Wednesday, February 9, 2011

"You must not fight too often with one enemy..."

Not part of email continuity...
"You must not fight too often with one enemy, or you will teach him all your art of war."
-Napoleon Bonaparte
From time to time, posts will be drop in that are not part of the regular continuity of emails Ben and I shared. The titles will not be numbered and it will be indicated at the top before the start of these extra posts that they are not in the continuity. We hope that any added materials will enhance the clarity and effectiveness of the overall experience.

Ben and I have a variety of opinions on how visual storytelling should work. What began as the two of us dropping harmless quotes into our emails ('Things Cap Might Say' for 200, Alex), escalated to us sharing fictionalized scenes or blathering about what the "right" approach to take when filming a possible Cap movie. We started our back and forth a while before Captain America was announced for Marvel as a film project and by then we had amassed a great deal of written material.

The tremendous fun of our situation is that Ben and I are both in a position to discuss what it would be like to actually take Cap to the big screen. Ben is a very talented and hard working writer and filmmaker. He toils tirelessly to get the scripts he will shoot in tip top shape and over the years I have been fortunate enough to act as a sounding board. Visual effects, sound, titles, pacing, editing and many other details of film storytelling are what absorb him. Some of his projects include: Silver Lining as writer/director, eScape the Series (season 1) as co-executive producer, Star Trek: Phase 2 (formally New Voyages) "Blood & Fire" (Pt. 1&2) as second unit director, American General: Benedict Arnold also as second unit director. He is currently scripting new material with his writing and producing partners. As a longtime friend, I am very proud of his thirst for knowledge in the visual storytelling field.

For myself, I come from a comics background. Excited by drawing monsters, my younger brother Doug and I created several hundred pages of carefully drawn comics based on Godzilla(!) using our own creations and all new stories. I am a graduate of The Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and Graphic Art in Dover, NJ and have done production work for Dragon Lady Press over Milton Caniff(!!) and created story and art for independent publishers like Mirage Studios (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - Turtle Soup and TMNT #44). In print, I have some experimental stories like One Way to Hell, The Kill, The Photographer and Time Travel Means Never Having To Say You're Sorry. I have lettered, penciled, inked, written, colored, layed out my own original comic stories as well as collaborations. It has been my real privilege to work in other comic artist's studios (Thank you Bill). My current projects include new chapters of Time Travel, Spider and the Mountain, Bonecrusher, Headshot and more (not the topic of this blog). Graphic art has always put me in touch with different types of artwork including: storyboards for commercials, character designs, greeting cards, flag design, T-shirt design, logo design, murals, teaching, printing and book production. Experience has brought into focus my love of visual storytelling.

What is the practical and creative journey that must be taken to redefine a modern day myth using the most current techniques for today's audiences?

How do you adapt 70 years worth of material from a print medium into just two hours on film?

Can the grand scope of Captain America's story even be told -- in 3D?

What do you focus on, leave out, create from scratch when crafting a character for film?

What decisions get made and unmade and more importantly why?

What are the arguments? Why is Bucky's footage dangling over the the cutting room floor?

Does Cap carry a gun?

Should Cap wear a black suit and do kick ass special ops?

What themes do you tackle? What strengths and weaknesses do these characters have?

How much do big budgets for a movie add to or detract from iconic characters in script?

As the discussion unfolds you will discover the method Ben and I invariably used to break Cap down into his component parts to see what makes him tick. Our tangle of sometimes contradictory moments is really a journey into discovering how mythic elements could make Cap or any story into a dynamic visual storytelling force. We skip around a lot. I do anyway. These were not designed as structured discussions when we began and I think of it as only a minor weakness here. I pick up a topic on the blog, examine it, shake it, flip it over, analyze it some more and am only concern with discussion rather than production.

One item of note: we are not trying to write a comic book which has a totally different set of rules. Current trends have to be looked at more closely. Often hot artists or writers are the object of repeated attempts by new arrivals to copy their successes. Our material, developed through email and phone conversations, is about a comic character. Yet, the principle that develops is in digging into the character with a perspective toward film. How would Cap be made into a powerful, inspiring movie?

This blog actually begins where Ben and I left off emailing. We had so much material that the next logical place to go is writing an outline and a draft script for a film. With my work schedule, I couldn't see it happening even to just express our ideas. Ben couldn't turn our writing into a script. I couldn't make a comic out of it. Chris Evans suits up for Team Marvel. The Avengers is already in the Marvel pipeline. Our long running private exchange of ideas had hit a wall.

Or had it?

I am actually thinking if we had started the scripting two or three years earlier...

Enjoy what is to come next. It is a ride that I am thrilled I took with Ben and I am hoping you will feel the same as you pour through the notes, quotes, discussions, scenes, arguments and recaps that make up our take on Cap's mythic origin. The debate ranges from the use of Red Skull as a foil, Bucky as a sidekick, patriotism in wartime and much more. To those reading thoughtfully we use Cap as a means to discuss the most powerful elements of myth in storytelling for film, comics and life.

Liberty prevails,
A house divided against itself cannot stand.
-Abraham Lincoln

Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?
-Abraham Lincoln

Don't interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties.
-Abraham Lincoln

Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.
-Abraham Lincoln

Ballots are the rightful and peaceful successors to bullets.
-Abraham Lincoln

Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
-Abraham Lincoln

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