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Fun Joel's Screenwriting Blog


-- On Screenwriting and Related Topics

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Location: Los Angeles, CA

I moved from NYC to LA in October, 2003. And though I still think NYC is the greatest city in the world, I'm truly loving life here in the City of Angels. I'm a writer, reader, and occasional picture-taker.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

FFFJ: Push

It's been a little while since I've written one of these FFFJ posts, so I figured it was time for yet another in the continuing saga of "From the Files of Fun Joel!" And by the way, I intend to also highlight some of the poorer scripts I've read as well, hopefully as an instructive tool. But today I want to focus on another of the scripts I've read that I enjoyed.

Push by David Bourla (Director of a number of films in the infamous Thumbation series) was one of the more entertaining comic book style films I've read. I read it for a non-American film financing company, just over a year ago on 2/2/05.

While not every aspect was all that original, some parts of the plotline were a bit muddled, and I felt the driving force of the film was somewhat weak, I still rated the film a STRONG CONSIDER and Bourla a RECOMMEND. The best aspects of this script were it's cohesive and forcefully stated concept (which I've been thinking about a lot lately, and intend to post about soon), its creation of a hip and entertaining world, and the relatively low budget the script would require.

The film was subsequently purchased by Infinity Media, and though IMDB lists the film as "in production," there is no mention of it on Infinity's website. So who knows what the actuality is.

Spoiler Alert! (major plot elements revealed)

My logline:

Rogue special-ops psychic warriors battle government agents as they all chase after a suitcase with $6 million inside.

I probably could have done a slightly better job with that, but you get the point. The idea is that these teens have special psychic powers (what I would have referred to during my D&D-playing youth as "psionics"). The most intriguing one is that which the film is named for (and if you don't want to know what it is, skip the rest of this paragraph). One of the major characters has the ability to "push" thoughts into other characters' minds, making them believe things that aren't factual. For example, she is able to convince one CIA agent that the other killed his brother. In fact, however, he never even had a brother at all! Think of it as the reverse of mind reading, and a little bit stronger than the famous "These aren't the droids you're looking for" scene from Star Wars.

And though the majority of the psychic powers are internal, Bourla has done an above-average (if not excellent) job of externalizing them, using both action, imagery, and dialogue. There was, of course, the issue of the film's relative similarity of concept to the X-Men films, but with a distinct enough concept, younger cast, grittier tone and style, and relatively low budget, I still felt the film had strong commercial potential.

Here's my comments:

Push is a very strong example of a modern superhero or sci-fi comic book type of script. Bourla does an excellent job of creating a world, and then places interesting characters in interesting situations within it. The monetary driving force may seem a bit weak in comparison to the rest of the film, but it really doesn't matter much with everything else going on as distracters. While the plot is tight and the pacing pleasantly rapid, the concept's partial similarity to the X-Men films may work against it. Still, the film's potential to be shot relatively cheaply, along with its style, make this a strong contender worthy of serious consideration, especially if the ancillary outlets for promoting this film are fully maximized.

Bourla's greatest strength in this script is his ability to create a fully realized world. The brief opening voiceover works perfectly well to give the salient background, and is acceptable within the context of the genre. The rogue agents and shady villainous government agency both add a contemporarily popular stamp to the vaguely familiar plot type. The psychic warriors display enough distinct talents to make them interesting as well, and their powers are introduced in rapid yet dramatically pleasing manners.

Furthermore, Push's plot is rather strong. Via rapid pacing, solidly surprising reversals, and some taut -- if too brief -- action sequences, Bourla tells a story that keeps us interested and on the edge of our seats. One significant weakness of the script is that the object of everyone's attention is simply a briefcase full of money. This is a bit too banal a driving force for such an imaginative and forward thinking film. The plot could remain virtually identical with a more imaginative MacGuffin.

One of the strongest points in favor of this script is the relatively low budget this film should require. Effects, though certainly there, are relatively simple. And at the same time, Bourla has found a way to make his "battles of the mind" into externalized, visual struggles. More important to the budgetary consideration is the fact that the film is set in china, where filming can be done relatively cheaply. Ultimately, however, the two greatest concerns about this script are its vague similarity to the X-Men properties, and the fact that it is not modeled on a pre-existing property from another medium (e.g. comic book or video game). Still, should those other media be exploited properly, the film could prove highly successful.

So, anyone know anything about this project? Cast? In production or not? I guess I could email Bourla at the address on the title page of the script, but not sure if that's appropriate or not! ;-) Sound like something you'd want to see?

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Anonymous David Anaxagoras said...

They lost me at "briefcase full of money." Was there no "higher purpose" that the money would be put to use for? You know, the typical "save the orphanage" scenario? Also, what about the character relationships -- did it ever become about more than just money? Love the rogue psychic teen agent aspect, but very turned off by the money-as-chief-motivator aspect. What a shame.

Hey, where's your review of the Wild Things script?

1:31 AM  
Blogger MaryAn Batchellor said...

Ditto on the motivation and why is filming in China cheaper? This is new information for me.

6:59 AM  
Blogger Fun Joel said...

Re: the money thing. I must say, I reread this script this weekend, and truth be told, it really fdades into the background. It is a true MacGuffin, in that we really don't care much about it. We really just focus on the moment of what is going on, not caring about the fact that the money thing is the underlying motivator. So while it is the motivator, it is really an underscoring thing.

Re: Chna, it simply is cheaper. Economy is poor there, etc. I remember reading about how Kill Bill took advantage of this. It is what it is.

7:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Based on what you've read what do you think this film will be rated?

6:50 AM  
Blogger Fun Joel said...

Anon --

No idea. Was a long time ago that I read it. A lot will depend on the direction. My guess is it would be PG-13 or R, though PG is a very outside chance.

7:05 AM  
Blogger James Quin said...

Hi all,

Does anyone have a pdf version of the actual PUSH screenplay? (reply here with a link if possible)

Note to self: Avoid naming your movie a common word which makes it impossible for anyone to find valid references.

Thank you,

10:59 PM  

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