Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Let me be Frank

A friend of mine had been telling me for years that I needed to meet his friend Frank DeJohn. I finally got Frank's number and gave him a call and we met and hit it off immediately, since we were both screenwriters and loved historical war epics.

Well, after trading some scripts and discussing everything from Sparta to Frazetta, we decided to try and see if we could collaborate on a project. First, we needed to find a fresh project that we both felt passionate enough about to work on. You can't start a spec script feeling lukewarm about it, or you'll NEVER finish it.

Frank had a rough story idea about some Romans on Hadrian's Wall. I knew that I wanted to write 1) a "last stand" action-type story where the characters rise above the situation, and 2) a script that was designed for a limited budget (since a previous script had been well-received but constantly plagued by its obvious expense). I also felt that if Frank and I kept our story to a single location, we would be less tempted to jump around whenever we hit a brick wall. By staying with the characters as they clash in their one-set "lifeboat", we would be forced to make the story work.

Then we chanced upon something called the Battle of the Teutoberg Forest, a military disaster in which every single Roman in an army of about 30,000 was killed. Rome had built a solitary road through forested Germania, and the German "savages" had wiped them out in an ambush.

We had the setting for our last stand. Now we needed to find our characters. Frank took care of that, with the help of a solitary block of marble.

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