Thursday, 25 February 2016

STAR ONE - CIA THRILLER

LOGLINE: Two CIA agents must overcome their opposing worldviews to evade the Soviet and Chinese armies during a dangerous mission to Tibet in 1950. The true story of the first CIA agent ever to die in the line of duty; the “first star’ on the CIA Memorial Wall.

WRITER: David Coggeshall

SCRIPT BIO: 12 votes on 2015 black list

STORY:

Mongolia/Russia border - 1949. Douglas MacKiernan - aka Mac - is the CIA agent on the ground that witnesses the Russians test their first nuclear weapon. He takes the photo of the mushroom cloud that ends up on the front page of every newspaper in the world with the title 'Russia has the bomb.'

CIA headquarters are rightfully fearful of communism taking over the world. 

The Red Russians have taken communism to China where it's flourishing at a murderous rate. The one main enemy of communism (it's argued) is religion. Under communism The State is to be the peoples' religion. The ruler their god. To that end Tibet - being an overwhelmingly buddhist country - is seen as an enemy to China wth her new found communism. Therefore Tibet must be invaded, and its spiritual leader the Dalai Lama must be killed. 

America (the CIA) want to prevent the spread of communism, but rather than fighting it head on and risk nuclear war, it's better to arm the Tibetans and let them fight for themselves.

The only person that could convince the Dalai Lama to take up weapons and fight is the ex-CIA agent FRANK BESSAC (29). 

But Frank will be an even harder sell to go on the mission as he himself is disgusted with the way the CIA operates. 

Mac is ordered to get Frank from Mongolia and take him 500 miles south to Tibet where he's too convince the Dalai Lama to accept CIA armament.

The journey takes them through every obstacle imaginable - and as they fight their way through communist China, Frank and Mac butt heads every step of the way. 

The question becomes: Will they succeed? Or will Tibet fall to China?

INITIAL REACTION:

Loved it.

This story is exceptional well told. Not a dull moment. It did flair over into the world of unbelievable at times - we have Mac swimming with a back-pack full of gold bars??? I'd like to know how that works?

But save for a few minor logical problems like that - this script was brilliant. In fact, I'm surprised it didn't garner more votes than 12...

I think maybe it's the concept that held it back... 

CONCEPT:

The story of the first CIA agent to die in the field.

Is one way to sell this concept.

The second is...

Two CIA agents journey through communist China in 1949 to warn the Dalai Lama of an impending invasion. 

Both are good in their own right - but neither really jump off the page. The idea here is something that I'd love to see, as I love CIA films/stories and I think it's an interesting historical event worthy of being put to film -- BUT -- I wonder how many others of the film going public would be excited to see this film?

I've got a feeling it'd be a hard sell to anyone under 25. 

Also, we know that China did invade Tibet and that the Dalai Lama has been living in exile ever since. So to that end we know the long term outcome of the story. 

CONCEPT RATING: 6/10

CONCEPT TIP: Keeping the wider audience in mind when thinking up your ideas will help. Here we have a great concept, but will it hit with the masses? When a film is an action thriller set in 1949 you're going to need a big budget to realise it. When you need upward of 40 million to make a film you need to be sure the idea will grab enough people and make them pay to see it at the cinema. 

I just don't think this idea is big enough to warrant the budget required to make it, and to then in turn recoup that investment. 

FORM:

Perfect.

Read this script. Quite possibly the best written and formatted script I've read all year.

FORM RATING 10/10

FORM TIP: Read this script. Pay attention to everything the writer's do.

STRUCTURE:

Again - this is an amazing script for structure. EVERY CHARACTER HAS A FLAW. 

Very few writer's will write even ONE character with a flaw. Here there are 2 main players - both with very well defined and realistic flaws. But even the ancillary characters have flaws!

To this end, the script is very focused. The structure is well executed -- but they manage to keep you guessing as to what's going to happen next.

STRUCTURE RATING 9/10

STRUCTURE TIP: Go with your fourth idea. When you're thinking up how to execute your scene - don't go with your first idea, or your second idea or your third idea. Odds are the audience has already thought about these scenarios - go with that fourth idea the audience hasn't thought of yet. 

It will be hard - thinking up even ONE way to execute a scene can be a bitch, but trust me, when you go that extra mile and really surprise yourself as a writer - it will surprise the audience (and the reader - who will then recommend the production company he/she work for buy your script.)

CHARACTERS & DIALOGUE:

Another near perfect script. Every character pops right off the page. Every character is as different from  the other as you could possibly imagine.

My only minor gripe is that the bad Russian guy played just like every other bad Russian guy we've ever seen in a film. 

But the writer's still rocked it here. 

CHARACTER & DIALOGUE RATING: 8.5/10

TIP: When you put loads of effort into your main character/s - it's easy to think you've done your work as far as characters are concerned. You feel like, hey, my main guys pops, I can phone in the other smaller characters -- BIG MISTAKE. 

Sometimes it's your smaller characters that MAKE your film. Cuba Gooding Jr in Pearl harbour anyone? 

You get my point. Develop ALL your characters before you write.

VOICE:

This script was near perfectly written, but it's voice was lacking. I recall the story well, but the style it was written in didn't explode off the page. 

Which isn't really a problem as they nail every other aspect of the script. it's just interesting to note that their voice wasn't very well defined. 

VOICE RATING: 6/10

VOICE TIP: Don't be afraid to take a chance every now and then with your writing style. When you have the story written as well as you can, a VOICE PASS off your script is worth doing - where you try and add some flair to your writing. 

PRODUCTION:

As much as I love this script - it'd be a risky financial investment. As I said in the concept section - the idea here I don't think is big enough to get enough bums into the cinema to make this film a financial success. 

SUMMARY:

Incredibly well written  - a great HOW TO script for everyone. Much to be  learned here. 

But alas - I don't think it'll make money. Not unless it gets heavyweights behind it - ala Spielberg or Fincher... 

OVERALL SCRIPT RATING: 9/10
OVERALL FILM RATING: 7/10