Invent


Extrasolar

sporkExtrasolar is a sci-fi feature script featuring the characters from my comic Crashlander, which was published in Edge magazine for five years. This particular story is set a few years later, with some characters having moved on and gotten a little older and wiser, so things are a little different.

This is firmly in the same genre of stories as Flight of the Navigator, Explorers, Labyrinth, The Last Starfighter, that kind of thing. We start off in suburbia, get transported to a fantastical world beyond our imagination, and end up back in suburbia again. Maybe the biggest influence is a French animated movie called Time Masters, about a small kid trapped on an alien planet. There is also a big theme running through it about believing in your destiny, and how dangerous that can be. Things don’t always turn out as you expect.

LOGLINE:

Genre: Sci-fi
When a 10-year-old girl is accidentally teleported to another planet, her Grandfather – a retired space adventurer – must rescue her from a dangerous alien world he thought he’d never see again.
101 pages

Download here: EXTRASOLAR

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Blue Harvest

This script is my attempt to do for food what “A Nightmare on Elm Street” did for sleep. The idea originates from an old episode of a show in the UK called “Hammer House of Horror”, which was a super creepy anthology show like Tales of the Unexpected or The Twilight Zone. A family had moved in to a regular semi-detached house that just so happened to be haunted, and among other nightmarish business, in a dinner scene their food suddenly became riddled with maggots. That image stuck with me for years because it was so revolting.

I wanted to combine that primal fear with a supernatural character in the vein of Freddy Kruger or Pinhead, so I came up with the idea of The Harvester, a sort of throwback villain that never was. He’s emaciated and gross, and he either starves you to death or kills you. That’s basically it. How many ways can you be grossed out? It turns out, quite a few ways.

HORROR BEYOND IMAGINATION amirite? You can download the script below:

LOGLINE:

Genre: Horror
A supernatural cannibal – The Harvester – is awakened, unleashing a famine on the tenants of a run-down apartment tower. Faced with a series of grisly murders, a young medic must race to stop the killer before starvation takes his life.
94 pages.

Download here: BLUE HARVEST

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The Augmented Geologist

crystal

This feature spec is a homage to H.G. Wells. He defined the concepts of time travel, alien invasion, anti-gravity and countless other ideas, but what if he took on nanotechnology?

What would that look like in a time where the word ‘robot’ hadn’t even been invented? What would the characters make of it? People wouldn’t have the terms to describe it, but science and progress were moving at such a rate anything seemed possible. Setting a story in a Victorian timeframe really lends events a strange believability, a feeling you would struggle to achieve if they were set in the modern day.

Some feedback I got early on was that it was way too violent. Turns out I’m a bad person, but I was only taking my cues from H.G. Wells. He tended to write fairly violent protagonists (The Invisible Man especially), but I still toned it down a bit in this draft.

This script got reviewed on Scriptshadow and was a finalist in the PAGE Awards.

LOGLINE:

Genre: Sci-fi
In Victorian England, a sickly Geologist has his life torn apart when he discovers a crystal artifact that grants him incredible powers.
95 pages

Download here: THE AUGMENTED GEOLOGIST

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Homer’s Donut Allergy

homerHere is the first of the scripts I’m putting online, a Simpson’s spec called ‘Homer’s Donut Allergy’. I checked to see if the premise had been done, and I don’t *think* it has, but who the hell knows?

It owes a huge debt to ‘Sweet Seymour Skinner’s Baadasssss Song’ by Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein, which is packed with funny ideas. I ripped them off so hard.

Download the pdf here: HOMER’S DONUT ALLERGY

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Releasing some work

coolI’ve been working on some personal projects for a few years now and it feels like time to let them out in the world. I’m going to post them up here each week with a short description and let anyone download them, should they want to. It just feels like the right thing to do.

Here’s what’s I’m going to put out there:

The Simpsons Spec script – “HOMER’S DONUT ALLERGY”
This is a full episode spec that got me a job writing on an animated series. It’s really funny, and heavily influenced by a Bill Oakley treatment I found online. If you want to see how a Simpsons script is formatted, you’ll want to grab this.

Sci-fi Feature Script – “THE AUGMENTED GEOLOGIST”
H.G. Wells is a huge inspiration and this is my attempt at his take on nanotechnology, if that makes sense. It was a finalist in the PAGE Awards and was a Scriptshadow Amateur Screenplay way back when. (This is the re-write.) Would need a huge budget to realize, I’m talking $100 million plus… so that was a sensible decision.

Horror Feature Script – “BLUE HARVEST”
You may know that to maintain secrecy during the filming of Return of the Jedi, Lucasfilm pretended to be making a horror movie called ‘Blue Harvest’. It always fascinated me, so I went and wrote the real script for a fake movie. The aim was to create an iconic villain in the vein of Freddy Krueger, but I pulled out most of the antagonist’s dialogue in a rewrite because it was unnecessary. Super quick read, probably comes in a little short. P.S. It’s really gross.

Animated Feature Script – “EXTRASOLAR”
I had an opportunity to show something to Rhythm & Hues (RIP) and I put the characters from my comic strip ‘Crashlander’ into a big sci-fi feature. It’s like a cross between Time Masters, The Wizard of Oz and Star Wars. Was told the main character was too passive, but I can’t see that at all. She’s kickass.

Sci-fi Thriller Feature Script – “ENTANGLEMENT”
Based on the theory (that I made up) that you can use entangled photons to send data backwards in time. What would happen if someone like Elon Musk got that working? It would be insane. This was super complicated to put together, but it makes sense on the page. Again, it would cost a fortune because of the big disaster set-piece at the end. This was also a PAGE Awards finalist.

Fan Edit Movie – “THE PHANTOM MENACE – FORCE SPEED EDITION”
Okay, I’m probably going to get sued for this one. I re-edited ‘Episode I’ down to a mere 72 minutes. This isn’t just a ‘remove Jar Jar’ exercise, there are granular changes, right down to new subtitles, new alien voices, the podrace as an unbroken sequence and the third act playing out in a different order. They say you can’t polish a turd, but I buffed it a little. I hope I don’t go to jail. We’ll see.

iPhone Game – “DROPSHIP SAGA”
And finally, something I’m working on right now. It’s a casual game in which you land tiny marines on a tiny planet and hopefully don’t get any of them killed by tiny aliens. It’s all pixel art, including an absolutely massive mothership which took ages. It has the same never-ending structure as Desert Golfing and will be free. I hope people like it!

This is all very exciting (for me anyway). If you end up checking anything out and have a comment or feedback, I’d love to hear it. Reach me on twitter or email.

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Flavor Jockey

My friend made this. There are no words.

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5 Things to NOT do when you Pitch

fancyI had a string of meetings at the end of last year, and I got some insight on what works and what doesn’t. Obviously there’s more than one way to pitch something, but I thought it would be helpful to put a few common mistakes out there. Here’s some things to NOT do:

WING IT

Lack of preparation is a huge red flag, it looks like you don’t care enough about your project. You might be good at discussing it, but you need make sure you’re concise and clearly getting your vision across. Simply reading from your document or inventing new characters in the room is not professional.

ANSWER A QUESTION WHEN YOU DON’T KNOW THE ANSWER

I have had to learn this the hard way. Execs like to ask a lot of questions, and that’s a good sign they’re interested. Some like to simply test out your knowledge. But inevitably there will be a question you can’t answer. If that happens, don’t start babbling about season arcs and power-ups (for example). Be honest – say ‘That’s a great question, I’ll have to give it some thought.’

TELL THEM WHAT THEY WANT TO HEAR

Obviously you want to sell your pitch, you’re not just there for the cold water and warm handshakes. In order to make something happen, it’s tempting to pick up on what the exec wants and start pandering to that. DO NOT DO THIS. No matter what you do, stick to your vision. It’s YOUR ideas they want, not their own reflected back at them. Execs hate that. They will be disgusted with you.

ACT LIKE THIS IS THE LAST TIME YOU’LL EVER BE ALLOWED IN THE BUILDING

Just relax, will you? This isn’t a job interview, it’s just a meeting. There are no wrong answers. The final decisions are out of your control, anyway. Be professional, but enjoy yourself. It will give the buyer confidence if you’re not stressing out. Be entertaining.

BARE KNUCKLE FIGHTING

In rare cases, things can devolve into a shouting match, and chairs can get tipped over. If they are not seeing your project in the way you’d hoped, challenging the exec to a one-on-one fist fight on the top level of the parking structure is not going to help. Plus, you want to leave the door open to pitch new work.

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THE FORCE AWAKENS TRAILER

ball_droidIt’s been, what, seven days since the trailer came out? We’ve had Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Terminator Thursday since then. Frankly, the world has changed and it’s taken me this long to gather my thoughts. So here goes.

I saw it on Friday morning at the El Capitan theater in LA. The theater is owned by Disney so it makes sense they’d have a ball with it there. It wasn’t exactly a packed house, and I doubt many of the audience were there specifically for the teaser, but it was ideal conditions to get some new Star Wars into my eyes. While the organist was busy bashing out some Frozen tunes on his organ, I starting thinking about what I was going to see. What exactly would the trailer show? Would we see Han, Luke and Leia? The Falcon? Tatooine? Would I be able to keep my shit together? All this and more swirled around my head as I was waiting. Eventually the organ dude sank into the ground and an usher came out to let us know the program. Here’s the rundown: we were going to see three regular Disney trailers first, and the fourth would be The Force Awakens teaser in 2D. Then it will run again, this time in 3D.  Then – a laser show with a live-action Baymax, followed by a short called Feast, then Big Hero 6, THEN, the teaser in 3D again. If you think this took a long time to explain, that’s what I was thinking while the usher was going through the list. I was never going to get out of there. With the scene set and the audience primed, the lights dimmed. Never have the trailers for Into the Woods, some Kevin Costner coach drama and Cinderella looked so- Oh shit, here we go.

THOUGHTS

It’s always surreal to watch new Star Wars stuff. I seem to have some powerful, almost out-of-body experience like I can’t believe it’s even happening, and then get tunnel vision on the screen. I need to get over that (in case someone tries to attack me from the side). Anyway, here’s what I thought: the teaser was oddly paced, but there’s exactly zero to get worried about, in fact, everything to look forward to. I love that John Boyega in a stormtrooper suit is the first thing you see. The ball droid is a wtf moment, which I’m hoping we get more of. Daisy Ridley’s character looks like she popped straight out of the Original Trilogy and the X-Wings and cross-shaped lightsaber guy were awesome to behold. Then there’s that shot of the Falcon. A little bit pre-vizzed for my liking, with both the camera and the ship looping upside down, but I’ll take it. Word on a Grantland article was that that was in fact a practical effect shot with a motion-controlled Falcon, which if true makes my mind explode with joy. THE GODDAMN FALCON, PEOPLE. Everything’s gonna be OK.

I FELT IT

I’m glad it was dark and I had 3D glasses on because I was a mess up in the theater. And we didn’t even see any of the other characters, meaning there are clearly more freakouts like this to come. So this is The Force Awakens. I immediately tried piece the clues together about what I saw and the little I know about the plot and it all added up nicely. I’m excited, and the best thing about it for me it that I already like the new folks, especially Boyega who I’m a big fan of. The teaser contained more surprising things (to me) than I thought it would, but was 100% set in the Star Wars universe we’ve visited before. When I got home I watched it all again on iTunes, and while it had a different vibe to the big screen, it still got me hyped up for next December. Great way to spend a Friday morning.

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Phase 3

Like Marvel Studios, we all need a convoluted yet impressive sounding plan. I have completed the first two phases (Phase 1: don’t be lazy. Phase 2: Pay credit card on time) so now it’s time to shift up a gear and enter Phase 3: make stuff. And as I’m working on separate projects, I need to update my online presence to reflect that – I’m going to split up my various skill sets on to different sites so that they’re not all mish-mashed in one place. Going to break it up like this:

jameshutchinson.la = Screenwriting

crashlanderstudios.com = Design portfolio

ionwolf.com  = Games company

extra.solar = Character design

Hopefully that makes sense.

Got some exciting stuff coming up shortly and it all seems to be converging in a certain direction, so I’m going to follow that and see where it leads. Hail Hydra.

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Nicholl Near Miss

I received a pass latter from the Nicholl Fellowship yesterday. It was close:

…your script placed among the Top 10% of all entries and fell short of advancing to the quarterfinals by two-to-six points.

Two points! Not bad for a loopy sc-fi script. Oh well, there’s always next year.

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