Current Progress of Motion Picture Proposals (notes about PGL contest finals)
(2005 notes on "strategic planning")
In very early 2004 I have prepared a dramatic screenplay with a number of characters of different ages and backgrounds, with a story that exercises a number of the liberty issues that I have discussed in my books and web pages. In some ways it is distantly like the "second option" mentioned below. Project Greenlight has just announced that it will hold its third contest early this year. I may enter this script in this contest or some other suitable contest. Generally, it is not appropriate to publish loglines or treatments for scripts before they are entered, according to rules for some of these contests. Therefore I cannot give many more details right at this time.
Also, some contests require that the submitter not be identifiable by name to the script readers or reviewers (which may be other contestants in some contests). Therefore I cannot announce the title of the screenplay here. As a practical matter, I have to determine whether to incorporate the phrase "Do Ask, Do Tell" in the title. That is because the phrase is probably rather well known in conjunction with me from two books (now available from iUniverse.com) as well as the supporting website(s), one of which (hppub.com. now migrated into doaskdotell.com) had been accessible to the public and to search engines since mid 1997. Using the title in a screenplay submission has the practical (though not necessarily legally driven) result of additionally "protecting it" from other uses by other parties, but it could make it too identifiable for the purposes of some contest submissions. For more notes, see the general discussion page. Also, it is common for books and movies related to books to have different titles. And sometimes movies draw only a little material from a particular previously published book but add new material, and this may justify a new title. It is not completely clear from available copyright law literature at the Library of Congress whether a work that consists mostly of new material but contains adaptation of some older material meets the definition of the term derivative work. Any material used for this screenplay will, however, have originated with me, since I wrote the original books and also since my arrangement with the publisher gives me all subsidiary rights. None of the material has been produced previously in a publicly viewable performance medium (play, television, movie, table reading).
In any screenwriting or filmmaking (such as directing) contest, reviewers should be expected to disqualify themselves from reviewing any scripts or entries with which they are already familiar, as by happenstance. This may have a higher probability of happening than one would think. For example, a reviewer might have seen the script in a private script peer review group, either in person in a particular city or over the Internet, as by file sharing or various amateur film or publishing web sites. Integrity on the part of the reviewer is important in fairness of the outcome of the contest.
There is some flexibility in this script to enlarge and elaborate the story, to include some incidents that occurred with two of the characters respectively in New York and Washington on the morning of September 11, 2001, and also to elaborate the litigation of one character and the military "don't ask don't tell" policy.
For those who are interested now, the best way to go to Project Greenlight is to look first at the website for a company called Liveplanet and follow the links.
Some contests may mention an interest in "genre" scripts. This is a bit of a subjective concept. There is an issue here for me, because I do not think I have anything to add to genre "escapist" entertainment, in comparison to what others (often long established in Hollywood) are already doing. There is plenty of this already (just watch the previews in any multiplex) so, sorry, no flippant "Win a Date with Tad Hamilton" from me! I believe that filmmakers and artists really should deal with the issues of the day, and now that includes dealing with 9-11. I share more thoughts about this at my "movie prep" proposal on doaskdotell and on my general discussion page on this site. Also see my "screenplay or novel?" discussion.
Also, my script has scenes in outdoor locations in a number of different states and cities within the United States. It is customary in the film industry and union rules to hire separate crews in different locations, and I don't know if that fact alone adds a lot to the cost, because most of the scenes will be technically very simple, if visually striking. I also think that movies about current issues seem more realistic when the names of real companies are used. This can present a legal complication and subsequent (licensing) expense; but many movies are weakened by using fictitious television stations or other corporate entities or incorrect setting details that reduce the impact for the viewer and make the films seem silly. Of course, any individual or entity presented unfavorably in my screenplay will be fictitious.
My aim, at this time, in submitting a screenplay script into any coverage venue in the media industry right now is to enrich the concept ("do ask do tell") as first developed in my books and websites. As such, it would draw some background or flashback material from the books, but it would also add a lot lot of new, plot and character driven material. It is not possible for me to enter a script now that would demonstrate manipulative skill with some more specific scenario, external to myself and proposed by a promoter. I can not leave myself out of this. I can, however, pose interesting fictitious problems with strong characters, and provide a story and enactment that is challenging and provocative rather than one-sided and "preachy."
My material does address a present day scenario. I have wondered about historical screenplay opportunities, which sound heavy. Maybe these would be ideas later. A couple of examples: what it might have been like to be a young man coming of age in ancient Sparta; how a young Gentile German might have been psychologically seduced by Hitler's Reich during the 1930s. A science fiction scenario that I have contemplated provides a public, undeniable alien landing with abduction of some persons to another planet where there is an advanced but stratified society that does not have fiat money but is instead based on measuring "merit." But none of these are ready now.
There are "simpler" ideas for gay-related screenplays. One problem is most of the more "straightforward" ideas have been tried. For example, an "unequal" relationship with one of the partners clinging (Chuck and Buck or even Love and Death on Long Island). Or the gay teenager in high school (the charismatic character Justin Taylor in the first year of "Queer as Folk"), although the temptation for a future screenplay is to sensationalize the harassment with violence, but that would be a downer. (Gus Van Sant's Elephant comes to mind.) I really do like Latter Days, Edge of 17, and even Billy's First Screen Kiss--and that is my point: These have been done.. I could imagine a documentary of the Harvey Milk school.
(Posted Jan 20, 2004).
I have written a 90 minute horror feature. I cannot disclose my intended title or logline here yet, but it is a kind of nightmare road trip "film noir" black comedy.
(Posted Feb 12, 2004)
The short film provides a link to a small pdf file (10K). Requires Adobe Acrobat Reader. This has no relation to my contest entry.
(Posted March 14, 2004)
For the record, here is a short table describing the screenplay projects that I am working on. Ratings are my opinion of what would be assigned.:
|Type||Video exists?||Concept||Budget||Submitted to contest?||Title||Logline||When completed||Tagline||expected or probable rating||probable length||remarks: recommended technology|
|a-Short film||n||drama, experimental
|low||no||Handymen||An aging man finds a new army to join||3/2004||PG-13||5||miniDV|
|b-Micro film||n||drama, experimental||low||no||Surprise Planet||An aging man finds out the purpose of one of his friendships when he visits Titan||4/2004||PG-13||5||miniDV|
|c-Micro film||n||drama, experimental||low||no||Golf Course Hole 13||A storm and missed shot mix things up at hole 13||4/2004||PG-13||2||miniDV|
|d-Micro film||n||drama, experimental||low||no||Micro Escape||Bill escapes from his only brush with jail--with the help of a UFO and a personal angel. "Stay out of jail!"||4/2004||PG-13||4||miniDV|
|e-Short film||n||docudrama, experimental in "dogma" style||low||no||Exposition for Dogs||Several characters explore, through a series of micro-skits and debates, the sideswiping ways we look at personal freedom||5/2004||PG-13||30||miniDV|
|f-Short film||n||docudrama||low||no||Do Ask, Do Tell: Pilot||My own expulsion in 1961 from William and Mary for admitting "latent homosexuality"- and a little payoff||6/2004||R||30||miniDV|
|g-Micro film||n||dramatic setting||micro||no||Conflict of Interest||A geek finds out his job doesn't allow him as much personal freedom as he had thought, but there is a payoff||5/2004||R||miniDV|
|g2-Micro film||n||dramatic setting||micro||no||Conflict of Interest 2||A geek gets burned by the "myspace problem" at work||4/2006||PG-13|
|yes||Baltimore Is Missing treatment;||An aging nerd is invited on a train journey that offers him both escape from impending apocalypse and a second youth, if only he can pass a tribunal||2/2004||Maybe the boogeyman took it||R||105||HD 1.85|
|2-Drama||n||layered, character perspective
Ask Do Tell: Make the "A" List script;
"A-list" title may include "Do Ask Do Tell"; Outline (XML, for I.E. browser only)
A young actor and potential A-list “heartthrob,” working in a law firm as a “second choice,” launches his career by nurturing an unusual (platonic) relationship with an older gay man who has involved himself with the “don’t ask, don’t tell” problem for gays in the military.
|4/2004||He's a Star because he has one big fan.||R||185||Must be 2.3 to 1 widescreen to handle simultaneous flashbacks; some flashbacks in black and white; choose film stock carefully to match films purported to have been made by characters in the screenplay; need careful focus on details in shooting|
|3-Drama||n||narrative epic; material from 9/11
|medium to high
Ask Do Tell: An American Epic script;
"American Epic" title may include "Do Ask Do Tell"; Outline XML (IE only)
An aging lesbian-to-bisexual lawyer, already engaged in an attempt at gay adoption, starts falling in love with a older gay male defendant accused of assisting a teenager boy in hacking into a government site.
|5/2004||Laugh a little, cry a little: The Purification is finally coming||R||150||should be full 2.3 to 1 widescreen|
|4-Documentary||y||explore liberty concepts
|micro||no||"Do Ask Do Tell": The Concept||Let's explore how we debate our liberties.||8/2002||PG-13||38||minidDV|
|5-Lecture||y||libertarianism and gay issues||micro||no||Do Ask Do Tell Lecture; see part of this at the Playscript link||Start with everyone responsible for the self||2/25/1998||PG||60||VHS|
|6-Drama, Sci-Fi||n||character drama, linear, with some sci-fi||medium||no, may be later with right contest||treatment of 69 Minutes to Titan;||An aging homosexual man befriends a teenage geek who can hack into the computer network of an alien civilization. The teenager disappears, and the man is arrested upon demands of the teen’s family and goes to prison. Then the man is redeemed, well, maybe.||9/2004||The space people are just an hour away.||R||110||May be 1.85 and HD but use color and sat. carefully|
|7-Drama||n||character drama, linear||low||no||The Sub||An aging substitute teacher meets a gifted music student who gets him into legal trouble but redeems him in death.||12/2004||Put a qualified teacher in every classroom||R||75||DV|
|low||no||The Prodigal Brother (treatment only)||A gay twin brother, disowned by his family, is called upon to offer an organ to his brother.||TBA||Loyalty to blood||PG-13||75||DV|
|9-Micro Horror||n||non-linear||micro||no||NightCall||Monsters come out of your computer terminal||TBA||Your computer wants to eat you.||PG-13||5||miniDV|
|10 Micro Drama||n||non-linear||micro||no||Pay your dues||TBA||TBA||PG-13||10||miniDV|
|11 Micro Drama||n||linear||micro||no||Beware EMP||A suburban community confronts an E-bomb attack||TBA||Beware the E-bomb||PG-13||5||miniDV|
|12 Micro Darama||n||mostly linear||micro||no||Baptism||A young avatar persuades an elderly friend to explore his own brand of Christianity||2005||Reveal! (or Perhaps: Piddle, Twiddle, and Resolve)||PG-13||25||miniDV|
A teenage computer hacker learns of an upcoming alien attack and prepares himself and his friends only to survive it. The aliens save them for a final, utopian experiment.
|TBA||One day, a spaceship lands in public, and everything changes.||R||110||Should be full 2.3 to 1 widescreen|
|15||science fiction||TBA feature||TBA||PG-13 or R||feature|
Options f and g refer to a visual "Bill of Rights 2" presentation or "slide show" which can be viewed (in html) at http://www.doaskdotell.com/rights. Disclaimer: Although most of the “Pilot” (item "f") is based on factual events in 1961, the ending is fictitious. It should not be interpreted as meaning that I would compromise the workplace.
Option 2 has an outline in XML, at http://www.doaskdotell.com/personal/archives/classwork/dadtscrn.xml This outline is rough, and my actual work to date may include material not shown here. Structurally, it is a bit like Adaptation (2002) and Dangerous Game (1993), both reviewed at http://www.doaskdotell.com/movies/madapt.htm
I present reviews of some films and videos that deal with 9-11 (September 11, 2001), along with some discussion of possible future treatments, at this link.
I am aware of some of the practices in the film business for submitting loglines, synopses, and scripts. Most studios or larger production companies will not consider a submission directly from a writer but insist on a third party intermediary (the "return to sender unopened" problem) to avoid the potential legal risk summed up in Secret Window: "You stole my story." That is why some ideas are not posted here in any detail. I think it is OK to show the "experiments." If you have any questions, please contact me!
Older comments on my progress have been moved back to this location;
My contact information is at this location.
Here is a comment that I placed on the GLIL yahoogroups listserv on Jan 31, 2004 at 8:15AM
Now that Project Greenlight III
is about to be launched (go to projectgreenlight.liveplanet.com to find it), and
now that I have a script myself that might work (and might not, depending
further on the official rules) the whole issue of gay characters in the movies
is very important to me now.
My own personal taste for this is a kind of seamlessness--showing gay characters as interacting fully in their society and writing the material skillfully enough that mainstream audiences can bond with them. So, first, this has to be approached with a great deal of subtlety, and one has to stay away from "politically correct" formulations of gays as some kind of insular minority, while still able to show gay spaces realistically (like gay discos, gay pride events) in appropriate proportions. The movie "Soldier's Girl" was partially successful in this. Also, one has to stay away from over-emphasis on extreme characters, even though they do exist in real life.
Taking a gay plot and replacing a gay relationship with a straight one for "box office reasons" then is totally inappropriate, because the issues are very different.
Having said this, I must turn around a bit. It seems that one of the political and social issues is just how uncomfortable some (but not all) of "mainstream" America is with "psychological integration." The debate about gay marriage has turned away somewhat from a dry enumeration of comparative benefits to a discussion about the "meaning" of marriage itself, and the idea that this "meaning" can be sundered for the heterosexual mainstream if it is forced to deal with knowledge that homosexuals can take part in it (as equals).
"Latter Days" really works for me because it demonstrates the tension between these worlds in somewhat exaggerated form. One of the strongest scenes is between Aaron and his mother and then later in the "hearings." Why is the family so devastated by Aaron's professed identity and intention? Why does it feel deserted? Because in its society marriage is a community and socializing experience (as in the Roback Morse piece), not simply an adult individual choice. The freedom of Aaron to leave it undermines its long term viability. That becomes the moral issue. Here, it seems that the film could have also developed the marriage between Aaron's parents (and gotten more into the Mormon idea of eternal marriage and its religious and spiritual meaning). That would have lengthened the film beyond what is practical but it would have brought it more into the mainstream.
Of course, studio executives feel the pressure of the bottom line (as well they should in public companies) so we will always see a quantity of formulaic movies intended to sell seats at the shopping mall multiplexes (especially for whole families). There will be pressure to stay away from material that alieniates the sensitive pressure points of supposedly "mainstream" audience. Yet, part of business, after all, is "manipulation of demand" (that is, sales, to quote the PeterJennings / Todd Brewster book "The Century") and studios have the ability to educate the consumer and change its desire for movies with more content.
On "The Talented Mr. Ripley" we have a lesson--critics loved it. I never heard that audiences loathed it. But I am a bit sheltered. I saw it in downtown Minneapolis, pretty much in the "gay" district with probably a largely gay audience.
A note about the Project Greenlight Directors and Screenwriters' Finalists
At the end of June 2004, I viewed the finalist entries and filmmaker/writer videos for the PGL contest (I viewed all ten director's entries and their submissions). The director's contest is interesting. The director must create a 5-minute film based on a simple script with a few characters from a few simple lines of common English dialogue (like "Will it work?") The script appears to lend itself to ambiguous crime or horror scenarios. The challenge for the director is to tell an intriguing, original story with images and relatively little generic dialogue. I was quite impressed with the range of concepts and stories presented, and with the amount of suspense and interest generated with carefully designed visual images presented in a carefully chosen sequence, and still character-driven. The technical quality was tops in all ten. I won't say too much here about the individual stories (while the contest is still being judged), though one of them invoked the female serial-killer idea of "Days of our Lives." All ten were as rich with ideas and as well executed technically as anything that I normally see in commercial releases. Only one was in full widescreen 2.3-1 format, the others appeared to be the standard 1.8 to 1. The films did tend to have a "David Lynch" feel with a background mystery, "What is going on here?" Had I entered this, I might have come up with an idea like a fraternity initiation (the "tribunals" in Chapter 1 of my own "Do Ask Do Tell"). But you have to get the actors to go along with a certain amount of humiliation, you know. Well, maybe they are used to it. A collection of the ten finalist director's films would make a good DVD release from Liveplanet, maybe a good rental item for Netflix.
Also interesting are the bio videos (I saw three for the writers and all ten for the directors). A few of them talked proudly about family. Most of them worked in technical, non-management jobs, some in the media. Some of the filmmakers have had a lot of experience already with formal filmmaking although they work in other fields. The repertoire of storytelling techniques is apparent in the videos. One writer's video discussed the importance of storytelling for its own sake, and the importance of character-driven plots. A few of the videos were intriguing short films on their own. Yet, a couple of the filmmakers could have used the Fab Five first! Get them involved with the next contest!
There is a review of a 4-part film by one of the contestants (Duane Edwards), called "Chicago Stories" towards the end of the file at this link: http://www.doaskdotell.com/movies/mblowback.htm
This contest remembers my earliest childhood days drawing filmstrips with crayons with my cousin, then designing ingenious home projection systems. I still have one of these strips upstairs, some drawings of Mount McKinley. I remember a documentary filmstrip "The Land of the Bible," and the rule that one out of ever six filmstrips was to be a horror movie. I wish I could have found those for this contest.
(10/3/2004): I want to mention here
Dream Out Loud Films
(in conjunction with Servicemembers' Legal Defense Network) and the documentary
film STOPDADT project regarding the
"don't ask don't tell" policy regarding gays and lesbians in the military. I
have no current business connection with this project right now, but I encourage
the reader to visit these links for the latest information.
You can watch the trailer at
New link on movie piracy
High Productivity Publishing
4201 Wilson Blvd #110-688
Arlington, VA 22203-1859
Older projects link was this.
All screenplay scripts reachable from this page: ©Copyright 2004 by Bill Boushka. Copyright notices are not shown on the individual PDF documents but should be conclusively presumed as in force. "Baltimore Is Missing" in formally registered with the U.S. Copyright office and the Writer's Guild IP registry. "69 Minutes" is also registered with the Writers' Guild IP Registry.