Discussion in 'Fan Productions' started by Maurice, May 2, 2011.
I stand corrected. But thanks anyway.
Don't let Dennis fool you. Underneath, that cold, callous exterior is an even more cold, callous interior!
Section 31 is only good for two things:
1) Telling a all-out spy story within the Star Trek universe,
2) A handy deus ex machina to cover up something that would otherwise be very embarrassing to the Federation/irksome to the continuity obsessed.
I think Section31 would be a great way to show how and why a person would betray their starfleet values to work for section31. The plots are contrived within the stories we've seen. But I would love to understand what would drive a loyal Starfleet officer to work for them
*Shameless plug* the Star Trek: Excelsior "Sword of Damocles" story arc, is a good example of how a monstrous threat could send someone over the edge. It's not a Section 31 story per se but it does answer your question of how a loyal Star Fleet officer might be willing to go rogue. www.starshipexcelsior.com *end shameless plug*
So, Nick, I watched "Heavy Lies the Crown" again and I'm not sure that it actually follows the model I was discussing. I'd like to hear your thoughts on this before offering my pet theories.
I'll need to go back and review it myself. I don't think it makes any *major* violations, though it probably doesn't adhere strictly to the 3 act structure. Issues aside (and as I said already, it has it's fair share) it's still a fairly solid story with a defined character and plot arc. By all means post your thoughts, I'll enjoy responding to them. I suspect you'll find I agree with most, if not all of them.
When I get a chance, I'll post an analysis based on the format you posted. Just remember, this was my first script and I wrote it years ago. I've learned a lot since, and have spent a few of those tears tearing my earlier efforts apart.
Not to pick on this post, but it illustrates a common thing that happens when hardcore fans critique a story or try to wrote one: not focusing on the drama but on some aspect of the plot or setting that to any non-fan would just be background.
My problem with the episode is more fundamental. My take on it is the Problem is that Hunter must decide whether or not to accept promotion to a position he's not comfortable taking, which is all fine and good, and a valid Problem. The trouble is, the Complications in the story don't take off from the Inciting Incident that put Hunter in this position, and the plot event don't actually seem to make his decision harder. What in the ensuing situation drives Hunter to make the Decision he ends up making?
I agree with what Maurice said, and admit my bias, although I don't believe it must be an either/or proposition. It should be both/and. The plot and setting must be well conceived and the drama must be engaging. However, I also agree that between the two, drama is more important. I guess Maurice's point is that if there are problems in both areas, then the status of being the bigger problem should be assigned to the drama, which is more important, and which is a point well taken. Thanks, Maurice. I Hope I read that correctly.
Here's my stab at critiquing the drama. The end of the opening segment of Heavy Lies the Crown is one of the finer moments I've seen in Star Trek fan films. I guess what Maurice is getting at is that, in the context of the episode then, fallout from that decision should have made another, later choice more agonizing.
Here are three opportunities that I've identified in the story to do that:
1. The first is in the decision to go down on the away mission in order to avoid bombarding the site. From a dramatic perspective, perhaps the problem here is that it was not really Hunter's idea to go down to the surface; it was Stiles'. It's fine to have competent officers, but this should be Hunter's story. If it had been wholly Hunter's idea, then it could have been framed as Hunter trying to avoid directly repeating what he had to do to Captain Talath in the teaser, by risking his own life to give those whom he might need to bombard more of a chance. The point is more or less made, but Hunter is reacting rather than driving the action (another common complaint in fan films, I believe). But even at this point, the story still has a long way to go (ETA: i.e., it is far from over).
2. I apologize if you did this in the episode, but I don't remember exactly, but making it so that the phaser modifications to cut through the dampening field only worked for kill settings on the phasers would have made things much more dramatic when Hunter and S'Ceris are pinned down by the pair of obstinate colonists. Again Hunter should be the one to reason with the pair, and Hunter should be faced again with a decision of whether to kill them in order to carry out the mission.
3. Finally, the decision to home in on the communicator to target phasers should have been Hunter's. Hunter himself should have had to run closer to the target area, before throwing his combadge, because it was that far.
A common thread here is to make Hunter less of a bystander and more a driving force in the action. Constantly weighing decisions of life and death, whether to kill others, whether to risk their lives, and whether to risk his own, fits in with the theme suggested by the title, "Heavy Lies the Crown". It lies heavy, not just because of what he did to assume command, but from the decisions he must make continually while in command.
In summary, my suggestions revolve around the idea that the away mission is the setting for the drama to unfold. Finally, trimming the running time to focus more specifically on the story of the hero, Hunter, and the away mission in particular, might be indicated.
I'd be interested in reading whether Maurice thinks these sorts of suggestions are on point, and also, if so, whether they go far enough.
I really intended to just dropped in for a quick bit (lol, and stayed an hour) to make sure TV Tropes gets a mention (and I don't have the time this morning to search the thread to see if it's already been pointed out). Like any wiki-based resource (and indeed like any resource at all), it's not perfect. But one thing in particular I think is worth mentioning is that it seems to have an enumerable catalog of common pitfalls and clichés, which I'm sure us aspiring writers would benefit from being consciously aware of, in order to avoid their unintentional use.
I'm out till the New Year probably. Season's Greetings to all.
P.S. Oh, and last but not least, thanks, Nick, for being so gracious, in encouraging discussion of your work.
A follow-up to my previous post, hopefully brief. I guess at the moment, I'd rather be talking about Star Trek than getting ready for Christmas!
I didn't directly indicate how I would modify Heavy Lies the Crown to conform to the Three Act Structure that's been the topic of this thread. All I did was indicate how I would begin that process.
Here are some suggestions.
Main Character = Captain Hunter
Inciting Incident = Jamming field on the surface of Chiron IV needs to be disabled within 40 minutes.
Dramatic Question = Can Captain Hunter remove the field, without resorting to a general bombardment within an area near the colony, which will kill everyone in that area?
Plot Point #1 = A pair of obstinate colonists attack Hunter and S'Ceris. Returning fire will kill the colonists, but delay is equally fatal to everyone.
First Culmination = Hunter gains the trust of the colonists without having to resort to violence.
Midpoint = But the area around the field generator is guarded by Surai drones.
Plot Point #2 = By cooperating with the colonists, the drones can be fended off, but time runs out and the away team cannot disable the field in time, and cannot prevent bombardment.
Climax = Hunter uses his own communicator for the ship to target a surgical strike. He runs closer, tosses his communicator, and takes cover.
Perhaps something can be done along these lines. Anyway, that's all the time I have till the New Year. Thanks, everyone. Cheers!
ETA: No, I lied, just a couple more points. The trust the colonists show should be begrudging and the cooperation temporary. I really like the dynamic between the colonists and Starfleet. That tension adds interesting depth to the setting, and offers the potential for drama. I think a corollary here is that one of the colonists should have secondary hero status, probably Captain Merik. Furthermore, in the firefight to take out the drones, something tactical is needed to demonstrate that the colonists benefit from Starfleet's presence, not just in space. This is where S'Ceris could shine.
Anyway, just suggestions, Monday morning quarterbacking at that, and perhaps even otherwise totally useless.
Sounds like a direct comparison with "The Cage" might be in order, since the dilemma sounds similar to Captain Pike's when we first meet him, where's he's on the verge of resigning his commission and either going into business on Rigel or go back to Mojave and have picnics every day for the rest of his life. Seeing how that was played out would be instructive.
Respectfully, I have to disagree (at least partially) on this point Maurice, because I think what happens to Hunter after the teaser does drive his decision to assume the mantle of command, we just don't do as good a job of portraying that as we should have.
I also don't entirely agree that the events from the teaser aren't related to the rest of the plot. It is the driving force behind Hunter's actions, his dilemma arises directly from that incident. Again, though, I'd agree that's not as clear as it could be. However, I would suggest that just because it isn't a physically linked event doesn't separate it emotionally from everything else.
There are essentially two stories running side by side here. The situation with the colony, and Hunter's dilemma (which is really the major plot). Hunter works through his issues by actually being a good leader when it counts, eventually deciding he is (mostly) competent and the right person to assume command, having grown into the role throughout the story. Now this may not be entirely clear in what ended up on screen, but that's what I was going for.
I think some of this is lost in the shuffle because there's actually too much plot (another reason I really regret the Section 31 subplot). And that really is the major issue I personally have with it; there's far too much going on, and the major theme does tend to get a lost.
Now I do agree, the script really could have done with another pass or two, but like I said, for a first effort its really not that bad. Heck, I didn't know anything about three act structure back then, so it's a miracle it's as coherent as it is.
As far as comparing it to The Cage, keep in mind I was trying to emulate a TNG/DS9 type story, so the intent was for more of an ensemble show than TOS.
Now you see that doesn't work for me dramatically. Hunter may be the Captain, but Stiles is the science officer. That sort of thing should come from her, IMO. She made the suggestion, as CO Hunter ran with it. That's the way it should be. Indeed, he goes on to do exactly what you then suggest, insisting he lead the Away Team, and pushing Prentice to let him do it (against another officers objections). Which, to my mind, is pretty proactive.
In fact, that is in there, specifically in the transporter room scene, IIRC, but I realise a lot of stuff gets lost in the awful audio track. Also, I'd say Hunter gets his moment here by pretty much doing the Security Chief's job for him.
I agree Hunter probably should have been the one to reason with the pair, however that's not dramatically what I was going for in this scene. I realise it won't work for everyone, but one of the points of that scene was for Hunter to learn that maybe he needed to adopt a cooler head with the colonists. Having S'Ceris, who he'd already butted heads with be the one to teach him just appealed to my sense of humour. Plus, I like screwing with peoples' preconceptions. So having Hunter, who was CO acting like the security officer, and the security officer acting like the CO was just fun for me.
That's a fair point, but there were two reasons I didn't do that. Firstly, I really wanted to have S'Ceris prove his worth to Hunter. Secondly, I desperately wanted to avoid making Hunter a Mary Sue. Having Hunter come up with all the solutions, then implementing them himself, and being the one to make the big run, then drag Cole to safety would have been just too much to my mind.
The thing is I don't see Hunter as a bystander here. He's fairly proactive where it matters. What we needed was more time to get under his skin, so see what he's thinking and what he's going through, and why he does what he does. We get a bit of that in the early scene with Prentice, then again in the final scenes with Caed, then in the office with S'Ceris, but not enough to make his journey as satisfying as it could be.
As ever, your mileage may vary.
And to you.
My pleasure. And my thanks to you, I'm enjoying it.
As always, thanks for being so open to discuss. I always appreciate that you're willing to entertain critique even if you happen to disagree. That's a very professional attitude.
While I take your point, I agree that perhaps the flaw is in the implementation rather than in the through-line of the story.
What I thought you were trying to get across was what I call "betraying yourself to yourself", in which a character thinks they shouldn't/cannot do something, but their very actions reveal to them that they actually can/should do it. Hunter doesn't think he should be the Captain, but he ends up acting like one, and comes to recognize this in himself.
Am I warm?
I agree that the sound issues hurt the overall presentation. I'm not thrown by the accents, but the sound was pretty muddy in places and I did have a difficult time catching everything that was said.
Just a quick reply 'cause I'm heading out for work, but yes spot on Maurice, that's exactly it. And I agree, the implementation is the issue. There's too much going on, and as a result the central theme doesn't get the attention it should. One of these days I really should do a rewrite just for kicks.
I haven't watched the entire episode closely enough to make this anything but an off the wall suggestion, but would it be possible to re-edit the episode to excise the Section 31 plot without eviscerating the story flow? Just a thought...
Possibly, but that wouldn't solve the problem, IMO. It'd really need a rewrite and additional material. And if we were going to do that, we'd be as well just remaking it. Which is actually an idea I've occasionally toyed with, but to be honest the story's been told, warts and all. It is what it is, and I'd rather move on to new material.
I agree, that's pretty much what I was saying upthread.
That's pretty much spot on. I'll also add, I didn't want Hunter to be 'Captain Perfect' either, I wanted a flawed hero (and I use the term hero very loosely here) rather than another cookie-cutter perfect Star Trek captain. But yes, that is exactly the journey I was going for. I do think it gets lost in the shuffle a bit, and doesn't get the attention it should have, but I do believe the core of that journey is there.
I think it's a major problem, and some of the finer points are undeniably lost to sound issues. It's long been one of the more frustrating elements for me.
Makes sense. The fact is that "warts and all" it's a pretty damn good story. I hope this discussion has encouraged people to check it out. Merry Christmas to you and all the Intrepid crew across The Pond!
Thanks Mike. Seasons greeting to you too.
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