UPDATE: We have ditched this idea in favour of this one! Here’s my first kick at it. Skeletons are pretty plain and stark, but it feels solid. Feedback, suggestions, reactions encouraged via comment or email. I’m starting the actual script Monday. Speaking of Monday, that evening I will be at this event, featuring a trailer co-directed by our own Tate Young, if you feel like giving feedback in person! More
UPDATE: We have ditched this idea in favour of this one! I’ve taken a few different runs at plot lines, and have found one I like — it starts with the Advantaged kids unravelling a conspiracy only to find that the “bad guys” are normal humans just trying to keep their jobs. I’m excited about developing the characters of the shadowy surveillancers until they become just as fleshed out, and maybe even more likable, than the Advantaged. Certainly there’s more potential for them to be funny than the intense Advantaged.
On the issue of backstory, I’ve hit upon something modelled from the super 8 crowd: it starts with a party at a bar where Advantaged 20somethings are showing their home movies from when they were babies. This will deal with some of the exposition and establish the Advantaged “scene” at the same time.
Also, I finished watching the Up Series, and have done some reading about the interviewer Apted’s continuing and complex relationship with his subjects. I’m using this to inspire the character who is assigned to counsel the Advantaged kids after the recall, but instead of us seeing the actual interviews (difficult because we’d have to find kids who look like the 20something actors) I’m working with an audio voice over solution perhaps combined with photographs of the actors as children, or brain scan imagery.
Anyway, I’ll be doing an index card scene breakdown between now and Mar 2 to keep things in the non-specific until I get the location and actor potentials stirred into the mix. Then I’ll have a first draft of the script for March 23rd. I don’t want to give too much away until then, I have a lot of twists and turns that need to be told in a certain way to give them impact. But here’s the index cards I’ve written so far — and currently it’s breaking down into 4 key characters, which might mean a director attached to each as a structure contender.
1. Home Movies at Drink’n
An event screening childhood movies that
features the Play’n Advantage toy with some
vintage ads and PSAs thrown in for extra
backstory. We meet Alexander, the cognitive
Advantaged, Jessika, the empath, and Carson,
the dexterous bar owner. They are part of the
same Advantaged scene and know each other but
are not together. Jessika sings a song called
2. The Morning After – Alexander
Hungover, Alexander stumbles into his work, a
medical testing facility where he is a guinea
pig. He’s chastised humourously by a worker
he’s on good terms with, Will.
3. The Morning After – Jessika
Jessika has breakfast with her boyfriend, who
breaks up with her — she sells access to her
life to a few thousand subscribers, and the
pressure to perform’s too much.
4. The Morning After – Carson
Carson, cleaning up his bar explains to someone
trying to book a show at his bar that he only
books Advantaged bands.
5. Alexander’s Power
Alexander is filling out crossword puzzles as
fast as he can write. Will, observing from a
distance away, talks to a doctor saying that
being hung over doesn’t seem to affect his
abilities. The doctor says that killing a few
braincells is probably good for Alexander.
6. Jessika’s Power
Jessika walks her ex to work, sympathizing with
him to an almost insane degree. A guy suddenly
appears with flowers for her and is immediately
knocked out by a trank dart — she explains
that her subscribers protect her from other
subscribers who break the fourth wall, in order
to keep her willing to be online.
7. Carson’s Power
Carson is on a chair, which is balanced on a
chair, writing tonight’s specials on the board.
He’s being observed by two unseen people, who
comment that he’s a hard worker, and
practically normal. Then he jumps down with
8. Testing Unit
Alexander is still working on the crossword
book and conversing with a fellow test subject,
who asks him why he’s doing this when he could
be working for way more money. He explains that
they’d want his brain, and here they just want
9. Jessika’s Interview
Jessika finishes walking her ex to work and
gives him a big hug. He is baffled. She walks
home. In the background is the audio from Dr.
Robinett, talking to her about relationships.
She says that the same thing that draws people
to her eventually pushes them away.
As usual, ideas are welcome!
UPDATE: We have ditched this idea in favour of this one! I spent January looking into the various story ideas, and the ones that I’ve found the most compelling are Play’n and Stack Overflow. The Alleyologist definitely has potential as a future project, and most of the ideas in Stack Overflow can work in the cognitive talents of the Play’n idea which I’ve renamed The Advantage.
The Advantage is about an infant developmental toy that really works, spawning the most talented youth subculture humanity’s ever seen. Will they want to fit into society — or reshape it in their image?
I’m imagining the majority of the story will focus on the Advantaged as young adults, but I wanted to get a good throughline on the originating event so I wrote up a bit of background for the toy:
A new infant developmental toy is released called Play’n Advantage. It’s a white, slightly gelatinous square, that, as the baby plays with it, forms itself into the ideal toy for the child: one that stimulates either the cognitive, empathic or fine motor skills. Unlike a lot of similar products, it has the backing of credible scientific testing, and it’s this, along with the tantalizing possibility of uncovering and developing their baby’s nascent talent, that allow people to ignore the slightly creepy texture of it.
It becomes the toy-du-jour, causing near riots of short-tempered, sleep-deprived parents in the malls in the weeks leading up to Christmas 2015. And the babies really seem to like it. Some cuddle with it, and it forms a roughly anamorphic teddy-bear shape. Some poke and prod it inquisitively, and it becomes a set of interlocking blocks. Others roll and throw it, giving it a slightly off kilter ball form.
They’re baby’s favourite toy, until they start melting.
AdvantageCorp issues a recall, claiming inadequate testing of the adaptive plastic used in the manufacturing process. Parents organize a class lawsuit amidst rumours of babies ingesting the plastic, and AdvantageCorp settles for a huge payment to the thousands of parents that bankrupts it in the process. Upon return of the remnants of the toy, the parents receive a large cheque and their baby receives an injection to counteract any reaction to the plastic. Just another example of corporate negligence, but at least this one was punished.
It’s not until many months later that the babies start to test off the charts. It starts anecdotally, on the chatrooms started for the lawsuit. At first it seems like the stories of “look what little Billy did” were just the typical parent stuff. But together, the videos of babies unlocking gates, opening baby-proofed bottles, speaking before they should… The pediatricians confirm it: the babies have accelerated development in the areas targeted by their toy.
The ex-executives at AdvantageCorp are not available for comment — they have disappeared as completely as their toys. Speculation is that identifying themselves would open them up for future liability, should the tide turn again and they go back from heroes to zeros. Who knows what the long-term effects will be, after all.
Twenty five years later, we find out.
I told Susan about this, and she mentioned that the melted toy could leave white marks on the hands of the babies to strengthen the lawsuit outrage — and it’d also allow them to recognize each other as adults. Any other brainstormy ideas or responses, add em below!