MA Writing for Script & Screen – reflective blog
Over half way through the module, in week 8, and I’m almost ready to submit my X-Files reboot. I’ve got my character bios, my premise, my step outline, my key scenes. And my module tutor this week told me he thought my twist reveal works. Bingo.
Except, one minor problem: one aspect of this X-Files reboot is to include, reinvent or re-imagine a character from the original TV show, for fan service.
Well, I opted for the laziest choice, Section Chief Scott Blevins, played by Charles Cioffi. (BTW Mulder and Scully cannot appear – it has to be new protagonists). Having only watched three episodes of the original season, choosing to analyse in detail the pilot rather than watch the whole season, (our course leader had said to watch one season was enough) I reimagined Chief Blevins with Charles Cioffi who would be the longest serving Director of the FBI in living history at the age of 87.
Problem is, the character died in ’97. (Charles Cioffi is still alive).
Hmmm. That’ll learn me to cut corners on my viewing / research.
My tutor gently and helpfully pointed out that one aspect of the course is the ability to research and write to a brief, noting British soaps as needing this kind of skill from a screenwriter.
But, like any great teacher, my tutor not only pointed out a problem, but he offered me a solution. Two solutions, in fact.
You have enough time, he said, to research etc. You could possibly re-introduce a different character. One that isn’t, er…dead. (Solution No. 1)
Or…make your episode a prequel to Scully and Mulder, when Chief Blevins is still alive. (Solution No. 2.)
My tutor said there’s nothing in my script that really suggests present day, except emails, mobile phones and a methamphetamine epidemic. All of which are easily substituted. Emails: snail mail. Mobile phones: landlines. Meth: heroin, cigarettes or alcohol. Since we are working to a family friendly brief, maybe the meth-addicted mother would be better on ‘the sauce.’
So, I’m edging towards solution No. 2.
However, I didn’t really want to lose the meth angle. So now I’ considering Mitch Pileggi aka Walter Skinner, who works out perfectly as a 70 year old (Mitch Pileggi was born in 1952) in the race for longest serving director of the FBI with J.Edgar Hoover.
And, having just wiki’d Mitch, I find out he was in Wes Craven’s Shocker, which was the very first film I watched stoned on marijuana, and which frightened the life out of me more than any other film ever.
Perhaps I’ll slip in a cheeky reference in dialogue e.g. You never fail to shock me, special agent.
It’s all starting to make sense.
Problems, problems, problems.
Still, they are only story problems.
My kind of problems!
3 weeks until submission.
Time to think, watch, review and reflect.
I am grateful for superb tutorial feedback. Over all my tutor gave me 7 excellent points to consider with some brilliant ideas on how to improve my work and take my story to the next level. He really went the extra mile.