The Plan

Shelton Bumgarner

By Shelton Bumgarner

Things are moving faster again with the novel. At the same time, however, I find lingering frustration. Something happened recently that left a bad taste in my mouth. I suddenly find myself interested in writing a screenplay. As such, I’m probably going to buy FinalDraft sometime in September. I also hope to buy a few screenwriting books as well.

In the past, my biggest problem has been thinking up plots. I have plenty — plenty — of great ideas for movies. But I’ve always struggled with plots. But using the skillset I’ve developed from working on the novel, I believe I have a better chance at writing a successful (relative to me) screenplay. Or two. Or three.

I’ve vowed to myself that whenever I finish a screenplay, I’ll give myself permission to head to LA for a few days to poke around. But I won’t do so without a least one screenplay I can show people. While I’m quite pleased writing a novel and that’s my main creative project right now, I want to at least attempt to write a screenplay as well.

The issue is I have numerous ideas for movies because they lend themselves to something visual, something seen on the big screen. Add to this that I natively have a very extroverted personality, I believe if I put in the hard work of writing a screenplay or two, I might have at least a slim chance of being able to find someone in LA willing to take a look at it.

But, of course, I realize this is being extremely naive. Given my age, where I’m from and pretty much everything else about me, the possibility I would actually manage to pull this dream of is, in real terms, slim to none. But, if nothing else, it gives me something productive to do with my spare time as I work on the novel.

‘Hobbs & Shaw,’ A Political Review

by Shelton Bumgarner

When I was living in South Korea, I once found myself near the DMZ at a English Camp designed to give a young Korean the experience of living in an English speaking nation. While I was there, I saw in a waiting room a video of a kid’s show. What was notable about the cartoon was the name of the villain — Darwin.

This little bit of creatist propaganda has lingered with me over the years. That the show’s writer thought they could get young, impressionable minds to associate Darwin and by extension evolution with villany was both extremely annoying and impressive.

Before I begin, I would also like to note the “explanation” of Top Gun in the movie Sleep With Me.

Anyway, let’s get the point — the deeper political meaning in the otherwise summer popcorn movie Hobbs & Shaw. It has taken me a few days, but I feel as though there is a lot more going on with this movie than initially meets the eye. There’s a lot of sly politics in the movie that is so open to interpretation that it might leave one scratching their heads.

Let’s talk about the general plot. — spoilers ahead.

The plot, as much as there is one, is about a nebulous “deep state” type of company that wants to use its Snowflake programmable virus to kill off the weak and do a very Thanos-type restructuring of society. Two guys who ostensibly hate each other — The Rock (Hobbs) and Jason Statham (Shaw) join forces to defeat the bad guys and save the day. From what I saw of the movie, the only reason why I don’t think this movie’s politics is quite what you might this is comes from the people involved.

Given the fan service the movie does to The Rock’s WWE fandom, I’m led to believe the producers of this movie see its market as center-Right. At the same time, given how liberal-progressive Hollywood is, I am reluctant to believe that there aren’t air quotes around the movie’s superficial politics. I don’t know The Rock’s politics, but I struggle to believe he’s anything more than closer to center-Left than center-Right

Let’s break down some of the plot to see what’s going on.

The McGuffin is a woman — the sister of the Shaw character (22 years younger than he is, natch)– who has shot the virus into her bloodstream. If you REALLY wanted to get deep about the politics of this movie, you could say that it’s supposed to be, in a sense, about the “special relationship” between the United State in post-Brexit, post-Trump geopolitical world. I only say this because The Rock obviously represents America and Statham the UK. They are alone in the world and have to work together to save the day. (That a Russian helps save the day is an interesting twist to all of this.)

Anyway, there are some other things I noticed. That the programmable super virus is called “Snowflake” can be interpreted two ways. Either we’re meant to think of that obviously the Bad Guys are evil liberals (snowflakes) or we’re meant to laugh that the thing that could end the world is a bunch of snowflakes.

The reasoning that the villain gives for ending the world a very conservative-interpretation-of-the-liberal-worldview. Hollywood these days they find themselves having to square the circle. They want to appease a center-Right audience (to make money) but they also have to do so in a way that allows them not to hate themselves. That’s why, I feel, the politics of this movie are extremely muddled, but obviously there.

And, yet, I simply am not prepared to accept that this is Brad Bird Hollywood conservatism. For starters, Bird’s work is much more nuanced than this movie and has a stronger idology. This movie, meanwhile, seems to want it both ways. It wants to appease its center-Right audience, while at the same time looking slant eye at center-Left people in the audience in a way that suggests, “Can you believe what we have to do to appease the Right?”

I liked this movie because it did want it set out to do — entertain you in a cool theatre for a few hours on a hot summer day. I find it interesting, however, that the corrosive politics of the Trump Era has even seeped into what might otherwise be just a dumb summer movie.

Anyway, I probably will never know how close to the truth I am on this subject. I would like to believe I have dug up something interesting, however. There’s no way they would name the super virus “Snowflake” without there being an ulterior motive.

Shelton Bumgarner, a writer living in Virginia, is working on his first novel. He may be reached at migukin (at) gmail (dot) com.

I Have An Idea

by Shelton Bumgarner

While I’m deep into working on a novel, I have an idea, a notion, a conceit for a screenplay that’s interesting.

I have the general universe — and twist ending — down pat. What I don’t have is much of a plot. But I do have another plot lying around and I may use it to flesh out the plot of this idea.

But it really doesn’t matter right now. I have a novel to work on.

V-Log: The State of My Novel & A Rant About The Perils Of Modern Storytelling

Some thoughts.

V-Log: How To Fix The Star Wars Franchise

by Shelton Bumgarner

In this video I spend an hour talking about how fucked up the Star Wars franchise is and how I, personally, would fix it. It involves Bubba Fett, Ray in carbonite and and using an obscure existing character as the new Hero.

What We Need Is A Good Movie About The Trump Era

by Shelton Bumgarner

I’m struggling with a screenplay these days. I’m going to write it as a novella first and then once I save up the money, buy Final Draft and write it as a screenplay. But the point of the story is I want to tell one that really gets into how Trump has effected life on a personal level.

There have been a few movies like that, but nothing as seminal as, say, The Big Chill. That’s the type of movie I’m striving for, with maybe a little bit more drama. I have a lot of things I want to talk about in the story and they’re all coming together in one tidy project. I was the publisher of a magazine in Seoul about a decade ago and that story is really interesting, but I’ve struggled as to how to tell it. This story would be a way for me to do just that and that would be using as back story.

It’s been difficult to actually write the story. Part of writing a story as a writer is having to entertain yourself as you do it. So sometimes I get bored and stop working on this story, but I’m generally a creative person and I find myself wanting to write something again. So, I hope to return to this story pretty soon, if not today.

There is so much to talk about when it comes to this surreal Trump era we’re in. So much we can talk about in a story when it comes to how its changed how people are interacting with each other with such a troubling person as president. I have so much I want to talk about in this very thing in this story.

Regardless, it is going to take time. It’s going to take time to process all the batshit stuff that is happening because of Trump.

The Inciting Incident Of The ‘Big Chill’ Homage I’m Writing

by Shelton Bumgarner

The “inciting incident” of a story is when it really actually begins. Anyway, here is the The Big Chill homage I’m writing up to the inciting incident. I’m going to try not to post the entire story online as I write it, but this gives you a taste of the general vision of the story. I’m really pleased with the concept I’ve managed to think up. If you want to see the entire scene summary, just let me know and I’ll send it to you.

The Big Shrug

A novella by Shelton Bumgarner

Blaze Hurt and his Korean wife Union looked at each other and grinned. This weekend was going to be an exciting one, no matter what, given the people involved. Soon enough, as expected, the door opened and a middle-aged man wearing a red Make America Great Again hat walked in and gave each of them a hug.

“Jackson!” Union said as she did. “My, your politics sure have changed since we last met.”

Jackson Colburn mugged sheepishly as he turned to hug Blaze as well.

“Well, you know,” Jackson said. “Things change. I’ve changed. Who else is here? I looking forward to catching up.”

Jackson shook Blaze’s hand and told him happy birthday.

“You’re the first person here, but the rest right behind you,” Blaze said. “There’s an envelope on the kitchen table explaining where everything is.”

As Jackson nodded and made his way past them, a gorgeous African American woman squealed and hugged them both passionately. She kissed them each on the lips as she did.

“Gaia!” Blaze said, his eyes wide open. “You haven’t changed a bit. What have you been up to since Seoul? Last I heard you were modeling in Phuket”

“Yeah,” Gaia said in a deep, silky voice. “I’ve been up to this or that. Seoul was so long ago. I try to keep my eyes on the future, not the past. Happy birthday, baby,”

She, too, pushed past the couple on her way to the kitchen.

After a moment, a middle-aged woman with a lot of luggage made her way to the door and greeted the couple warmly.

“Maude, my dear,” Union said, “It’s been too long. So glad you could make it. We’re in for a great time, I think. Things are going to be so much fun with you here.”

“You’re too kind,” Maude said. “I’m just glad I could make it. Who else is here?”

“The usual suspects,” Blaze said.

Maude smiled and made her way past the couple.

Soon, a middle-aged man and a much younger, stunning woman appeared at the door. The mood was significantly different. It was more somber.

“Hey, Tagger,” Blaze said shaking Tagger’s hand firmly. “I don’t think I’ve met your daughter.”

Tagger looked at the couple smiled, then looked down for a moment and laughed.

“This is Manhattan,” Tagger said. “She’s my WIFE and you know it, you old bastard .”

The two couples shared a knowing laugh and the tension was broken.

“I haven’t seen you in person in close to 20 years,” Tagger said. “You haven’t changed a bit.”

“Neither have you,” Blaze said. “You seem to have done well for yourself since then. How many times have you gotten the Vogue cover in the last few years, half a dozen times?”

Tagger looked at his wife, squeezed her hand and nodded.

“Yeah, something like that.” Tagger said. “Life isn’t a straight line, you know. But it all started in Seoul. The whole thing changed my life.”

“Well,” Union said, “it’s good to see you are doing well. Like I told the others, just go straight into the kitchen and you’ll find the information you need for the weekend.”

And with that, Tagger and Manhattan pushed pass the couple with their luggage.  


The group met a little later in the living room to have a drink and chat. Things were relaxed. Finally, Tagger broke the calm.

“So my old foe has finally hit the Big 50,” Tagger said, fiddling with his beer bottle.

“Tagger,” Maude said, “don’t get started with your usual bullshit. He was never your foe and you know it. We’re here to celebrate his birthday, not rehash the past.”

Tagger continued to fiddle with his beer bottle.

“Oh, I don’t know,” Tagger said. “I have no idea why I’m here, it’s not like we exactly left on the best of terms. It was a long time ago, yes, but the magazine changed all our lives for better or worse. I wouldn’t be where I am today without what happened between Nuk and me.”

There was an awkward pause.

Tagger looked around, struggling to understand what was happening.

“Speaking of Nuk,” Tagger said. “Why isn’t she here? Seeing her was half the reason why I came.”

The silence grew longer and more potent by the moment.

“Tagger…” Blaze said. “There’s something you don’t know, I’m afraid. Nuk, she, she’s passed.”

“Fuck no,” Tagger said, standing up nervously. “That’s not possible. I would know. Someone would have told me. When…when did it happen?”

“Recently, about a month ago,” Blaze said. “We decided maybe it was for the best if you didn’t know, at least not right away.”

“OH MY GOD,” Tagger yelled. “You all intentionally kept it away from me? You all knew and you didn’t tell me? Really? How could you be so fucking cruel?”

“Calm down, honey,” Manhattan said. “I’m sure there’s a reason for all of this. Who was Nuk, anyway? Was she the woman you started the magazine with?”

Everyone looked at each other in shock.

“Jesus, Tagger, you didn’t tell her anything, did you?” Maude said with a gasp and placing her hand over her mouth in shock.

“Look,” Tagger said, “what I did or didn’t tell my wife is none of your business Maude. The issue is what happened to Nuk. How did it happen, damn it. I want answers!”

“Tagger,” Blaze said. “I don’t know if we need to get into this now. We’re here to celebrate life, not death. Maybe you should fix yourself a drink, calm down and relax. We can get to the details later.”

“OH MY GOD,” Tagger yelled. “I’m NOT going to calm down! I know all you think I was some sort of monster to Nuk, but she was no angel you know. We both did things to each other that we regret. We even talked about it a little bit a few years ago via email.”

“Tagger…she….she took her own life,” Maude said.

Tagger screamed and fell to the floor in front of the group and began to cry. Manhattan got next to him and attempt to console him.

“I think, I think maybe we need to be alone,” Manhattan said at last.

The couple got up and left the room.   

Dream Big Or Go Home: My ‘Big Chill’ Homage & Erykah Badu, Janelle Monae

by Shelton Bumgarner

I’m a dreamer. I daydream and I very much into a dream big or go home kind of guy. I’m developing a screenplay about a bunch of Gen. X people who spend the weekend to celebrate someone’s 50th birthday and I one of the roles would be perfect for either Erykah Badu or Janelle Monae. Monae is obviously the younger of the two, but she could probably play older.

I really like Ms. Badu and she’s perfect for the character I’m writing. I haven’t written the script yet, but I have written the scene summary. But I’m well aware that I have to put the work in and actually produce something. But I enjoy daydreaming so much that it’s difficult for me not to talk about any creative project I’m working on as I’m doing it.

What makes this screenplay different from all my other harebrained concepts is I feel good about it’s prospects to actually be finished. It’s a really strong concept and I am enjoying the process of writing it. I’m willing to put the scene summary online for either Ms. Badu or Ms. Monae to look at, but I know that’s kind of bonkers and totally how things are not suppose to be done.

But it’s my birthday (almost). Let a man enjoy a little winter daydream.

V-Log: Mulling #Writing A Gen. X Homage To The Big Chill #screenwriting

by Shelton Bumgarner

I have talked enough. It’s time to put up or shut up. I am going to try to sketch out some scenes tonight of a Gen. X homage to The Big Chill. I have vowed to myself that I’m not going to buy Final Draft until I have finished a novella — or something — that proves to me that I am serious about all of this.

But only time will tell. Talking and not doing is so much fun that I worry that I’ll just bounce to another concept or project and never get this one finished. But I really hope that isn’t the case.

Some Mulling Of A ‘Big Chill’ Screenplay For Gen X #screenwriting

by Shelton Bumgarner

I am saving up money to buy a high end digital camera, but in the meantime, I’m interested in writing a screenplay. I’ve vowed to myself I’m not going to buy Final Draft until I’ve sketched out a novella. The screenplay concept I’ve come up with is pretty strong.

It’s meant to be a “Big Chill” type movie for Gen X people. That’s the vision, at least. And it would have a lot of Trump talk in it as well. I guess I what I really want is someone to talk about it with for a little while to figure out in my head if the concept is as strong as I think it is.

But no one seems willing to do so.

The key thing is, I have to produce the copy. I have to actually put in the hard work. That’s the tough part. But it’s not impossible.