Dear Seth Rogen: Here’s The Plot of Your ‘Alien Test’ Movie

by Shelt Garner

Working Title “Radar Love”
The first thing we see before the opening credits is a microscopic spaceship slowing down as it enters our solar system. It lands on the moon. Soon a bigger — but still small — spaceship shoots out of the lunar surfance, heading towards earth. This small ship finally enters the earth’s atmosphere and lands somewhere rather non-descriptive in either LA or NYC. After a few moments, the spot where the little ship landed begins to shift and bubble.

Opening Credits

Act I
We open with our Hero walking into work at his 80s radioshow in LA (or NYC). We’re introduced to the zany characters of his show. We learn a little backstory. He’s recently broken up with his long-term girlfriend and he’s feeling a little sorry for himself.

But once he’s on air, he switches gears and is very much a Robin Williams in “Good Morning, Vietnam.”

Inciting Incident: Our Hero wraps up the broadcast for the day and is told by his secretary that there’s someone to see him. He notices a well dress ethnically ambiguous woman standing in the foyer waiting for him. He’s taken aback that someone so hot would want to talk to him. After some pleasantries we cut to the two having coffee.

The woman acts as if she’s been listening to his 80s rock show avidly and yet there’s something a little off about her. She finally looks at him and says there’s something she has to tell him. She places her hand on his and there’s a 2001’s star gate sequence that we see happening in his mind.

He wakes up on a cot in a strange windowless room. He searches his mind for what happened and is boggled by the amount of information he now knows. The woman he met for coffee appears again and asks him if he’s ready? Ready for what, he asks. Our meeting, she says.

Act 1 ends with our Hero realizing he’s in a huge spaceship floating over Washington DC. He and the woman go down the steps of the ship and ultimately meet POTUS.

Act 2

This portion of the plot involves our hero coming involved in a huge planet-wide struggle. Everyone is upset that some nobody has been chosen by aliens to take a huge test that will determine humanity’s fate. There’s lots of efforts to discredit him. The aliens are absolutely clear — they love the music he plays and he’s their guy.

Midpoint: Because no one believes the aliens when they say they can move several hundred million humans to a new solar system, our Hero has to test out the technology. He takes a pill and wakes up in a pod on the other side of the planet.

The rest of this act involves the bad guys trying to screw up our hero’s attempts to take the test in question. He ultimately takes the test — it’s simply a test of his musical knowledge — and he passes with flying colors.

The “all is lost” moment of the second act is when it seems clear that humanity is too divided to take advantage of this amazing offer. The aliens get fed up and leave earth. In desperation, our Hero plays rock music at his radio station in a desperate hope to convince them to come back. (He talks to them via the titles of rock songs.)

At the very end of the act, it seems All Is Lost.

Act 3
Surprise! The aliens come back. Act three involves the process of moving people off the planet. The last scene is our Hero waking up on the new planet and realizing humanity has a second chance to get things right.

Of course, you need to throw in some romance somewhere along the way…maybe with the alien girl who is some sort of synthetic human?

Dear Seth Rogen — About That ‘Alien Test’ Movie Concept You Talked About On Howard Stern

by Shelt Garner

I saw on YouTube today that funny man Seth Rogen has the following idea for a movie: someone like him is the guy aliens pick to take a test that will determine humanity’s fate.

Well, I, too, have been thinking about something like this and he’s what I can contribute to your idea.

The reason why your character is chosen amongst all the people in the world is the aliens have been monitoring humanity’s radio signals for decades and they really like the morning show you have where you play Rock ‘N Roll. (For IP reasons, I would suggest something like it’s an 80s music morning show.)

The aliens REALLY LOVE Rock music and, as such, they love how you’re able to tell a story by stringing songs together. They communicate with humanity by doing this very thing and they make it clear they want YOU to be the person to take the test for humanity.

The test would be a test of Rock music knowledge, not an IQ test or anything like that. Conflict arises when the governments of the world try to screw you over by finding people they think can do what you do, better.

In the end, you take the test and pass it with flying colors — but then the real test begins. You have to use your new-found global celebrity to united humanity to take advantage of the offer given by the aliens — they are willing to re-settle much of humanity to a new solar systems, but humanity has to work together to achieve this goal.

I was thinking this would be deathly serious film, but it probably wouldn’t take a lot to flip it into something really funny.

Mulling Screenplay Concepts

by Shelt Garner

For a time, I was all excited about having two creative “tracks” that I was going to have going forward. On one would be the novel I’m working on, while the other would be a screenplay. This, however, did not work out. I’m so completely consumed by the novel that I simply am not able to pull myself away from it.

But I continue to occasionally think about different potential screenplays. Being a screenwriter is much, much different than being a novelist because, well, Hollywood. I know myself well enough that if I did ever manage to finish a script I am so good at self-promotion — and socializing — that there would be a decent chance I would find myself in Hollywood (which is on the other side of the country from me) on occasion to hunt down family people to hand my script to. I’m fairly good at meeting famous people and so that part would be a cinch.

Screenplays have a whole different internal logic than novels. With a novel, you have to explain in a lot of detail why something happens. In a screenplay, lulz, you can think up the most bonkers conceit and get away with it with not a lot of explanation because that would really, really slow the story down.

I’ve been working on one idea for about a decade because it’s something of The Impossible Scenario. I love scenarios and there’s been one I’ve been working on for years and years that I simply can not figure out. But I’ve thought it through so much, that I find myself returning to it again and again. I won’t give you details, but imagine if humanity got an astonishing offer but with a catch — we had to work together as a race to figure the specifics of something out.

I like the idea that the audience would be on the edge of its seat as I walked them through the Biggest Event In Human History that kept getting hung up on the stupidest of differences between humans.

Another idea I have is The Martian, but for time travel. I have a decent method through which you could get some regular guy stuck in the past and you’d see how he if not escaped, at least made his life a lot better. But that one is problematic because I would want to do it absolutely hyper-realistic. So that might make it a bit more difficult to place it in the far past. I had the idea of maybe The Martian meets time travel meets Mad Men.

That would be pretty cool.

Anyway, one issue is buying FinalDraft. It’s so expensive that I think buying it would be the end of the beginning of the process of writing a screenplay. I would have gotten all my development finished and would be literally about to sit down and write when I bought it.

My Novel Is A Screenplay In Hiding & How Phoebe Waller-Bridge Inspires Me

by Shelt Garner

I’m a very visual person. And I love movies. I love how a good movie — or film for that matter — can become a totem for the era in which it was produced. Movies, with their combination of music, writing, cinematography and acting are artistic time capsules waiting to be discovered by new generations.

As such, the novel I’m developing and writing is pretty much a screenplay hiding inside a novel. I can’t help myself. I reference a lot of music. In fact, music is pretty crucial to understanding the whole thing. And the story (two novels, one story) is jammed packed with scenes that I look forward to writing and I know, given the opportunity, that audiences would crave to see on the big screen.

But the point of this post is the actress Phoebe Waller-Bridge. While, again, my expectations for this novel are painfully low, I do continue to see Ms. Waller-Bridge when I imagine my female romantic lead. She’s the right age and British. The female romantic lead is an amalgam of a number of women who have caught my eye over the years. The biggest inspiration is, of course Alexa Chung, who is, oddly enough, just about Ms. Waller-Bridge’s age.

It’s interesting how much of a struggle I’ve gone through to make my original vision of this novel a reality. My writing ability was sorely lacking when I started this process. But, finally, I feel I’ve pretty much figured out how my doofus hero might be able to snag a woman who is, at least in part, inspired by Ms. Chung.

As I’ve said before, I find it extremely amusing that my female romantic lead has an Asian surname, but — plot twist! — doesn’t look Asian. It’s all very amusing because I could see a lot of Twitter liberals who hadn’t read the book getting extremely angry that a Caucasian would play the character, not knowing that, lulz, she doesn’t even look Asian as described.

But, in general, I’m a big fan of Ms. Waller-Bridge. That girl has creative brass ovaries. She inspires me a great deal because she looks at the audience without blinking and challenges them. My novel, too, pretty much wallows in some very controversial subjects and demands the audience dare to look away.

Or, put another way, that’s what’s going on in my mind as I develop and write the novel. The whole thing is so diffused that, lulz, you probably wouldn’t even notice what the fuck I just said in the actual product. The novel I’m writing is a very breezy, accessible read.

Anyway. Who am I fooling. I can’t even get anyone to read this blog, much less read a novel in the 145,000 to 165,00 word count range. But, like I said, this a novel that has some serious screenplay envy.

Some of the scenes would knock your socks off on the screen!

Screenwriting And Webstat Paranoia

by Shelt Garner

I saw in my Webstats that someone looked at — out of the blue — a post from about two years ago about a screenplay concept I briefly had. This makes me nervous because:

  1. They were from Brooklyn.
  2. They obviously got it as a link (how did the person who send it to them find it?)
  3. Are they going to “steal” that idea?

Some of those are just me being paranoid in general — I have a pretty well developed novel on my hands and even if someone “stole” that concept, it has nothing to do with what I’m working on right now.

I guess I’m more nervous about people being able to poke around my Website without me knowing about it one way or another. But you can’t change the past. You can’t have absolute control over who sees what you post online.

And, given that me talking online is, in itself, part of my development process, lulz.

Some Thoughts On #StarWars As A #Screenplay

Some thoughts.

A Creative Update

Some thoughts.

Idle Rambling About My Creative Endeavors

Some thoughts.

My Novel Wants To Be A Movie

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

I’m enjoying developing my novel a great deal. But there are times when I wince at how much a movie wants to pop out of it like an alien xenomorph. A lot of the scenes are very visual and require you know songs for them to make the most sense. And, yet, given that I can only use song titles for IP reasons, I have to pick songs whose titles sum up what the songs are about as well as their mood.

Most of these songs, of course, are so well known that even the most clueless reader has at least vaguely heard of them. One thing I know is I really have to explain why my heroine would listen to the music she listens to. The average young person today listens to a very specific type of music that a lot of older people such as myself simply have never heard.

Luckily, however, the novel is set in the immediate past AND I’ve managed to come up with a reasonable explanation for why my heroine would listen to the type of music I need her to listen to. But the issue of how people will know in real terms how a song I want in their mind would play in the context of the scene is something that eats away at me. It would be solved very easily if I was writing a screenplay. But I don’t want to do that right now. I want to write a novel. I just am a very music-oriented person and I’ve structured the entire novel from the ground up so that pop rock music that I know a lot about is a crucial aspect of its universe.

But anyway. I going to try to flesh out my scene summary as much as I can this weekend. I’m shooting for no later than sometime in January to start writing in earnest again. I have a lot of momentum and love the characters, plot, and universe. I just have to live up to my own pretty brutal expectations. Even then, I’m a lot better storyteller than writer.

Why I’ve Walked Out Of Some Recent Movies

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelton Bumgarner

I’m of the opinion that a great modern story has to ignore any sort of overt political agenda and simply entertain the audience. Given how existentially political the novel I’m writing is, this causes me a lot of consternation. But my primary goal is write an adult tentpole story. Things blow up. Shit burns down. A little sex happens. And so on.

But let’s go through some movies I’ve seen recently and why I hated them.

I walked out of this movie just between the time Beanie Feldstein’s character started screeching about lesbian sexual actives and when I learned what the “hero’s journey” was going to be. I had only gone to see the movie because I felt shamed by a combination of Entertainment Tonight, E! Network and the center-Left Twitter echo chamber. I knew going into the movie that I was NOT the audience, but I went anyway so I would not feel bad. Turns out, I wasn’t, in fact, the audience. I wanted a modern-day Heathers. I got a woke movie that I felt insulted me on a basic, existential level. There were plenty of ways to express the same political agenda on the sly without insulting me and people like me. I felt the acting lacking in general. I also felt the movie was a bit too cute by half. And it seemed produced by identity politics bean counters who felt rather smug that the had managed to make the girl who would otherwise be hot, not be hot.

The Joker
On the other end of the political spectrum, I bounced pretty quick with this movie, too. I hated this movie. Loathed it. It just seemed too anti-woke. It was a pretty loud dog whistle for incels who feel like they’re so smart that no one else “gets” their jokes. Ugh. Just tell me a good story. Don’t produce a movie that has as the core of its marketing campaign the fear that some crazy incel is going to murder people because of the movie. I see The Joker as just as a bad as Booksmart. Why can’t I just get a well produced movie that may have an agenda, but is, like, actually good? I mean, Network, Deliverance, Taxi Driver, The Dear Hunter, all are very powerful movies with political messages that don’t overshadow basic things like plot and character.

This was probably one of the better movies I’ve seen recently and I still walked out of it about 2/3rds of the way through. When it dawned on me that J.Lo’s ass cheeks were simply a ruse to get my butt in a dark theatre and that there would be no positive male characters, I bounced. But the movie itself was very strong did a great job of telling its story. I didn’t see the whole movie, so maybe this is a dumb question, but, how come there wasn’t more lesbian action in the movie? It’s implied in a whisper, but this is 2019. I think audiences can handle the two main female characters having a dimly lit naked romp in bed.

Charlie’s Angels
This movie needed to be darker and have more sex in it. Since only old farts like me care about the franchise, I think Elizabeth Banks should have done a Buffy The Vampire Slayer and made her version of this otherwise campy movie far more adult. Put a lot more John Wick and Hustlers in it. Make it a gritty — if a bit campy — action packed movie with sex-positive portrayals of female sexual agency. This whole business of having an out-of-nowhere montage of young women running around with big smiles on their faces made no sense to me. It was a real, “What the what?” moment. If she’d done as I suggested, a lot of middle-aged couples would have really enjoyed the movie. It might not have been the hit everyone had hoped for, but it would not have been a flop. Needed far stronger actresses, however, to pull it off. Though I really did like Kristen Stewart.

Anyway, I am extremely brutal with movies I go to see and if I walk out of it, the producers shouldn’t take it too seriously or personally. I often have a drink before I go see a movie and I bounce because I just don’t feel like the movie has any more to give. Also, I sometimes have an ah-ha experience because of the movie and I leave because I’d rather be home developing my novel.