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Peter Rogers's Blog
Artist-in-Residence at Chez Firth

Thursday (3/26/09) 9:36pm - ... wherein Peter makes slight progress on the spec.

Hi all!

Still working on the spec script.  In the interests of "being wrong as fast as I can," I figured I'd post what I've got so far for my A-, B-, and C-stories.

The big question at this point is "What could use the most fixing?"  Note that this is different from "How do I fix this?" -- mainly I just want to pick out the 'where's it busted' right now so that I can spend the next few days hammering out 'how to fix it'.

And this is very much about finding the *worst* problems -- at this point, given that I don't have much use for a spec, I'm not going to let the perfect be the enemy of the good here.  Find the worst problems, clean them up, move along.

I've checked with the instructor about exactly what he wants for the beat sheet -- IIRC there's actually a lot of variation in the industry regarding what passes for a beat sheet -- but I haven't heard anything back yet.  I *think* he's expecting a list of scenes, with act outs, for the A-story, and a description of the B- and C-stories.

At this point, I have (1) backstory and a hand-wavey description of the A-story, (2) backstory and a list of scenes for the B-story, and (3) backstory and a list of scenes for the C-story.

A-Story:  Backstory
Alan O'Brien used to work for the government.  He was an engineer who designed portable weapons systems, including a suitcase grenade launcher that saved Michael's ass on a dicey operation in Sarajevo.  But he got into arguments with his higher-ups.  Alan was essentially a hippie; he wasn't happy making weapons, and he finally got fired in 1996.

He moved home to Florida.  He started working on his car.  More specifically, he devoted thirteen years of his life to developing an impossibly-efficient automotive engine.  This should have been an excuse to print money, right?  Wrong.  The problem was, Alan was more than a bit spacey, and basically comes off as a whack job.  Moreover, his unorthodox designs look like they just shouldn't work.  After mortgaging his house and getting in severe debt, he got the parts to build a working prototype of a gas-sipping sedan -- but hey, so did every other kook in the continental 48.

By a minor miracle of diligence, he got Mary Vega, an old friend at GM who owed him a favor, to at least *test* the prototype.  He struck a deal that worked fine for both of them:  the payment for the prototype, if it worked, was a chunk of money to pay off his debt, a sizeable donation to charity, and the likely prospect of giving Alan a job where he could keep pursuing his dream in the corporate world.  *If* it worked.

The problem came about with Mary's associate, Luis Iñarritú, who peddled company secrets to pretty much anybody.  Luis had a contact from an oil conglomerate, a smooth go-between named Bob Fallow.  Luis told Bob about the prototype.  He told Bob about the 'crazy' designs.

Bob's superiors came down with the command:  crap, this thing might actually work.  Steal it and bring it in for testing.  If it fails, destroy it.  If it succeeds, destroy it and kill this "O'Brien" fellow.

Meanwhile, Mary et al prepare to test the car.  They arrange to perform the tests in Miami -- her, Luis, and a couple of engineers.  They bring along their test equipment and set it up in a different warehouse.

A couple of days before the prospective meeting, Bob goes to Alan's run-down neighborhood and steals the car.  He brings it to a warehouse where some OPEC engineers are due to visit.

Alan is screwed.  No prototype means no test, no test means no money. 

A-Story:  Hand-wavey Plot Description
Alan contacts Sam, whom he remembers from his government days.  Sam contacts Michael.

Alan explains things to Michael.  Alan starts out sounding crazy.  Sam is especially apologetic -- if it were anybody else but the inventor of the Batched Recoil-Explosive Device, Sam wouldn't have given the guy the time of day.  (The cops certainly didn't.)  But he owes him one.

Michael endures and humors the crazy engineer.

As Alan explains, though, Michael realizes that (1) this guy's life parallels his own, and (2) his story checks out and (3) there's a nonzero chance that this poor guy's life is in danger.

So he takes the job.

At first it's fairly simple.

Alan has a nontraditional tracking device on the car, so Michael proceeds to the OPEC warehouse.

Then he sees that, whatever he's dealing with, it's higher security than he was expecting.

No matter.  He arranges to steal the car.  That almost goes off without a hitch, but at the last minute, he discovers the thieves' plans:  if this car does what Alan says it does, they'll kill Alan.  If an agent steals it back, or if the cops somehow descend on them, they'll know that something's up.

Okay, next plan.  Michael will con his way into the warehouse, and they'll exchange the prototype for an almost-identical (but useless) car.  Then that one will test out as a failure and the Sultan of Whateveristan won't care about this kooky engineer who is harmless to their business model.

They almost succeed at that, but something goes wrong -- they barely escape with the vehicle (which -- surprise! -- can't go faster than 45 mph), and manage to get it to the GM test facility.

The test commences, but then Bob & Co. start surrounding the place.  At the last minute, Michael finds out that Luis is the mole.  He tells Luis to pass on the info that the test failed.  Bob lets off.  (Luis is now a compromised mole, telling his contacts exactly what GM wants them to hear.)

Problem solved.  Alan makes plans to move out of Miami and get his old life back.

B-Story:  Backstory
Harry Caulfield is a freelance audio-surveillance expert.[1]  Gun runners hire him to bug a meeting with a client.  Carla's people want Harry for a job ASAP.  They don't burn Harry -- they just shoot at the client, putting Harry under such a cloud of suspicion that he'll never work in the underworld again.

Things go a bit wrong when the gun runners take Harry in for questioning.

B-Story:  Scenes
* Carla contacts MW[2] re getting the guy
* MW attempts a straightforward bribe; that goes wrong.
* MW consults Seymour on where they might be keeping Harry
* MW breaks into the secure location
        * OR MW fools them into thinking the gov't is there en masse.
* MW and Harry confront each other, post rescue.[3]
* MW finds a passel of photos, incriminating him in this and a bunch of client cases, as a reminder of what Carla's people have on him.

C-Story:  Backstory
Fi has taken on another bounty-hunting job.  She has a pretty strong suspicion the bail jumper will show up at an upcoming family wedding.

She and MW aren't on the best terms at the moment, and when MW needs her help on yet another job, Fi sets terms:  I'll help you with your case if you help me with mine.  They're going to crash the wedding and catch the bad guy.

C-Story:  Scenes
* Fi explains the case; MW refuses to help
* Fi enlists Madeline's help; MW relents.
* They case out the rehearsal dinner
* They go to the wedding, catch the bad guy

[1] Why yes, I do love The Conversation.  Why do you ask?
[2] "MW" = "Michael Westen"
[3] I'm figuring Harry is willing to try to kill MW to get free from Carla's people.  I'm also figuring that wouldn't go well for Harry.

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Mood: [mood icon] tired · Music: none
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