Monday, September 03, 2007

Screenplay: Part 2

Hi Ya'll,

Today is Labour Day and, well, Uncle Screenplay Day. To read the second installment of Uncle's Alias screenplay- click the link below at 7pm PST for further instructions. This post is open for comments and opinions and questions. Uncle has done a great job of taking all our constructive criticism and answering all of our questions. Thanks again Uncle for sharing with us!!

Now- head on over to


uncle111 said...

Impressions? How does this one compare to the last one? What stood out? Any surprises? Your favorite part?

uncle111 said...

Where is everybody?

Girlscout said...

I know, what happened? Everyone still on vacation?

Well, Uncle- I read it, but I am not sure how I feel about it.

You know that moment in season 4 where the plane opens it's hatch over Svogda and the big red ball is floating over the city- I hit my wall of suspension of disbelief in that moment. I think I rolled my eyes even- not that I am rolling my eyes at your work- not at all, but my head was spinning. Clones and big red balls and zombie people- it was like something happened to the crisp clean plots- like the Ricky Gervais episode.

Though at times Alias was clear as mud- there were parts of season 2 and 3 that had clean lines- clear enemies, a point, a position, a mission, a plan. I feel like the fast pace of your peice, combine with the clones and the return of Elena and the entrance of the president has my mind spinning in pain, not intrigue.

I love love love that Weiss is back and finally playing a part in something huge. I love the back and forth between him and Vaughn, very believable, very classic. I'm not a huge fan of the President. It reminds me of movies like Independence Day. Alias has always stayed clear of the President. We never meet him, he's never on the phone, they only mention him once or twice- that's because Alias is black-ops. It's secret, it's elite, that's what we love about it. There are no thank yous, no medals, no congratulations- it's a thankless job and Syd and the gang always take it in stride, they take the challenge, defeat the enemy and they move on- humbly without praise. There is something about the president even knowing about Sydney that dummies her up for me. Maybe its just me, and maybe if I was actually seeing this on screen and not reading it, it would be different.

And please tell me you have your fingers crossed that Sonia Braga will want to come back and play this part? I know I do. And are we going to see Katya?

uncle111 said...

Remember that a lot of what I'm doing is "cleaning up" a mess, as well as reviving the story. Some of the later storylines did get a little out there, but you can't clean them up without addressing them. Hand in there.

Girlscout said...

Right right, I keep forgetting that!

So, what about Katya??? Maybe she can come back and help Sydney. She really does seems like the only one who helped her. Except, wasn't she the one who stabbed Vaughn in season 4. I never understood that. Why couldn't it have been Lauren's mom who stabbed him- why Katya? And what was she after at the dig site? OHHH, so many unanswered questions!

uncle111 said...

I'd like to work Will and Katya in in the rewrite, but I'm not sure if I can get them in or not.

Remember, at the dig, she didn't know Syd had unloaded her gun when she tried to shoot Syd in the head point blank.

Page48 said...

Syd was having some wild dreams there, Uncle. I used to have dreams like that in my younger days when I thought binge drinking was the path to enlightenment.

It's hard to imagine the Prez interacting with Team APO, in light of the fact that Syd and company were actually occupying the opposing team's dugout for years, until the "takedown" of SD-6. You have to wonder what the Prez would actually know about what these operatives were up to. President Bush actually thought Brownie was doing a great job at FEMA during Hurricane Katrina. In other words, Dubbya had no clue what Brownie was doing, so it's hard to imagine he would know what Jack Bristow was up to after dark (hell, I didn't even know he was gay until last week).

However, I can suspend disbelief with the best of them, so such a stretch would not derail the story for me. Now, in the case of "24", Kiefer is well known to all of the Presidents, so it would not be without precedent for the Prez to know some of the key players in national defense.

I still haven't figured Katya out. I was starting to like her until she opted to blow Sydney's head off at the dig site. Not cool, IMO. Unanswered questions, indeed.

Good to get some Weiss action in. We were cheated with that brief appearance in Season 5 where he guided Rachel into the door Marshall forgot to open.

It's nice to be able to read the story and know exactly what the characters look like. It also makes it easier to understand where the dialogue is coming from and how it's delivered.

BTW, I didn't get to read part 2 until this afternoon at work, so that's why I'm a little late to the party.

uncle111 said...

Page 48,
Don't worry, this movie wouldn't show till Bush was out of office, so that's not who the pres is here.

The Pres and our team- you'll find out why next week.

Syd's dreams- she had similarly weird ones when she underwent the dream therapy with the drugged out Doc.

Did anybody catch my coded reference to "Lost?"

Anonymous said...

I did catch your LOST reference-it made me smile.

I think this screenplay is very good. At first I had similar thoughts about the president-we never saw that aspect of government in the show, but I realized you are writing after season 5 and not after season 3 so you had to take it in a different direction. I think that also would help in making it into a movie-you always have to up the ante in a movie. I loved that you involved Weiss and you were spot on with Marshall. I wonder what kind of peanuts they do get on Air Force One?

uncle111 said...

Anon- peanuts- if it's like any other item in government they get it from the lowest bidder and the government procurement machine makes it cost the tax payer 3 times the cost of the highest bidder because of all the paperwork involved.

Page48 said...


I'm pondering some of the things I've been reading lately about the demise of serialized TV shows.

There appears to be an across-the-board rejection of serialized TV shows this season. That, of course, would spell death for a show like "24" or "Lost", which would lose their appeal in an episodic format.

Personally, I love the serialized show (none more than "Alias"), but maybe the self-contained eppies of Season 4 were an early warning of this coming backlash that will be evident this year in shows like "Bionic Woman", which will be essentially episodic with a token arc for loyal viewers who crave something a little deeper.

Years ago, if you missed an eppie of your favourite show, you had to wait for summer reruns if you hoped to catch up. There were no episode guides on the Internet, no torrents you could download the next day, in short, you were screwed. In this day and age, with so many downloading and recording options, I don't understand the reluctance of TV watchers to commit to a serialized show.

So I'm thinking, what if "Alias" had been episodic from start to finish? Would we even be here blogging about Sydney Bristow a year and a half later OR, would it have received enough support from the casual viewer that it might still be on the air?

Another thing I wonder about is how long the current ratings system will remain relevant, if in fact it's still relevant today. There are so many options for viewing a TV show today, that it seems likely that the age old ratings system will soon be meaningless. Shows like "Alias" appeal to a tech savvy crowd who don't need to be glued to a TV in prime time to watch their favourite show. Does that mean that we are at a disadvantage and a show that appeals to an older crowd who watch TV the old fashioned way, has a better chance of seeing a sixth season?

Does it make any difference to anyone what night a show is on or what show it is taking on in a particular time slot? Once time slot and network competition become completely irrelevant, I wonder what will decide the fate of great TV shows like "Alias". Maybe an online referendum?

uncle111 said...

Page 48,
It's hard to say where it will end up. It could be that smaller cable/online networks will end up dividing the viewers into smaller and more specialized viewing. It could be that more and more programing will be geared toward pay per view without commercials. I think that as the technology advances there will be less dependence on mass marketed programs, giving people like us who really like serialized programs more of what we want, and leaving fewer, but still viable audiences for episodic viewing.

I was always let down by the self-contained Alias episodes, but it lost large audience potential because most viewers couldn't keep up becuase they either weren't there from the beginning or they couldn't be there every week.

I do think that as we become even more in control of our time and place and method of viewing the programers will adapt to catch as many of us as they can. Look at USA network. A lot of great, creative programing which gets by on shorter seasons and smaller audience. Maybe someday there will be the Alias Network. I LIKE IT!!!

Page48 said...

Hey Uncle,

That's sort of what I was alluding to. Would "Alias" still be on the air today, had it been episodic from day one? I think we all felt betrayed by Season 4's self-contained experiment, but I wonder if we wouldn't have settled for self-contained in return for a Season 7 beginning this month.

I mentioned once before, after viewing the series in it's entirety for the 2nd time, that I looked upon the self-contained eppies in a different light, more like short "Alias" movies, feeling that self-contained "Alias" is better than no "Alias" at all.

I think, if push came to shove, that I would now settle for "Alias" in episodic form rather than having to reminisce about the way we were while Jen does skin care commercials.

However, with such things as video on demand, it seems to me that most people would opt for serialized storytelling if they had that choice.

Page48 said...

BTW, hat's off to Robetron for knocking off the longest post I've ever seen on LTA in response to Part 1 of Uncle's "Alias: Revelation" (possible exception would be Uncle himself talking about "The Pretender"). I'm in total awe and if I live long enough I swear I'll beat the pair of you by a paragraph :)

Good work, guys!

srg-alias said...

I liked it, though I have similar feelings as GS about how much we're seeing the Prez and how much he knows about Syd. Seems a little more reasonable for maybe the head of the CIA to be pulling her back in rather than the Prez who would supposedly have no knowledge of what she's seen or done since season 3, being that's when she joined APO. The other thing I'm having trouble understanding, why did Elena double Prophet 5 after they were shot by Kelly? (BTW I'm pretty sure we saw Kelly shoot them all then walk out of the building, so her taking blood samples right after shooting them doesn't fit). Did she not want people to know they were dead so the doubles could help her control their assets? I think the use of the word "clone" is a bit confusing, like Marshall points out. To people who aren't that familiar w/ Helix they might think you're talking about bringing those people back to life rather than just impersonating them.

On a positive note, I enjoyed the scenes revolving around the barbor double, the audience really thinks he intends to kill the Prez and you do a good job building up that suspense and bating us earlier with the command to make the suicide look convincing. Also an interesting twist of fate how he's killed by the drunk driver and put in the same morgue. I like that the doubles are exactly the same now, should make things interesting. Let me know if you have any questions!

uncle111 said...

I've used things the writers set up to create reasons and methods for future events. The reason for doubling P5 was to get control of their money, networks, manpower, and most importantly, their influence over governments and intellegence agencies. With doubles in place who is going to know?

Robetron said...

Notes as I read:

1.) I have no problem with the president getting involved. It actually brings a 24 flavor to it. One thing that must be remembered by the readers is that ALIAS has made a habit of changing and warping things every season. We should be used to this by now, so that every new development in the story is not out of bounds. This is also a reflection of life. People change, scenarios change, new people are introduced into our lives, familiar people move-on in their own ways. If the President decides to get involved, then that is what happens. On the writing side, I like the way you handled Weise and Devlin.

Reading on...

2. The dream sequence. I love that Syd is wrestling with her conscience. No one in the world who has gone through what she has would not have nightmares, and an overwrought sense of guilt. She is far too sensitive and emotional to avoid this even when being forced to kill for her work. It's one thing, however, for her to rationalize having to kill "bad-guys" to accomplish a mission, but it is something entirely different to face the fact that people she cares for die as a result of being involved with her.

My only objection (so far) to the scene is her waking up and telling Vaughn details not yet seen. As a story-teller, it is much better to show the viewer than to tell them via dialog. Having a flash-back of a part of a dream that we were seeing already a moment ago may be just a bit too much jumping in and out of the actual scene with her and Vaughn. I would include the flash-back asa part of the dream, and when Syd wakes, don't have her describe the details of the dream. Voice-overs are cool, but they can be used too much. This is just my opinion, of course.

3. Vaughn fairly consistantly answers his phone with some variation of "This is Vaughn." Changes in life happen. Changes in habits, not so much.

4. Weise would never admit that he could never fool Vaughn. They have a masculine competative thing that happens between friends. He'd have some other sort of smart-alec comeback, or just flatly say "P5 is back in business." Sorry if this is being too picky, but I have the feeling that the actors might make this observation as they attempt to do the scene.

5. The snake reference is unnecessary, and being that such an interogation technique is probably illegal, Weise probably would not mention it over the phone.

6. Payton did not have to personally take the blood samples to have collected them. This is a common figure of speech called a metonomy, where someone claims to have done something while it was someone else actually doing the physical work on their behalf. The president is said to do many things, but usually someone else is the one doing it on his orders. Payton very likely walked out of the room where P5 was killed and then ordered a lackey to get the samples. There is no contradiction here.

7. The Payton flashback could easily be footage from the episode where that actually happened, thereby saving the director and producers a lot of money.

8. The only way Vaughn could have seen the body of Elena was if the CIA somehow had recovered her body, which is not likely seeing that the Russian authorities destroyed all evidence that S'vogda ever happened, and our heroes had to be wisked out of there before being caught. This is a minor point, but still troubling to the detail-minded.

9. The conversation between Weise and Vaughn may be a little too protracted for film purposes. It is how people talk normally, but on TV or movies, it should be much more abrupt, and lacking descriptions of things the viewer can see formthemsleves like "she's sitting staring at the ocean." I hate feeling like I am nit-picking, but I want to help, and I think each scene should come off clean and without any extra or unnecessary verbiage.

10. The morgue scene is a great reveal, and it just brings reality into view that "life" can throw a a curve at the bad-guys' evil scemes as much as it does for the good-guys. Form film, however, this too can be trimmed down to the worker making the discovery and saying, "I'm calling the supervisor," and then going right to the Whitehouse, leaving the rest implied. or jump right to the conversation between them with the "then who is this" as the reveal to the viewer.

11. Marshal. This is only a note regarding the direction. I think they let Kevin Weisman mold the dialog to fit the character. I would try to allow for that in the script, though I don't know how one might go about writing for it. So much of the humor of Marshal's character is his physical presence and the delivery of the lines.

12. The President calling is a wonderful nod to the second season of 24. the only note I have about this is that the President always has a secretary to the initial call and say, "Please hold for the President." Presidents do not have to do the cold-call introductions of themselves. This would remove some of the awkwardness and informality of the scene, and increase the believablility.
I'm not sure what to make of the fact that you include Sydney's thoughts when describing her reaction to the President. You may want to revise that into being a part of the description rather than stating it as a thought in her head.

I liked this portion of the story. I like the character of the President, though he could use some fleshing-out and development. I always like Weise being involved, and I hope he can be a little more central ot the story than he often is in the past. I'm looking forward to the next installment. My only concluding thought is about the form. You seem to be drifting into writing form a novel rather than a screenplay. Describing thoughts and characteristics like the president's expereince as an executive work well for a novel but such things do not translate to the screen. The actors have to project those things and the director would probably use that to tell them how he'd like the scene to play-out, but as a script it may not work as well.

I'm totally buying the story line, though. Keep it going!

uncle111 said...

Thanks again!
2- I'm still very unsure about a lot of the proper formatting. What I was going for was showing the audience the dream while Syd told Vaughn about it. It felt clumsy writing, so I'm sure it needs work.
3- Good.
4- Noted.
5- That was for people who weren't up on S5. I know it should be seen, and saying it- one of those little compromises with reality. Maybe he could say something like, "We interrogated her like before," and then show it.
8- Actually, Vaughn could have seen Elena's body since he was in the bunker in Svogda after Irina shot Elena.
9- No, good suggestion.
10- Good, too, especially when trying to think like a time conscious director.
11- Actually, assuming the original actors would get the roles, I also assumed there would be some changes made, or some filling and molding by the actors to fit what they do best- be the character.
12- Syd's thought- It was probably one of my many efforts to cut space without having to sacrifice story or detail. I know it's not kosher, but I was in quite a hurry to meet the contest dealine. And, this is my first attempt at a screenplay. If I hadn't bought software and a book to "help" with formatting, the 7 weeks I worked on it (1-3 hours per day) would have produced almost nothing. I certainly have a LONG way to go before I have all this in my skill and comfort zone.
I purposely had the President make the call to set the tone for how important he believes this mission to be, and that will come out more next week. He is keeping this as close the vest as possible and being very hands on with it because of that. It will seem more natural as the story unfolds.

srg-alias said...

OH one other thing, what was the Lost reference??? I feel like a bad fan for not picking up on it.

PS for anyone who's a Lost fan, there's a new post on the Lost blog, the link is on the LTA homepage. :)

uncle111 said...

SRG- Vaughn said the only word he can think of to describe what's happened to Syd is lost. That goes back to the discussions on ABC's board about Alias suffering because JJ had moved on to Lost.

srg-alias said...

ah, nice :)

uncle111 said...

I've been thinking about your serial vs. episodic question. My first guess was going to be that if we could still have Alias on the air I would have traded for episodic. But as I thought about it I decided that I would probably not have been as addicted to it as I was and might have tuned out at some point. The intensity of the series was heightened by it's serial nature. Eventually it was going to go off the air anyway, and if it had not been as intensely interesting as it was I don't think we would have missed it so intensively.
I think I would prefer the instensity for a slightly shorter time than a blander series for a longer time.

Robetron said...

Not to be a nit-picking contrarian, but Jack sent Vaughn to "find the relay room and destroy it" before Irena shot Elena. It was Irena that asked "Is Sloane with you?" Prompting a negative response from Vaughn, still in the relay room, she then said, "get to the roof right now!" Vaughn... "On my way!" Irena then goes to the scene where Elena is shot in the head.

In other words, the entire place was flooded and the place where they all collected was a different place, and ante-room of sorts. Vaughn could never have seen the body of Elena.

Just trying to help you avoid further complications in trying to explain how the US retreived her body.

uncle111 said...

I didn't think the US retrieved her body. I think the place Irina shot Elena was the same place Vaughn, Syd and Sloane retreated to after the ball collapsed, joining Jack and Irina. Wouldn't the safeset place in the building also be the safest place for Elena's headquarters there?
I'll go back and see if it looks like two different locations in the building. I always assumed it was one place.

uncle111 said...

I just rewatched that part. Here's what I saw:
After Irina, Jack and Sloane capture Elena, Vaughn meets Syd to go with her to the roof. She tells Vaughn that Jack and Irina are going to need him in the Bunker if they can't get Elena. Vaughn complies and meets them in the room they have Elena tied up in (which I assume is the bunker). Jack then sends Vaughn to the relay room to destroy "it." Vaughn goes and destroys it, but it doesn't do what they want, so he heads to the roof.
Jack gets Elena to say white wire, Irina shoots her. Syd fights Nadia. Sloane shoots Nadia and Syd cuts the blue wire. They and Vaughn head down in the elevator just ahead of the water and run into a room where Jack closes the blast door.
The room they are in does not have the electronic equipment in the room where Elena is shot, but there is no indication that room and the one with the blast door are not both the bunker where Syd told Vaughn to go to in case they can't get Elena.
From this, I assume that Elena's body is near and accessible to all behind the blast door.
Take a look at it and let me know what you think.

Robetron said...

Syd and Vaughn would have told Jack and Irena that the building was going to come down. They were were all in the process of fleeing the building and met up in the room where they closed the blast doors. That scene was th eindication that they had all escaped certain destruction from the mass of falling water. We do not get a good look at the room where they met, but logically it must be something of a parking garage as the means by which they all escaped. I will let it go, but I still do not think it is possible for Vaughn to have seen her body. It's such a minor point that I doubt anyone watching the screenplay on film will ever think to question it.

uncle111 said...

I just went by what they actually said or showed, and since they didn't show anything that would have prevented Vaughn from seeing her body I think it's okay.

a clever name said...

I love it that you all are so passionate and observant about the best show ever. I just wanted to leave a comment and see if it works. I finally got a blogger account or whatever you want to call it and now I don't have to post anonymously anymore!! I am looking forward to the next installment.