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Friday, August 28, 2009

The Friday Challenge - 8/28/09

Decent turnout for the 8/21/09 Friday Challenge, "100 Years to Life," including one of those things we really like to see, a new submission from a first-timer. Welcome aboard, Topher! (And the rest of you, go easy on Topher this time, okay?)

Ergo, as of this morning, we have received the following entries,

Snowdog, "Day 25,915 of My Incarceration"

Torainfor, "Life Sentence"

Topher, "Methuselah Unbound"

Al, "The Disconnect"

As always, even if you haven't submitted an entry this week—even if you never submit an entry in any week—you're invited to read, comment on, and vote for your favorite. Don't be shy about leaving feedback on the authors' sites, either. Writers thrive on knowing that someone out there is actually reading their words. The winner will be announced on Sunday.

And now for this week's challenge.

Southern Knights: The Movie
It's the year 2013. After the unquestionably stellar box-office performances of Jonah Hex, Superman: Man of Steel, X-Men Origins: Wolverine 2, The Green Lantern, Batman: Subtitle TBD, X-Men Origins: Magneto, The Hands of Shang-Chi, Deadpool, Spider-Man 4, Thor, Superman: Woman of Kleenex, The First Avenger: Captain America, Batman: The Case of the Near-Fatal Spandex Jock Itch, Silver Surfer, Nick Fury, Ant-Man (Ant-Man? They're making a movie out of frickin' Ant-Man?), and The Avengers, culminating in Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's Oscar-winning Best Supporting Actor performance as Race Bannon in Jonny Quest

Hey. I only made up two of these titles.

—the powers that be in Hollywood have discovered a terrifying truth. They have used up all the known comic book-based properties, and so they begin a frantic search for unknown properties, and this naturally leads them to our mutual friend Henry and The #1 Super-Team of the South, The Southern Knights!
David Shenk - alias Electrode - Atlanta's first and foremost protector. Connie Ronnin - wielder of the psychic sword. Dragon - the last of his race, able to assume the human guise of Mark Dagon. Kristin Austin - petite, but endowed with incredible strength. Together, they are the Southern Knights!
For more background information on the Southern Knights, read the wikipedia article.
[Digression. However, if you have not already read Henry's excellent series, "Writing for Comic Books," you should also find time to squeeze that in.
1. Introduction
2. Nuts & Bolts
3. Starting to Write
4. Writing the Complete Plot
5. Writing the Full Script
6. Self-Publishing
7. Alternative Publishing
8. Writing Comics vs Writing Prose
9. Advertising
10. Publicizing, and Dealing with Success or Failure
11. Villains
12. Setting & Milieu
And now for the next part, I want you to imagine that you are Henry.

Things started off quite promisingly. Their people talked to your people; everyone was way enthusiastic. Preliminary options and non-disclosures and all that stuff got shuffled back and forth and signed, and then you heard those three magic words: "Let's do lunch." Of course, that meant flying out for lunch in Hollywood, so now you're sitting here in Lou on Vine, eating your zucchini tarte and not really tasting it, and trying to keep from screaming as—oh, say, someone like Michael Bay educates you on just what "adaptation" means.

"Yeah yeah," he says, "I really love these characters. But you know, film is a different medium, so we're going to have to make a few—minor, you'll hardly notice them!—changes.

"For example, Kristin here—we'll, I'm seeing Jessica Simpson in the role, so we'll have to make her a little more—well, edgy, y'know? I mean dangerous. I mean sexy. I mean slutty. So if maybe you could get your people to whip out a few rough sketches, change her costume a little, put her in Daisy Dukes and a wet t-shirt, that'd help us a lot."

You gently set your fork down, lift your glass of water, and take a sip, hoping the glass hides your expression of disgust.

"And this supporting guy here, Bryan Daniels: well, I'm not supposed to tell you, but we've got Jeff Foxworthy's people interested. So do you think maybe you could make him funny? I mean, this armor mechasuit thing he wears; could you, like, make it look like it was put together in a junkyard from old Trans Am parts? See, I'm thinking he's like Tony Stark, but a broke-ass redneck Tony Stark."

Your fingers tighten convulsively around the glass, and you set it down before you break it.

"Speaking of redneck, this whole Atlanta thing just doesn't work. Too many people know Atlanta. I dunno, maybe we'll have them take a trip to L.A. or New York or something like that. We can figure it out in the rewrite. But I'm seeing these guys as being based in some down-home backwoods redneck holler, like, say, Hookworm, Mississippi. If we can work that in, I'm sure we can get Brett Favre to do a cameo as an old retired superhero who gives them a pep talk. I'm thinking we'd call him 'The M.V.P.'"

You look again at your zucchini tarte, and wonder if you should send it back and ask for a double-shot of Maalox or just throw up.

"You see," the filmmaker says, as he leans in close and conspiratorial. "The way I envision it, this film is just made to be X-Men meets Dukes of Hazzard."

And that's when you suddenly realize you have a butter knife in your hand and are tensing up to lunge across the table and core his Adam's apple...

Okay, one more role change. You are now P. T. Haack, the idea person in the Hollywood screenwriting team of Haack & Rouen, and you're working on the script treatment for the Southern Knights movie. Your job is write a brief synopsis of the story line that will answer the question: just how badly can Hollywood butcher "improve" this property? And as you mull it over, you can't help but think there's a bonus in it for you if you can dream up a part that will interest Larry the Cable Guy...

As always, we're playing by the loosely enforced Official Rules of the Friday Challenge, and playing for whatever is behind Door #3. The deadline for this contest is midnight Central time, Thursday, 9/3/09.

(And once again, many thanks to Henry, for being a good sport and being gracious enough to let us use his characters for this challenge!)
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