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In prep for my ramble on Sanctuary, here's my notes to Story Editor/Writer Cary Bates on his first outline for "Sanctuary"...
Notes on "Sanctuary" Outline...
Cary, I'm going to resist the temptation of beating this all out for you. That's how I got so far behind before. And at this stage I doubt I could do it any faster or better than you. So I want you to do a second draft on this outline, addressing ALL of the notes below. I sympathize, in advance. This is a complicated story. But I know we (meaning mostly you) can make it work. Don't take too long. And feel free to call after you've read this. We may be able to work out some of the problems over the phone. Good luck and here goes:
How does the title fit? What is the theme of the story? Is it about feeling safe? Safe in the arms of someone you love? I like that notion, but we'd have to emphasize it a lot more.
And simultaneously, more of the action should be centered around Notre Dame Cathedral. Economically, we can't afford to design backgrounds for an entire city. So we should keep the action focused on a few locations, that climax at the gargoyle covered cathedral-"sanctuary".
Plus, we don't want newspapers to be generically talking about a "mysterious winged creature". We want them focused on the Creature haunting the Cathedral at night. Maybe they think it's someone posing as Quasimodo, or his spirit or maybe they even think it's a gargoyle come to life or something. Of course, it's really Thailog. (Not Demona, by the way.) He's been there since "Double Jeopardy". Arriving long before Demona and Macbeth arrived.
We need to involve Thailog more at the end. Make him part of the conflict. I think he would have upgraded a bit. Used some of that $20 million to armor himself for battle. Not necessarily robotic armor, but at least a chestplate. Maybe wrist and shin guards. Keep in mind, we want him to be more powerful than Goliath and more threatening than any other villain. We should probably arm him with some big high-tech bazooka/laser/cannon type-thing too.
And we don't have to break up Demona and Thailog at the end. We just need to know that Thailog doesn't really care for her.
Remember, Thailog's plan isn't to kill Demona and Macbeth for the sake of killing them. He wants what they have managed to acquire over the last nine hundred years. If he could add that to the fortune he's parlayed from the money he stole from Xanatos, he might be able to compete with Xanatos financially. He needs to have already merged Demona's holdings with his own. So that his corporation (and we should get a cool, evocative name for it) we'll inherit in the case of her demise. And he wants to inherit Macbeth's stuff too. So if Mac and Dierdre marry, and both die together, (which is the only way they can die) he'll get everything.
Now, I'm not pretending this is easy to accomplish. As I read the outline, I was wondering if we needed a maguffin or two to symbolize this wealth. Maybe Macbeth's Paris Mansion itself. But we managed to figure something out for "Outfoxed" that clearly and dynamically spelled out Halcyon and Fox's "financial conflict". We can do the same thing here. With the same clarity.
Does Macbeth plan on telling "Dierdre" the truth about himself?
Is this the first time since Gruoch that Macbeth has been in love? Since he's an immortal has he avoided close relationships, not wanting to outlive his lover? Or watch her grow old? Or has he been through this before? Maybe not often, but once or twice over the last nine hundred years. How did he handle it in the past? Is he doing something different now? Highlander questions, basically.
Is Macbeth afraid for Dierdre's life? Does he think Demona might try to harm Dierdre to get back at him?
Do Goliath, Elisa and Angela assume at first that Macbeth and human Demona are in cahoots and only realize/remember later that since M&D have no memory of anything between City of Stone and Avalon, that Macbeth might not know that this human woman is in fact Demona?
Do we have an opportunity, maybe when Goliath and Elisa are searching Paris for the villains, for them to be romanitcally affected by the City of Lights?
When it's over, instead of Macbeth simply remaining bitter and once again suicidal, could Goliath point out to him that life offers possibilities... that if Macbeth could fall in love with Demona, he could certainly fall in love with someone else? Someone nice who would make his long life worth living again, at least for a time.
A bunch of things, (some of which Cary the Story Editor should have been able to catch from his reading of past scripts, tsk tsk). Some of these notes may be moot after a rewrite of the outline.
Beat 2) Goliath, Elisa and Angela know that Demona and Macbeth left Avalon unconcious and together. Wherever they landed it would also have to be together. (Of course, Goliath and Co. have been travelling for awhile. So there's no guarantee that Macbeth and Demona stayed together after landing wherever they landed. It's just a good bet.)
There's also no reason for Goliath to assume that Macbeth and Demona are involved with each other still. (After all, they hate each other.) Also no reason to assume that Macbeth would be hurt by the association. And though there's no love left between Demona and Goliath, Goliath has no reason to feel sympathy for Macbeth. The audience might. Some of them would know Mac's backstory from City of Stone and sympathyze, but Goliath doesn't know the whole story. And he's got no reason to think more of Macbeth than Demona. Ironically, it is Thailog, more evil than any of the others, who Goliath would have the most sympathy for. He sees Thailog as a victim of poor upbringing. He'd like to reform and rescue his "son".
On the other hand, by this time Goliath believes that they land everywhere for a purpose. If he sees Macbeth and/or Demona, it's not too big a leap for him to figure that whatever the purpose, it involves these villains.
Beat 4) Again, here we'd like the headlines to be more specific to the Cathedral.
Beat 5) Elisa would recognize the human Demona from "High Noon".
Beat 7) We are forcing the creation of a lot of different sets and backgrounds here. Also don't forget that Demona's transformations to gargoyle (and back) are painful. Also don't forget that Macbeth feels any pain that Demona feels and vice versa. Distance reduces the pain, but we've never been really specific about how much distance or what the reduction is. Does Macbeth, across town, feel a little of Demona's pain at transformation? If so, he could blame Demona, knowing as he does, that he feels her pain. All that would tell him is that Demona is in the vicinity. It wouldn't reveal that Demona is Dierdre, unless he saw her transform. On the other hand, Demona might be far enough away that Macbeth feels nothing. Or just a slight twinge of soreness, that he doesn't immediately connect with Demona. We can play it any of these ways, we just need to deal with this "Corsican Brother"-style pain-sharing. We can't ignore it.
Beat 10) We've got a lot of set-up with little action up to this point. Maybe we can streamline a bit. Also, it feels like Mac's hovercraft might be a little unwieldy for this sequence. Maybe he's on the flying equivalent of a jet-ski or something a bit more svelt.
But there's another big question. What is Macbeth's objective towards Demona at this point? He knows that the only way to rid himself of her is to die himself. He may have forgotten the lessons of City of Stone and Avalon, but I would think that his love for Dierdre would prevent him from wanting to die. Later we imply that he's chasing Demona in order to chase her out of town. But that's pretty goofy logic. "I haven't seen you in weeks. So I'm going to hunt you down, to make sure you stay out of my life."
Beat 11) We definitely want to do something with the Eiffel Tower. Maybe even stage a battle there in the first or second act. But the Tower is open to tourists at night. Does anyone see them hanging there? Or are we way into wee hours by this time?
Beat 13) Goliath can't steal this guys camcorder. He's not a thief. Even destroying it is pretty malicious for Goliath, who's never gone too far out of his way to hide from humans.
Beat 16) Gargoyles don't kiss. They stroke hair. And it's "Notre Dame" ("Our Lady"), not "Notre Damn" ("Our Damnation"?)
Beat 17) The Cathedral is a very temporary safe house for Thailog while some safer, new place is being built for him. (Or maybe that's part of what Thailog is after: Macbeth's Paris Mansion.) It is not abandoned. Thailog is safe their during the day, because he's like a needle in a gargoyle haystack. After dark, he can stay out of sight in the upper reaches, until the Cathedral closes for the night. But he can't have much of a set-up there. Computers? Paintings? I don't think so. Particularly when we've got reports of a creature climbing around the church at night. People might investigate. They wouldn't find Thailog. But what would they make of that computer?
Beat 18) Demona may have no desire to "see" Goliath, since she found Thailog. But she'd still want him dead. Plus she MUST be curious about this female gargoyle. She thinks she knows all the gargoyles that exist, and none of them are female. She'd have to know. (And for that matter, so would Thailog.)
Beat 19) Think about how silly it would look in live action, if a villain who looked like Thailog, whipped out a brush and in a few seconds added a necklace to a painting. It's equally silly looking in animation. Maybe moreso because it's so easy to do.
I don't understand the pre-nuptual agreement at all. Why does Macbeth feel he needs it? (And don't tell me his lawyers push him around.) Besides, the whole idea of it goes against what we want to have happen in the story. Thailog wants Mac and Demona to get married. And have Demona inherit so that he can inherit from her, when both Demona and Mac die. Or am I missing something? I don't think we want this to be about stealing money from a safe. That's small potatos for Thailog and Demona. Either we need to have some irreplaceable (possibly magical) maguffin in that safe, or we should be dealing with the whole ball of wax. The former would probably be easier, but I'd like to go for the latter ball of wax if we can.
Beat 20) Again, I don't buy Macbeth's logic for hunting down Demona.
Beat 21) Angela can't operate a camcorder. She's not Lex. (And as noted above, I don't see anyway for our guys to have this anyhow.) Plus she wouldn't recognize Thailog. Also it feels like a pretty big jump for Goliath to figure that Demona and Thailog are working together. Not an impossible jump, but a big one.
Also, I was unclear. Did Goliath have a chance to give instructions to Elisa or did he turn to stone before he had time?
Beat 23) Again, I don't believe Macbeth lets lawyers push him around. And I don't think we need this pre-nup agreement in the story.
Beat 24) I really don't like this camcorder. And I don't know why Elisa needs it here. Like if she followed Mac and Dem, returned to Goliath without visual proof he wouldn't believe her story?
Beat 25) "How can I prove my love to you?" "Give me the combination to your safe." Yeah, that wouldn't make me suspicious.
I'd almost rather play any scene like this where Macbeth is insisting on giving something to Dierdre, who protests that she doesn't want it. The more she protests that all she needs is his love, the more he wants to lavish on her. In this way, he is predictable, but he's not being fooled by "crocodile tears" into doing something that seems incredibly fishy.
Beat 26) Again, Elisa would recognize human Demona from "High Noon" the first time she saw her. But here I was entirely unclear. How does footage of Dierdre prove that she's Demona, when Elisa didn't recognize her in person?
And this bit about Dierdre being Demona's name...? Gargoyles didn't have names in the tenth century. Naming is a human convention. Goliath referred to Demona back then as his angel love, or his angel of the night. Do we want to change "Dierdre" to "Angel" or "Angelica" or "Angelique". I don't know if you still need this, since Elisa would recognize human Demona, but I suppose you could, as long as we wouldn't be confusing the audience with Angela.
Why wouldn't Goliath want Elisa along? And why would Elisa agree to stay behind?
And what is it that Angela's staring at? Footage of human Dierdre? This isn't going to help her make the connection between herself and Demona. Visual clues aren't really the answer at all, since she would have seen Demona in the Avalon 3-parter. She learned from Sevarius that Goliath was her biological father. Here she learns that Demona was Goliath's love all those years ago. She puts two and two together over the course of the episode. Figuring out the truth only after she's already come to regard Demona as evil. You won't have room here to deal with the ramifications of that discovery. You're just setting things up for another story.
Beat 27) Why does Macbeth want to capture Goliath and Angela if he wants to get Gargoyles out of his life for good?
Beat 28) Goliath is "spreading" lies? To who? I mean we know he's not. But who does Macbeth think he's spreading lies to, that makes him want to imprison Goliath to stop it?
Also Macbeth could NOT have heard about Thailog. He was under the Weird Sister's spell when Thailog made his only other appearance. Besides who would he have heard about him from?
Beat 32) Again, not at all happy about Thailog's magic paintbrush. Particularly since it proves nothing here. It's not a photograph. If Macbeth thinks Goliath might lie about Dierdre, why wouldn't he think that this is a further lie somehow accomplished by Goliath.
Beat 33) I'm glad Macbeth keeps his cook. That guy can make a mean omelette.
Beat 36) Again, don't forget that Macbeth and Demona feel each other's pain while fighting.
Beat 39) These are huge leaps for Angela to make. How does she know this about Thailog. Also does Thailog show up there, state what he states and then not get involved in the fight? Or is that a typo for Goliath? Maybe we should let the battle climax at the Cathedral. Thailog is there. Goliath tries to "save" his son from Demona's evil. (Goliath assumes this plan is Demona's, not Thailog's.) Thailog just laughs. Reveals he wants Mac and Demona to kill each other. And he'll kill Goliath to prevent him interferring. Or something like that.
Beat 41) Killing Demona would at least knock Macbeth out.
Beat 42) Again, doesn't Thailog want anything besides their deaths?
Beat 44) Goliath still needs to be in some discomfort vis-a-vis the biological mother and father thing. It's not the gargoyle way. Brynne is going to deal with this (she'll have the space to deal with it) in her Africa story. Let Elisa be the one who confirms Angela's suspicions.
Beat 45) Again, I think we're working against our own ends. Why does Thailog need Macbeth and Demona dead, if not for what he can gain by their deaths?
Beat 46) Again, I think we can let Demona and Thailog go off together. Also, we've spent the whole episode with Demona turning back and forth from human to gargoyle. Demona does not turn to stone -- ever.
Beat 47) Angela should not get any comfort from Goliath in this episode. You don't have the time to deal with it here. If she receives comfort, it would come from Elisa.
O.k. try another pass. I'd streamline, by opening with the skiff arriving in daylight. Elisa leaves the stone gargoyles on the skiff tied under a bridge and goes to explore Paris. A place she's never been. She probably calls home again. Maybe she tries her parents this time, and again gets an answering machine. To save money on a voice actor, the answering message can be one that Elisa recorded for her parents months ago. (My sister is on my parents' machine with a message she recorded two years ago.) Elisa's voice says something like: "My parents don't know how to work their answering machine, but if you leave a message for Peter or Diane Maza, there's a fifty-fifty chance they'll call you back"). You don't have to jump through hoops to get the message erased this time. Then she briefly wanders around Paris like a tourist until she spots Mac and "Dierdre" who she immediately recognizes as Demona. She doesn't know that Mac doesn't know it's Demona. She'd probably assume they're up to something bad together. And also guess that they're why she and Goliath, etc. have landed in Paris. She follows them at a safe distance, etc. She doesn't want to get spotted. Near nightfall, she might head back so that she can inform Goliath when he awakens. Or she might not want to lose Macbeth and Demona until after she's found their H.Q. Or maybe when Mac and Dierdre split up, Elisa follows Dierdre to see where she lands, then loses her among the tourists at the cathedral.
Anyway, that's somewhere to start.