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grantpichla
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2017 3:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote #50356

Darn it! Well for what it is worth I was planning the story's layout to be like this:

- Act 1: The hero in present day is a workaholic, obsessed with being the first scientist to time travel. He just finished his divorce with his wife, no thanks to his obsession over his time machine. The catalyst is that he discovers a certain precious metal is needed to travel back in time. Attempting to document his journey the only way he thinks is possible - he hits record on his handicam and is sent off from his basement. His assistant is there to see him off.

- Act 2: He arrives by embodying his younger self. His camera is still recording, which leads him to believe that all he needs to do is survive the short few hours before the machine can recharge to send him back. Too bad, this is the night of the party he threw, 6 years ago, where he proposed to his now ex-wife. Although he'd prefer not to interact with anyone, he knows that it is of the utmost importance that he doesn't cause a butterfly effect through time by changing things, or else he may not even have a home to come back to in the present! As Act 2 continues on: he is forced to face some relationships with friends he no longer has/his sibling conflicts/maybe break up a fight at the party/etc. Other stuff of that nature, while only confiding in his best friend (future assistant), making him promise not to tell anyone about this night moving forward. The need to propose is still weighing on his mind, and although his initial goal was to "do whatever it takes to succeed in this mission," he now considers not proposing at all. Eventually, after spending time with his young and genuine ex-wife, he realizes what they had... and what he's missed out on thanks to his life work. He's also faced with a situation he never knew occurred to her and is forced to act differently (maybe saving/helping) his ex-wife. In the process, he becomes the guy he is supposed to be.

- Act 3: Shortly after, he realizes that his primed time machine requires the precious metal from earlier, and he forgot to factor that in. Plus the window of time to leave is closing due to a machine restraint. The engagement ring in his pocket has the precious metal he needs, and he's forced to choose: use the ring for science/his life work, or for a relationship that never worked out. He chooses to propose. In an act of essentially renewing his vows to her, he risks the chance to ever leave the past (as well as redeem his camera footage in the present day). After a moment of happiness with his new fiance, a high tower surprise occurs... the machine (somehow) takes him back without the chance to stop it... and he arrives in the present. He drives to his ex-wife's house and apologizes for everything... and she breaks down in acceptance.

The themes are: "if you knew something didn't work (their relationship), would you do it again?" The complicated answer gets resolved to a YES by the end. Such is the theme of Eternal Sunshine on the Spotless Mind. The Family Man goes for "if you could go back and trade your career for family, would you?" Both of these themes could fit into this story, to some degree.

The A-Plot starts as a quest to collect real evidence of time travel and merges with not screwing up the events of the night + reconciling the life, friends, and love he gave up. Like a lot of time travel surreal bottle stories... their initial goal kind of goes out the window once they are thrust into this random new world that they may not have been expecting... and a new goal/stakes come about.

I'm not sure exactly how else to put all that into the logline. It has shades of The Family Man, Eternal Sunshine, as well as Hot Tub Time Machine (but is NOT a crude comedy).


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grantpichla
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2017 5:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote #50357

I guess my question would be- how would you sum up Nicolas Cages' Act 2 goal in The Family Man for a logline? Maybe something like must cope with his newfound family life and occupation? Still pretty vague... Though he is largely reacting in much of Act 2. The fun and games still work because everything is new and upside down.


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RobbRoss
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2017 12:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote #50358

F&G is a good question because in these other movies, the people travel further years back or enter an alternate reality. Here, it's just 6 years back in time and the protag faces people he knows.

Assuming he's a little older in the present and goes back in time 15-20 years, what you're saying is that his objective at the party is to not mess up his or anyone else's life. So why doesn't he simply leave the party or at least not propose? Also, aim for an objective that is active and not passive as with avoiding something. In Family Man's F&G, Nicolas Cage is trying to get away from the family and understand what's going on.

Since the ending has your protag reuniting with his wife in 2017, consider an F&G or Act II where he tries to separate from her at the party in the past. Surprised at where he landed in time, he sees the opportunity to improve his future by erasing the "bad" years with his wife, by trying to break up in the past. Problem is, can't he erase the bad future by simply leaving the party and never returning to her? Perhaps to answer that, he does break up with her early on and, before the protag leaves the party, she finds comfort with another man she liked before meeting the protag (in the past) whom the protag knows will treat her poorly based on knowing the man in 2017. So the objective is to break up that possible union and in so doing he comes to see his shortcomings as a spouse.

The other thing about 6 years and the metal in the ring is that it's not a big deal if he stays in the past and relives the 6 years with his wife. Just the opposite, it sounds like the smart thing to do because now they'll be 6 "good" years!
Quote:

"if you knew something didn't work (their relationship), would you do it again?"


Not sure this is appropriate if he has the workaholic or other flaw that made him responsible for the bad relationship. The way I hear this theme, it sounds like it should be a story where the guy, at the party in the past, acknowledges his issue/flaw, acts better, remains in the past, and relives the 6 years with his wife- which are surprisingly just as bad and he realizes that his real flaw/issue is something else or perhaps it's not about a flaw and he realizes the union wasn't made to be (according to the universe, God, fate, or x).


Again, more could be said, but I have to go for now and it's not clear if this is just an exercise or you're trying to revive the idea for a script. Sometimes at this stage the protag and action will stem from the theme and sometimes the character and/or action will determine the appropriate theme. So far it sounds like a few desired elements are not blending together.


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grantpichla
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2017 1:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote #50359

Hi RobbRoss,

I appreciate the reply; it definitely has me thinking. As far as my motive - I'm looking to write this script in the next 3-6 months.

I think that if I make the protagonist more of a recluse who has shut everyone out in his life due to his obsession with his work, which kicked off roughly 6 years ago at the start of his machine building, then plopping him back into a lifestyle he forgot he had might work okay. Here me out! Maybe his new habits conflict with his old ways, and his circle of friends question him when he seems less interested in playing party games or talking about things that are taboo. He's so far removed from his old self that he's almost re-living and remembering these moments as a stranger playing a role. (think Ryan Reynolds returning to home town as a skinny rich guy in Just Friends). Either way, it prompts conversations with people he may not have spoken to in years. By leaving the party - far too many events of the night would change and create too much of a butterfly effect. He can't just leave, there are certain moments he HAS to make sure happen properly... not to mention the time machine is in the basement of this house. It's his house party. Maybe the party is to celebrate an award he just won in college for best new research in the field of time travel study. Either way - making sure events don't change becomes too much for him to handle, and suspicion around his motives start to make things go sour... maybe failing in certain aspects causes some sort of immediate repercussion. Maybe parts of the machine disappear? Or his memories start to go fuzzy?

Choosing to deliberately dump his girlfriend would go against most of the rules I'm setting up, but that could make for an interesting Act 2 goal. As of now, however, I think it would work if his Act 3 turning point was "I WANT to live in the past, forget my research and time machine... I want to do this relationship right." Then, when the machine forced him back to the present day (high tower surprise), he would be really bummed out. However, he would dig deep down, race to his ex-wife's apartment, rip up the divorce papers in front of her, and give an apology as a last ditch effort. She'd accept him back.

You are right in that my themes are still a bit muddy and should come later. I understand you've got limited time so I don't expect you to crack this story. Everything you've provided me with is plenty to get the ball rolling.

Update: new attempt at the logline.
On the eve of being honoured for groundbreaking work that helped destroy his personal life, an ambitious, but unhappy scientist, suddenly finds himself back at his engagement party from six years ago, and must decide whether fame and acclaim are really worth a second chance at love.

OR:

After time-traveling 6 years into the past, a reclusive scientist must choose between returning to the present and achieving his life goal or re-proposing to his now ex-wife after discovering the precious metal in the engagement ring will fix his machine.

OR:

An award-winning yet lonely time travel scientist, suddenly finding himself back at his engagement party from six years ago, must strictly repeat his past actions in order to return home but struggles when it means re-proposing to his ex-wife


Thanks!
Grant


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RobbRoss
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 15, 2017 5:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote #50360

Still hard to see all these parts coming together. Try to state the hook in as few words as possible. What exactly makes this special compared to all the other time travel stories?

Quote:
Then, when the machine forced him back to the present day (high tower surprise), he would be really bummed out. However, he would dig deep down, race to his ex-wife's apartment, rip up the divorce papers in front of her, and give an apology as a last ditch effort. She'd accept him back.


Having the machine do it against his will is not really the protag choosing and especially when he does in the present what he was prepared to do in the past.

Still feels like reliving the six years with his wife now that he has a better attitude is the smarter thing, no?

Quote:
themes...should come later


Not what I wrote. Reread it.

The first logline is like many of the previous in not painting a picture of what happens most of the time at the party and what the protag is after. The last two loglines touch on a hook (and have other issues).

Quote:
By leaving the party - far too many events of the night would change and create too much of a butterfly effect.


Assuming he figures out or somehow learns of one particular butterfly, I can see the party where he scrambles to keep things occuring as they did the first time. This also means it would be better if he's into the people the first time around, since the second time is the twist where he has the insider knowledge and is stressed. This sounds like the A Story. Concerning his future wife the B Story, it sounds like he tries avoiding her since that butterfly is trivial. While clearer, is this special enough? There's more to discuss, but for now I'm trying to picture and enjoy the basic foundation of the story.

In taking parts of the idea and trying to focus on a hook (so they're not complete loglines), the following also come to mind.

After divorcing his soul-crushing wife, a liberated scientist travels back in time and has only one way to save his future existence- redo the courtship and/or marriage with his ex. (The courtship can be at the party the way they met and hit it off the first time at the party. He can still come to learn that he was at fault, but the logline sounds funnier and highlights what he thinks is the problem. Butterfly concerns remain, but they're secondary in this version and the next.)

A scientist who's fed up with his wife travels back in time to connect with the one who got away, all the while avoiding his future wife who desires him. (Similar as above, the other woman can be at the party and the protag ignored her or whatever the first time around.)

Before trying another logline, it will be more helpful to write short sentences to clarify each aspect. For example:

Protag: Workaholic scientist, the first to invent a time traveling machine. His goal in life (not the same as the objective or Want in the plot) is x. His Need is y.

Antag:

Objective:

Conflict:

Stakes:

What happens most of the time:

Theme (if you have it now):


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grantpichla
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 11:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote #50361

I appreciate you providing this additional guidance. This stuff keeps me up at night but I know steering the tip of the Titanic will pull the rest of the story in the right direction.


Quote:
After divorcing his soul-crushing wife, a liberated scientist travels back in time and has only one way to save his future existence- redo the courtship and/or marriage with his ex.


While this is specific, it leads me to seeing a story where the A story is 90% about the wife. I've realized the story I'm trying to tell works best with the wife as the B story. To fill in the blanks you've set up:

Protag: A scientist who has abandoned his friends, family, and wife due to his obsession to be the first to time travel.

His Goal in Life: To be a scientific hero who has succeeded in time travel.

His Need (B Story): To regain and appreciate friends, family, and wife.

Antag: A) his own inner desire and obsession with being a scientific hero. If that doesn't work, then B) the restraints of (this story's) time travel rules: basically, don't screw up the future or the time machine will lose it's 'connectivity with the future' and leave you stuck in the past.

Objective: Successfully prove he's journeyed to the past and back to the present.

Others in his field failed, some disappeared forever, etc. His peers/authorities will turn on the video cameras and then roll a dice multiple times before he starts his journey. They will require him to travel to the past with his iPhone, take a photo holding a piece of paper with the random dice combination next to his much younger assistant in the past, and return with this as proof.

Conflict: The protag must recommit the same choices he made as a foolish younger man and ensure the biggest moments of the night (some regrettable) repeat as they originally did.


Stakes: If he doesn't prove his invention works, his life work will be a failure.

Maybe in Act 1, we find out the following evening is an award ceremony and he knows it'll be disingenuous if he receives the award as a failure. If he can't keep all of the engagement evening's moments in order, his machine's 'connectivity with the future' will go too fuzzy and a lost connection = stuck there. By the finale, he's conflicted on achieving his life goal vs. staying in the past with his now appreciated fiance. Maybe he wants both, and this causes a dilemma. This is where the ring idea comes in: during the All Is Lost, our Protagonist realizes the key ingredient that helped his machine work, platinum, is beginning to burn up too fast and he needs more to make the journey home... something that's not readily available to him. The engagement ring he has in his pocket contains enough platinum to keep the machine working and send him home. By Act 3, he's also obtained these stakes: if he doesn't patch things up with his ex-wife, he'll lose her forever and regret his choices.

Side note: the machine works by sending him to the past. Then, it requires a 3-4 hour recharge time in order to build up enough electrical power to send him back. All the while, it burns up platinum (or some other precious metal) as its key ingredient.

What happens most of the time: Our protag explores in wonder what it's like to be in the past at this party, all the while trying to be the man he was before (even if it hurts) by referencing the checklist he made in Act 1. Side note: in Act 1, he and his assistant study the home-movie that the assistant recorded throughout the night of the proposal on the first time around. This gives him a checklist of events, some big, some small, that he knows he must make sure happen a certain way.

To give more on this: it's not so easy to face all of the friends you've disowned (and the ironies of what you know now... 2 characters will have passed away in a car crash), the family drama you avoided for years and now have to reexamine, and the realization that your so-called "horrid" ex-wife was giving her all to you when you were too busy overlooking it.

Theme (if you have it now): Not sure. Maybe: cherish your time with others. Or: making a difference in all of humanity vs one small corner of the world.



My outcome from this would be:

An obsessive time travel scientist who abandoned his friends and wife is suddenly sent back six years to his engagement party and forced to strictly recommit the same choices from that night in order to return to the unaltered present as a scientific hero.


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RobbRoss
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PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 6:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote #50362

Quote:
I've realized the story I'm trying to tell works best with the wife as the B story.


Okay. (Part of why I offer such thoughts is because it helps some writers clarify what they're after. And not that I'm trying to write your story!)

Quote:
B) the restraints of (this story's) time travel rules:


Okay, but when the A Story is him making sure the party unfolds as it did the first time, then it means one specific butterfly is needed. It can't just be a series of butterflies, one should be most significant and take up a good chunk of the script.

This would also be the stakes because the protag remaining in the past and failing to reach that very narrow goal is not a big deal since he's still a scientist. And one who invented a time travel machine! That he may not prove it to others is secondary. Stakes in this kind of story should be significant, like life or death (not necessarily the protag's), the well-being of a child (if the protag has a kid who becomes a drug addict), the machine falling into evil hands, etc.

I don't recall Hot Tub Time Machine other than it's a poor entry to the sub-genre, but a blurb about it says the stakes are a kid's life. If a cheap movie made sure to have such stakes, then you know it's important.

While the antag can be a force, see if a character can embody it. A rival scientist or romatic rival are obvious examples.

Quote:
Objective: Successfully prove he's journeyed to the past and back to the present.


This is what drives him, but for the sake of the logline and foundation of the script, the objective is about the A Story so it's making sure there are no butterfly effects.

Quote:
The protag must recommit the same choices he made as a foolish younger man


Don't understand. What choices at the party? What's the biggest one? Plus, 6 years is not long enough to say "a foolish younger man" if the protag in the present is late 20s or older.

Quote:
Our protag explores in wonder what it's like to be in the past at this party


The wonder is just one scene. And not a big deal when he can't have fun with the magic by messing with people's lives. For an OOTB, this is a good thing to consider- how the magic "punishes" the protag. (In some OOTBs it's the opposite, the protag abuses the magic...until late in the story when he becomes abused by the consequences and realizes he's wrong.)

Quote:
all the while trying to be the man he was before (even if it hurts)


What does this mean? His objective at the party is to prevent the butterflies.

Quote:
Side note: in Act 1, he and his assistant study the home-movie that the assistant recorded throughout the night of the proposal on the first time around.


Doesn't he end up at the party by accident? If intentional, why that time and place? If it is an accident, better they don't watch the video so that the protag's objective is harder by having to rely on memory.

Quote:
it's not so easy to face all of the friends you've disowned


When did he disown them? Facing them 6 years in the past sounds easier than facing them in the present.

Quote:
the family drama you avoided for years and now have to reexamine


What family drama?

Much of this sounds like a second hook, the protag forced to face people he upset while being a workaholic. But how is that dramatic when he faces them in the past? (The first hook is avoiding all the possible butterlfies.)


One thing I didn't write in the list is "The hook" or "The same, but different" because it's usually apparent from the rest. But after all this, it's not clear what exactly makes the story special. The butterfly angle could be it, but it depends on one specific thing. Or make the general butterfly angle more dynamic by having important people at the party (a doctor, another scientist, etc.) or by having all the people be involved in the specific thing (harder than working on one individual after another). I get the low-budget and that you may make it yourself, but story is still king. Refresh your memory about the successful time travel movies (and those in the same ballpark like 13 Going on 30) and note how each has a specific and intriguing hook.




Last edited by RobbRoss on Tue Oct 17, 2017 8:24 am; edited 1 time in total
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RobbRoss
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 8:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote #50363

To round out the comment about stakes, there are certainly movies and OOTBs where the stakes are softer, like the potential breakup of a relationship or family. But I didn't get the feeling here that potentially losing his wife is a big deal.

A new thought: With workaholic, how upset can friends and famiy be when he's working on an invention that will change humanity? While workaholic fits thematically with time travel, it sounds like the drama at the party is more about the protag being arrogant. See what happens if the protag feels superior to everyone and burns most bridges before the party. That is, the story starts in the past and it probably means the protag skips the party. 6 years later...the invention...he accidentally goes back in time and this time lands at the party and is forced to contend with everyone's beef with him. The idea of him avoiding butterfly effects can still apply, but just one or two as jokes or a C Story. Now the protag's objective is to obtain something from the partygoers- who hate him and can't imagine helping him!- in order to return to the present. That's conflict and a hook. It gives the party a specific vibe, a relatable scenario, and where we can imagine many things. Granted, this angle can play out without time travel, but I'm trying offer thoughts within your parameters.

Stakes are still a question because the guy remaining 6 years in the past is also not a big deal.


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grantpichla
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 1:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote #50364

It seems as though every step I take in moving forward on any project, I realize more and more how ill-conceived the idea is! Okay, enough emotional talk. Back to the story:

As much as you have poked holes into my plot, moving it towards some (not all) of your suggestions causes me to start to lose interest in what I enjoyed about the initial idea, respectively.
At it's core, I wanted to tell The Family Man with a time travel twist. I don't know how else to answer your questions than to provide the plot details. I don't know if this goes against the rules, but I've written it all out below. Just a reminder, I'm aiming for a drama, not a comedy:

Act 1 - Nick, a scientist, has pushed everyone away from him and his arrogance and obsession only leaves his assistant left in his life. Things like his divorce, his sister Shelly's abusive boyfriend, and his best friends' drunk car crash death are set up. His assistant and he watch a small assortment of phone footage to prep for the night, and he makes a list of things that must happen again:

- Nick is surprised coming out of the basement
- Nick gives toast/speech in the kitchen
- Nick threw up in the bathroom
- Nick takes a photo with a friend named Kendra
- A fight between two guys occurs and Nick breaks it up
- he writes down one last thing on the back that the audience doesn't see

How hard can it be?! We learn the machine's intricacies and the "rules" of this risky journey are set up. Basically, bigger deviations from bigger events will prevent his return. He has some leeway, but it's unknown how far he can push it. Some scientists in the past have completely disappeared forever trying to achieve this. Scientific leaders arrive at the house, and to prove he actually travels to an earlier year, the scientific leaders - on camera - roll a dice 6 times and request that Nick take a photo with his younger-versioned assistant, Marty, or anyone, holding the paper with the random numbers that were just determined today. Nick, full of confidence, knows he was put on the planet for this journey.

Act 2 - Arriving in the past, he's mind-blown and proud of himself for what has taken a lifetime of work to unlock. He examines a younger face in the mirror. He comes out of the basement and is genuinely surprised by the party. His unusual glee catches his assistant Marty off guard, and he chooses to confide in him. While this confiding is risky and actually starts to make his return-home connection fuzzy, Marty's promise to never spill this secret returns the connection to full strength. Nick explains to him the mission, his requirement to stay 3-4 hours, the platinum, etc. They take the selfie photo with the dice numbers; check! Nick must ensure the events of the night reoccur properly... starting with his toast upstairs!

As Nick returns to the party, he starts to realize just how pathetic these "little people" are around him as they talk about low-brow activities. His arrogance causes him to confirm the reasons he can't be around them anymore. His girlfriend Jessica arrives at the party, late as usual, and when she surprises him with a big kiss, he goes and throws up in the bathroom. He weakly apologizes and attributes it to food poisoning. Nick explains in private to Marty that they get a divorce later in life. Nick takes a selfie with a girl named Kendra, who's an aspiring science student that shows a little "too much" interest in Nick. He considers pursuing that relationship but knows not to lead anything on for the sake of fuzzying up his machine's connection. As Nick continues to conflict with the people he catches up with, patronizing them for their current life goals, etc. he has an awkwardly emotional reunion with his 2 deceased friends that brag about their 'booze cruises.' He struggles to continue forward as he WANTS to correct "these people" but can't. In some cases, he does correct them but then has to retract and play it off. Later, alone, Kendra admits her love for him in a bedroom with a kiss, and it dawns on him - what if I dumped Jessica tonight and started a relationship with someone who truly appreciated my work? (midpoint) Kendra is more of a dumb tease than what he sees in her. He considers: how far could I push my luck? Are these temptations the reason other scientists have failed? Her kiss was a moment he never saw on the footage and can't remember if it happened in the past. As he leaves the bedroom, his inspiration turns to gloom - he sees the engagement ring, the flowers, and champagne glasses that are hid in preparation for tonight. He looks on the backside of his list - "propose to Jessica."

Bad Guys Close In consists of scenes in which his conflicts get bigger with the characters around him, including an overly friendly Jessica, and we start to see early signs of why these relationships ultimately failed: Nick's too arrogant for them. As the machine begins to lose much more signal, he's forced to come back to apologize to certain people - his booze cruise friends, his sister Shelly, and Jessica. His chat with Jessica turns positive as he begins to admire her a little. When the conversation turns toward their future together, it's clear she has optimism. Nick's gut wrenches and he feels the need to question whether she'll be able to live with him and his all-encompassing time travel research. This causes a fight, and it's not until she walks away that a party guest comes running over - stating that Shelly's boyfriend was just caught cheating with Kendra in a back room. Nick is so devastated by this, he chooses for a fleeting moment to try and juggle the historical inaccuracies by telling Shelly to give her boyfriend a 2nd chance. After she slaps him, he hates himself for saying that to her. A fight breaks out between Shelly's boyfriend and one of the booze cruise friends. Nick feels like this "world juggling" is helpless and watches the fight continue on, instead of breaking it up. Marty runs up from the basement, telling Nick the signal is out and the machine has burned up all of the platinum!!! All is lost. He'll never return home to the present now, and everyone who was even partially close is ready to leave him. He goes outside, sits and thinks. Jessica ends up stopping the fight.

Option A) Jessica comes outside, finds Nick, and begins by apologizing to him. She tries to console him, and after some time, he FINALLY puts down his bravado. He cries and she holds him. She tells him it's not his fault, some of these people are just idiots. He tells her it's not that. It's that he's alone and everything he's worked for has been a failure. She doesn't understand and tries to tell him the future is still bright. One day he'll be a time-traveling scientist and they'll be happily together with a family.

Option B) (started great but didn't work well) Marty comes out to chat remaining options with him. Nick gives up. He pulls out the crumpled list of things to accomplish and tosses it on the ground. Marty is surprised as he reads the back - "propose to Jessica." Nick doesn't care. He's already stuck in the past and knows their relationship won't work. He even shows Marty the ring. Wait a minute, that ring has platinum in it! Nick gets up... could this work? They rush into the house and turn the machine back on. The connection is still lost. Nick goes upstairs and apologizes to Shelly. He confronts Shelly's boyfriend and makes him shake that he'll never hurt his sister again. He returns to the basement - the machine signal is still wavering in and out. He realizes he must propose. He goes upstairs and apologizes to Jessica, she accepts, he proposes....? [I had to quit on this as I don't think it works all that great. It seems to lack the right emotional satisfaction if he's proposing, just to leave her right away.]

Act 3 - At this moment, he chooses to stay and realizes Jessica is what was really at stake on this journey. He begins a long apology, telling her that things might get bumpy in the future, but he'll always, always save time for her. He gets on one knee and proposes, without the champagne or flowers. She says yes. He promises that time travel will never come between them. Soon after, Marty comes running out, telling Nick that the machine is making a bunch of loud noises in the basement! The three of them run inside and find the party guests downstairs looking at the machine. Nick yells for them all to get back. There's enough energy generated by that machine to blow the house up. He orders everyone to go upstairs and outside except the assistant. Jessica secretly stays and peeks in on what's happening. As the machine goes haywire, though with a pretty solid connection, Jessica realizes (due to movie magic) that her ring starts to glow. Nick, telling Marty to back away, turns and sees Jessica's face one last time before he gets zapped and the lights go out.

The machine shoots only Nick forward [high tower surprise]. Regretfully, he lands back in the future, and the scientists lift him up and one grabs his iPhone to show the picture with the dice numbers. He succeeded.

Ending A: Then he runs upstairs, exits the house, sees the emptiness again, grabs the divorce papers and drives to Jessica's new apartment. On the way, he calls his sister to find out she's with a different, better man. He arrives at Jessica's apartment. Upon apologizing, ripping the divorce papers, and re-newing his vows on her doorstep, he quotes something that ties into his proposal from earlier. He receives a call on his phone from Marty and the scientific leaders, asking where he went, and he says that he wants to give Marty full credit for everything. He hangs up in favor of being with Jessica again.

Ending B: He gets up to go upstairs, and Marty yells "He's BACK!!" Nick hears cheering upstairs. He runs up and opens the door- surprised again... all of his loved ones are there. He doesn't even know what to say or how to comprehend it.... Jessica grabs him for a kiss and says something like "I've missed you."


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grantpichla
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Joined: 02 Oct 2016
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Location: Michigan

PostPosted: Tue Oct 17, 2017 9:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote #50365

He's an obsessive time travel scientist who returns to his engagement party in the past, and struggles to make bad choices against his friends and family again in order to return to prove his time machine works, but they constantly remind him of how much he has lost because of his work.

Maybe the "home-footage with the To-Do list" idea makes his job too easy and less exciting, and I should consider reworking everything that makes the date he travels back to a random one/accident, so he's shocked to find himself at this party. Maybe that would cause more conflict, since it's more of him getting up to speed with every situation as it's unfolding. I chose the home-footage idea since I was trying to imagine what I would do if I were given the opportunity to go back.... I'd find a date that had some sort of photo or video evidence to help prepare.


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RobbRoss
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 7:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote #50367

I don't have the patience to read all this when the fundamentals can be addressed in a logline or a short summary. Diving into details before then makes your job much harder (though certainly write down for yourself particulars that come to mind that may make it into the script).

What stood out from skimming is "Family Man with a time travel twist" because I never got that impression and don't recall anything about children. If he starts with a family, then going back in time and potentially losing them is stakes, but it also means 90% of the story is without the family so that's nothing like Family Man.

One immediate thought is that he starts with a family that he neglects, goes back in time, and finds himself as the head of another family- an alternate past where he married someone else. Thing is, this second family is the worst! Nagging wife, spoiled kids, etc. Not sure where things go from there...

Another thought is that he remains in the present, has a nice family he neglects, and wakes up one day with the same family but the wife and kids have different personalities and memories- again the irritating wife and rotten kids. Turns out, the protag does not recall that he went back in time, accidentally changed something, and now has to figure out how to return things to normal.

Not sure how a party fits if you want that setting for most of the story and when many people aside from the family are there, which is part of the problem because you need to develop one idea and not try to combine different ones.

Either way, the next post will help the process better if it's a logline or a paragraph summary or a short breakdown of the parts (Protag, Antag, etc.). One step at a time.

That's one opinion. Hopefully others will chime in and, if not, it pays to seek other opinions elsewhere, even it means paying a few bucks.


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James Patrick Joyce
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 8:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote #50368

grantpichla wrote:
It seems as though every step I take in moving forward on any project, I realize more and more how ill-conceived the idea is!

As much as you have poked holes into my plot, moving it towards some (not all) of your suggestions causes me to start to lose interest in what I enjoyed about the initial idea, respectively.


This is a variation on the main argument (given by working professionals, in the Industry) for why you should nail the logline, before plotting out your entire movie. If the movie will work (excluding art/experimental films), it will be obvious, from a working logline. If you can't get a logline to work, then it is vanishingly likely that you will be able to make the story work.

Always focus on the logline, until you've nailed it. Don't progress, until then.



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grantpichla
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Joined: 02 Oct 2016
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Location: Michigan

PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 2:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote #50371

I appreciate your patience and advice, guys. Sorry for the long post. I've taken your advice RobbRoss and passed my story to some peers, as well as a paid surface. I just re-edited this post after realizing I tried a misguided attempt. This is where I'm at:

Hook: If you didn't learn from your mistakes, it's time to get tested on them again.

Protag: An obsessed scientist who abandoned his friends, family, and wife for his career.

Flaw: He chooses career over friends and family.

His Goal in Life: To be the first proven time traveler.

His Need (B Story): To regain and appreciate friends and family.

Antag: The machine's return requirements - the more the past is altered, the more the machine loses it's ability to connect with and transport back to the future.

Objective: Convince his sister her cheating boyfriend will never cheat on her, make a promise he won't keep to his best friend, and propose to the wife he later divorces.

Stakes: If he can't repeat his past mistakes, the machine will lose it's connection, and thus, he and the machine will disappear from time altogether.

Conflict: The protagonist, due to foresight, struggles to lie, make a promise he can't keep, and offer a ring to a woman he knows marriage didn't work with. Reliving these situations forces him to realize why the life he's going back to is a result of his inattentiveness to those around him.

Theme: Cherish the time you have with others.




Last edited by grantpichla on Thu Oct 19, 2017 7:12 am; edited 4 times in total
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Bryan Reeves
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Joined: 23 Feb 2010
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 6:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote #50373

[quote="grantpichla"]A workaholic scientist, abandoned by his wife and friends, must prove his time machine works or be remembered as a failure in the science community. Taking the maiden voyage back to his engagement party, he relives forgotten memories and questions whether love and friendship are worth more than his breakthrough in physics.

I'm a fan of brief loglines, and I don't go for two sentences versions. At other places I'm seeing more of them, so maybe they're becoming more acceptable.

But, as James notes, read the article he links.

My two cents, and quick ones:

A workaholic scientist... implies a neglected family.

must prove his time machine works... or he is lumped into the category of others who've failed. Those aren't high -or primal- stakes. Loses a bazillion dollar contract, or his own startup company where he'll rule the world. If a scientist creates a time machine, do you think he's more concerned about peer acceptance than all that could be accomplished with it?

Taking the maiden voyage back to his engagement party... This should be a pivotal reason (tangible goal) that drives the story. I suspect... or did I read it earlier?... that you chose this venue as a way to make it low-budget. Make that engagement party something so vital to his spiritual/emotional goal that it's where he needs to be to learn his lesson.

he relives forgotten memories and questions whether love and friendship are worth more than his breakthrough in physics. Too wordy for a logline. Why not prove to his future-wife that his machine works and she should stay true to him until that event?



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grantpichla
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Joined: 02 Oct 2016
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Location: Michigan

PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2017 9:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote #50374

Hi Bryan,

Thank you for jumping in. This is what I've condensed my above sections down to:

Title: Oversight
Logline: To sell his billion-dollar time machine, a workaholic scientist must demonstrate a journey to the past but struggles to remake broken promises to friends and family in order to return to the present.

If I were to add anything into this, it would be that it's his engagement party, or that he proposes to his wife that night.


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