“Yeah, I know,”I interrupted. “I was the one who told you.”
“No, you didn’t,”she replied. “I heard it from your sister.”
“No, you heard it from me,”I informed her. “Last week.”
“No,”she insisted. “I’m pretty sure I heard it from your sister.”
“Maybe you heard it from my sister a second time,”I stuck to my guns. “But you heard it from me first…last week.”
The fact that I was so insistent seemed to cast some doubt on her recollected version of events. “Are you sure?”she asked as though I was attempting to perpetrate some practical joke in which I would convince her that I was the source of this story and then…well, I’m not quite sure what the pay off would be but I have no doubt it would be downright hilarious.
“Yes,”I told her, adamant. “I’m sure.”
“Oh.“ She simply shrugged and continued driving. No big deal. And it wasn’t. Except that I get enough of this sort of thing at work.
It happens all the time. We’ll be spinning a story and someone will refer back to a great idea Paul or Martin or someone else in the room pitched the other day except that Paul or Martin or someone else in the room didn’t pitch the idea. I did. And, again, it’s no big deal because we’re not receiving screen credit or getting paid by the idea, but it’s simply one of those cases where if you repeat enough times, it becomes reality. Not so much the fact that Paul or Martin or someone else in the room came up with a great idea (because they do, all the time) but the fact that someone else but me came up with that idea, or the one before, or the one before that – which inevitably leads people to wonder “Hey, when’s the last time Joe’s name came up in conjunction with a good idea?”.
Sometimes, you can chalk it up to faulty memory. Given the sheer number of ideas that fly fast and furious over the course of a spin session, it’s difficult and, frankly, unnecessary, to attribute every one to the correct person. (And it really shouldn’t be an issue unless every one of your ideas is mistakenly attributed to someone else while no one else’s ideas are mistakenly attributed to you to balance the books). Other times, events conspire against you. I remember when we were spinning Season 4’s Be All My Sins Remember’d and we were thinking of a way to rid ourselves of the replicators. The topic turned to the ARG’s and I simply rolled my eyes and suggested we come up with something else beside those damn anti-replicator guns. How about, I suggested, instead of hitting them with ARG’s that disrupt the connection between the replicator nanites and cause them to disperse, we do the opposite and cause magnify the connection to the point that we fuse all of the replicators together into a giant super-dense mass.
Paul threw me a look one might reserve for someone who’d told an inappropriately badwdy story in Sunday school. “You’re talking neutron star density,”he enlightened me. I shrugged back at him. I guess I was. Was that a problem?
The room fell silent as everyone considered. And then Brad walked into the room and took a seat. We told him the problem: how to deal with the replicators once and for all without having to resort to those well-worn ARG’s. Beat. “Instead of using the ARG’s to repulse the nanites,”Paul suddenly piped up, “we were talking about using some other means to intensify the attraction between the bonds.”
Brad’s face lit up and he started spinning. The attraction between the bonds could grow so intense that the replicators would fuse together, creating a super-dense mass. For some reason, Paul seemed to find the idea far more palatable when it came from Brad while Brad, joining us late, no doubt mentally thanked Paul for coming up with that kernel of a notion that allowed him to spin a terrific visual.
Again, as an isolated incident, a little annoying but no big deal. But as part of a general trend, it can get downright vexing after a while. Which is why I’d like to propose the following easy-to-incorporate system as part of all future story-breaking sessions:
1. The names of all participating writer-producers are written on one of the two big whiteboards in the room.
2. When someone comes up with what is considered a “good idea” by two or more producers, they are awarded a bronze star, equivalent to five points, which is awarded by way of a sticker placed beneath the writer-producer’s name along with a brief summary of the proposed idea: ie. Hey, let’s put the botanists in shorts!
3. When someone comes up with what is considered a “great idea” by two or more producers, they are awarded a silver star, equivalent to twenty points, which is awarded by way of a sticker placed beneath the writer-producer’s name along with a brief summary of the proposed idea: ie. Let’s have Todd assassinate the rival queen, throwing the entire mission in jeopardy.
4. When someone comes up with what is considered a “super-fantastic idea” by two or more producers, they are awarded a gold star, equivalent to sixty points, which is awarded by way of a sticker placed beneath the writer-producer’s name along with a brief summary of the proposed idea: ie. Rather than tell a linear story, let’s shift backward and forward in time, differentiating between the two time frames by visual means which will accentuate the thematic confusion experienced by our heroes.
5. If someone comes up with what is considered a “bad idea” by two or more producers, they are docked five points in which case either they have a bronze star removed, a silver star reduced to three quarters its original size, a gold star reduced by one twelfth, or a note is made beneath said writer-producer’s name along the lines of “I.O.U. – 1 bronze star”.
6. If someone comes up with what is considered a “terrible idea” by two or more producers, they are docked five points (qv details above) AND made to place their chair atop the writer’s room table. Once they have retaken their seat, now atop the table, they will be subjected to what I refer to as “The Humiliation Ceremony” in which they are singled-out and harangued by the other writer-producers who will dance around them, clapping and twirling, singing a dedicated Humiliation Ceremony song (lyrics and melody to be announced).
6. If someone comes up with what is considered a “really stupid idea” by two or more producers, they must immediately surrender their shoes to charity and made to withstand one of Carl Binder’s trademark lower spine kicks. In addition, their fellow writer-producers may proceed to the offender’s office and lay claim to one personal item therein.
7. At weeks’ end, the points are tallied. The winner (the individual with the most points) places their chair atop the writer’s room table. Once they have retaken their seat, now atop the table, they will be rewarded wit what I refer to as “The Congratulatory Ceremony” in which they are singled-out and revered by other writer-producers who will dance around them, clapping and twirling, singing a dedicated Congratulatory Ceremony song that is in many ways similar to the Humiliation Ceremony song but with slightly different lyrics. Also, for every point they earned, they will be awarded one dollar to be made up of one dollars for each negative point accrued by the bad idea people and the balance of which will be made up by the rest of the writer-producers. The loser meanwhile (the individual with the least points) must spend the weekend in the office as part of the new Bridge Studios fire and safety regulations which requires at least one living writer and/or producer to be on site to render assistance in the unlikely event of a ground fire or asteroid strike.
8. In the event of a tie in either category, the winning winner or losing loser is determined by a best two out of three rock, paper, scissors competition. Real rocks, papers, and scissors will be used.
9. At the end of every month, a prize will be awarded for “The Greatest Idea of the Month”. This will take the form of a crown and scepter presentation (both items fashioned from coat hangers, empty sardine tins, and aluminum foil – shiny side up), in addition to an extra special Reverence Ceremony in which the awardee will sit atop the writers’ room table while the other writer-producers dance around them, clapping and twirling, singing a dedicated Reverence Ceremony song that is in many ways similar to both the Humiliation Ceremony song and the Congratulatory Ceremony song, although slightly more similar to the latter than the former.
10. At the end of every month, we will also recognize “The Very Worst Idea of the Month”. This will take the form of a black star. At any time over the course of the season, if it comes time to write a clip show, the individual with the most black stars beneath their name will be given the assignment.
Hey, it’s winter! Not Vancouver-winter, but winter-winter! I moved away from the east coast to get away from this kind of weather. Well, at least Lulu seems to be enjoying it.
Today’s blog entry is dedicated to Jumble.
Platschu writes: “I became so exited that you mentioned Universe won’t have human cultures. Does that mean you won’t shoot episodes in the forests too? Will the off-world scenes be made by CGI? Or will we have more ship-based episodes in the first season to reduce the budget?”
Answers: Of the first ten episodes broken, we have a grand total of 0 forested planets. I’m not saying we won’t, eventually, come across one but, for the time being, the emphasis is on the ship and some locations atypical of Stargate. As a matter of fact, Executive Producer Robert Cooper and Director Andy Mikita are in New Mexico as we speak, scouting a cool-looking alien setting.
Perragrin writes: “But, I think there’s something the Writers/Producers/PTB have overlooked: something that wasn’t much of an issue when Atlantis was introduced, because SG1 was still up and running..Resentment.”Answer: I totally understand, believe me. Of the hundreds of people who worked very hard to bring you Stargate: Atlantis over the past five years, you’d be hardpressed to find anyone who didn’t want to see the show come back for a sixth season. The decision to end the series was a disappointing one for many of us yet, realistically, there wasn’t anything we could have done to change it. We’ll miss these characters (just like I very much missed the SG-1 characters) but, at the end of the day, we all have to move forward – in this case, on to the new series Stargate: Universe that, despite initially being overshadowed by news of the Atlantis cancellation, promises to be a great show.
John Manzione writes: “But, can you tell anything about the upcoming SG1 movie? Have the actors signed on? All or them? Some of them? Any chance at all that RDA is interested? Can we look to you for further information about the SG1 movie? Is February still a start date for it?”
Answer: February was never a start date. A more likely start of production would be summer of 2009. As for actor participation, I don’t know anything about any deals being closed but I do know that some of the actors have been approached and are looking forward to the project.
DasNdanger writes: “When you order so much food, do you manage to eat it all at the restaurant, do you take home the leftovers, or do you just let pefectly good food go to waste?”
Answer: Nothing ever goes to waste. Whatever we don’t finish, we pack up and bring home for next day’s lunch – which actually turns out to be Fondy’s midnight snack.
McKayFan4Ever writes: “Everytime I see those pics of food you are going thru (most especialy desert) there is one I’ve never seen, DBC (death by Chocolate) I wonder if you ever tried this cake…”
Answer: I haven’t but it looks great. I’ll be in Montreal for the holidays so I’ll try to make it a point to drop by.
NeKo writes: “SOOOOOOOOOOO looking forward to WFPOTD: Liquid Edition. SO when should I get my popcorn ready?”
Answer: Alas, Martin is headed out of town so we won’t get around to it until the new year. I’m thinking of co-hosting and asking Ivon to do the filming. We’ll be the Siskel and Ebert of candy drinks.
Deni B. writes: “Whatever happened to Joel Goldsmith’s Q & A?”
Answer: I believe Joel is still working on it.
Suziesbluefeather writes: “When writing how do you keep the POV (point of view) straight? I ask because my stuff has a habit of sounding like someone narrating the story instead of throwing the ready into one of the characters.”
Answer: All I can say is that the more I read, the more informed I become about the pros and cons of the varying narrative modes. I’d say simply pick the POV you’re most comfortable with and best lends itself to the type of story you want to tell. For the short story I’m presently working on, for instance, I’m using the third-person limited POV which allows me to deliver a more personal narrative without necessarily tipping how things will turn out for my protagonist.
StellaByStargate writes: “Is the re-cut of SG-1 CotG still in the works and can we look for that to be released sometime soon? And also…since Brad and Carl seem rather busy with SGU for the time being, how is the SG-1 movie coming along?”
Answer: I believe the CotG is done. No idea when it will be released but I imagine very soon. As for the SG-1 movie – Brad and Carl broke the story together and now Carl is off writing the script. When he last reported in, Carl was about halfway through a first draft.
Bailey writes: “Gingerbread Puddlejumper and Gatecake!”
Answer: I want one!
NarellefromAus writes: “How long does it take for Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell to get humorous?”
Answer: Well, it’s a very understated English humor that could well be lost on some.