1. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    Help me finish my treatment

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Jack Asher, Jan 30, 2014.

    I blasted through this in one manic afternoon. It's a treatment for a screenplay I don't have the time to write. The first act is well established as is everything up until the point of no return, but the end of act II and all of act III remain stubornly out of reach.

    It's a dark comedy about dealing with mental illness. Or really any brain disease. So any crazy mentally ill people who want to help would be excellent.

    THE INVISIBLE DIFFERENCE

    Treatment


    ERIC WOEKNER is a 20 something recent college graduate, come to the city. He works in an IT job, and isn’t close to his coworkers. He is disturbed by several recent gaps in his memory and feelings of deja vu. He wakes up in different places than he went to sleep.

    Late one night he comes to his senses in a cafe with a woman’s phone number written on his hand and the stamp of a local nightclub he hates. STACIE answers the phone and seems surprised that the person she meets in ERIC is quite different than the person she met at the night club.

    STACIE and ERIC begin a tenuous relationship as ERIC attempts to hide his growing concerns from STACIE.

    ERIC is called away from work to BOTSWANA where he suffers a seizure in the hostel where he is staying. The local doctor orders an MRI and finds an inoperable tumor in his brain.

    ERIC returns to the US and tells no one of his condition which begins to deteriorate. He has wounds he cannot explain to people and gaps in his memory where he appears to have acted like another person. He goes to therapy and takes medication that does not help his exacerbating seizures.
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2014
  2. JayG
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    JayG Banned Contributor

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    Sounds like a variation on Phenomenon. They didn't know where to go, either. :)

    It's hard to know where to go because there are so many possibilities, from Flowers to Algernon sadness, to superpowers, to something like Greg Bear's Darwin's Radio, to alien manipulation etc. etc.
     
  3. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    In phenomenon they don't even know it's a brain problem until the last act. And the plot of the movie was, "some guy is suddenly a genius".

    This is radically different and focuses on the decay of the mind, social stigmas, and common missperceptions with mental illness in a darkly comedic way.

    In the seen breakdown for example, in the 2nd act therse a seen where Stacie excuses herself to take her birth control from a tiny pill case. Eric uses the opportunity to sneak a giant handful of various bills from the huge day/night pill case.

    But I still have no idea how that ends.
     
  4. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    Treatments are usually longer as they are more detailed.

    What you seem to have here is the start of a leave behind. A one pager synopsis that you use in your pitch and leave behind for further consideration. You'll typically have four paragraphs in a leave behind. Paragraph one is Act one, two and three are the two halves of Act II and fourth paragraph is Act four.

    Think of the story, as a whole, from start to finish. Do you have the story fleshed out? If not, go back to thinking on it.

    Go back to thinking on it. Take notes as you think it up. Take index cards or legal pad and pen where ever you go and when you think up something, write it down.

    PS: It sounds like a very good start. I'm interested.
     
  5. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    That is the unfinished leave behind, because the treatment is unfinished. I didn't want to put 18 pages on here.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if you're not going to write the script, why on earth are you writing a treatment?
     
  7. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    I like writing. Why are you here?
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i'm here to offer advice/info/help to anyone who needs it...

    you're asking for help in 'finishing' your 'treatment' but you don't seem to even have a full plot in mind... so, you seem to really be asking others to come up with a plot for you to use in writing a treatment... and if you like writing, as you say, why don't you just do it on your own?
     
  9. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    I'm a little stuck, I'd like to see what other people think of the first act. They might have a radically different idea of how the story should go. That's kind of how brainstorming works.

    I change my answer, I came here to brainstorm, and if this isn't the site to do that on, I need to know right now.

    But it's not as if I don't have my own idea for the second and third act, among them:
    • Stacie breaks up with Eric, Eric dies.
    • Stacie breaks up with Eric, Eric begins to accept his new life with a mental illness, Eric dies
    • Stacie and Eric begin to build a life together, Eric dies
    • Stacie leaves Eric for a paraplegic, Eric meets a paranoid schizophrenic, everything looks happy, Eric dies.
    I can't see this as a story arc, more like a slippery slope, and I'm hoping someone can offer a better solution.
     
  10. Echoesian
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    Echoesian Member

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    I don't know anything about screenplays-- this is just commentary on the mental health aspect.

    At the beginning of the piece it sounded like Eric was experiencing dissociative fugue, which is a psychological condition in the realm of dissociative disorders. The diagnostic criteria for this condition is as follows (From the DSM-IV):


    Criterion A: sudden, unexpected travel to some far off place, away from one’s normal surroundings or place of residence. There is inability to recall any or all of one’s past.

    Criterion B: assumption of a new identity, or at the very least, confusion of one’s personal identity (leading to doubts about “who am I?”).

    Criterion C: the impairment is not due to the direct effect of physiological effect of substance or a general medical condition.

    Criterion D: the symptoms are such as to cause distress which is clinically significant, and / or lead to impairment in important areas of functioning.

    The individual affected with dissociative fugue may undertake travel away from their normal surroundings for periods of time ranging from a few hours or few days to weeks or months. The wandering is relatively unobtrusive and does not attract attention. There is no apparent psychopathology presented during the episode of the fugue. During the course of the fugue, amnesia for recent events or lack of awareness of personal identity leads to the individual being brought to clinical attention. After returning to the pre-fugue state, the individual may lose memory of the events that transpired during the fugue episode.

    Some individuals acquire whole new identity during fugue episode. A new name, a new residence, and engagement in complex social activities get taken up. Assuming an identity which is well-integrated with the new social milieu does not lead to any suspicion of an underlying mental disorder to the people around.

    That being said, if his behavior is caused by the inoperable brain tumor, it won't be considered a mental illness. In the diagnosis of MI, they rule out all physiological conditions first. How long have his symptoms persisted?

    If his behavior is caused by the tumor you'll want to research the effects on different areas of the brain. A tumor is going to have a specific set of symptoms depending on the regions affected.
     
  11. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    This is actually based in a large part on a friend of mine who has a caverous hemonangioma near his amigdala. He suffers from seizures followed by a period of a couple hours during which he has no memory, and behaves like an idiot. He'll have a seizure in bed, get up, wander around and go to sleep in the bathtub, for example.

    I realize he's not mentally ill, but a bunch of my crazy friends and I, (whose afflictions range from BpD to schizophrenia, to PTSD) got together and declared him honorarily mentally ill.

    In many ways the problems that a normal crazy person goes through are still present and allow us to touch on the themes of dealing with an invisible illness.
    • The inability to ever resolve or cure your condition
    • the social stigma of having a problem with your brain
    • the abandonment of friends and family when your mood changes
    • the inevitable feeling of hopelessness
    But because this is a dark comedy will explore them with grim humor. In one scene Stacie excuses herself to fish a dainty pill case out of her purse and take her birth control. Eric uses the opportunity to find his gigantic old person pill case, and take a heaping handful of pills. He realizes that he will have to carry this case with him, and swallow all the pills for the rest of his life.
     
  12. Echoesian
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    Echoesian Member

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    Ah, I see. It sounds like a daunting task making it darkly comedic. My affliction is depression/anxiety/social phobia, so I have difficulty seeing humor in any form of MI.

    Just out of curiosity... why does he travel to Botswana? I never imagine IT guys going anywhere. Does he try to get a second opinion back in the states? I guess he must, if someone is prescribing all of those pills. Stacie must notice these changes-- does she like him anyway, despite his problems?
     
  13. Mans
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    Mans Contributing Member

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    I think, it is a very good idea for writing a novel. If I am right, you want to relate the bitter story of the psychopaths' life via a comedy story and it is very good
     
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  14. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    This is once again based on fact, as my friend was noticing problems and saw several doctors who didn't see enough cause to give him an MRI. He had his seizures at night, in bed, so there were no unexplained wounds that would cause anyone to thing he was having seizures.

    It wasn't until he went to India on a program to vaccinate dogs that he had a seizure where anyone could see it. He was immediately taken to a hospital in the city where he got his brain scanned.

    I wanted to take that to 11, have him get an MRI in a place where Americans would be surprised that there was running water, much less electricity, much less a hospital, much less a state of the art MRI. The neurologist will have tribal scars, but speak with an oxford accent.

    As far as Stacie goes I don't really know if she'll accept him or not, partly because if she accepts him the whole thing becomes a romantic comedy and I don't really want that.

    I think the third act might have an intervention on the part of Eric's family and freinds who are worried that he's popping pills. That's were Stacie would stay or leave.
     
  15. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    And with the greatest of respect, there's where you and I differ. :D Ok, so it's more a case of, If I didn't laugh, I'd cry but, still, sometimes mental illness borders on the hilarious. I actually wrote a quick short this morning based on a hallucination. I'd like to think it's viewed as humorous, but it's still making a point.

    As @Jack Asher says, there still exists a social stigma. The condition's are invisible. I'd like to think that my little short gives some insight into what it's like to occupy my brain space, without turning it into some pity party.

    Sorry I don't have anything to contribute to your treatment, Mr. Asher. Curious to see where you are headed with it, though.
     

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