Monday, June 02, 2008

Screenwriting News & Links! 6/2/08

Above is the latest scriptsale roundup via ScriptGirl. Also, if you missed it, here are the 50 Flaws of Indy IV.



New Screenplays:

I Am Legend - September 11, 2006 unspecified draft script by Akiva Goldsman

Speed Racer - January 4, 2007 first draft script by Larry & Andy Wachowski

Serenity - April 18, 2004 un-numbered draft script by Joss Whedon

Serenity - pre April 18, 2004 "kitchen sink" draft script by Joss Whedon

Day of the Dead (2008) - undated fourth draft script by Jeffrey Reddick

Superman Reborn - August 23, 1992 third draft script by Mark Jones and Cary Bates (Story by Ilya Salkind, Mark Jones and Cary Bates)

Hero - August 30, 1991 forth draft script by David Webb Peoples

Roughshod - undated, unspecified draft script by Hugo Butler & Geoffrey Homes

Jumper - June 23, 2005 unspecified draft script by David S. Goyer

The Mist - December 5, 2005 revised 2nd draft script by Frank Darabont (my last news article told you about an August 5, 2005, draft.)

3:10 to Yuma (Contention) - September 15, 2004 unspecified draft script by Michael Brandt & Derek Haas (my last news article told you about an December 16, 2005, draft.)

(Hat-tip to


MM’s Script Review of Tony Gilroy’s Duplicity:

Eh. S’alright. Bit confusing.



August on Animated Specs
“Go ahead and write it. It’s very unlikely that an animation spec will get sold and produced, but remember, that’s not the only goal of writing a spec. You write specs to get your next job, and if you can write a great animated spec, do it.”

Unk on Natural Talent
“I think a certain amount of natural talent certainly helps get someone there FASTER but I don’t necessarily think that it’s a requirement. I’ll trade IMAGINATION for natural talent any fucking day of the week. I’ve seen some naturally talented writers write some amazingly derivative screenplays. The natural talent was for structure, maybe some dialogue, formatting, and basically writing a coherent script.”

Mike Le’s hilarious
No Time For Love, Dr. Jones

Madeline Kahn Day of Appreciation

Top Ten Reasons NOT To Be A Screenwriter
“10. And once you’ve gone through the seven circles of Hell required to sell a screenplay? You are unemployed... and must return to GO and begin the whole process again... Then again... Then again... Then...”

When Bad Things Happen to Good Writers
“Wavers, we are lucky indeed to hear from one of the writers of SHARK SWARM. The Wave-inatrix actually has been a casualty of the development process and I've seen it happen to other writers as well. And yet I still wrote a rather snarky bad review of the finished work and for that I apologize for impugning the writers in a rather cavalier manner. So the Wave-iantrix humbly offers my apologies, a cupcake and excerpts of the email I received from the writer in which he explains what went so very wrong and why. Listen and learn.”

Scott’s favorite screenwriting quotes
“My biggest disappointment so far is that having a career has not made me happy.” - Shane Black
“It’s an excepted fact that all writers are crazy, even the normal ones are weird.” - William Goldman

Idea of the Writer vids and podcasts

13 Rule-Breaking Films (Hat-tip to Mark Achtenberg)

MaryAn asks
What Does Your Audience Want?
“Do you know what your reader expects from you when he picks up your screenplay? Can you be unpredictable without being erratic? Can you be erratic without seeming accidental? Screenwriting lessons come from the most unlikely places. The latest? Don't laugh. Wrestling. Go right ahead and roll your eyes but there are real and effective object lessons in our everyday lives. All we have to do is watch audiences, not just in movie theatres, but wherever we go.”

1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die

Ian Fleming turned 100 last week.

Remembering Fleming, Ian Fleming
“Fleming died in 1964, at 56, of complications from pleurisy after playing a round of golf in Sandwich, Kent, though he had a heavy cold. But the real culprits were years of smoking up to 80 cigarettes a day, and a fondness for drink. Perhaps because of the difficulty he found in resisting life’s indulgences, he adopted a strict writing routine in his last 12 years, the period in which he wrote more than a dozen Bond novels that spawned the multibillion-dollar film franchise. Rising early for a swim in the aquamarine waters in the cove below his idyllic Jamaican retreat, Goldeneye, Fleming tapped away at his Remington portable typewriter with six fingers for three hours in the morning and an hour in the afternoon — 2,000 words a day, a completed novel in two months, all the while keeping up the sybaritic lifestyle that led Noël Coward, a frequent guest at Goldeneye and no puritan himself, to describe the Fleming household as 'golden ear, nose and throat.'”

That License to Kill is Unexpired
“Fleming’s Bond also has a dark streak of world-weariness and melancholy we never get to see on screen. He’s casually racist (in “Live and Let Die” especially), misogynistic (giving women the vote encourages their lesbian tendencies, he believes) and anti-Semitic in a way that would never be permitted in the movies. And he’s far kinkier sexually than any of his movie incarnations. Good sex for Bond is sex that has “the sweet tang of rape”; when he first goes to bed with Vesper Lynde, in “Casino Royale,” we’re told, he “wanted to see tears and desire in her remote blue eyes and to take the ropes of her black hair in his hands and bend her long body back under his.” And in a surprising number of incidents Bond is beaten or burned around the genitals — most famously by Le Chiffre in “Casino Royale’ but also by Blofeld in “You Only Live Twice” — to the point where his potency is in question.”

Ian Fleming Map of Britain

Devil May Care's mostly positive book reviews
here, here, and here.

Faulks on writing Devil May Care.

The London
Times runs an extract from Devil May Care, while Peter Kemp interviews Faulks.

Damien Noonan scours the web for the best 007 links."

Tim Rutten
“All the Bond books - 12 novels and two collections of short stories - were written over a dozen years, beginning when Fleming was 44, and all were composed during his annual three-month sojourn at his beloved retreat on the Jamaican coast, Goldeneye. (The name was borrowed from a particularly ingenious intelligence operation Fleming conceived during the war.) There, each day, the author rose early, went for a swim in the cove below his home, then went to work on a portable Remington typewriter for three hours. Cocktails and lunch were served on the terrace with its spectacular views, followed by an hour more of work and the completion of each day's quota: 2000 words. The rest of the day and evening were spent in the glittering company of friends - Noel Coward, first among them, but also W Somerset Maugham, Evelyn Waugh, Anthony Eden and a "Who's Who" of British literature and politics....

Coming to Fleming's utterly masterful Bond novels fresh after many years, one is surprised to find just how tough-minded and extraordinarily well written they are. (It's easy to see why
John F Kennedy so admired them, a taste that was instrumental in winning Bond's first American audience.) Fleming was a taut and propulsive stylist with a deep gift for characterization. Perhaps because we now see Bond through the gauzy scrim of affable, slightly preposterous films with inevitable political and sexual happy endings, it's easy to forget that the Bond of Fleming's books was, in many cases, an unlovely character, often described as "cruel," his relations with women often aggressive and forthrightly exploitative.

That brings us to the latest in a long series of Bond novels by Fleming impersonators sanctioned by his estate. (The first,
Colonel Sun, actually was written by Kingsley Amis under the pseudonym Robert Markham.) Devil May Care by Sebastian Faulks is the 22nd such book and, though competently enough constructed, belongs more to the cinematic Bond tradition than to the one Fleming tapped out on his Remington.

Joan Collins on
The day I said no to James Bond

Leo as Ian Fleming?
It may not be the first name that comes to mind when thinking of actors who could portray the James Bond creator, but new details regarding an original screenplay entitled ‘Fleming’ could change that. CBn first reported on the script in October 2005. The Los Angeles Times reports that DiCaprio’s Appian Way film company recently came on as a producer of ‘Fleming’, an original screenplay by Damian Stevenson that centers on the life of the famous 007 author. ‘It’s going to be very different from the Bond films,’ said producer Andrew Lazar, who was an early supporter of the project. ‘There are a lot of different ways to crack biopics, but we’re not trying to emulate a Bond movie … The idea that this guy’s life informed the James Bond character is pretty fascinating.’


GASP - Jodie Foster was having an affair with a screenwriter!
"The ENQUIRER has learned exclusively that the Oscar winner’s new love is brunette Cindy Mort, a producer and screenwriter she met on the set of her 2007 film The Brave One. The 47-year-old star’s new squeeze is the former partner of thirtysomething actress Melanie Mahron -- with whom she has two children!” Here’s the Herald Sun: “Jodie Foster has dumped her partner of more than 15 years for a younger woman… Cynthia Mort, 33, who also goes by the name Cindy, is a highly intelligent, high-profile writer, who has made a name for herself by presenting America with the most explicit sex scenes ever screened as part of a sitcom.” And here’s the oh-so-classy Daily Mail: “As the news spread, the words 'mid-life crisis' were heard being whispered over expensively whipped hot drinks and wholemeal muffins in fashionable coffee shops across Hollywood; it certainly left the entire lesbian community of Los Angeles thoroughly agog.” Here’s Fox News: “'Cydney had no idea their relationship was in trouble until Jodie came home one day and told her she'd fallen in love with Cindy and was moving out,' a source told the Mail. 'Cydney is devastated.'”

Write a 2 ½ hour rom com & get a first look deal!
“Michael Patrick King, the writer/director of Sex and the City, has agreed to a 'first-look' deal with DreamWorks studios. With his feature directorial debut - based on the hit HBO series - having been released around the world this week, DreamWorks were eager to have the chance to snap up the rights for his next project. And according to Variety, the new contract gives the studio first refusal on his next movie. DreamWorks Studios co-chair and CEO Stacey Snider said the studio was attracted by the depth of King's writing, as shown through six seasons of Sex and the City and the spin-off film.”

From Poet to Screenwriter
“A few years ago, New Mexico based poet Joe Ray Sandoval was asked to give the commencement address at Santa Fe Preparatory School. When he did, Bill Conway – in the audience to watch his son graduate – liked what he heard and set up an exploratory creative meeting on behalf of his newly formed company Luminaria Films. From that random crossing of paths comes, two years later, the$3 million independent drama Spoken Word, which completed filming in New Mexico last month. Based on Sandoval’s own experiences, it tells the story of a San Francisco based poet (Kuno Becker) who runs into complications when he moves back to New Mexico to tend to his sick father (Ruben Blades). The movie was directed by Victor Nunez, who previously made the Josh Brolin drama Coastlines and the critically acclaimed Ulee’s Gold.”

From Marlene's nice e-mail on The Business of Storytelling:
"Really enjoy reading through your blog. I find it very informative. As an aspiring writer, I thank you for sharing and taking the time. I am co-founder of Creative World Awards, a screenwriting competition dedicated to giving exposure to writers from all over the globe. We've gotten commitments from select prominent production and distribution companies to give our top finalists a read before they are sent out to the industry at large. This list keeps growing. Also, our site features a video showcase "The Business of Storytelling" where top executives, producers, directors, writers and other leading industry experts give their perspectives on the creative process and the business side of the industry. Each week highlights a different person sharing this practical advice to up and coming writers and filmmakers. The first one on is Benedict Carver, president of Crystal Sky and former exec over at Screen Gems. Other participants will include Tomas Jegeus, Twentieth Century Fox; Randy Paul, The Halcyon Company; Anthony Mandler, Director; Ronnie Yeskel, Casting Director; Tracee Stanley, Inferno Entertainment; Vincent Newman, VNE; Tucker Tooley, Relativity; Scott Wiper, Writer/Director; With more being added as the season progresses. Your profile sounds like someone that should be participating in our interviews. Please let me know if you are interested. The interviews are solely for CWA's website. Other interactive features are currently being developed and will be added shortly. Please check out our website at:"

Critical reaction to Charlie Kaufman’s Synecdoche, New York. (See also my script review. I completely agree with them, and I haven’t seen the film yet.)

An early review of Shyamalan’s The Happening who wrote, “The Happening is a terrible, terrible movie. I mean, it’s bad on an epic scale. It’s so bad that I can’t possibly tell you how bad it is without understating the point or making it sound like I’m picking on the film. But let me stress: this is not pent-up Shyamalan aggression or a desire to see him fail. This is bad in a jaw-dropping “they can’t really be serious, can they?” kind of way. The closest comparison I can draw is to Neil LaBute’s Wicker Man and, like that film, the only consolation I can offer potential theater-goers is that you might want to see it just to be in on the ground floor when the film gets its ass handed back to it.” (See also my script review. I completely agree with him, and I haven’t seen the film yet.)

Lawrence Roman Dies At 86
“Roman's screenwriting career produced over twenty films and plays including Paper Lion, McQ, and the film adaptation of Under The Yum Yum Tree.”

Oscar-nominated Screenwriter Haines Dead At 72.
”The Oscar-nominated screenwriter who adapted James Joyce’s Ulysses for the big screen has died, aged 72.”

Dispatches from Scriptland: The Real McKee, Volume II
“Last night McKee and a student had words after class and, this morning, they picked things up. ‘I'll placate you, what is your fucking question?’ asked McKee. ‘How do you know the difference between true and false?’ the student asked. ‘You narcissistic ***,’ shouted McKee when the student wouldn't let it drop. See, McKee appreciated the question, but he has a no-question policy or else the class would descend into community college screenwriting 101.” (here’s Volume I)

Diddy, the Screenwriter
“He can rap! He can act! He can produce (music AND plays)! He’s the dapperest of gentlemen ever to be accused of assault, bribery, shootings, sweatshop labor, a fatal stampede and making coats out of dogs! And now Diddy has a new occupation: screenwriter. According to the always reliable entertainment news service WENN, Diddy was “so inspired” by this year’s Cannes Film Festival that he decided to venture into feature writing. But wasn’t the festival like two days ago, you ask? Yes, yes it was. Apparently, Mr. Puffycombs wastes no time making his brand new dreams come true.”

Blake Snyder interview
Save the Cat! has 15 points in every story. I came up with this because early on I was very bad at plotting and story. I’d go into meetings with producers with great ideas and then pitch out a few lousy little set pieces and they’d say, “And what else?” So I began searching for a story that I could count on, so if a Producer responded to an idea of mine, within a very short time, I could go into their office and tell them that great story. That’s what I found in these 15 points. All stories are about transformation. At point 1 the hero is one way, and at point 15, the finale, he is completely the opposite. Well, what happened? And act 2 traditionally is what I call the transformation machine. They walk in one way and they don’t come out the same. They’ve been transformed in a way that we won’t even recognize them by the end.”

Pac-Man – the Movie?
“Steven Paul's banner Crystal Sky Pictures has inked a $200 million theatrical slate financing deal with Don Starr's Grosvenor Park. Deal covers five features, including upcoming vidgame adaptation "Castlevania," a co-production with Universal's Rogue Pictures. Project, based on the Konami vidgame, is written by Paul Anderson ("Resident Evil") and directed by Sylvain White ("Stomp the Yard")… Other titles in the Grosvenor Park-funded slate include an adaptation of Richard Branson's memoir "Losing My Virginity," a bigscreen adaptation of vidgame "Pac-Man" and a sequel to John Woo's actioner "Hard Boiled"; company also controls the rights to Brad Thor's bestselling novels.”

Spider-Man 4 & 5 to be Shot at the Same Time?
Cinematical has received an unconfirmed scoop saying that Zodiac screenwriter James Vanderbilt has turned in a working draft for Spider-Man 4 to Sony Pictures. The really interesting thing, however, is that they say his story arc encompasses two films, opening up the possiblity that the studio might shoot the fourth and fifth film at the same time!”

Screenwriter Gives Away Millions
“A former CEO-turned-screenwriter gives away millions of Iraqi Dinar to Hollywood Studio executives to show how fortunes printed on paper can become worthless overnight.”

Interview With Changeling Screenwriter J. Michael Straczynski
Q: How did you become inspired to write Changeling?
A: For a number of years prior to getting into television, I had been a reporter. And even though I had left journalism some years before, a source of mine at City Hall said "There's something here you should see." I zoomed down there, and read the transcript of the City Council welfare hearings in the case of Christine Collins. When I realized what the story was, I thought, "This can't actually have happened" So I spent a year researching and digging up old county courthouse records, city calls records and criminal records and finally pieced the whole thing together. I sat on it for a long time, and then one day, the structure just sort of cracked in my head, and I wrote down the draft that I eventually sold in about 11 days.

Screenwriter J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI is currently rewriting The Grays for Wolfgang Peterson and Sony Pictures

Screenwriter Roberto Orci Talks Transformers 2
“ORCI: We want to follow some of our lead characters which we thought were so successful. Shia’s character; where is he two years later? His girlfriend, where is she two years later? But for fans, I guess I’ll address this more for the fans, because I think if you didn’t know Transformers at all and you came in and you liked the first movie, you’ll like the second one. However, some of the die hard fans, which we were a member of that group, felt, well, maybe it’s a little light. Maybe it wasn’t science fictiony enough. And I think the second one will deliver on a true Transformers story. You know, the first one, we had a limited budget for what it was. Every second of Transformer time is a million dollars or whatever the heck it is, so this time, because we were able to prove through the whole thing that it’s a viable live-action movie, we have a little more freedom this time to actually learn about the Transformers, see them, hear them. It’s a better balance between the humans and the Transformers.”

Did Truman Capote and Ralph Ellison have writer's block—or were they just chronic procrastinators?
"There's a heartbreaking moment in Gerald Clarke's biography Capote when the writer, having finally completed the debilitating process of writing In Cold Blood in 1965, waxes optimistic about his next masterpiece: a novel he was calling Answered Prayers. "Oh, how easy it'll be by comparison!" Capote exclaimed. "It's all in my head." That may have been true. But upon his death in 1984, after years of public promises, revised delivery dates, and the ravages of alcoholism, Capote had managed to publish only snippets of his long-promised epic—and one of them was the notorious "La Côte Basque," which savagely lampooned his social circle and alienated him from some of his dearest friends. In the American annals of famously attenuated literary careers, Capote is perhaps surpassed only by Ralph Ellison, who worked for nearly 40 years on his second novel—the follow-up to his phenomenally successful 1952 debut, Invisible Man—only to leave it incomplete when he died in 1994. In their sustained anticlimaxes, Capote's and Ellison's writing lives raise a perplexing question: What is the difference between severe procrastination and writer's block? Are they part of one continuum, like a Möbius strip? Were Capote and Ellison truly blocked, or did they merely delay so long that they ran out of time?"

GreenCine Goodies:

They sure don’t make coming-of-age films like they used to.
"Starting off as a wickedly seductive comedy about a naive youth and his unusually attentive tutor, only to take on increasingly insidious dimensions, Private Lessons more than confirms the rising talent of 33-year-old Belgian writer-director Joachim Lafosse," writes Justin Chang in Variety. "Lighter in tone and subject matter than his 2006 dysfunctional-family drama Private Property, but no less incisive in its examination of toxic relational dynamics and the damage that can occur in the absence of boundaries, this is a sly, superbly knowing entertainment." "Once again, volatile male adolescence and adult irresponsibility react together in a claustrophobic hothouse environment," writes Lee Marshall in Screen Daily. "But here the story of the unhealthy relationship that develops between a sixteen-year-old boy and the thirty-something family friend who agrees to tutor him through his school-leaving exams is less controlled, both visually and structurally; it also feels ethically muddy in its half-fascinated, half-condemnatory portrayal of what in most people's books would count as sexual abuse of a minor."

They sure don’t make 30-year-itch films like they used to
"[S]ure, you have to be willing to watch old people have sex," grants the Boston Globe's Ty Burr. "A lot of it. Fairly explicitly, too. Which, in a culture that says only strapping youth and firm skin can and should be contemplated, makes Cloud 9 something of a rebel yell." "The 30-year itch proves to be pretty much like the seven-year version in German director Andreas Dresen's Cloud 9, a cautionary tale about infidelity that suggests the temptations and pleasures are the same but so may be the consequences," writes Ray Bennett in the Hollywood Reporter.

They sure don’t make travel porn like they used to either.
"The only parts of Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona that really and truly feel alive and crackling are the Spanish-language scenes between Javier Bardem and Penélope Cruz," writes Jeffrey Wells. "These two, portraying a pair of identically tempestuous, self-obsessed painters whose marriage has fallen apart due to an overabundance of heat and impulse and Spanish vinegar, are dynamite together. They create spark showers when they rage and taunt and rekindle their mutual hunger." The problem? A "persistent, obnoxious, unwanted and thoroughly unnecessary narration track... There were boos." "[I]t's true that VCB is travel porn at its most arrant, an upscale tourist fantasy of Barcelona locations and table settings, fine wines and clichéd Catalan studs whispering outre sexual possibilities in the ears of shallow, susceptible American women," writes Ty Burr. But: "[T]he movie's inordinate, even ridiculous fun, despite an overly chatty narrative track (not sure by whom at this writing) that I wanted to slap down after about five minutes.... Bardem is simply delicious as a post-Valentino roué who's just as sexy but not quite as smart as he thinks. When he, Johansson, and Cruz settle into a sensual ménage a trois, it's hard not to think Allen has become the dirty old man of the movies. However he gets his jollies, though, Vicky Cristina Barcelona is an unexpected picnic - a lightweight New Yorker short story lit up with real warmth."

The Pleasure of Being Robbed
When Josh Safdie's The Pleasure of Being Robbed premiered at SXSW, David Lowery wrote at the SpoutBlog, "What a lark this film is, what a caustic joy!" The film closed this year's Directors' Fortnight in Cannes. "From the opening scene, which follows starlet Eleonore Hendricks as she pulls a creative purse heist on a New York City street, it is immediately clear that The Pleasure of Being Robbed is the work of an individual who has grown up watching great movies and has incorporated those influences into his own unique vision," wrote Michael Tully in March at Hammer to Nail. "But most importantly, unlike so many other young filmmakers - and lesser filmmakers in general - Safdie never succumbs to his influences. The Pleasure of Being Robbed is a refreshing and original work, which manages to stay grounded in the emotions of the real world while somehow floating above reality with a magical and ethereal air."

On Savage Grace



On the Contest Circuit:

Gotham Screen 2nd Annual Film Festival & Screenplay Contest Announced

AAA Contest Announces February 2008 Winners

ReelHeART Screenplay Competition Announces Contest Results

Script Savvy Announces April Results

HSI Announces April Contest Winner

StoryPros Awards Announces Finalists

AAA Contest Announces February 2008 Winners

CWA Announces New Interactive Online Video Showcase

Willamette Writers Announces 2007 Kay Snow Writing Contest Award Winners

Cinestory Announces 2008 Quarterfinalists

StoryPros Announces Awards Contest Semifinalists


And finally…

The Idiot e-mail of the Week

To set this up, here’s a portion from my
History of Indy IV article:

"In May ‘96, a script entitled
Indiana Jones And The Sons Of Darkness, which was credited to Boam, hit the web from someone who claimed to have lifted it from Lucasfilm's offices. As reported by Empire, 'The script, which concerned a race by Indy to beat the Russians to the remnants of Noah's Ark, was removed from the web a day after its initial posting, fuelling rumors that it was genuine.' Fans were invited to post feedback because 'Lucasfilm is monitoring the Web to assess what Indy fans do and don't want to see.' In truth, the folks at Lucasfilm had nicknamed this script 'Indiana Jones and the Sons of Plagiarism.' Four months and several cease-and-desist notices later, ambitious Indy fan, Robert Smith, fessed up to having written a bogus script.

And so here’s the recent idiot e-mail from the Sons of Darkness author:


Hmm... Sons of Plagiarism eh?

Funny that my script written 12 years ago shares similarities to the new film... a skull quest... young prodigy... soviet villain... return of Marion...

FYI, Lucas film wanted me to sign over the rights to my script but I refused to.

You're entitled to your opinion mate... but opinions are like assholes... everybody's got one.


Rob Smith

Toronto, Canada


Idiot Comment of the Week

Also from the Sons of Darkness author under the
Post your Indy IV comments section:


Hi there,

Funny that my script written over 12 years ago shares elements with the new film... skull quest... Indy's son... Soviet villain... return of Marion...

Heck, even the LA Times noticed a similarity:,0,4413222.story

Now, I can't say for certain if my script Sons of Darkness influenced the new Indy film or not... but I think the circumstantial evidence alone would attract a lawyer eager to sue Lucasfilm... because they either borrowed from my script or it's a colossal coincidence and I just happened to plug into George's stream of consciousness back in 95 when I first sat down to write SOD.

12 years ago Lucasfilm wanted me to sign over the rights to my screenplay and in exchange they wouldn't sue me. I refused to sign after talking to a lawyer and explained to Lucasfilm that if they wanted to control my script then they would have to buy it. Months later it all went away and everybody got on with their lives.

The script itself, while a superior idea by far (Indy and aliens, c'mon!), is a work of fanfiction, and I wrote it with the best of intentions and from my heart and soul. I was passionate about the material... not about deceiving Indydom.

I could be a royal prick about this and milk it for all it's worth... but I don't want that kind of attention... and I don't what George's money either... I just wanted the man to read my script and give me his honest opinion. And it seems, on the surface anyway, he did read it.

It was such a benign stunt I pulled back in 96 but the reaction to it was so hostile -- nasty feedback, threats of lawsuits, jail, and calls from the RCMP... all over some Indy spec script written by some dude up in Canada.

There was, however, on occasion, high praise for my screenplay and the belief that it was indeed the newest Indy film. After 12 years, here's what one of my fans wrote:

I remember the first time that I read the Sons of Darkness script: it was so good that I was enthusiastically telling other people about it and was even practically praying "Dear Lord, PLEASE let this be the next Indy movie!" If there was to be another Indy movie then I thought the post-war period would be when to set it and I thought your script conveyed that quality perfectly. Putting Indy in Qumran when the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered was a particularly great touch, and Vladimirov was a classic Indy-style villain.

If nothing else, I think that years from now your Sons of Darkness script will be regarded as at least very prescient, if not downright prophetic, in the light of how Kingdom of the Crystal Skull turned out (which I might go see again tomorrow).

For me, I think the new film got it all wrong and my script would have made a much better film.

But what the fuck do I know, right? I'm just a fanboy.


Rob Smith

Toronto, Canada


MM’s Response to the Idiot of the Week

Dearest Rob,

You’re not just a fanboy. You’re a third rate hack wannabe screenwriter who latches onto other people’s copyrighted material because you can’t come up with original ideas of your own. You’re also a criminal, a plagiarist, and a liar to boot.

With respect to any similarities, your script wouldn't even pass the muster of a WGA arbitration. By the way, I don't recall Koepp's script having anything to do with NOAH'S ARK.

So congratulations. You've accomplished... nothing.



Laura Deerfield said...

Re: synechdoche

One of the reviewers was "curiously challenged to actually care"

I think that kinda sums up my feelings without even seeing the film. And Eternal Sunshine is one of my all-time faves.

Some folks really need a creative partner.

Mim said...

I think it's a good idea to make your correspondence with Rob public. That way he can't accuse of saying things that you didn't.

I just want to let you know that there's a misspelled word in one of your quotes:

“It’s an excepted fact that all writers are crazy, even the normal ones are weird.” - William Goldman

Excepted should be accepted, or even expected.

Love, Mim.

Mystery Man said...

Laura - I'll definitely go see it, out of curiosity, at least. Have you read the script? I'll send it to you, if you like. It's almost impossible to decipher. That's still ranks up there as one of the most challenging reviews...

Mim - I know! Isn't that hilarious? I read that and rolled laughing! No way I'm changing it.

Rob:-] said...

Dear MM,

I read the script "Sons of Darkness" (SOD) when it was posted. From the trailers for the new Indie move came out I noted some similarities.

From your extreme reaction to Smith's message I've got to assume there's more to this story that I know. You called him some strong names but, at least for your reader's benefit, presented no evidence or justification.

I haven't been reading your blog for very long so I'm not sure how to put what you said into context.

Best regards,

Rob:-] (Not Rob Smith)

Mystery Man said...

Hey Rob,

Drats. I thought you were the other Rob. But it's great to hear from you, nonetheless!

You may have over-looked the first part of that section in which I laid out the whole sordid history of that screenplay before I received his e-mail. He is, indeed, a liar and a criminal, and this new vanity (and hints of lawsuits) over two very minor similarities has got to stop. He should be ashamed of the laws he broke and the lies he tried to perpetrate on the public.

The lesson here is that all aspiring writers should respect someone else's copyrighted material. Period.


Anonymous said...

Hey sunshine, yes I'm talking to you mystery fuck... you never read my script, did you? And yet you have this rather strong opinion of it, because if you had read it then you would see the clear similarities which others have noted. Even the opening shot is a nod to SOD.

I'm the wannabe, Sunshine? Please. At least I got ON my ass and wrote my Indy script. What the fuck have you been doing for the last 12 years... other than shitting on everything you see?

You know... you remind me of that sap from Family Guy... "You're a phooo-ny! Hey, everybody, he's a phooo-ny!"

Get over it, Sunshine... and go write your little Indy script. Maybe someday Lucas will call you up because he wants you to write the next film.

But I wouldn’t hold my breath.


Zane said...


If Lucas TRULY ripped off Rob's screenplay, why the fuck would Rob NOT sue? Perhaps because he wouldn't win? Maybe?


Channel that anger into control thinking and write a screenplay that sells. If you read all the shit in this blog, you might have a chance ...


Thanks for all you do.

Anonymous said...

Hey zane... I don't recall soliciting your advice, mate. This is a big-boy tussle. So you run along now.

What kills me... you numbfucks just assume I haven't progressed as a screenwriter in the 12 years since SOD.

FYI... my writing skills were good enough to convinced Stephen King to allow me to officially adapt one of his short stories in 99. But unfortunately the deal went tits up. As have many deals over the years.

Please... just keep your opinions to yourself. Mm-kay?

Sunshine crossed the line with his little tirade. And let's face it... he's just jealous that I did it first.

And that's all I've got to say people.

Except this… I don’t have any desire to sue Lucasfilm. It was 12 years ago. The similarities are subtle. I was just making a point and defending my name.



Mim said...

MM, this guys reminds me of the trolls on the TS message board. You know, the ones who show up just to make trouble?

No, Rob, you didn't solicit our advice, but MM did solicit our opinions when he made this public.

In this business, attitude is everything. You seem to have a bad one. No wonder so many of your deals fall through.

Anonymous said...

Hmm... more words of wisdom from the disciples.

Hey, Sunshine, do me a favour, kay?

Go write the 50 Flaws of SOD.

I need the publicity.

You're so full of yourself it's embarrassing.

Arrogant fucktard.

Mystery Man said...

Hee hee hee...

"At least I got ON my ass and wrote my Indy script..."

What part of the fact that it was illegal to write and post SOD did you NOT understand?

Rule #1 for aspiring screenwriters: DO NOT write scripts for existing franchises. Come up with your own ORIGINAL ideas as writing samples.

Zane - Thanks so much. It's great to meet you. The content of Rob's script is irrelevant because he never had the right to compose an Indiana Jones script in the first place.

Mim - And we wouldn't have had this controversy had Rob taken a more respectable route like David Muhlfelder or Mickey Lee by writing an original franchise with nods to the other ones that their scripts are emulating that can be used as writing samples without breaking copyright laws.


Laura Deerfield said...

People still say "fucktard" ? I mean, people who are over 15?

Mystery Man said...

My new favorite curse word is "fuckery." Amy Winehouse says it repeatedly on her album. "What is all this fuckery?"


That makes me laugh.


Mim said...

Commenting on another section of this wonderful post, I'd always hoped that Jodie Foster was gay. Seeing it finally confirmed makes me feel all warm inside.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Sunshine... are you the great defender of copyright laws? Is that it? Good god man. What the fuck is going on up inside that head of yours? Copyright laws -- that's what you're so hung up on?


But... you know... this whole thing is starting to bore me to tears.

Hey Sunshine... you just keep plugging away and I'm sure one day you'll finish that great American screenplay.



Anonymous said...

Just one more thing... Sunshine, you say I've accomplished nothing with my stunt... well, guess what? I will FOREVER be associated with the Indy franchise. Can you say as much?

Lucas even pays homage to my script from the very first frame.

From the old paramount logo, match dissolve to... a mound of sand.

Joshua James said...

I still like the word fucktard, myself.

It's very appropriate for some people, and from the bleating sounds of this angry facfic guy, more than apt.

Elver said...

"FYI... my writing skills were good enough to convinced Stephen King to allow me to officially adapt one of his short stories in 99. But unfortunately the deal went tits up. As have many deals over the years."

Er. Stephen King has an open policy regarding film adaptations. Anyone can write a film based on his stuff. My guess is that you mailed the dude a writing sample and he replied with "yes, yes, go for it, conquer the world, bugger off". And here you are, thinking you're special. How sad.

Regarding Changeling -- JMS's Babylon 5 is the #1 reason why I got into screenwriting. It was so full of great characters and great writing that I wanted to learn how to do the same. Will definitely be seeing that one.

Too bad his Jeremiah sank. And Crusade...

Laura Deerfield said...

"I will FOREVER be associated with the Indy franchise."

Oh, MM, he's so cute. He makes me smile. Can we keep him?

Anonymous said...

For Your Consideration:

Call me crazy, Indy fans... but I'm almost positive Lucas pays homage to my Sons of Darkness screenplay -- from the very first shot.

You're all familiar with how Indy movies begin:



A mountain peak...

That was the opening of Raiders, and this motif was also used in Doom and Crusade.

Well, I carried over that motif into my screenplay written in 96:



A mound of sand...

Now, if you've all seen the new movie (*spoilers*) then you know it starts this way... match dissolve to a mound of sand, which a gofer emerges from seconds later...

Of all the things to match dissolve to in the Indy universe... Lucas chose a mound of sand. Why?

Indydom... am I crazy? Or is Lucas fucking with me? I mean... perhaps in his subtle way he's paying tribute to my script because of our sordid history, and maybe for the simple fact that my script shares so many elements with the new film... Skull quest... Indy's son... Soviet villain... return of Marion...

In fact, at the end of the new movie, where the Soviet baddie returns the alien skull and it magically stays perched atop its skeleton, and then the alien reincarnates, is right out of my screenplay, which also uses a skull as the Mcguffin -- in my case the skull is the remains of the unclean son (Satan's earthly offspring), and is made flesh again by the return of the missing skull -- it's actually a cool little legend I created for my script, which mixes in Noah's Ark as well. You fans should check out the script just for shits and giggles.

Script links:

Second draft 97 (reposted 97/2003):

Original draft 96 (posted May 26, 96):

Very little changed between the drafts. Just gave it a good polish in 97.

Anyhoo, I hope I'm not boring you all with this... I'm just a little beside myself... and a little pissed off as well that after all these years I discover Lucas MAY have just liked what I wrote after all, so much so that he incorporated elements from my script into his new movie. I'm flattered. But truth be told... it's a little bitter-sweet also.

There are other moments in the new movie which recall SOD... the diner scene where Indy and his long-lost son, Mutt, are bickering and Mutt scolds Indy for disrespecting his mother -- there's a scene like that in my script as well.

Then there's the scorpion scene -- Mutt freaks out about a big scorpion crawling on him and Indy assures Mutt that it's the little ones he has to be worried about... well, there's a similar scene in my script also.

There are others scenes too...

I don't know... it could all be just a freaky coincidence... but that match dissolve to the mound of sand is way too coincidental...

Is Lucas paying homage to my script... is he rubbing my nose in it... or am I completely delusional and should seek professional help?

But... I like to think he's paying homage... because he recognized the sincerity of my screenplay and the blossoming talent. Anyway... that's what I like to think.


Rob Smith

Toronto, Canada

Anonymous said...

Dear Sunshine,

I won’t drag this out. Straight to the point.

You know where you went wrong? Your own petty jealousy and rooted insecurity prevented you from judging my screenplay fairly. What? Did you read a few pages and dismiss it outright?

Rather than seeing my screenplay for what it was – a sincere and loving tribute to a trilogy of films I grew up with, you chose to focus on the stunt itself, which was simply a means to an end.

For some reason, you’ve got this hate-on for me… it’s almost personal… and makes me wonder if years ago I some how got under your skin. What? Were you planning your own Indy splash and I stole your thunder?

Your harsh reaction to me and my early work is unwarranted and borderline sadistic. You can’t possibly be so bent out of shape over my innocent publicity stunt, which is 12 years in the past now.

In this cut-throat business where 60 thousand screenplays filter through Hollywood annually, you’ve got to be creative, and anyone with enough sense would be giving me credit for rattling the corporate cage and forcing a movie icon to take notice of me. But instead, you paint me as some kind of pariah, bent on undermining the establishment and out for sole personal gain and profit.

Hey, money was the last thing on my mind when I sat down to write SOD… I just had a pretty cool story to tell and wanted to share it with others… and perhaps, just maybe, get noticed in a sea of wannabes.

Regardless of what you think… I’m proud of what I did and the script I wrote, and just maybe Lucas and Spielberg – two movie moguls – also recognized my talent and paid tribute to it in one of the most anticipated sequels in the last 20 years.

Now… isn’t that something to celebrate?

Rob Smith

Toronto, Canada

Anonymous said...

Peace offering.

Sir, I'm not about petty bickering or mud-slinging... I just felt you needed to be taken down a few pegs. I've been holding a grudge against you for years. Your overly-snide review of my screenplay, in which you called it "horrible" but provided no other criticisms, demonstrated your biased position.

But... it doesn't matter, mate. Life is too short.

You are obviously -- as much as I hate to admit it -- an intelligent man and passionate about the craft of screenwriting. So you can't be all that bad.

Your criticisms of Crystal Skull are -- if not a little too self-serving -- well documented and valid.

That said, I hope you will accept my peace offering and continue the good fight against criminals, plagiarists, and liars everywhere.


Mystery Man said...

Okay, peace.


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