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Rex 03-11-2010 11:51 PM

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"One lives. One dies. The choice is yours."

To all MovieTreatment' users and all the Hollywood folks and anyone else who is interested I present Holocaust. A stark vision of the future where limited resources has left mankind with only one choice: reduction.

To what lengths would you go to save your own skin? When we we do things that fill us with guilt and regret can we live with ourselves afterwards? Would you let a stranger die so that you might live? What kind of a world is this?


EDIT: I just upped a new version fixing some formatting errors and typos. My apologies and please download the newest version (3/12/2010) if you already have the old one.

WriteNow 03-12-2010 01:19 PM

Looks like another futuristic sci-fi downer? Or maybe not? I read the first page and must say the concept is very intriguing, I'm curious to see where you take it. I will let you know when I finish-

Rex 03-16-2010 12:17 AM

Hey WriteNow- not to be pushy but do you think you can tell me what you thought? I have a meeting with someone from Lionsgate regrading another treatment/script but I was thinking of pitching this while I have the chance (and in case they tell me the other one sucks). So any tips or suggestions you have before then (Thursday) would be great. I feel like this is one of my best ideas but I know there is some way to improve it that I'm not seeing. Specifically, the ending worries me. You don't see ending like that much these days and I don't think a big studio would like it. A smaller one like Lionsgate might not mind, though, and I feel it's best for the story but at this point I will do what it takes to get it sold.

Thanks a lot

WriteNow 03-16-2010 06:38 PM

First off- don't worry about being "pushy". I'm here for you guys so if you have something you need help with then by all means let me know.

Second- congrats on the meeting. Play it cool and act like whatever you are selling them is the greatest thing to hit Hollywood in years. They HAVE to have it.

And I would have critiqued you sooner but I've been on the road and otherwise busy, but don't worry, I'll get to it.

As for Holocaust- I love it. I only have a minute but the ending is great. Perfect, even. I was expecting the total downer, everyone dies thing but you left it open (somewhat). Whoever directs this is going to love you for it, so much he could do with that final scene.

I wouldn't worry about Lionsgate not liking it. Anyone reading that treatment and enjoying it will be happy with the ending. If you are referring to the "downer" aspect of it keep in mind these guys have made six Saw films where EVERYBODY dies in the end. (The last one had a guy get injected full of acid. It was garbage but I had to watch- my friend worked on it.)

So, your story is pretty tame in comparison. On a moral and dramatic level its really dark and bleak, though. But it's a pretty killer story, so people will tolerate it. Look at the Road Warrior films or Soylent Green or Logan's Run.

(By contrast the recent film The Road was bleak, sad, hopeless and totally and utterly pointless, with no characters to care about and nothing of significance- symbolic or otherwise- ever happening. No one put up with that and it came and went quickly at the B.O.)

WriteNow 03-18-2010 11:12 PM

Before I get going here I would just like to say that I would LOVE for some of our other members to chime in. Rex and all the other writers here need as much feedback as they can get and just because I'm a "pro" doesn't mean your critiques and opinions are any less worthwhile. Quite the opposite, as you guys are the future of Hollywood.

Okay, (and sorry for the delay) but here we go-

First off- I really like this one. It is a very cool idea. This is what's known in the business as a "high-concept" idea. That can mean a lot of things but basically it's simple, concise, and can be explained in one line. For example, the film What Women Wants Can be summed up thusly- "Guy gets hit on the head (or whatever) and can hear women's thoughts."

Hollywood LOVES high concept. Think of all the big blockbusters and many of them are high-concept films. Shark terrorizes small community. A scientist accidentally shrinks his children. Alien robots invade earth. etc. etc.

You have a nice length to it as well. I noticed you ditched the "act I"-style headers from your last treatment, which is fine, you don't need them. As for the, ahem, title- well, it was no doubt chosen to shock and generate interest. If it was made into a film some people might not appreciate it as it has obvious connotations with certain historical events. However, it is accurate, more or less, based on the films subject matter. And writers are always told they should grab the reader on the first page. Well, you grabbed me on the title itself, so that can hardly be a bad thing. Should you want to change it (or are forced to) you might consider the more benign "Project Choice" or even the word you used in your tagline, "Reduction". But "Holocaust" certainly gets the job done. I just worry that it might do it too well.

The opening is great, The barren room, two strangers, one sentenced to death by the other. Then we have nearly a whole page of exposition. It's a bit long, though, and I'm wondering if maybe this part can be shortened so you don't risk losing your reader since it doesn't have any narrative elements. In the finished film I see it as a "text crawl" a la Star Wars or many other sci-fi pics, as we are brought up to speed on what the future is like.

Then we meet our main character who is "forty to fifty years old". This kind of stuck out for me. I would lose it and make him "middle-aged" or something along those lines. The more leeway you give potential casting directors the better.

I like how we see the president of LifeTech via TV broadcasts and the like a couple of times throughout the film. I would do it once more, though, really setting him up as a powerful adversary. Maybe mention a conversation Mike overhears at work about how Gary is pushing his technicians too hard, something like that. Because when Mike and Gary meet and the grand plan is unveiled that is our big climax, so Mike should be somewhat awed or terrified to be in the presence of the man behind the curtain, so to speak.

I like his son and daughter. Nicely written, and likable. Although I feel the son gets short shrift, unintentionally telegraphing to the audience that he is going to be the first to go. Just like in horror movies when you can sense that "that guy ain't gonna make it." Mike's ex-wife, on the other hand, is mentioned once and that's it. Seems odd to me, especially that she never comes up when he talks to his son or daughter. Is she alive? Dead? A chooser? A chosen? It's nice to have unanswered questions sometimes, though, so this doesn't worry me too much.

What does worry me quite a bit is the identity of the "mystery woman" who contacts Mike and seems to know what's really going on at LifeTech. Who is she? Why did she pick Mike? I was waiting for the president to tell him that was his long-lost daughter or some such but it didn't happen. This seems to me like a very big plot hole that needs to be addressed. A simple explanation at some point would go a long a way to making your story more credible.

Also, you say there are no children in the future because sterilization has been mandatory for the past twenty years. So- maybe some expansion on that. Humans will need to reproduce again at some point, right? Maybe LifeTech is running a test-tube baby lab as well. Maybe the "mystery woman" is part of the program and has escaped, now part of an underground faction of children made in a lab? That would tie up both loose ends nicely, except for why she chose Mike. Perhaps Mike's ex-wife is part of the program and the "mystery woman" is really Mike's daughter. You can foreshadow that by making her look younger than twenty and have similar features to Mike. Yes, it's a bit contrived, but this is a movie, and sometimes we have that luxury. Better to yank on the audience's heartstrings than not at all.

Now the ending that you were concerned about. As I said before I like it. It's ambiguous but still satisfying. I should mention that you rely on the cliche of the "bad guy revealing his plan" in a big speech, but it works well here and doesn't bother me. After all, it became a cliche for a reason- it's effective. We got our answers and, in a way, Mike has prevailed by being proven to having had the right mind set all along regarding "Project Choice". Of course, Gary and his henchmen could easily kill Mike, but it doesn't happen as far as we know and leaves the possibility completely open. As for his daughter, well, we all know what button she's probably going to press, but it serves to drive home the film's central conceit of sacrificing yourself for the good of humankind. Too bad for her.

And that's it, fade to black.

This story is really solid and generally well-written. The little futuristic details like the floating trays at the restaurant and whatnot are enough to keep reminding us we are not in the present. I wouldn't mind more of a sense of oppressive police presence, but then again, there isn't supposed to be that, is there? Project Choice is meant to let the citizens do the dirty work so the government doesn't have to.

This is a much easier sell than Wreckage, and if you do get the chance to pitch it know that the basic premise is your selling point. (As opposed to say, a special-fx extravaganza, which I wouldn't percieve it as being. I'm thinking more along the lines of Gattaca for the production design. Simple, but not as luxurious, of course. The world is "ruined" after all.)

Good luck Rex. And while you will need luck, this is a viable treatment you have here. Given the right opportunity I have no doubt you could sell it. Think about my criticisms, though, as I believe you could make what is a great treatment exceptional.

PoisonPen 03-20-2010 10:58 AM

Didn't anyone think this was scary? What? Everyone on earth has to KILL someone else! It's kind of like a semi-apocalypse. Jeez, I got pretty freaked out by this one myself. I don't understand how the people are getting picked exactly, like who gets to choose and who doesn't. Is it just a random drawing by computer or something?
Also, the poor women in this movie! One gets hits by a car, one is just a photograph, and the other probably gets left for dead in the end. How come the main chracter doesn't have a girlfriend or something? I agree that we should find out about his ex-wife. Or just something about a woman in his life, he seems kinda, I don't know, asexual or something. But I guess he's older-

But I liked it a lot Rex! Really, really, good. I think it could totally be a movie someday. I'm thinking maybe Richard Gere in the title role since he's about the right age now. I hope you're meeting went well! Good luck with this one, it's my favorite one that I've read here so far!:)

Rex 03-21-2010 11:07 PM

Man WriteNow, your comments are nearly as long as the treatment itself! Anyway, thanks a lot. (You too PoisonPen). I get all of what your are saying. Yes, the "mystery girl" is a plot hole, but sometimes I like to have those intentionally. As long as it's obvious that it was done intentionally, I find that it gives the film a certain aura of coolness, in the sense that not everything is explained. I also understand what you say about the title, but yes I did it to get attention and it's working, so it will stay the same. I like the idea of just taking kids out of the equation entirely and never mentioning them. Maybe its odd if we were in the real world, people would be saying "I wish I had a kid" all the time, but for the purposes of this story it would just be filler. It just isn't part of the story I want to tell.

But thanks for getting back to me with my earlier questions. As it turns out the meeting was a bust. I didn't even try and pitch this. Just total confusion between me, this producer, and his "assistant" over what genre the treatment they were interested in was. Long story short they wanted a "straight horror" flick (I don't even know what that means- Freddy/Jason?) and mine was a psychological horror like The Machinist. It's like impossible to talk to these producers or whatever they are. The actual story is their last concern, really they want to know how profitable it will be and what markets it will play in, etc. I know it's a business, but it seems like thinking about the money is counterproductive for lots of reasons but- I don't want to get on rant. At least they told me to contact them if I had something more along the lines of what they wanted, so I have an "in" which is something.

I'll keep at it, though. Maybe post that one here. Pretty cool, messed up tale of an Iraq vet. We'll see-

WriteNow 03-22-2010 01:52 PM

Sorry to hear the meeting wasn't a success. But look at it this way- you did learn something. And that something is that unfortunately, yes, many "players" in the Hollywood game are only in it for the money (and girls, and drugs, and feeling like a bigshot). Trust me, I could tell you some stories . . .

This is something everyone realizes sooner or later. Movie-making is a business and if the studios don't make money, they can't make movies. The best solution to this is to try and surround yourself with as many people who feel the same way as you as possible. Even if it means writing a short for a UCLA film student, at least you will be able to write the story you want and not have someone demanding it be changed to meet focus group demands or whatnot.

Also, it's important to just accept the truth that money drives the industry and try to marry your projects with what might be profitable at the time. Hence my "six scripts" rule- bleak sci-fi might not be in right now but if and when it comes back you are covered. (And then some.) And you can't take rejection personally, even though your scripts/treatments are very personal to you. You are very rarely being judged as an artist and most often are judged as an investment. There are myriad reasons they didn't want your treatment, none of them necessarily reflecting on its actual quality.

Now try and think ahead. Can you imagine where Hollywood is trending and then come up with a story you are passionate about that will fit into that trend? That way then next time you meet with an exec you can say "This will make you a fortune AND maybe win you some Oscars(you never know)." It will be a money-maker and a quality film, in other words.

You've got talent Rex, you're work here proves that. Learn to sell yourself (not your soul) and you will be a success in this business. I have no doubts at all-

(And lets see that Iraq vet treatment. Sounds interesting-)

Rex 04-15-2010 10:07 PM

Hey WriteNow, I need your advice. You said you've kind of "been there done that" with the Hollywood writing scene, so you probably faced this problem at one time or another . . .

Basically I have someone interested in Holocaust. They liked the treatment and asked if I had a script (which I didn't, it was only half done) but I said yes anyway and stayed up for two days finishing it. Anyway, they basically like it, I think (hard to tell when these Hollywood types praise you, they're always full of sh!t, you know?) but they really, like REALLY, want there to be a romantic component. I said there was one (with the daughter) but they want the main character to fall in love and have his girlfriend/wife/whatever end up in the booth at the end. Said it would be more involving for the audience and really dramatic. Which is like, total BS to just tack something like that on. And besides, his DAUGHTER ends up in the booth. I mean, what's more of a dramatic moment- a man losing his daughter or losing his latest girlfriend?

So, I don't know. I'm probably just going to tell them fine, I'll change it cause I'm so desperate to sell something. If they buy the script they can just change it themselves anyway with another writer. I'd rather be the one to ruin my own story, if that makes sense. So, anyway, maybe you got some sage advice for me since this is new to me. Thanks-

WriteNow 04-17-2010 12:43 AM

Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news Rex, but the situation you described will happen about 90% of the time someone is interested in a treatment/script.

And the few times you get someone who loves it and wants to direct it themselves without changing a line, etc.- well, they still have a studio to answer to. And you can bet the studio will have lots of "notes" for them.

I can't tell you what to do other than say that your dilemma is pretty common. You can either hold out for someone who wants it as it is or cave in and kill your "baby". I can tell you that there are lots of dead "babies" in Hollywood. But you can always write another . . .

If it makes you feel any better even old pros that sell scripts for six figures still have to suffer the indignity of young punks the studio hires to "polish" their scripts. It's pretty common these days, especially uncredited rewrites. Unless you are an established writer/director (Cameron, Gibson, etc) once you sell a treatment or script- it's gone. All you can do is hope for the best.

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