How to Get your Screenplay Read (Through Physical Violence)
The office was glass and steel; all soft, round lines and dark wood. The kind of décor that one associates with successful, powerful men or douchebags trying to look like powerful men. Geoff Chaser was, inexplicably, both.
“…All I'm saying, Geoff – all I'm saying here is that if you're going to remake Casablanca, you better pull out the big guns.”
“Big guns, Chaz? Big guns?! I've only got two guns, and here they are right here: Shia, and LaBeouf. That's right; Shia LaBeouf… is…whatever Humphrey Bogart's name was in that movie!”
“BAM! Greenlit! That is how you fucking do it! You really are an artist. It's like watching Michael D'Onofrio sculpt the Pristine Chapel.”
“Everything you just said was true. Everything. Put on your helmet, because I'm going to hit you right in the god damn face with this sentence: I heard Shia's been taking surfing lessons.”
“No! Don't do it, I'm not ready!” Chaz's eyes went wide with fear.
“I'm thinking reboot. I'm thinking we move the location…I'm thinking Casablanca Beach.”
EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS IMAGE IS THE BEST IDEA FOREVER
“BAM! Greenlit again! You just got a sequel and I don't even care if you make it. Oh my god, this cocaine is fucking religious, Geoff. I feel like a monster.”
“You are a monster, Chaz!”
A soft chime emanated from a flat panel in Geoff's desk. It was Janice, the non-gender specific personal aide.
“Sir, I'm sorry to interrupt, but this is important. It's your daughter…”
“Tuesday? What's happened? Is she okay?” All the color drained from Geoff's face, or at least it would have if he hadn't dyed it a rich, deep orange.
“I'm so sorry, sir. I have a message from the coroner here. He…he says there's been an accident…”
“No, oh no…what did he say? What did he say exactly?!”
“He said she was hit by a dump truck – I'm sorry, two dump trucks. He said the first dump truck launched her into the air, and she would have probably survived, but another dump truck came by in that split second - while she was upside down and airborne - and the bed caught her on the neck. It ripped her head off. Completely off. He was very specific, sir.”
Like these, but bigger.
“I have the address here, sir. He said he needs you to come down right away to identify the body. And also the head; he wanted me to remind you that they are now two separate things….”
The limo pulled up outside a non-descript strip mall, its facades done up in bright pink imitation stucco.
“Driver, this is the wrong address! I said the Coroner's office; this is a…a fucking Taco Bell!” Geoff spat.
“This is the address, sir. The paper does specify that it's ‘around back,” the driver replied, offering up the scrap of stationary with Janice's clean, professional scrawl and disturbingly graphic diagrams of a little girl being dismembered.
Geoff opened his own door for the first time in six years, and found that his legs had no support in them. The world seemed dimensionless. It was all he could do to numbly follow the few confusing instructions he had, hoping that simply putting one foot in front of the other would take him through this. He clung to the scrap of paper like a grenade with its pin pulled. Geoff rounded the corner and stopped; there was nothing in the barren parking lot but a small green utility shed. Upon closer inspection, he discovered a hand-drawn sign on the door that read simply:
Geoff mustered up what little strength he could, and with shaky hands that seemed to move of their own accord he slowly opened the door, mentally preparing himself to accept all of his worst fears come to light….
…and that's when I hit him with the stun gun. Two stun guns, to be precise. I had hot-glued them to opposite ends of a bungee cord. I called them Taserchucks.
Taserchucks: The only weapon with absolutely no downside.
I couldn't be completely sure this was the man I wanted, but his decadent faux-tan orange was streaked with twin rivers belying recent tears, so it looked likely. I dragged him to the middle of the shed I'd been living in for the past couple of days (ever since I'd discovered a box of hot sauce packets they'd left out, which had since fermented and was now astoundingly alcoholic). Sure I had a home to go to, but thirsty hobos and roaming rat-kings were an ever-present threat, so I thought it prudent to bring my sleeping bag down while I worked on polishing it off. Yes, every orifice burned, and yes, I'm pretty sure my kidneys were blushing - but you know what they say about free booze: It's free. And booze.
Ah! The man's muscles were finally unseizing. He pulled himself up with some effort and glared at me savagely, his eyes burning with shock, rage, and grief. I returned his glare, with eyes burnt mostly from sauce-packet liquor fumes.
“First off,” I said, raising my hands in placation, “your daughter's fine. That was just a prank I pulled to get you down here and listen to my pitch.”
“Pitch?” He shook his head, trying to clear his mind from the Tase-chucking and pepper-gas.
“That's right! I'm sorry. How rude of me; can I offer you a drink? I've got mild, medium, and fire,” I offered, generously squeezing sauce packets into my cupped hands for him.
Like this, but alcoholic and almost certainly poisonous.
“No, I…you…you son of a bitch! You son of a bitch, I'll kill you!” He started to rise up but I motioned for him to be calm. Well, it was less of a ‘motion” and more like a ‘severe tasing,' but he was calm, regardless.
“You can't go now! You haven't even heard my pitch yet! It's got everything: Love, loss, tears, titties, a motorcycle, eight ducks, a Zamboni driver, a –“
“This is about a movie? You think I'll greenlight your movie after you told me my daughter was beheaded by a garbage truck and then hit me a stun gun?”
“Taserchucks, actually. But yes, I do. Because you're a man that recognizes genius, and I'm a man that recognizes fear. Let me just jump right into it…”
“The year is 2013, and the world as we know it has ceased to exist. After the great oil wars of 2009, there arose the grand dynasty of the New Puritans, an evil empire which ruled with an iron fist for a thousand years…”
“That doesn't even work,” Geoff interrupted, “the oil wars of 2009? There's like eight days left in 2009. Also, you said it was 2013, so how can a thousand years have pass-“
“I've a riddle for you: What's the sound of one hand, tasing?”
“Sorry,” he said, lapsing into silence.
“The New Puritans ran society into the ground by forcing everybody to wear pants and obey laws, and the world has become a desolate wasteland because they also used up all the water taking their stupid baths every other week.“
“You can't ‘use up' water like that,” he patiently explained to me. I responded with a vigorous and detailed argument about the virtues of Fire-sauce in his left eyeball. I won the debate.
“But a man has emerged from the ruins of New Old New York (they built a new one, but it was a long time ago and it was destroyed, so they built another, more recent new one, which was also destroyed,) to unite the wasteland…under tyranny! And only one other man has the will to stop him. Only one other man has the means to defeat him. Only one other man has this sword that's like…like eight swords? And instead of a handle it's like a shotgun that frickin' like - frickin' shoots when they cut! Yeah! One other man named…Archie Andrews.”
Pictured here right before he slips on a banana peel and comically falls down the mountain of corpses.
“Wait…this is a comic book reboot of Archie? Like Archie Comics? Archie and Jughead – those guys?”
“Shh! I'm getting to that. Ahem: There is corruption in the highest levels of a decadent empire. A mighty tyrant rules the wastes with two iron fists and one iron foot. There is only one man who can stop him: One man with everything on the line and nothing left to lose. He is a loner from the desert; a driver, a warrior, the…uh, the Driver Warrior. His name is….Jughead Jones.”
Pictured here with his trusty canine companion, Hot Dog!
“I thought Archie was ‘the one man,” Geoff interjected, clearly suffering from some sort of learning disability that caused him not to glean lessons taught via torture.
“He is. So is Jughead,” I answered, torturing him informatively.
“They can't - EEEYYYAAAGHH - they can't both be the only man who can stop the tyrant!”
“Of course they can! Unless…oh man, are you saying they should be twins? They should totally be twins! Man, I see why they pay you the big bucks! Okay: One man (who is twins) rises from the wasteland to fight a corrupt emperor who rules his corrupt empire with the corrupted hand of corruption. One man (who is actually two dudes and one is the Driver Warrior, and the other was that guy with the Octo-Shotsword) are the only man who can stop the emperor and return the waters to the wastes."
Wait, scratch that thing about Taserchucks: There are two weapons with absolutely no downside.
“And then we get into the trailer part where everything is all rapid cuts and there's that music that goes ‘DUN DUN!' We see Archie in the middle of bunch of zombies with his Octo-Shotsword, just mowing dudes down left and right. Then there's a click, and you see the realization on Archie's face: He's run out of ammo. All the zombies start laughing, thinking they've got him now, but then Archie smiles and hits a button on the handle and a bayonet pops out of the shotgun-“
“Why would he need a bayonet? Isn't it a gun made out of swords?”
“No, because he's out of ammo for everything. Even the swords. They ran out of cutting. Anyways, DUN DUN! Then we cut to two hot women and they're just making out on top of a mountain of dead bodies. The camera zooms in closer, and closer, and eventually we realize – holy shit! It's Veronica and Betty! They get up and they pull out guns and square off against each other. Then some heavy metal starts and they spring into action! Gunfighting all over the place while still making out with each other.”
Pictured here uncharacteristically not making out with another chick.
“I can't even picture that," Geoff said, his irritation clearly overcoming any fear of electricity I had instilled in him to this point, "I'm really trying, but the logistics will not manifest themselves as any sort of physical image. That's how impossibly stupid that idea is: Imagination simply does not work on it.”
“No, it works because they've both studied Sexual Gun-fu – there's like a solid hour about that in the movie. Also: Tase-chucks,” I said, Tase-chucking him affectionately.
“Then we cut to a scene where Archie and Jughead are in this decadent palace, and its got fountains and shit everywhere, because that's the currency in the wasteland – fountains. This deep, booming evil laughter is coming from all around them. ‘Show yourself!' screams Jughead, doing backflips in rage. Suddenly, a man walks out of the shadows in a robot suit. We can't see his face yet, but Archie and Jughead can. ‘No, it can't be you!' Archie cries in disbelief, ‘I saw you die in El Paso fighting the Dragon Hordes!' Finally the camera pans around and we see his face: It's Reggie Mantle, Archie's old rival! ‘Reggie did die that day,' he screams, ‘I have a new name. You may call me…Mantle, the Magnificent!' and then he swirls his hands and this fire tornado flies toward Archie and Jughead who exchange a look like ‘uh oh, here we go again!'”
Not pictured: The rocket-launchers he has in place of legs.
I couldn't tell if Geoff was rolling his eyes or having some sort of seizure from the truly excessive Tasing, but either way I didn't appreciate the attitude, so I Tased him again.
“Then - and this here is the big finale with those sweet ass drum beats coming like every two seconds - DUN DUN! Cut to Archie on top of the Eiffel Tower; he's fist-fighting a lightning bolt. DUN DUN! Cut to Jughead, jumping a Lamborghini over the Grand Canyon while dragons attack all around him. All of a sudden the trunk pops open; it's Betty and Veronica! They start Lesbo-shooting everything out of the sky. DUN DUN! The tagline starts popping up on screen: ‘This summer,' DUN DUN! ‘Action lives and excitement also lives' DUN DUN! ‘And the only thing that doesn't live…' DUN DUN! ‘…is death! And death has a name, and his name is...Archie.' and like, all of the letters are in metal blood,” I paused for applause, but none came. I made a mental note to Tase-chuck him for that later.
“Final cut to Jughead and all the dramatic music is quiet. He's standing over Big Moose. Moose is shot, he's coughing up blood and obviously dying. ‘Just one thing,' he says, ‘consider it the last request…from a dying man.” The camera jumps to a close-up on Jughead. He's nonplussed, but listening. ‘The ‘S' on your sweatshirt,” Big Moose continues, ‘…what does it stand for? I've…ha ha…I've always wondered….' Jughead narrows his eyes. He lights up a cigarette and takes a deep breath. ‘Suck it,' he answers, and then he frickin' blows Big Moose away with a point-blank shotgun blast!”
Big Moose...right before Jughead explodes his head apart.
“So….” I panted, out of breath from the excited description and also the circles I'd started running for some reason that was likely poisonous sauce-liquor related, “what do you think?”
“If I answer now, are you going to electrocute me?” Geoff asked.
“Probably. But not half as bad as if you didn't.”
“I think your characters are incredibly offensive, that you yourself are a dangerous maniac, and that your plot makes the term ‘idiotic' look a retard at a jackass convention. There is no actor in the entire world that would play that role to save his li-“
“I was thinking Shia LaBeouf as Archie.”
“BAM! Greenlit!” He screamed, frothing at the mouth a little, “that is how you fucking do it!”
You can pre-order Robert's book, Everything is Going to Kill Everybody: The Terrifyingly Real Ways the World Wants You Dead on Amazon, or find him on Twitter, Facebook and his own site, I Fight Robots where you can read more of his screenplays, which are actually mostly drawings of stick figures with boobs on them.