Possible John Carter Short Film — Looking for Ideas

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So … thanks to the great work of Evelyn Dubuc, who played one of the Council Members in John Carter, all 5 of the Council Members will be at the December 1 Screening of John Carter at the Aero Theater in Santa Monica, along with Amanda Clayton, who played the early Mrs. Carter.  (Note to MCR, please don’t let your disdain for Stanton’s script move you to be unkind to the actor – it’s not her fault!)    That led to some discussion of a possible skit or something along those lines….which in turn led  to a slightly more ambitious idea — what if we could shoot a short film (5-8 minutes) in which all of the Council Members would appear in full wardrobe, etc …..  what would that film be?  The Council Members are game, pending getting a clearance from SAG which should be easy, and so now it’s time to start brainstorming it.

Here are the parameters:

1.  This is strictly a non-commercial fan video which will go up on Youtube and hopefully get some attention, even go viral if we’re really smart about what we do.  But the idea is for it to be polished in terms of production value and smartly written and well acted.

2. It would have to be shot in one day, a Saturday, in a green screen studio, and would essentially have to be one scene set in the council chamber.  The Council Members would be in position at their desks and the action of the scene would involve someone being brought before the council, and interacting with them.   The total page count for the scene should be 5-8 minutes.  What we need to figure out is — who gets hauled in front of the Council Members, and why?

The objective is to do something that gets some attention as something cool done by fans in combination with film-makers, and drawing some favorable attention to the fan group and the film.  It should be the kind of thing that will get attention on Youtube, and which the entertainment outlets that covered the fan trailers and the creation of the fan group for John Carter would embed and write about.

I will offer my contribution to a possible storyline, at least he seeds of one.  What if the person being hauled in front of the Council is a Jasoomian movie critic who didn’t “get” John Carter?  And what if he turns out to be a Thern?

We have access to wardrobe and props — not specifically from John Carter but very close, and we have people who could adapt some things to make them even closer.  We have a Red Camera setup and an operator and digital tech, and we are on the trail of getting the rest of a one-day, Saturday-shoot crew together.  So we have elements falling into place.

What we need are some brilliant ideas for the scene.

If readers are interested in submitting ideas, we’ll take them in any form — notes, a comment, a short story, or in screenplay format.

By submitting them you understand there’s no money in this — only fame and glory — and by submitting them you mean you’re approving them for use in our pro-bono-fan-film, and all you get is credit and glory, which is all anyone is getting.

I’m specifically calling out Abraham Sherman, Pascalahad, Jeff Doten, Crust Bucket, Heinreid, and MCR to submit ideas.

And here is a clip from the deleted opening that shows a bit of how a green screen set like the one we would use, would work ….

One last note … no one is really sure whether this will get off the ground or not. A lot will depend on whether someone comes up with a really, really clever script, as that will motivate people. But for those who don’t live and work in the film biz, do please be assured that this kind of “beg and borrow” short film, shot on a weekend with a budget approaching zero (there WILL BE GOOD CATERING AND CRAFT SERVICES, that much we promise!) is done all the time. So it CAN be done. Will it be? Time will tell.

Ideas, please?

19 comments

  • “As for why it didn’t grow legs and win the race, this was’t a small movie, this was a high stakes bet and there was such a palpable air of derision about it, within two weeks of opening it was sacrificed on the financial alter and labeled a 2M loss, “Biggest Failure EVER !”, who except nuts like us is going to risk looking like a fool and spread great word of mouth and who in this poor economy was going to risk money on something that was proclaimed in national headlines “BFE !”. It is staggering in it’s ineptitude how Disney shepherded this product into the public consciousness and failed to support it”

    See I still don’t buy that. Back in 1997 these same people were saying the same thing about Titanic-it was the biggest failure ever, etc. In fact it opened even less than John Carter did if you don’t adjust for inflation. Yet word of mouth came out and the result was it became the biggest moneymaker in film history at that time. Granted Titanic had better critic reviews (only afterwards did it become fashionable to bash it after people got worn out with it) but it still shows how powerful word of mouth and repeat business, which JC also didn’t have it appears, can be. Heck they were even repeating that when Cameron made Avatar so I guess it must be a Cameron thing.

    As for the short, why not reveal the whole counsel are Therns and that Mrs. Carter is one as well and that smoldering corpse wasn’t her but-with the blonde hair-Matai Shang’s daughter Phaidor. Since I’m sure if she was to be included she would be a silly shape shifter as well.

  • The issue I encounter with the “movie critic” as Thern idea is that it runs the risk of being interpreted as “if you don’t get John Carter you must be: evil/a bald wannabe world conqueror/dead inside (pick one, but you can choose all)”. I don’t find many angles to make it funny, since it involves just different subjective tastes in the audience and in the critics.

    Second issue: it seems too in-jokey, those who haven’t seen the movie won’t get it, and I’m not sure it would even lead them to watch it.

    Still thinking about it though.

  • MCR, I didn’t write that to get you riled up. The first paragraph was written within context of Michael’s parameters. In character so to speak. It is based just on the movie and not meant to be an argument defending it. We do differ in that I do accept the movie, it is a movie version, the book is the book version. I just watched it again the other night and I enjoyed it and had a fun time watching it. Is it an out of the park, walk off home run, no it is not. But it is one of my favorites and truthfully my most watched fim of the year. So, I have two versions I can enjoy and you have one and one that is seriously upsetting you. You have to respect my choice for myself as I respect your choice for yourself.

    As for why it didn’t grow legs and win the race, this was’t a small movie, this was a high stakes bet and there was such a palpable air of derision about it, within two weeks of opening it was sacrificed on the financial alter and labeled a 2M loss, “Biggest Failure EVER !”, who except nuts like us is going to risk looking like a fool and spread great word of mouth and who in this poor economy was going to risk money on something that was proclaimed in national headlines “BFE !”. It is staggering in it’s ineptitude how Disney shepherded this product into the public consciousness and failed to support it.

    Same reasons hold for media sales figures. The real change in perception about the movie is coming when it starts into rotation on TV and people aren’t paying for it. It is going to make many new friends.

  • “I think the best place to utilize Ms. Clayton, perhaps in ethereal form, could be the counter argument to the whiney, mopey complaint. “That is not the John I know, but how would you react to going off to do your duty and coming home to find your wife, your child and your home burned to ashes””

    By becoming Josey Wales? There is no counter argument there. That doesn’t explain his self centeredness. Or his “it’s not my problem” attiude. How can she explain that he would act that way and stand by while innocent people die? That would be hard to justify and using the excuse of her being dead doesn’t. Unless she knew what a jerk he was before she married him and then maybe.

    “I really don’t understand why you are all so protective of Disney’s feelings. Was it actually the movie critics that sank this movie? No. 1 out of 2 critics liked it, it sits at 50% on Rotten Tomatoes. Sorry MCR, but changes and stylistic choices duly noted, the statistics are that 3 out of 4 normal people exposed to the movie think it is a good movie. It is Disney that did not do it’s job and connect this movie with an audience. ”

    The first part I agree with 100 percent. Take the gloves off and let Disney have it. They don’t need to be coddled. Besides do they really take anything that the TMBB group does seriously? No.

    The rest of it I do disagree with. The critics might have been split but as I pointed out in other posts the RT ratings for Avatar, Star Trek, Revenge of the Sith, Iron Man, etc were much higher than John Carter received. So I don’t buy that. Also where was that “3 out of 4 people” when it came to the word of mouth? There have been movies with worse ad campaigns that became box office hits due to the word of mouth-films from Scream to My Big Fat Greek Wedding to Bourne Identity. Not to mention a little sci-fi film called Star Wars. I just have a hard time believing that many people liked this film and yet it failed financially. Where were they? Or why hasn’t the Blu-Ray become the biggest selling title in the format’s history if that many people liked it?

    Sorry to get off topic but I still don’t buy the constant defense that it was all the marketing.

    As for ideas honestly I ran out of them. It’s a little hard when you don’t share the sentiments of the group sponsoring this. Maybe if it was going to be a parody, making fun of this film’s failings then I could come up with something but at this point just making fun of critics who didn’t “get it” just isn’t working. It’s not strong enough as a target. The target is the film but obviously we can’t make fun of it-even though if you watch Troops you can see how much fun it can be.

  • Come on people, let’s help Michael out here
    .
    I am currently researching all the negative reviews on Rotten Tomatoes to distill the common criticisms of the film so that we can exagerate them and to craft pointed humorous counter arguments. I think the best place to utilize Ms. Clayton, perhaps in ethereal form, could be the counter argument to the whiney, mopey complaint. “That is not the John I know, but how would you react to going off to do your duty and coming home to find your wife, your child and your home burned to ashes” The final part, after his deception is revealed, could be along the lines of, “Earth is next ! Of course the movie had to fail, we are already here, take a look around, we just need a little more time undisturbed before it becomes irreversible ! ” Either cue evil manical laugh or have someone grab the medalion and send him to another planet, not Barsoom. He turns to the camera, ” I hope he brought a sweater, I just sent him to Pluto.”

    Okay, killing Mickey is too extreme, that was just the major action beats, the meat of it was going to be the trial set up where Disney’s failings were outlined and their comic rationalizations lampooned. The over the top part was to get it outrageous enough to attract attention, ” JOHN CARTER’S REVENGE ”

    Michael’s idea is very clever and will go over like gangbusters at the special screening and be enjoyed by the people who come to these sites but will not go widespread.

    I really don’t understand why you are all so protective of Disney’s feelings. Was it actually the movie critics that sank this movie? No. 1 out of 2 critics liked it, it sits at 50% on Rotten Tomatoes. Sorry MCR, but changes and stylistic choices duly noted, the statistics are that 3 out of 4 normal people exposed to the movie think it is a good movie. It is Disney that did not do it’s job and connect this movie with an audience.

    I can accept this film as a good enough introduction to the character and the world of Barsoom, but I really would like some other studio, director and lead actor to continue the stories going forward. The atmosphere plant is a card still to be played. I believe it was withheld because it could really raise the stakes at the end of Warlord to have the fate of the whole planet in the balance for the big climactic battle.

  • Ha! I think Wall-E and Mickey are out. We’re not busting Disney — that’s too easy and wouldn’t be productive.

    Now…..we could indirectly poke fun at Disney …..something to do with the White Ape, for example. Except that we couldn’t have the white ape in the scene … but he could be mentioned.

    So far I haven’t seen anything better than the movie critic/Thern idea.

    Let’s flesh it out a little it.

    SCENE
    Movie critic (Boxleitner?) at his desk on Jassoom, lands on John Carter Files where there’s a Youtube Video with members of the Back to Barsoom group announcing a special screening of John Carter. He watches as the lovely Khanada makes the pitch.

    Veins pop out on his head. He can’t STAND these sniveling twerps who have the audacity to think that …. wait a minute, what’s that?

    Khanada has stopped her pitch and is addressing him directly. “Yes, you, Mr. all-wise critic, you know who you are. Look behind your computer screen. There’s something there for you. Go on, look.”

    He looks behind the screen ….. there he finds … of course … a MEDALLION.

    Khanada, still on the youtube video, says: “Come on, you know what to say. Repeat after me.”

    Critic: “Yeah, right.”

    She starts the incantation…..he repeats it …….WHAM!

    He lands in the middle of the Council Chamber who is in session on some other business. (We can figure out what that is later.)

    There is consternation.

    “Get to your feet!” Council Member 1 (the leader)…..

    He gets to his feet. Curiously, although we don’t think much of it at the moment, he doesn’t fly up into the air a la John Carter. This is curious and will be important later.

    The council begins to question him.

    He is disoriented as hell, and scared. They pepper him with questions. He stammers his responses. (somebody has to build some good humor into the Q and A)

    Then suddenly the Council leader stands up and waves for the others to be quiet. “Sak!” he demands. “Jump.”

    The critic jumps. It’s a teeny weeny little six inch sak.

    “Jump!” thunders the council leader.

    Another teeny weeny little six inch jump.

    “How can he be a Jasoomian and not be able to jump?”

    Murmur of consternation.

    “Bring him to me!”

    He is dragged and ends up eyeball to eyeball with the Council Leader. The council leader gets fully in his face and gives his best Barsoomian equivalent of R. Lee Ermey in Full Metal Jacket.

    The critic begins to shape shift. Just a hint of it, then he’s back.

    “I thought so! Little man, you a Thern, are you not?”……

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Okay, somebody take that and pick it apart or make it better or spin off from it or come up with a variant or whatever. Consider it fodder to move this to the next level.

    The floor is still open for new nominations for story ideas. This is just one.

  • “Disney representative on the block would not serve the cause very well.”

    That depends on the cause. Maybe the cause should be to get another studio interested instead of allowing Disney to bungle it again.

    That said instead of beheading Mickey, how about another “iconic” character-one closer to this film’s director. That’s right-behead Wall-E! (Que evil Vincent Price style laughter). Maybe showing someone mucking with his creation will teach him a lesson!

    Either that or have Carson Napier crash land and ask if he’s on Mars yet.

  • First — what a wonderful gesture on the part of the 5 Council members and Ms. Clayton to support the cause! Thank you. In regards to the subject of the short video, I have a couple of quick suggestions from the viewpoint of the potential audience. Given the time and technical constraints Dotar mentioned, I would say the “message” of the story should be kept to the absolute essential idea of urging a sequel to “John Carter”. I find the idea of questioning a film critic very amusing — especially if he admitted writing off the film without even seeing it! And I agree with Diana Cole that a Disney representative on the block would not serve the cause very well. Better to show some humor and positive encouragement than bitter sarcasm.

  • My premise is that of a Disney “corporate guy” that is put on trial for the way his company treated John Carter. First he just denies any knowledge of the movie, then, faced with the impeding threat of being eaten by white apes, he acknowledges at last the existence of the movie! He says the movie lost millions, and the Council counters by asking him if the movie is any good. The corporate guy says that all those responsible for the failures of the movie were gone, but the Council counters that the responsibility of it still rests on the company as a whole, and that the best way to redeem the company is to produce a sequel (or two!). Then they send back the corporate guy to Earth, where he shows encouraging signs of redemption!

    It ends with a Walt Disney quote: “I have blind faith in the policy that quality, tempered with good judgment and showmanship, will win against all odds.”

  • “Killing Mickey” might cause it to go viral, but it would further alienate Disney from our goal of getting the sequels, and certainly squelch any further co-operation from them as far as helping with film showings and other future events. Parody is fine, but we can’t be going for the jugular.

  • Haven’t really figured out a whole story arc to this yet, but for it to go viral it can’ be too inside, it has to have a more broad appeal. My thought is that a certain well known rodent should be put on trial for how he handled this property. I know there are copyright issues but we could just call him Dizzy. If we had a sfx budget, Andrew Stanton’ head could pop out of his stomache like the rebel leader in Total Recall and it all ends with ERB showing up and lopping the mouse’s head off. Killing Mickey might have a shot at going viral.

  • After recently re-reading Gods of Mars, the first thing that occurred to me is to have someone go up against the council for blasphemy against Issus because of the claim that at the end of the River Iss is only White Ape, Plantmen, and Thern to devour Martians. BUT with the Andrew Stanton narrative, this isn’t possible since Dejah Thoris in the first movie was obviously a skeptic (“I tell you, John Carter, there is no River of Iss”). I don’t say that as a criticism of the movie. I still the only way to do the movies was to make major changes. For one thing, its obvious that Dejah Thoris is extremely important to the first three books, but she doesn’t show up until well into the first story and although JC’s search for her is the whole second novel, she doesn’t make an appearance until almost the end.

    Maybe Andrew Stanton or Mark Andrews would want to have an anonymous hand in it as a teaser? After all, Paul McCartney did an anonymous version of his album Ram … all instrumental … called Thrillington and he didn’t admit doing that until 2 decades after it was made. And Gene Roddenberry denied any knowledge of the Star Trek campaign to get it back into production even though he was fully aware and even involved in the background.

    Anyway, we have Amanda Clayton, all 5 members of the council, MAYBE Daryl Sabara and non-cast member Bruce Boxleitner all as big fans of the film too. Somebody tweet this article and make sure Stanton, Boxleitner, and Sabara also know about the interest in doing this short film. Maybe they’ll want to participate in some way and offer some ideas of their own.

  • Outstanding Idea!!! Maybe weave Amanda Clayon “as a Thern” into the process as the movie critic to give the commentary? Sounds like alot of fun if nothing else!!!

  • “Amanda Clayton, who played the early Mrs. Carter. (Note to MCR, please don’t let your disdain for Stanton’s script move you to be unkind to the actor – it’s not her fault!)”

    Hey I don’t have anything against her. It’s not her fault Stanton wrote a needless character. She’s an actress playing a part.

    As for an idea for a short well I’ll have to think about it. My two ideas after reading this were either A. bring in a familiar looking kiddie cartoon director and sentence him to actually read the John Carter of Mars books under penalty of death by White Ape or B. create replicas of Servo and Crow and have them do what they do best to a scene from the film.

    Either that or have Ms. Clayton play that other Ms. Clayton and have her ask the Council how to get back to Greystoke Manor?

  • What a fantastic and exciting idea. My first thought was the council interogating the guard who was supposed to be on duty the night Matai Shang sent John Carter back to earth. What happened to him that he wasn’t there and MS was in his place. But I love your idea Dotar Sojat. What irony. A thern sent to earth to pose as a film critic to begin a movement to surpress and discredit the telling of John Carter’s story revealing the existence of the therns and their plans for the conquest of our worlds. A conspiracy of a cabal such as Richard C. Hoagland suggested on Coast to Coast A. M.

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