1. frigocc

    frigocc Contributor Contributor

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    My Journey To Becoming A Screenwriter

    Discussion in 'Progress Journals' started by frigocc, May 24, 2020.

    BREAKING NEWS: frigocc changed course, and wants to do something entirely different! It's unheard of!

    When I get focused on something, everything else falls behind. This past week, I discovered that I'd like to try to do some screenwriting, so I'm kinda putting sketches and my novel on the backburner. As of my last tally, I have about 28k words (about 30k once I add some filler I've just been too lazy to do), and about 50-60 sketches, most of which, I know the exact dialogue I want, but have been too lazy to write it down, lol.

    Anyways, now I'm onto my new screenwriting project. Watched Community for the first time ever a couple of weeks ago, and now I'm obsessed, and I need to just get at least my pilot out of the way.

    Will be editing this post as I go along. Don't have it all (or really much at all) figured out yet.



    PLOT: After being fired from his job, a professional slacker finds a new home in the most unlikely of places: his local indoor mall. Here, he befriends a ragtag group of misfits, as they all seek to find out where their lives went wrong to end up there.

    I dunno, still working on the synopsis. Pretty much just Community at a small indoor mall. They're all workers there at the different stores, and they have all of these crazy, absurd things happen along the way.

    SETTING: Small local mall. Food court can sometimes get busy, but it's generally pretty empty outside of the workers. Such is, unfortunately, the state of malls in 2020. Would be hard to not mention the current state of malls, given that they're dying in most places.

    MAIN CAST:

    Alright, this is where most of my initial planning will go. With absurdist sitcoms like this, the characters drive everything. If you know your characters well, you can put them into any setting, and it'll be entertaining. With that said, I do like the mall setting, as I feel it gives me pretty much unlimited storylines to come up with (especially with new stores coming in and out all the time).

    (Names are just placeholders for now)

    John Dope: This is the main character. Think your Jeff Winger of sorts, or Dennis Reynolds, or Barney from How I Met Your Mother if he was more of a jerk. Self-absorbed, vain, cynical, tries to act much cooler than he actually is. Good-looking, mid-30's, and cunning. As said, pretty much your stock Jeff Winger/Dennis Reynolds archetype.

    He starts working at the mall (maybe as a cell phone repair guy) after he's fired from his job and doesn't really have any other prospects. Thinking maybe I'll kinda surprise people, and make it seem like he had some big, important job, like investment banking or something, and he'll actually have been working at some dead-end job. Not necessarily at the level of McDonald's, but like a car salesman or something. Like a smooth talker would, maybe he tells them he, say, "handled client relations and brokered transactions for a Fortune 500 company," when in reality, he sold used Toyotas. Not lying, but not being outright truthful.

    He's kinda like the father figure of the group, and definitely the leader. He's the "straight" guy of the story, whereas most others are absurd. Occasionally, he'll have his moments where he lets go and joins in, realizing that he actually enjoys it there.

    Goofy: Early 20’s semi-nerdy guy (think Troy from Community). Dumb, but harmless. Every week or two, he's constantly trying out some new hobby or something, convinced that THAT is what he wants to do with his life. Maybe some passing hobbies include being a hair metal singer, being a tradesman/weldor, being a doctor, being a rancher/cowboy, being a rollerblader, being a CEO, being an inventor (parabolic urinal), being a writer/poet, being a standup comedian, being an actor, being a breakdancer, being a bodybuilder (John and Goofy compete for coveted prize. They both get each other disqualified, and old senile guy, having accidentally wandered on stage, wins by default), being a porn director, being in a motorcycle gang, being a swimmer (when John Dope beats him in a swim-off, Goofy says, "he's like a fish!"), cult leader, master distiller, human statue/nude model, repo man ("this is all our domain, as far as the eye can see." "Maybe YOUR eyes. MY eyes are perfect."), a sugar baby, Olympic curler, etc.

    While John is the MC, a good amount of the plot will be driven by Goofy, just by the very nature of his ideas/weekly career choices/whatever influencing the entire group, often into competition with each other and other groups.

    Nerdy Friend: Early 20's nerdy guy, this is the Abed to the Troy. Not full-on aspie, but not your typical nerd. More "cool," if that makes sense. Magic, LoTR, movies, books, science fiction, yes. Anime, Minecraft, and My Little Pony? Hell no. Pretty much the same as Goofy, just a bit more nerdy. Usually goes along with Goofy's career-of-the-week, but gets obsessed, and learns everything about it.

    Bitchy Girl: This is definitely the Britta of the group. On-and-off love interest of John, kinda tomboy-ish and mean. Acts as the foil to John, always calling him out when he's being a jerk.

    Lonely Old Guy: Just some random lonely old guy. Lies and says he works at this random store, and they later find out that the store has been closed for 2 months. He actually lives below it, and holds illegal, underground gambling and cock fights down there. He just saw how much fun the group was having, and decided to join in. Doesn't like John.

    Submissive Girl: Youngest of the group, friends with the bitchy girl. Nice, but a pushover. Looks up to John, doesn't like old guy, likes mostly Goofy (who likes her as well . . . but only platonically), and sometimes John.

    (EDIT: Removed 7th person) As you may notice, with wanting 7 main cast (4 men, 3 women), and the archetypes pretty much the same, I'm stealing the dynamic from Community, lol. But that's okay. I think. They'll still be unique characters, with unique backstories, and unique plot points/character development. I just think the archetypes lead to good comedic rapport, and the number of men and women lead to just the right amount of subplots.

    Some recurring subplots I could see would be the two nerdy guys, Goofy and John, John and Bitchy Girl, the three girls, the four guys, the three girls plus the nerdy friend, occasionally John and old guy, Bitchy girl and submissive girl, Goofy and Another Woman, etc. Just a lot to work with if the dynamic is set-up correctly.

    Not really trying to copy everything about Community, I just really think that their whole dynamic leads to the most potential storylines (and great ones at that).

    (EDIT:) All the characters, at some point, will have each other as love interests, minus nerdy friend (no love interests towards him, or him towards someone else) and old guy (no love interest towards him, but maybe he gets creepy with the bitchy girl). Now, these will be passing things. The main, lasting love interests will be John & Bitchy Girl, John & Submissive Girl, and Goofy & Submissive Girl.

    AUXILIARY CAST:

    This is be a sizable portion of the "world" as well. Lots of repeat customers, other workers, mailmen, etc. Some ones I've thought up already:

    Pretzel Pete: play on words of Pistol Pete. Guy that works in the soft pretzel place in the food court. Whenever someone does something (like puts up their hand and says, "hit me"), a pretzel flies really accurately right into their hands.

    Guy that REALLY Looks Like Asian *Insert Random American Celebrity*: pretty self-explanatory. Just some guy that never (or rarely) gets any lines. Just there so they can comment on how much he really looks like *random American celebrity*. Probably works at the massage chair.

    Other characters/stores:

    Old, overly aggressive casket salesman. Kinda looks like grim reaper
    Bitchy teeny bopper girls working in fashion store (like Claire's)
    Bungee bounce thing guy is really good looking, main character gets jealous
    Random hot milfs/divorcees at the playpen that John hits on, even though he has no chance
    Train operator. Personality-wise, maybe someone like Chang
    Weird hippie guy that burns incense and does yoga in a place like Spencer's
    Guy always trying to scalp movie tickets
    Asshole nerds at GameStop that start feuds with main group
    Spa/nail salon
    Shoe emporium
    Bath and bodyworks. Maybe like Jeff and Troy's trampoline happy place until it closes.
    Mailman
    Inept security guys
    etc.


    Again, by the very nature of it being a mall, especially in 2020, with stores constantly coming and going, lots to work with. Biggest issue will be fleshing out the main characters and how they all fit together. Have thought of just doing 6 characters instead (drop non-existent "Another Woman"), but I feel like the men would overpower the dynamic, and that just doesn't work in a sitcom like this, in my opinion.


    ----


    Anyways, this is what I have so far. At least character and setting-wise. Have tons of plots already worked out, and think I already may have a decent idea for a pilot, but the biggest challenge, as said above, will just be fleshing out the main cast of characters and how they all fit together. I think John and Goofy can be perfect exactly where they are, but the others are a mystery.
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2020
  2. frigocc

    frigocc Contributor Contributor

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    Random thought unrelated to this thread: how do you twirl a drumstick like a hair metal drummer? I must learn!

    Related to this thread: started writing the pilot. Not very good, but pilots aren't written in half a day.
     
  3. Xoic

    Xoic Senior Member

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    Did you ever steer the car by holding the ball of your finger against the wheel rather than actually grabbing it? By the ball I mean where the big base knuckle is, but on the palm side. It looks like sometimes they spin the stick around that somehow, but darned if I understand how. No help, I know.
     
  4. frigocc

    frigocc Contributor Contributor

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    Sometimes, yeah. Though, if I'm trying to look cool, usually I steer with the wrist joint, leaning my body down and to the right for optimal coolness.
     
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  5. Xoic

    Xoic Senior Member

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    Reclined all the way back, head tilted against the side window. Gotta be careful when driving like that, relaxation can easily shade into actual sleep pretty quick.
     
  6. frigocc

    frigocc Contributor Contributor

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    Gotta blast some cool music, too. Was just listening to "Johnny" by Thin Lizzy. Ol' Phil Lynott, a.k.a. the half-white Hendrix.
     
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  7. frigocc

    frigocc Contributor Contributor

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    Still trying to flesh out some of the characters. I think John and Goofy will be easy, since I know exactly what I'm going for, but the rest need some depth to them. Just hard to find characters that don't fit exactly into the Community archetypes.
     
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  8. frigocc

    frigocc Contributor Contributor

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    Just putting some thoughts onto (e-)paper so I can remember them. Johnny will probably be the epitome of someone with ADHD. I initially thought about making it so that it was never said or implied on the show, but maybe I could have a whole episode where he actually goes to the doctor and gets medicated for it (all off-screen), and it helps with his memory, aloofness, and concentration, but at the cost of something he holds too dearly to his heart: his curiosity. While he recognizes the drawbacks of not being medicated, he realizes that the pills take away who he is, and, frankly, he likes who he is, so he decides to stop taking them. Something something blah blah blah, makes other characters reflect on their own personalities or something.

    Not even a dramatized story. Had this breakdown last night, lol. Recently diagnosed with ADHD, but have known I've had it for a while. I want to get on meds to help my memory and concentration, especially now that I'm in school, doing well, and my ambitions are now much higher than they were even at the start of the semester (rather than just nursing school, I want to do CRNA or PA after that), and that's great. But I fear that it'll come at the cost of losing who I am. My curiosity, my aloofness, my obsessions. No, maybe it's not 100% healthy that I watch eight hours of TV a day, or that I constantly daydream about what it would be like to be a hair metal singer, or a doctor, or Batman. Maybe it's not 100% healthy that I've switched my major from criminal justice to exercise science to computer programming to then wanting to be an electrician, then to a firefighter, to an accountant, and now a nurse. But you know what? I've learned so many things about all kinds of fields along the way, and I wouldn't change it for the world. If meds make me lose that part of me, I guess I'm going to suffer from memory and concentration problems for the rest of my life, because I'm not willing to give up my curiosity.

    /rant

    So, yeah, you can ignore that last paragraph. Just know that Goofy will have ADHD, and there will probably be an episode addressing it (but it probably won't mention ADHD by name).
     
  9. Xoic

    Xoic Senior Member

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    You need to watch other stuff for a while, let Community fade from your mind. If you've been paying too much attention to it you won't be able to free yourself from its gravity well to reach takeoff velocity.
     
  10. frigocc

    frigocc Contributor Contributor

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    But, but, but . . . I have 3 1/2 seasons left to watch this week.
     
  11. frigocc

    frigocc Contributor Contributor

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    Still kinda just developing these two main characters (John and Goofy). Will probably name them today or tomorrow, since I feel goofy saying Goofy, even as a placeholder.

    Since every good comedic sitcom is driven by strong characters, this is okay. It'll take a while to truly develop each character, but, once I do, the storylines are unlimited. Just trying to find the right number of men/women, and the right mix of different personalities. Honestly, probably just going to go with 6-7. 4 guys (John, Goofy, nerdy friend, old guy), and 2-3 girls (Love interest, uptight girl, possibly another girl).
     
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  12. frigocc

    frigocc Contributor Contributor

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    Honestly, hardest character to figure out is the nerdy friend to Goofy. John I know exactly what I'm going for, same with Goofy. Old Guy, I'm not 100% sure, but I'm getting there. Want him to kinda be grumpy, snarky, and socially conservative, but not full-on Chevy Chase. He'll make snide comebacks, and bitch about the younger generations, but not as strong of a personality as Chase. More like someone that doesn't necessarily like John, but will still be his subplot duo pretty often. The Bitchy & Submissive Girls, I'm starting to know what I'm going for. But the nerdy friend? I'm not sure. Goofy is definitely like Abed from Community, and I don't want it any other way. But it's so hard to find someone to mesh well with him other than a Troy-like character. I'm looking for that great comedic duo, like Abed & Troy, Charlie & Mac, or Turk Anjaydee (+1 if you get the reference).

    Between figuring out what archetype to make the nerdy friend and the old guy, I'm going to have a damn aneurysm from thinking so hard.
     
  13. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber Full-time hooman bean. Contributor

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    I like the hair metal ambition so much, I think you need a character who is in a band permanently. The comedic potential of spandex and leather pants and aquanet. . . a douchey singer/lead guitarist working in a retro record store/music store. The classic trope. Leader of a rock band trying to make it in the music biz, working a terrible music store job.
     
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  14. frigocc

    frigocc Contributor Contributor

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    I was thinking of Goofy getting the idea from a guy that works in some type of guitar/music/vintage record store in the mall. Honestly, that character is for me anyways. How else can I flex my knowledge of only the most obscure of hard rock and heavy metal? I want the world to know that I know that Noddy Holder got offered the AC/DC gig before Brian Johnson, and that his mirror hat was bought from a vendor named Freddie, whom he got into a heated argument with over price, and whom later went to front Queen, lol. Weird hobby, I know . . .
     
  15. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber Full-time hooman bean. Contributor

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    Maybe this is your seventh character? Sorry if I'm overbearing, it's just such a good idea.
    It's my hobby too. Keeps me off the streets, I guess.
     
  16. frigocc

    frigocc Contributor Contributor

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    Ehh, I'm not sure. I like him as a background character. Hell, those can have big roles, too (like Starburns form Community).

    Anyways, maybe I'll start ending every post with a new fact about rock/metal music.

    ---

    Did you know that Steve Marriott of Humble Pie and Small Faces fame (the latter of which would later be named the Faces, and skyrocketed to the Hall of Fame [what a joke the HoF is] with Rod Stewart), was the preferred candidate to take over vocals for both Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones?
     
  17. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber Full-time hooman bean. Contributor

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    Yes, I did :-D
    I wonder what it would have been like if he had. I'm not a Stones fan, but he might have brought something interesting to Led Zeppelin, I think. I love Plant though.
     
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  18. frigocc

    frigocc Contributor Contributor

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    I always wonder as well. Terry Reid was also considered, and, while I like his stuff, he wouldn't have been a great fit.

    Anyways, for my next fact...

    Did you know that Steve Perry was not the original vocalist for Journey? It was Greg Rolie. They were known as the Golden Gate Rhythm Section, and were badass with him and Aynsley Dunbar, who himself was linked to tons of rockers (he lost the drummer gig for Hendrix by a coin flip, and his song "Warning" was covered on Sabbath's first album). Check out "Look Into The Future." This was all after Rolie fronted Santana, of course.
     
  19. frigocc

    frigocc Contributor Contributor

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    Dunbar probably has the most stacked resume of any drummer ever. He was in John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, Whitesnake, Jeff Beck, Jefferson Starship, Zappa, etc.
     
  20. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber Full-time hooman bean. Contributor

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    I actually prefer his voice to Perry's, and their earlier stuff had more meat to it. I think the best thing about Journey was Neil Schon. What a melodic player.
     
  21. frigocc

    frigocc Contributor Contributor

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    Completely agree. I love Perry, but Rolie's voice is better. Which brings me to my next rock fact:

    Stevie wasn't the first lead singer of Fleetwood Mac. It was actually Peter Green. They were a really bluesy band, and his voice sounded so much better, IMO. Now, just as everyone was then, Fleetwood and Aynsley Dunbar were also connected. When Dunbar left Bluesbreakers and played a bit with Green and McVie, Mick Fleetwood took over for him in Bluesbreakers. Later on, he played with Dunbar in Dunbar's band.
     
  22. frigocc

    frigocc Contributor Contributor

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    Anyways, as a side note, while I'm happy that I grew up in a time where I can download pretty much any music that has ever been made, I kinda wish I grew up in the 70's, and was able to be a part of this awesome movement.
     
  23. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber Full-time hooman bean. Contributor

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    And Greg Rolie played on Santana's cover of Green's song "Black Magic Woman."
    I like Lyndsey Buckingham more than either. His songs on Rumours are my favorites.
     
  24. frigocc

    frigocc Contributor Contributor

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    Didn't realize he played on it. Pretty cool connection!

    I like Buckingham a little bit, but not my favorite, to be honest.

    ---

    Anyways, worked on a few more storylines. I'm treading dangerous waters. I can think of tons of main plots with John and Goofy, but I need to prioritize developing my other characters first. Now, I keep going back and forth between Goofy having a nerdy friend or not, and was thinking that Goofy would definitely be the Abed type, not the Troy type. So, any nerdy friend he had would have to be more of the "cool" type that kinda just follows along. I just want him to be just as developed as every other character.

    So, the definite characters so far are John, Goofy, Bitchy Girl, and Submissive Girl. Still have to develop the girls more, but they're shoe-ins. But really want to fit in the old guy and the nerdy friend.
     
  25. Xoic

    Xoic Senior Member

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    Nobody rocks the ukulele like Lindsay Buckingham!! I like that he and Neil Young both like to play with what I heard one of them (I forget which) call the one-note lead, just bending and stretching one note until you break it, finding everything that can be done with it.

    I also liked the Bob Welch period, at least a few of the songs. Very different from the other incarnations of the Mac, which seems to be a very good backup band constantly in need of a writer/singer/lead guitarist.
     

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