[Spoilers] The Third Act of ‘No Time To Die’ & The Potential Influence Of Phoebe Waller-Bridge On The Screenplay

by Shelt Garner

I really liked No Time To Die. I only rolled my eyes a few times and checked my watch a few more. And I only once felt the need to think about leaving the theatre in mid-film. For me, a person who walks out of movies constantly, that’s a big deal.

But it’s the third act of the movie I want to talk about.

It’s in the third act that the stakes are raised and a child’s life — Bond’s daughter — is put in harm’s way.

It’s in the third act when something about how unfocused the movie is becomes clear. Somewhere in the movie’s nearly three-hour run time was an even better movie, waiting to come out. The emotional highs and lows of the movie were blunted by how muddled it all was.

I think it was so muddled because that is the point of a Bond movie. You go to a Bond movie to have a good time, not to really get your emotions played with. But had they wanted to make not just a Bond movie but a Bond “film” they could have focused a lot more on the implications of Bond having a family for once in his life and what he was willing to do to save them.

As it is, we’re introduced to his daughter as a plot point, she’s put in danger and then…she escapes because she bit the finger of the villain? What the what? It was a huge letdown.

You have something unique in the Bond franchise — he has a family to protect — and in the end the whole thing is dismissed in a rather ham-handed manner. There was not nearly the emotional pay off that it could have had.

Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Maybe I’m seeing the influence of Phoebe Waller-Bridge? But because she was just punching the screenplay up and wasn’t the main screenwriter, we just saw glimpses of the far more powerful movie that could have been? I dunno. But it definitely is weird that something so potentially powerful — Bond with family — was introduced and then not a lot was done with it.

As I mentioned, I think some of what I’m noticing is just something that is basic to the Bond movies on an existential basis. We don’t really expect them to be No Country For Old Men or There Will Be Blood. There’s just a fun way to entertain yourself for a few hours.

Oh Lort, Is Phoebe Waller-Bridge A Babe

by Shelt Garner

Let’s talk about the curious case of Phoebe Waller-Bridge. Relative to Hollywood metrics of beauty, she’s something of a square peg in a round hole. But relative to, like, normal people, she’s a smoking hot babe. In my mind, at least, she’s a smoking hot babe. She has a certain √©lan to her that isn’t easily pinned down.


Ms. Waller-Bridge is so unique, out there and creative that she always keeps you guessing. And what could be more sexy than that? She’s so interesting just by being herself that audiences can really relate to her in a way they can’t with some more established stars.

She probably has a great Hollywood career ahead of her. I could see her being a stable of romcoms for years to come. Though, I also think she would play a great Dr. Susan Calvin from the I, Robot short stories. But I think that says more about my eagerness for one of those short stories to be turned into a movie than anything else.

One thing I find interesting is how she seems to be glowing up right now while another one of my celebrity crushes, Alexa Chung, seems a bit long in tooth. Not to say Ms. Chung isn’t still gorgeous, but the difference in mentality between Ms. Waller-Bridge and Ms. Chung is striking. Ms. Waller-Bridge seems to be getting younger while Ms. Chung is definitely looking a very attractive 35-ish.

Still a classic babe.

Anyway. I have to think of something to make myself feel better than now that fucking Trump has been acquitted by the Senate. I will say, in passing, that one of my novel’s female characters is inspired by Ms. Waller-Bridge. But the connection is extremely tenuis beyond what’s going on in my head when I write the character.

Hollywood, ‘Fleabag’ & The Strange Case of The Dog That Didn’t Bark

by Shelt Garner

Looking back over all my ranting about Trumplandia, there’s one thing that really shocks me — we never got a “Network” for that era. It’s surreal. It’s almost as if Hollywood was scared to touch the epic shitshow that was happening all around us for four years.

For much of Trumplandia, the case could be made that it just takes time to develop and produce a movie. But in the four years of Trumplandia, we never once got a movie that directly referenced the insane situation we were in. And, really, in a sense it was Phoebe Waller-Bridges’ “Fleabag” that gave us the catharsis we needed.

How many times during Trumplandia did we collectively want to look at the camera of life with one of Fleabag’s expressions?

Now that Trumplandia has fallen, it does raise the question of will art ever address it. The novel I’m developing and writing hopes to do that, but the context growing very, very different every day. I struggle with how to tell the story I’ve always wanted without it seeming extremely dated.

The issue, I think, is to make the story a good as possible and also to really lean on character. If I can just make it a good story set in a specific moment in time — like, say “Ladybird,” then some of the more potentially dated aspects of the story will be “hidden” by how good the story is unto itself.

I really have a huge amount of reading to do, but I also have to put-up or shut-up. They say your first draft is meant to be shit, and so now that I have the structure of the story down pat, as soon as I’m mentally in the right space to do so –which should be very, very soon — I’m going to sit down and start writing a serious first draft. One, I hope, is the best first draft I’ve attempted to date.

But I must admit that I’m on a hair trigger to do something different if I feel I’m forced to. I have maybe three or four solid novel or screenplay concepts rolling around in my mind and if this current novel becomes untenable, I’m going to move on — even if it sucks and will hurt like a bitch.

Yet, that hasn’t happened yet. Gotta keep moving on.

I still think there will be an audience for a novel that wallows in the conventions of Trumplandia.

Sketching Out Some Scenarios of Hollywood’s Future

Shelton Bumgarner

by Shelt Garner

If you look back over the last few decades on a macro scale, the post-9/11 era in Hollywood has been a collective effort to “fix” that fateful day. Audiences want heroes. They want to see worlds where a superhero could have saved prevented that tragic day.

And, yet, it seems as though now that we’re just a generation away from that fateful day, that it’s at least possible that we’re entering a new era. Now, obviously, there are some economic issues at work that aren’t going to change. But on a creative level, it’s at least possible that we’re one unexpected hit movie away from a Hollywood Renaissance.

For instance, we’re overdue for that one-a-generation romantic comedy that sets the tone for the genre for a decade. Right now, it goes Annie Hall, When Harry Met Sally, The Enternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind and (500) Days of Summer. (Or something like that.)

Maybe Phoebe Waller-Bridge has a new romcom floating around in her mind, waiting to be produced?

Anyway, Hollywood’s fate really rests on the outcome of the 2020 Election, in some respects. If Trump wins, people may simply want to escape to theatres, whenever they happen to open again. Slowly, as people wake up to living in a fascist state, the number of gritty 70s-like dramas may slowly begin to increase as people want some catharsis.

In the extremely unlikely event that Biden wins, I think we’re going to see a new Golden Age of Hollywood comedies because everyone is going to want to laugh and laugh and laugh.

Regardless, because of the side-effects of COVID19 on Hollywood, it’s going to take a few years for things to go back to “normal.”

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!

The Struggle Is Real: Developing My Novel’s Female Romantic Lead #AmWriting

by Shelt Garner

I’m using Alexa Chung’s appearance, public persona (and style) as something of a cheatsheet for my novel’s female romantic lead. In fact, whenever I can’t think of an aspect of the character off the top of my head, I pull up Wikipedia or YouTube and see what Alexa Chung does.

It really helps to have a public figure to inspire you when it comes to such an important character. The character, though, isn’t NOT “based” on her, so much as it is simply influenced and inspired by her. The character is an amalgam of several women I’m fond of, including Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Jennifer Lawrence, Liz Plank, Erin Ryan, Jodi Kantor and the odd woman I’ve dated here and there.

I finally understand what an author means when they say one of their characters is “an amalgam.” I really need to do a formal personality profile of several characters, but I find actually writing the character out in the copy is more in line with my personal needs as a writer.

I will note, however, that my general fondness for developing female characters is making me self-conscious about not having enough MALE characters. But I think I’ve fixed that. I’m going to have to break the rule about only six POV characters to do it, but lulz.

I’m Modeling The Hero Of My #Novel After #ChrisPratt #AmWriting

By Shelt Garner

Let me be clear — I really fucking hate it when people preen about who they think should play this or that character in their “WIP.” I just want to scream at them to shut up and actually write the novel. But, here I am, doing that very same thing.

My only excuse, I guess, is I’m 100% extroverted and I can’t help myself. And, also, I’m not really being aggressive about it. It’s just something to write about while in thinking in the back of my mind about an important first draft scene I’m working on at the moment.

Chris Pratt is who I imagine my hero looking like right now. He’s the right age and fits the phenotype of the inspiration for the hero. It is interesting how men who are in the 40 to 60 age range can play just “the Hero” while the female romantic lead usually has to be played by a far younger woman. I think that says more about Hollywood as an industry and the power male actors accrue as they grow older. (And the fact that the more powerful an actor becomes, the more he seeks out all the younger hot actress to play against so he can bang them.)

What’s interesting is I could see Chris Pratt play my Hero and Jennifer Lawrence play the Female Romantic Lead. (Or maybe Phoebe Waller-Bridge.) Those two have worked together in a movie. I really need to get back to writing the first draft of the novel. But, for some reason, I just feel the need to mention that on this blog that no one reads.

Anyway, like I said, I really fucking hate when other aspiring novelists do exactly what I’m doing. It’s so cloy and preening. It fucking drives me up the wall.

Just write the fucking novel already, people.

Idle Mulling of Phoebe Waller-Bridge & The Female Romantic Lead of The #Novel I’m Developing #AmWriting

by Shelt Garner

I really hate it when people like me talk about who they imagine would play this or that character in their “WIP.” Ugh. It’s just so preening and cloy and fucking annoying.

Pretty much what I imagine my novel’s female romantic lead looking like.

And, yet, here I am, doing that thing I, myself, hate when other people do it.

My only excuse is I’m a drinking and writing and absolutely no one reads this blog (in real terms) so, lulz. The only reason why I keep coming back to this notion that Phoebe Waller-Bridge would be great to play the female romantic lead of this novel is who the character is inspired by — Alexa Chung.

Ms. Waller-Bridge’s phenotype would be perfect to make my vision for the character a reality. She’s also British, which is something I imagine for the character to be. Or, put another way, she’s got a British accent, even if the exact nature of that Commonwealth accent is never fully explained (or at least understood) by everyone else in the novel. In all honesty, the character isn’t even really inspired that much on Alexa Chung as she is by a South African woman I dated briefly in Seoul who had some very endearing verbal ticks. And, yet, the more serious I become with this novel, the less, in real terms, I care about even worrying about Hollywood or any type of adaptation. The point is write the best damn novel (one story, two novels) I can and worry about everything else later.

It’s just so unlikely that I will ever actually sell this novel, all of that seems not only a lot of useless preening, but also a waste of time. But, like I said, I see this blog as more me talking to myself than anything else.

So, lulz.

Jennifer Lawrence & The Quandary Of My Novel’s Female Romantic Lead

by Shelt Garner

I’m operating completely in a vacuum with this novel. I have no idea what I’m doing. But I do have a very specific vision. Part of that vision is I want my female romantic lead (the person closest to the hero and the person he talks to the most) to be inspired by Alexa Chung.

But there’s a little bit of a problem, given how fucked up the world it these days.

Chung doesn’t look “Asian,” despite her surname. Now, in the novel it’s really easy to explain how this happened to my female romantic lead, just like it happened to Alexa Chung. Her dad was three-fourth’s Asian and, as such, she doesn’t have traditional Asian apperence.

But I’m ambitious.

I want this novel to be a pulpy, fast read like Stieg Larsson’s original Millennium series. My novel is meant to be an American answer to his work, but it’s also meant to be something of a guilty pleasure for educated liberal women in the sense that it’s also an allegory for the Trump Era. (Let me be clear, this is all in my head — any actual person with any knowledge of said market would probably laugh at me.)

As such, my dream is for this novel to be adapted into a movie. The perfect person to play the female romantic lead is Phoebe Waller-Bridge. She’s the right age and appearance, everything. But another person who could play the role is Jennifer Lawrence.

One thing to remember is, this is a novel, not a screenplay. I do all this talking about Hollywood stars despite this for no other reason than I need SOME SORT of reference point in constructing characters. Jennifer Lawrence’s is such a huge star and such a great actress that if I win the lottery and my dreams of writing a break out novel come true, the idea that people would bitch about her “not looking Asian” in any move adaptation is really annoying.

Or, you could just say I think too much.

I should be developing, not mentally masturbating about such an unlikely thing.

Liz Plank, Jodi Kantor, Erin Ryan & Some Mulling Of My Novel’s Female Romantic Lead

by Shelt Garner

I have spent a ridiculous amount of time struggling to figure out how my novel’s female romantic lead is. I know her appearance is inspired by Alexa Chung, but it’s taken a lot — A LOT — of struggle to get to the point that I have a character who can be a “Twitter liberal” for the purposes of the plot.

It would help if I, like, actually had friends, huh.

Anyway, I think I may have come up with a character that readers will like. She’s a lot more more a Liz Plank – Erin Ryan character than I expected. Jodi Kantor, while cool and all, just seems a bit more intense and reserved than I need for my purposes. As I’ve said before, if my win-the-lottery dream comes true and I somehow sell this novel and it’s optioned to be a movie, I see someone like Phoebe Waller-Bridge playing the character. At least, that’s who I think about a lot as I develop the character in my mind.

*I* have to want to hang out with this character to write them. Kantor seems like she would be always be quietly judging me for being the doofus that I am. I want someone fun and smart, not scary and smart. (Not to pick on her, but she comes off as rather intimidating to me.)

I’m quite please, like I said, with my female romantic lead. Things are starting to fall into place. I just have to figure out how to give her enough POV screentime so people are willing to see her as real and complex enough.

Though someone called me “both delusional and stupid” for suggesting there are “woke Park Slope Moms,” I do get the sense that these women do exist. I don’t know. No one cares what I do, why can’t I have a little fun to entertain myself by constructing a group of women who probably don’t even exist in any meaningful manner.