Archive for April 2011
I’ve often heard writers or artists say something like this: “I write or draw what I like.” For example, Frank Miller says his stories feature so many guns because he likes to draw guns.
If I were to make a list of the things that I like, it would be very long. So, I’m going to do the opposite, ie, a list of things I do not like and try to avoid in my projects. It’s a list of rules and the list is very short.
I’ve somewhow managed to make or write my films and scripts while, for the most part, obeying these rules.
I made a detective film (see it here) without having the detective use a gun. The characters use a weapon, but it is a Super 8 movie camera.
The characters in Star Man do not need cars because they fly around using jetpacks.
I broke the no cars rule in The Tears of a Clown, but the car is made of candy and gets eaten.
A sub-rule of the no phones rule is visualize it and shut up! The robot-like characters in Intermezzo do not need phones because they do not talk to each other.
It’s only recently that I’ve been thinking about these rules, yet they appear to have been applied to my projects without me being aware of them. Why? Perhaps because if I made a list of things that I passionately dislike, prominent on that list would be guns, cars, and phones. Judging by the number of films with an infinite number of scenes built around guns, cars, and phones, the people who make these films must feel the opposite and love guns, cars, and phones, perhaps more than anything else. If these rules were applied to Hollywood films, there would be few films left. In fact, Guns, Cars, and Phones would be a good title for a book about current Hollywood films.
It’s almost as if including guns, cars, and phones in a film is an essential prerequisite for a film in Hollywood to be made. Hence, it is no surprise that my projects The Tears of a Clown and Star Man have been produced only on alternative versions of Earth.
As far as I know, there is no existing term that can be used to distinguish an android that is created completely anew from an android that is created by transferring a human mind (not brain) into a robot body.
Therefore, I propose to call a robot that is the result of the transference of a human mind into a robot body a Humabot, as in “human robot.”
Dr. Korby, in the Star Trek episode, “What are Little Girls Made Of?,” is a Humabot. Humabots are also featured in Star Man.
There is a rhyme and a reason behind my alternate endings. Screenplay writing was one of the required classes in my film school. The class often involved pitching an idea. While others pitched, I would usually re-write their stories in my head. However, as the name “Alternate Ending” suggests, completely re-writing the films of other people is not what alternate endings are about.
So what are alternate endings about?
First, there are some simple rules:
1. The ending should be consistent with the rest of the film. An alternate ending means only an alternate ending, not a complete script revision.
2. The alternate ending should attempt to improve on the original ending.
Those are the rules. Now for the philosophy.
Doing alternate endings counters the image of the passive consumer. In the past, we have largely been offered only two choices: to buy or not to buy the ticket. Someone else made a product that we bought and consumed. End of story. Today, however, many more of us have the tools to participate in the process and alter the product. We no longer are limited to being passive consumers.
The alternate ending is a form of empowerment.
Why don’t you try it?
The 2005, Steven Spielberg-directed film version of H. G. Wells’ 1898 book retains many of the original’s major ideas such as the Tripods that the Martians use,
feeding on human blood via transfusion tubes,
and a family reunion at the end:
The film also retains the original’s ending wherein the Martians are defeated by microorganisms and society returns to normal.
However, there are several problems with this ending and the last image of the film suggests a different one.
The Martians’ invasion in the film has been planned for a very long time. We know this because the Tripods are said to have been buried long ago. Perhaps humans were planted like a crop and the Martians have returned to harvest us.
The reason why this simple ending doesn’t convince is because anyone who had such advanced technology and had put this much time and preparation into an invasion would have sent scouts in advance of the real invasion.
Here is my alternative ending
In my alternative ending, the Tripods and their drivers are merely the first wave of a larger invasion. They are scouts sent to test the waters.
The second wave Martians do not need giant Tripods and are, in fact, the size of mosquitoes that can suck blood from humans even more effectively than the devices shown in the film. They are not even humanoids, but micro-sized harvesting robots that cannot be killed by germs.
The last image of Tom Cruise would show him swatting what he thinks is a mosquito.
A zoom into the “mosquito” reveals that it is not what it appears to be.
The last image would be the threatening Red Planet:
In Theater of Blood, Vincent Price portrays a Shakespearian actor, Edward Lionheart, who takes revenge on a group of theater critics because they overlooked him and gave their award to a newcomer, William Woodstock. Price kills them one by one with the exception of one critic who survives to witness Price’s death. The film ends with that critic’s “review” of Price’s death: Price knew how to make an exit, but he was a ham to the end.
Perhaps because I’ve read too many EC Comics-type horror stories, I thought that the film missed an opportunity for a little twist at the end.
Here’s my alternative ending:
The critic, the detective and the critic’s secretary watch Price climb to the top of the building that has been Price’s HQ throughout the film:
As Price carries his dead daughter, the fire’s heat melts away his mask to reveal…
…that Price is, in fact, William Woodstock, the actor to whom the critics had given their award instead of to Price. The critic realizes his mistake just as…
…Price jumps to his death.
The critic, who had refused to change his mind about giving the award to Price even while under the threat of death, realizes that he was wrong about Price’s acting ability. He says that he will have to give the award to Price posthumously. The detective says that would be the least he can do.
This may sound like a silly ending, but it would have been perfectly in keeping with the rest of the film wherein Price appears in many guises: