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      CommentAuthorAlan Tyson
    • CommentTimeAug 11th 2011 edited
    Some of you know about this already, but I figure it can't hurt to throw it up on the 'chapel and see if I get any bites.

    So, I've gone a bit mad, and decided to re-write the Star Wars prequels. Obviously this isn't going to amount to much of anything, but it IS turning out to be an incredibly fun exercise, not too terribly unlike Remake/Remodel.

    What I'm doing is, rather than starting from scratch and pretending the prequels don't exist at all, is treating the films like the first draft of a script, which I've been given the task of re-writing, polishing, strengthening, etc. I'm writing it in a treatment format to begin with, to be followed by a series of full-film-script drafts. I'm sticking fairly close to the major plot elements, and I'm keeping most of the same characters (yes, including Jar-Jar - I'm convinced I can make him funny without being annoying). I'm even using some of the same dialogue, though I might switch when it's said, or who says it.

    The reason I'm showing this to you guys is this: I want to avoid what seems to the commonly-accepted root cause for why people didn't like Episodes I-III, which is that there wasn't enough idea-cross-pollination, and that the ideas didn't have enough time to really develop and mature. I want feedback, and I want people to suggest alternatives, or improvements. Most of all, I want people to tell me if something just plain old sucks.

    And, maybe some day down the line, I might start looking for concept artists and storyboarders. I mean, there's no way this thing will ever be filmed, for a huge number of reasons, but why stop with just a script? Why not go full pre-production, with the best creative thinkers and craftsfolk the internet has to offer? If nothing else, this might result in some of us having some cool pieces of portfolio work!

    Anyway, I've posted about 20-25 minutes worth of the first movie, and I'd love to know what you guys think of it so far. Again, this is just me having fun, but I'd like to know if fun equals good, while I'm at it.

    Thanks for reading,
  1.  (10142.2)
    An acquaintance of mine outlined something similar on his blog -

    Personally I think his version would have been so much better than what Lucas trotted out.
    • CommentAuthorSteadyUP
    • CommentTimeAug 11th 2011
    It's an interesting exercise, I'll admit, but in fairness - this has been done many, many times.
      CommentAuthorAlan Tyson
    • CommentTimeAug 11th 2011
    Oh, I'm certain it has. I'm not doing anything original here (I mean, obviously). It's much more of a thought experiment than trying to prove a point one way or another - I'm just playing in Lucas' sandbox, now that he's done with it.
    • CommentTimeAug 11th 2011 edited
    I totally understand the desire to do this, and I weigh in as someone who grew up with this story (I saw the original Star Wars when it was first released when I was 7, and a great deal of the direction my life took was due directly to my complete immersion in those films), but at this point I just wish the hooks that Lucas has into the creative impulse in so many people would just let go. The endless rehashing of what might have been has taken on the flavor of old men constantly re-fighting the Civil War. Dumping more of our brief lives into trying to fix the ruin of Lucas' ego is just throwing good dreaming after bad. It would be more interesting if you took the things you wish had been done in those films and used them to write something original, not set in the Star Wars universe, that maybe could be something.

    I say this with love. Don't squander your imagination in the sandbox Lucas took a shit in. You know how to nail planks together, and there is plenty of clean sand in the world. Take your frustration with the mess Lucas made and use it to make your own sandbox.
    • CommentTimeAug 12th 2011
    If anyone commenting here hasn't watched the Phantom Editor's Star Wars Episode II.I: Attack of the Phantom, I highly recommend it. Particularly for the commentary track:
    the DVD contains a re-edited version (38 minutes cut, new runtime of 104 minutes) of Episode II in surround sound, with a commentary track. At points during the commentary, the viewer has the option to interrupt the movie to view in more detail some of the things that the editor is talking about.

    The Phantom Edit

    Anyway, I found it to be a great concrete lesson in how creative choices can serve (or profoundly derail) story-telling.
      CommentAuthorAlan Tyson
    • CommentTimeAug 12th 2011
    @oddbill: You're not wrong, and I've promised myself that I'll quit doing this the second it stops being fun. And really, at the end of the day, that's the only reason I'm doing it, thought experiment/storytelling exercise bollocks aside - it's fun to write, and some people seem to be having fun reading it.

    Something that's nice about doing this is that it's something that I can share with people before it's done - I've got a few comic scripts and something that wants to be an illustrated novel all sitting on my hard drive, which I really can't let see the light of day until I've finished at least first drafts. Something like this, though, I can show to anyone, and my enthusiasm for it, and confidence in it, doesn't wane. So, I guess part of playing in George's sandbox is that I don't have to worry about messing up my own.

    Defenses aside, I completely understand the bad taste this likely gives you, and a lot of other fans, and I'm not offended in the least if you don't take a lot of interest in it.

    @celan: I hadn't heard of this before, but I'll set right to work tracking it down!
    • CommentTimeAug 12th 2011
    You should be able to find it in the "usual" places.
    • CommentTimeAug 12th 2011
    @Alan Tyson - I want to be clear that you rethinking the prequels does not give me a bad taste. I don't feel you are trespassing. I think you are wasting your brainpower on a property that is not worthy of the effort.
    • CommentTimeAug 12th 2011
    I agree with Bill but appreciate Alan's thought process it can be a good exercise, Matt Fraction did something similar with Batman: Year One to learn how to write comic scripts.
    • CommentTimeAug 12th 2011
    Once upon a time I got pissed off at Star Trek. I thought the concept of the Prime Directive was nonsensical. How could you possibly not affect the trajectory of another life by existing in the same universe as it exists? So I wrote a teleplay of a nonexistent Trek franchise called "Star Trek: Enforcer" - about the crew of what I was calling an "Enforcer" class ship, who's mission was to make sure other exploratory missions did not break the various Federation rules, primarily the Prime Directive. I meant it to become an indictment of the concept. To push it, I called the ship the Crazy Horse, after the Native American war leader whose job, when young, was to keep other young angry boys in the tribes from ruining ambushes by charging out to count coup before the actual battle plan could be maturely enacted. History will tell you he did not have much success in this sane and measured effort. No matter how much one stands to benefit from regulating passion, we are passionate monkeys and adrenaline always wins. To emphasize this point I made my captain a half-Vulcan, half-human hybrid, like Spock, but with the balance swung the other way, toward the human side. She was overly emotional. She had to fight her nature to adhere to logic. It showed up in everything she did, right down to the Vulcan nerve pinch, which she couldn't quite manage. Every time she did it, it caused the recipient an incredible amount of physical pain, but never rendered them unconscious.

    By the time I had finished it I had ended up with half a dozen characters I loved, in a setting I loved, which I could not do anything more with, as I did not own the property. The story had been so carefully constructed in that world that it could not be extracted without losing the whole point. In the end I took those characters and built a completely different world around them, and tried to create a new story, but got lost in all the details of the extraction to the point that I really feel like I wasted some years of effort.

    I encourage you not to do this, but rather to take the energy generated by your conflict with the course the Star Wars prequels followed and channel that into the creation of something new and wholly your own. The world doesn't need any more contrarian Star Wars fans. The world does need new good science fiction and mythology.
    • CommentTimeAug 12th 2011
    A friend and I created Star Trek: Omega, luckily be are both lazy and never got very far.
    • CommentTimeAug 12th 2011
    I've often thought of writing the endings for cancelled sci-fi TV series that had Big Mysteries which were Never Revaled.
    /Earth-2/ is a favorite of mine to speculate about.

    Personally, I wish this sort of thing were more formally allowed. These properties are like abandoned buildings on a city block, and if someone can squat in them and make use of it, I'm all for it.
    • CommentTimeAug 12th 2011
    @Finagle - If it were more readily allowed, studios would be getting crazy fan scripts non-stop. Although, I guess that probably already happens, to an extent. And I guess most of those people wouldn't be writing anything coherent anyway...

  2.  (10142.15)
    I respect this as a creative exercise. I am doing something similar with another follow-up work of literature that I don't think the author(s) got quite right: the sequel to the Old Testament. Because this is Public Domain material, I am free to do whatever the hell (so to speak) I want with it. :)

    @Finagle: It's becoming common practice these days for the producers of cancelled TV series to officially continue them, either in comics or novels. Andy Mangels (the longtime "Gays in Comics" panel guy) has done this with novels for both Roswell and Star Trek: Enterprise.
    • CommentAuthor256
    • CommentTimeAug 13th 2011 edited
    I've got no skin in the game because I don't like Star Wars, but I agree with @oddbill. Dumping creative effort into someone else's property for free is, at best, a no-win situation.

    That said, sometimes being creative means indulging impulses that aren't logical or even "a good idea" in the classical sense.

    Also, @oddbill - now you come to mention it, it is pretty wacky that the Federation has laws but no apparent enforcement mechanism. Would sort of love to read the ST:E saga.
    • CommentTimeAug 13th 2011
    @ Alan Tyson

    Similar to Oddbill, at one point in 2001 I got irritated with JK Rowling's Harry Potter series. It was getting on my nerves that all the Muggle characters were helpless, incompetent, petty or all three at once. So, I wrote a "Most Dangerous Game" pastiche featuring a mortal who is hunted by Death-eaters. The mortal kills or otherwise overcomes his opponents and then the twist comes in - the "game" was actually a kind of audition/test set up by Voldemort. By passing the test, the mortal will now begin his real mission - to find and assassinate Harry Potter.

    I still like the story and got as far as three chapters in before the realization struck me that I was writing Harry Potter Fan Fiction. So, I stopped as sanity reclaimed me.

    Alan, you are writing Star Wars fan fiction. There is a line in the Bible that goes something like "It is better to spill your seed in the belly of a whore than on the ground." It's a prohibition against masturbation. Fan fiction is essentially masturbation and it is better to write the crappiest, most whorish original idea, than to spill your writing seed in fan fiction.

    I understand the temptation to do it. You get a built-in audience who will at least be inclined to give your stuff a chance simply because it features characters and a world that they enjoy. Hell, I recall doing a Buffy the Vampire Slayer novelette that crossed her into White Wolf's World of Darkness setting for much the same reason - I had a story to tell and wanted some readers.

    The problem is that whatever you write will ultimately be sterile and stillborn. It can't ever be truly yours. Make something that's truly yours.
    • CommentAuthorMathias B
    • CommentTimeAug 14th 2011
    Well, just as masturbation and sex isn't an either/or proposition, neither is fanfic and creating original works. It's quite possible to do both. Does the world need more Star Wars fan fiction? Does the world need another Remake/Remodel of the Fantastic Four? Who cares? It's fun, it's good creative excercise and it builds up your chops for when you actually do make your own stuff.
  3.  (10142.19)
    Alan, I just finished reading this.

    I really like how it flows--though it's not really in a format I'd call a screenplay--and I think it's a compelling story so far, with nods to the original Star Wars movies that should have been there in this one.

    I like that you've moved Darth Maul to a prominent, meaningful position. I like that you've made Jar Jar appear to be more of a loose gun. I think it's great that you've made the Trade Federation appear so callous, even toward its own members.

    But there are a couple of things I don't like. Your head honcho for the Trade Federation seems a bit odd to me, like a character who happened to wander in from another story and is VERY indignant that she's been forced to be in a Star Wars plot. I think she's too strong a character for someone who's being manipulated by the Sith. Scenes also seem to cut away to her far more frequently than is warranted. Since Star Wars movies almost always use screenwipes for scene changes this is confusing as hell to visualize.

    Minor thing, also, is that all Star Wars films begin in space. I see the appeal of opening on Tatooine, but there's something to the serial bluster of opening to a space scene.

    All in all, though, this is a lot more enjoyable than the thing George Lucas wrote. But then again, he didn't have Harrison Ford rewriting all the dialogue this time, so maybe he deserves a break. Hah.
  4.  (10142.20)
    Re-writing a story is not the same as writing a new story in a copywrited universe, it probably doesn't have as much danger on the alternate-reality-creative-idea-abortion-metaphors front.

    Also, if you find you have accidentally locked up good ideas in a dead-end world, it's not going to stop you from having lots of new good ideas when you move on to a clean system. Good ideas aren't finite. You just need to be willing to push through the next mountain of crap you will write in laying the groundwork for a fertile new... Uh, what metaphor am I on? Placenta?