WIP: Treatment for When Atlantis Fell

So I have completed the pilot episode for the four season serial. This is an epic, sci-fi/fantasy ensemble covering the destruction of Atlantis during the last Ice Age. It is based on a trilogy that I am currently writing and the rewrite of Wall of Destruction.

Now I am working on the treatment I believe that Hollywood would eventually ask for. For season one I will cover half of book one of the trilogy (which I have already written). Here is the synopsis followed by the episode summaries.

What do you think of the story?

Log Line: Flying craft, energy weapons, sword and shield are used in an Ice Age global war. The destruction of Atlantis is told from the perspectives of those crossing paths with one Atlantean officer, who causes the fall of civilization to stop those who would enslave the world.

Synopsis:

A global war between the empires of Atlantis and Rama, ravage the Ice Age world. Their civilizations fueled by Aether, a power source channeled through crystals that act as batteries. Aether allows them conveniences similar to our modern society. Both have more primitive allies who have superhuman heroes that have been blessed by the Gods. For Atlantis, there is also a political rivalry for the Emperor’s ear between the Atlantis first party, Shigar, and the peace party, Nelos.

In season one, RISOR, the commander of a squadron of Atlantis’ flying machines called vailixi, fights his nation’s enemy and his political enemy, JANA, a Shigar member and rival squadron commander. Atlantis turns to powerful Aether weapons, like our nuclear weapons. This starts a tit-for-tat destruction against each empire’s cities that culminates in Rama recognizing they will lose. In a desperate gamble, Rama decides to flood the coastlines by releasing the built up waters of the northern ice pack. INDRAJIT, a hero of Rama, leads a strike on the ice barriers causing flooding that forces the abandonment of many coastal cities including Atlantis. In eastern Europe, ROGAT, friend of Risor and an infantryman, survives the resulting floods but is forced to lead the surviving Atlantean peoples of Eastern Europe to safety while Greek hero, DEMETRI, chases them in the hopes of destroying the last remnants of Atlantis, in the region. Meanwhile, Atlantis realizes that Rama caused this destruction and wants revenge. They recall all forces to the new Atlantis site to lead a massive strike against the remnants of Rama. The remote colonies, trying to recover, realize this would strip them of protections at their most vulnerable and refuse. In Altai, Risor has a successful coup against the military commander as Altai plans for its freedom. In the east, Atlantis sends a force to Moia to force the local military to comply. SHANDAR, a fellow squadron commander in Asia, leads a force that destroys the Atlantean force and forces Utanor and Moia to be independent.

 

Season 1 Episode Summaries

S1E1: Indrajit goes to the northern ice pack and captures an Atlantean research team. In Atlanta Nado or Eastern Europe, Demetri’s men ambush an enemy force. In Altai, or along the Mississippi River, Risor meets his friends for dinner before they go back to their respective assignments. He meets Rogat there. In Atlantis, Lena says good bye to her lover, Tilor, as his leave ends and he returns to his base. Rogat returns to his base and is promoted to troop leader because of an ambush that killed the previous leader when Rogat was on vacation.

S1E2: Demetri is in the capital of the Tugar, discussing an upcoming attack on Dedeni. Rogat’s troops were left behind to garrison Dedeni when the larger Atlantean force attacks the nearby Tugar town of Bicas. Rogat feels like something bad will happen. Lady Jana comes to Risor’s base and tells him, his squadron would assist in an attack on Rama. He argues about the consequences of the attack but eventually bows to her demands. The attack proceeds successfully destroying the targeted city. Meanwhile, Shandar Kotan leads an attack against the Hu city of Magno to disrupt the allies of Rama at the same time. Demetri launches an attack against Dedeni and overruns the base. They trap Rogat and a few survivors in an underground bunker. Demetri and Rogat meet to talk surrender but Rogat refuses. A relief force of Atlanteans arrives in time to stop the assault on Rogat but are beaten back with heavy loses. Demetri departs giving Atlantis a major defeat.

S1E3: After the strikes in the last episode, Risor is being asked to explain his actions. After the unexplained loss of power, he returned to base. He believes this inquiry is part of Lady Jana’s revenge for questioning her about the logic of the strikes. His squadron joins a multi squadron strike but he is not to command it as is his normal right. Another rival, Jamal, leads the strike. The strike goes all wrong and they barely escape with few survivors. They return to base to find out that Rama has struck their base and colony with WMDs of their own. They try to help survivors but need help. Shandar’s squadron is sent to assist Risor with the rescue. Indrajit returns home to find out that Rama and Atlantis are now regularly destroying each other’s cities and that his mother was killed in such a strike. He discusses what the Atlanteans were looking for on the ice pack.

S1E4: Risor leaves Vortia and returns to Atlantis to face an inquiry into his behavior. He ordered the retreat and Shigar enemies are trying to frame him as a coward and derelict in his duties. He is ordered home during further investigation. Lady Jana confronts him and openly declares her hatred for him. Tilor sees him off when an attack on Atlantis occurs. While unsuccessful it was close, this drives Tilor to seek safety for Lena. Lena and Tilor spend their last night together in Atlantis. Rogat’s company was sent to another area along the Tes Naldo or today, the Black Sea. He meets Yalana who he promptly falls for.

S1E5: Tilor and Lena arrive at the north African coast village of Dumon tu Mare. One of the other members of Tilor’s squadron has family here and Lena will stay with them. Tilor and Lena say their good byes and Tilor leaves. Shandar is home after seeing the horrors of the strike on Vortia, he talks to his father and then the colony’s Council of Elders. Back near Tes Naldo, Rogat beats off an attack by Tugar and their allies. Risor is home when word arrives that he is cleared of charges and that he can return to duty. Up north, a Rama vimana flying craft force heads over the ice cap, they use their brahmastra weapons of mass destruction to destroy the ice barriers holding the large bodies of water in the ice pack. It comes crashing out.

S1E6: The citizens of Alta are woken to an alarm to evacuate to the hills. Risor and his family flee and barely make safety ahead of the flood. Many citizens are washed away as the city is swallowed in the flood. In Atlanta Nado, a tsunami is reported heading for Rogat’s fort. They start to flee. Back in Alta, vailixi survey the flood as it empties in to the Gulf. They find few survivors. Rogat and some of his people make it to safety as the waters start rising against the hills. Demetri witnesses the destruction of the city of Delin, down the coast from Rogat’s fort, and the death of most of its people. They stay for hours after the waters recede and witness no rescue attempt. Demetri surmises that Atlantis is also affected and in dire straits.

S1E7: A news report and fly over of the swamped city of Atlantis and one or two small colonies starts the episode. Risor’s vailixi flies over the swollen river back to Sun’s Farewell bluff, where command tents were set up. Inside, the Council of Altai was getting a report from Tolen, the city’s head scientist or shilot, about the floods. Reports are flooding in about Atlantis and other colonies being hit. In Utanor, near Japan, Shandar hears of the destruction of Atlantis and the call for the colonies military to strike Rama. Shandar and the council agree not to send any forces because they are needed to help defend the colonies of Utanor and Moia. They prepare their defenses. Lena and the villagers see the waters rising and know of the fate of many colonies. She is worried about Tilor.

S1E8: Risor wakes up to a sprawling tent camp of refugees, he heads back to the command center on the bluff. There he finds out the order that Atlantis has given. There is a debate on response with the overall military commander trying to organize a force to go to Atlantis while the Council wishes the forces to stay there. Risor prepares to use his squadron against the land forces if that is necessary. Fordo, the military commander, confronts the Council and Risor to obey the summons from Atlantis at gunpoint. Risor has his squadron show up over head and Fordo’s men surrender. Risor is promoted as the overall commander.

S1E9: The council in Altai discuss leaving the Atlantean Empire. They discuss what to do with Fordo and the men that backed him. They decide the best thing to do is send Fordo on a peace mission to the local tribes to see how they are doing. Sending him and his men will get them out of the way and give him a chance to show he can be trusted. Meanwhile, Atlantis has sent a force to Moia, the other Asian colony to gather the colony’s forces to go with them. Word gets to Utanor and Shandar mobilizes a force to go save Moia and his beloved.

S1E10: Shandar has his squadron speeding to Moia to free them from Atlantis. His girlfriend commands the squadron stationed at Moia. Her squadron is detained in their barracks. She was able to escape and contact Shandar from the nearby temple. Shandar attacks the Atlantean vailixi and their men on the ground. Shandar leads a small force to free Jolna in the priests quarters. They succeed and then head to the central council chambers. There Jolna realizes the Atlanteans tortured her father and she kills the leader before Shandar can stop her.

End of Season 1

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WIP: Response from Launch Pad Competition

So I finally got a response to my entry. Needless to say, I did not place, but I am happy with the Notes I received. I submitted excerpts from my book and that seemed to be a bad thing. They said show them the action but I guess it was not to mean, literally, show action scenes only. Lesson learned!

I tried to streamline the novel to read more like a screen play but they said they want more background in the novel. Fair enough.

Lots of work to do. I have the background but need to figure out how to flesh out the story again but not weigh down the story’s flow.

I think what I will do is return to the first novel and rewrite it with these notes in mind. Then I will write the Pilot screenplay and outline the rest of the novel for a season one of the trilogy. Will try both Hollywood and book publishers again once that is done.

Here are the Notes they sent.  Hopefully it can help someone by showing things that industry folks look for. I can definitely see the benefit of going to school for this, but for some of us older folks, that is not practical.

I would love to hear what you feel these notes meant. Doesn’t hurt having a second opinion.

FeedbackNotes

The samples provided are excerpts or vignettes rather than a full 50 pages of straight text in the order of the story’s progressions so it’s difficult to get a good idea of the overall arc of the story and its timeline. A whole world is introduced in this story yet I don’t know what it looks like, the kind of time period the people are living in, the kind of technology they have available, etc. Unfortunately the sample lacks that set-up that establishes the world in which “Empires Fall” takes place.

As far as the excerpts are concerned, they contain intriguing scenarios and introduce compelling story arcs and characters, however often gloss over backstory which is necessary to build a foundation. For instance, in the first excerpt, “Arctic Icepack,” we’re told briefly that “Indrajit is a God anointed hero.” As well as that his comrade Zhenjin witnessed his anointing. However, this is glossed over in just three sentences. Perhaps there is more in an excerpt not included here, but the brief mention in the current scenario when the audience is already invested in Indrajit’s observation and attack on the researchers is distracting.

If more detail is not going to be provided to explain this here, its inclusion is confusing. It’s one thing to refer to Indrajit by a nickname, but wholly another to almost provide an explanation of the name which falls short.

Due to the structure of the sample, the time line of “EmpiresFall” is unclear, as are the main themes, tone, and the primary focus of the story. And due to the lack of detail, the excerpts come across as summaries of a larger story than as small pieces taken from an existing manuscript. Where is the detailed history of these two societies?Why are they at war, what are they fighting about?

Further, since we know so little about them/who they are, it’s difficult to invest in or care about what’s happening in the lives of the characters. For material to be capable of adaptation, especially from novel to film, there needs to exist a steady, broad foundation. Is the world of “Empires Fall” enticing and compelling? Are there characters that can carry such a weighty story?

As of now, the manuscript doesn’t offer a visually enticing presentation of this world (visual being the keyword, as film is a visual medium. Will “Empires Fall” translate to the screen?) nor does it offer a clear interpretation of the characters. How can this be improved? Include detail–focus on the description of the scenario (where are the characters, what does the scene look like how did they get there, what are their motivations, etc.) A narrative will almost always contain more than what is needed for the adaptation – the content of the film script has to come from some where. The back story of a narrative informs that script. “Empires Fall” also seems to get its inspiration from existing genre shows such as “Game of Thrones” which shows in some of the dialogue (e.g. Tilor’s name for Lena, “sun and moon” and the emphatic “by the gods” statements). While it’s perfectly fine to be inspired by existing content, be sure to give “Empires Fall” your own voice and flavor.

In other news…

With the submission of my entry into the Launching Pad competition, that could have Hollywood and book publishers seeing my story, I have been waging an illogical war in my head. Should I prepare a synopsis of my other books or continue writing the books?

Being optimistic is definitely a necessary trait for what I want to do when I grow up but even I wonder if I am getting too far ahead of myself. I am happy to have put together an entry that I am rather pleased with submitting. I also ordered notes be sent back about my submission. Hopefully, quality notes that I can use to help me better my books and future entries.

The crux of the issue is, if I do have a lot of interest in my story, will they want a presentation of the full story (submitted book one synopsis) and how quickly will they want it.

Murphy’s Law is in total play here!  For those that might not be really familiar with this abhorrent law of nature, it basically means ‘what you least want to happen will happen.’

So if I do not prepare synopsis’ of books two and three and maybe a seasonal story arc for season one of a possible series, suicidal mania will prevail. They will love my story and be really excited but will want to move quickly and will need me to submit yesterday with no promise of payment.

You see the problem right? Being one of many that has that silly obligation called “A day job and bills to pay.” I can not just bar myself in a dark room and type until my fingers bleed. Bills and food be damned.

So write the synopsis’ right?

Well that leads me to the next level of my self-made hell. If I spend a lot of time working on that and nothing happens on the Hollywood front, I have taken away time from working on book two which I am a little more than half way through.  I imagine a book publisher would like to see the books finished, since they are interested in that kinda thing.

Yes, probably not a big problem when compared to so many other curve balls that life can throw our way. But in my totally optimistic frame of mind, I would love this to be a new career and this year to be start of that career.  So need to prepare but which one should I prepare for?

“It’s messing with my zen.”

 

 

Launch Pad Manuscript Competition.

So getting down to the wire for the final entry. Missed my deadline for the previous submission deadline because I was not happy with the synopsis. I feel better about this one and thought I would ask all for thoughts on how it sounds.

Some notes on the format.  First time a major character is mentioned, the name is all in caps,  JIM. Afterwards it would be normal, Jim.

Also this synopsis is to be one page only. Reluctantly, I have used exactly one page so adding more material is not possible unless I remove stuff.  I will include 48 other pages of passages from the book. The goal is to get them excited enough with the synopsis to read the rest of the submission.

The passages from the book are sequential but not a complete progression through the story. I decided to take passages that hopefully would show the action of the story.

Lastly, I do identify this as book one of a trilogy.  So hopefully that will help.

Thoughts?

 

Empires Fall Synopsis

For 30,000 years, Atlantis grew from small city to global empire. Poseidon blessed them with the secret of Aether, which powers their advanced technologies. First coming as friends and teachers, many considered them as gods. Soon they started to believe they were gods and friendship turned to lordship.

An alliance grew to stand against them, led by the Empire of Rama. The Gods of the alliance favored their followers with heroes of great might to combat the technologies of Atlantis.

For 10 years war has raged across the Ice Age world. In the last year, Atlantis turns to Aether weapons of immense destructiveness.

RISOR, a vailixi squadron commander, finds himself fighting the enemy and JANA, his political rival. Her animosity peaks as he questions the wisdom of her leading a WMD strike against the Rama Empire home cities. This led to the Rama Empire retaliating.

With cities being destroyed, Rama’s capacity for war diminishes. A last ditch effort by Rama sends, INDRAJIT, a hero of Rama, to the Arctic ice packs. His mission is to breach the ice walls, in the hope the flood waters would doom Atlantis.

Woken in the middle of the night, Risor and the citizens of Altai flee for their lives. The floods inundate the coastal areas of the world, ruining Atlantis and most of their colonies.

Atlantis demands a recall of most military forces to strike back. An act that would leave most colonies defenseless. Many colonies refuse the order and rebel. SHANDAR, another squadron commander, leads his people in open revolt against Atlantis. While Risor’s people decide to abandon their city and hide. In the end, they both realize they can not openly fight their former masters.

ROGAT, an infantry officer, takes charge of a group of survivors, abandoned by Atlantis and chased by the enemy. They are chased to a mountain stronghold, where they are trapped.

With the empire in chaos, LENA, the girlfriend of Risor’s lieutenant, has her colony attacked by Greek raiders. She is taken as a slave. After rebuffing the Greek leader many times, he gives her to a cruel ally. She is spared being raped or worse by an attacking Atlantean force.

Jana is sent to Altai and discovers that Risor’s people have fled. Her forces quickly find Risor and in the climatic battle, Risor’s people bring down her vailixi. She realizes it is him but is unable to do anything. His people escape and while Jana rages impotently, her master recalls her to Atlantis for a new operation.

Competition Time!

There are those that say, keep your projects (books, scripts, etc…) secret because you might fail. Then there are those that say announcing it will help push you to complete it because of the fear of failure.  I like the second way.

A writing competition is being sponsored by Launch Pad by the Tracking Board that is bringing together book and movie houses to review entries. Luckily, you do not need a complete novel to enter. Even more luckily for me, I have a pretty complete novel to enter.

So, I need to come up with a name for the trilogy, select 50 pages of text, from the novel, as the entry submission and put together a one page summary, novel and possibly trilogy. All before the 30th of June. Will find out if I was lucky by mid September.

So if you ever wanted to write a book or have one in the works or completed, check out the link. Wish me luck!

Short Story: At War with Ourselves

John sighed, That’s done, I am home now.  He opened the door and was about to call out to his wife and son, when two men grabbed him. They pulled him through the doorway and slammed him against the wall.

“Traitor!”  One of the assailants yelled into his face as he knocked the wind out of John.

The other assailant smashed his elbow into John’s jaw. John heard a loud popping sound and wondered if his jaw was broken. A salty taste flooded his mouth.

Not able to think about that taste too much because in came another punch to his stomach and an elbow to the shoulder. Driving him down to the floor. In the background, he heard his wife and son screaming and another person yelling at them.

They were kicking him, now that he was on the ground. He was doing all he could to block the kicks with his legs and arms. Punches pummeled his head. He wife and son continued to scream and the assailants continued to hurl abuse.

What seemed like a long time of beatings eventually stopped. Logically, John knew it was only a minute or two, since he still could reason, but it felt like a lifetime. He knew they could have beat him senseless. Silence as the assailants backed off. Even his family stopped yelling.

Only the sounds of boots on wooden floor, approaching, could be heard. John tested his jaw and found it still moved, at least they did not break his jaw.

“Ya fucked up this time, didn’t ya John?” Said a familiar voice but John couldn’t place it in his rattled state. He tried looking up but his head was still spinning.

“What did I do?” He choked out. Yes, a mouth full of blood and at least one tooth knocked out.

“Oh come now John, let’s not play this game.”

“Please, I don’t know what you think I did. I was out..”  He was kicked.

“John… John, that is enough. Lies will just make it worse. You were seen helping that downed pilot. That is treason to help them. You know the Party takes a dim view of this. Especially in light this pilot was part of the attack against the city.”

Fighting to calm himself. “Please, I was out looking for the pilot, like I was supposed to but I didn’t find anyone. I.. I… Please believe me.” He heard his wife start to sob. His son was moaning “No”.   He was starting to lose it too.

Sighing, the unrecognized man directed his men to lift John. He was almost beyond fight at this point.

“John this war is not going to be won by being nice to the other side. They choose this path. I believe you thought you were doing good but we can not allow these radicals leniency. They tried to steal the election last year and see what it got us?” They started to drag him out the door. The man continued. “Cooperate with us and I will try to put in a good word for your wife and son.”

His wife yelled. “How could you?”

John snapped at that moment, his sobbing stopped as the last strength came forth. The accusing tone of his wife drove him crazy.  He knew they would get the truth out of him but his family would never know it. The truth to his family is all that mattered.

Planting his feet, he pushed one handler into the door hard, forcing him to loosen his grip. Then he violently shook off the other man. Turning back into the house, he looked pass the man, who was going for his gun.

To his wife and son. “It was our daughter. My God, I couldn’t turn her in.”

From the web: The Mini Movie Method

Recently a friend gave me an idea about continuing my “When Atlantis Fell” stories while writing other stuff.  Sounds good 🙂   So sitting in front of my computer last night, I started to think what else could I do.

I will give the agent query letters process some more time to work but then I think I will also query producers/studios. Maybe next month, I will put it out to them.

Additionally, I think I will try my luck at ” Movie of the Week” TV movies. I love the Game of Thrones series and thought that might work. Since I have a two part story and some sub-plots I am interested in writing, I believe I have the material to intertwine the stories.

The Mini Movie Method, by J Gideon Sarantinos, on Gideon’s Screenwriting Tips, discusses how to break the script up into smaller 8-10 minute segments. If I read it right, the idea is to produce a self-contained scene in each segment. The key is to keep the viewer’s interest at the end of each sequence. Similar to a TV show that builds the action/anticipation, before each commercial break, to get the viewer to come back.

So I will try to make each segment a part of a different story. I have already outlined some of the subplot stories to progress through the time line of the main story. Will need to formulate the story to work in episodes.

Time to research more.

Wall of Destruction Movie Script: Contacting Hollywood

Well I did it. I have put out my query letters for Wall of Destruction to some Hollywood agents. I did a few manually, and then used Talent Mailer dot com (http://www.talentmailer.com/).  For $50 USD they offer a service to send your query letter to a list of agents they already have, approximately 400.

I checked around and it seemed no one was complaining about them. It took me approximately 4 hours of research this weekend to send out to 3 agents/agencies.  That was time reading up on the agency. I tried to see if they were interested in representing writers of my scripts genre as well as trying to find names to include on the mailings. This was based on freely available internet information.

Yes I could have paid for some of the services but then when I thought about Talent Mailer and it’s cost, I figured I would be better off using them.

So we will see what happens in the coming weeks or months.  For now, I guess i will start writing another story.

Here is a copy of the Query Letter I sent:

Dear XXXXXXXX

I would like to submit my feature length screenplay, WALL OF DESTRUCTION, for your consideration.

Genre: Epic Fantasy Adventure

Log Line: During the last ice age, a war between advanced civilizations, ravages the world. The survivors of a remote colony struggle to build a new life and escape the grasp of far away, war crazed Atlantis.

Set around 12,000 BCE, this story is told through the experiences of Lord Risor Tranor of Altai. He learns that not all of his enemies come across the battlefield. With the enemies last desperate gambit to forestall total defeat, the world is forever changed with floods that destroy cities, both friend and foe alike. Risor and the other survivors of Altai decide they have had enough of rule by Atlantis and decide to forge a new path. Atlantis is not ready to let them go.

I have published Wall of Destruction and completed the outlines of the final part and two sub-plot stories. These outlined stories all culminate in the final battle of book two.

Thank you for your time and consideration. Please let me know if you would like to read the full screenplay. I will send to you immediately.

Best Regards,

James Grimm

Wall of Destruction Movie Script: Draft of Query Letter

Hello,

I would like to ask your opinions of this as my query letter to Hollywood agents, managers and producers. Do you think it sounds interesting enough for you to ask for more information?  Please let me know.  Thank you.

Dear xxxx

I wish to submit my feature length epic adventure screenplay, Wall of Destruction, for your consideration. This screenplay is based on my novel, titled the same.

During the last ice age, a war between advanced civilizations, ravages the world. The survivors of a remote colony struggle to build a new life and escape the grasp of far away, war crazed Atlantis.

This screenplay is about the last days of the war between Atlantis and the Indian kingdom of Rama. Wall of Destruction is part one of a two part story about the downfall of the these pre-history civilizations. The downfall of Atlantis and the destruction of their world is seen through the experiences of Lord Risor Tranor of Altai.

Risor commands an Atlantean flying squadron and participates in the last battles of the war. He learns that not all of his enemies come from the Raman Empire. Risor is part of the Nalos party, which wishes for peace and a return to the worship of the Gods. His main antagonist, Lady Jana, is another squadron commander but of the Shigar party, which wants dominion over the entire world.

In the Raman Empire’s last desperate gambit to forestall total defeat, the world is forever changed with floods that destroy cities, both friend and foe alike. Risor and the other survivors of Altai decide they have had enough, of rule by Atlantis and decide to forge a new path. Atlantis, the Shigar and Lady Jana are not quite ready to let them go.

I have published Wall of Destruction and completed the outlines of part two plus two sub-plot stories. These outlined stories all culminate in the final battle of book two.

Thank you for your time and consideration. Please let me know if you would like to read the full screenplay or treatment and I will send to you immediately.

Best Regards,

James Grimm