 'wow' me. I want people to give it all they have and look back and be proud of what they've accomplished. There is no better feeling when you can look someone in the eye and tell them, "great job."

I have absolutely no tolerance for those who would exploit others. I have been on that end of the stick and don't care to go back.

I know I answered more than you probably cared to know, but I think it's important to be upfront and honest about issues like this. I may be making exploitation films - but I'm not exploitative.

Grubber said...

Good point about the shop, but to get around that, could you have Zorro meet him in a coffee shop, intro's are made, I own the comic book shop up the road, etc. and then you could show him reading a stack of comic books at home swoting up, maybe even going through his personal stack of comic books in his attic...just keep the actual shop out of it, and use one the home of the social worker for his as well, just never show the corner he sits in or something.

I like the grafitti tagging idea and tying her in as daughter of villan. Nice touches.

I like this process though, you think of ideas, and see if you can make them work, how can you cram as much as possible into as small as budget as possible. Nice challenge.

Yeah, wasn't sure if she was an insider or not, as to whether she knew he was zorro. If she did now, could add an additional amount of bastardry to her using him before redeeming herself.

Bill Cunningham said...

Better to have "Bernardo" with him from the beginning at the asylum. B reads comics as Z sees on the TV (or reads in paper) that community center is threatened by gang violence. This triggers something in Z, and when Bernardo holds up the comic - voila! Instant new identity. Instant reveal that Bernardo knows his comics. Instant bell to sound the upcoming conflict with the gangs. Also if you reveal the social worker in the TV or news spot then it sets up the love interest as well.

One scene.

Noah Brand said...

So, EL ZORRO LOCO is basically Don Quixote in the ghetto. Nut thinks he's a romantic hero with a sword, has a sidekick, tries to save a girl and a cause, comes into conflict with reality, but the heroic ideal winds up having its own value regardless of reality. Sounds familiar to me.

Which is actually great, in terms of developing it. There've been a dozen versions of Don Quixote; we can datamine them for the best parts and see what works and what doesn't with this story. For example, maybe Bernardo isn't crazy himself, he's a sane man unhappy with his life who goes along with Zorro because the charismatic loony is MUCH more interesting than Bernardo's "normal" existence?

Bill Cunningham said...

Adapting a classic is never a problem. 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU is after all Shakespeare.

The other aspect of all this is that you are painting with broad strokes for the most part, so you have to take the most memorable aspects of a source and use those, discarding the rest.

In other words, you'll have an A, B, and possibly a C subplot in the whole story but no more. In many cases just an A & B. That way, you'll ensure that what you write doesn't get cut out of the script if the schedule goes south.