First draft script for Pages 1-5
As promised, here is the original 5 page script for the book's initial pitch pages. Since this was written the book's title has changed from Return to Pluto (which sounded too much like a sequel) and Beckett's name has become Cale rather than Carter (too close to John Carter). This was the original first draft from 5 years ago, and the dialogue on the sample pages you've seen is much better than what's on this version. Also my panel descriptions are a lot shorter and tauter these days.
So here it is, warts and all, a peak behind the creative curtain. Enjoy.
Pete (Giancarlo & Shane)
RETURN TO PLUTO #1
PAGE ONE (6 panels)
An all American front lawn, white picket fence and the usual trappings you’d see in a Hollywood movie to denote typical family life. An American flag flies on the porch, this is the home of a real patriot. A small boy, JIMMY, about 6 or 7, shorts, t-shirt and baseball cap, is being pushed on a swing by his Grandfather, AMBROSE HUDSON. The boy is smiling and so is Ambrose.
1. CAPTION: Just outside Boston, 24th August 2006.
Closer. Ambrose is asking his grandson a question as he pushes him once more. We can see there is a real bond between the two of them. Ambrose is kind, gentle man and definitely this boy’s role model.
2. AMBROSE: How’s about I fix us both some lemonade?
3. JIMMY: Yes please Pappy.
Ambrose is in the kitchen of the house, it’s a pretty big and impressive room. He is cutting a lemon on a chopping board, but not with a normal kitchen knife, this is military issue and he seems very comfortable using it. Next to him he has a jug with lots of ice in it (and whatever else you need to make real lemonade). He is talking to himself as he works, he seems happy.
4. AMBROSE: I don’t know how they got the nerve to be calling that crap they stick in a can lemonade. Don’t even taste of lemons if you ask me.
Close on Ambrose pouring lemonade from the jug into one of two glasses on a tray. On his temple we can see a laser sight fixed on him. We know he is about to die.
Ambrose is dead on the floor, blood trickling out of a gunshot wound on the side of his forehead. There is lemonade, a broken jug, broken glasses and half a lemon strewn around him.
Back out in the garden. Jimmy is running into the house (away from us), wondering what is keeping his Grandfather. The empty swing still moves a little. In the foreground we can see a boy on a bicycle delivering their paper, throwing it towards the house. HEADLINE – PLUTO LOSES BATTLE OF THE PLANETS. (Lets talk about how this can work best visually).
5. JIMMY: Come on Pop, what’s the hold up! You really making lemonade in there, or you just snuck in to watch the game.
PAGE TWO (6 panels)
We are in an indoor sawmill. There is lots of wood and machinery around, but the only person we can see is SABINE, who is wearing tatty blue overalls and a pair of old fashioned orange ear protectors. On the bench next to him we can see a small old fashioned radio, the importance of which we will come to.
1. CAPTION: Detroit, 24th August 2006.
Close on a hand pressing the red STOP button. Panel 3. The boss of the sawmill, DEREK, is standing talking to Sabine, who is taking off his ear protectors. Both men are smiling and seem happy in each other’s company. Derek is a portly guy in his early 40s, wearing a cheap shirt and tie (he wants to be corporate but is still a blue collar guy at heart).
2. DEREK: We’re gonna grab a couple a beers Sabine, you wanna tag along?
3. SABINE: I can’t sorry Derek. I must finish this order before I go tonight.
4. DEREK: What would I do without you, hey? Make sure you come on over when you’re done, ok.
In the shadows we can see the figure of a man. Panel 5. It looks like this is the end of the line for Sabine. Standing in front of him wearing black fatigues is a mercenary/hitman. He has a pistol with a silencer held out in front of him touching Sabine’s temple. There is no way Sabine can react before the bullet makes impact. The radio is once again noticeable on the bench.
Close on the radio.
5. RADIO: FROM TODAY THERE IS ONE LESS PLANET IN THE SOLAR SYSTEM WITH THE NEWS THAT PLUTO IS TO BE RECLASSIFIED…..
6. FX (OS): BLAM!
PAGE THREE (4 panels)
We are on an African Nature Reserve. We can see giraffes and elephants or maybe a buffalo herd, whatever would realistically be seen there. Driving along a track-like dirt road is a long wheelbase Land Rover Defender, this looks like a typical safari. The only indication that it isn’t is the fact the Land Rover is going pretty fast, which we can tell by the amount of dust it is kicking up.
1. CAPTION: Katavi National Park, Tanzania, East Africa, 24th August 2006.
We go in closer to the Land Rover. There are two men in the front and four in the back, all armed with state of the art modern rifles. This is no safari, these guys are mercenaries. Panel 3. Close on the driver BILLY and his passenger TEX, BILLY is younger early 30s maybe, whereas TEX is a 50 something Michael Ironside style hardman.
2. BILLY: All I’m saying is sending this many of us after one guy seems a bit over the top, that’s all.
3. TEX: See the usual rules of engagement don’t apply this time. Cos this ain’t just any guy we’re talking about, this is…..
Carter Beckett is standing inside his lodge (probably would have been a hunting lodge once), loading his rifle in iconic fashion. You can tell by the intense look on his face that he really means business. At his side is his trusty dog, a Rhodesian Ridgeback. The dog looks up at him trustingly, there is no doubting that this is his master. There is a desk in one corner of the room with a laptop on it, on the screen there is an article. “PLUTO – NOT A PLANET?”. Above the desk there is a black and white photo in a frame, this is of the three guys back in 1976 Ambrose, Sabine and Beckett all from the chest up. Ambrose has a big afro and is wearing a jump suit, white with blue and red striped edging almost like Evil Knievil or 70s footballer Vince Hilaire Sabine has a low neck line on his shirt, with chest hair and a medallion on show all very Lee Majors or Hutch. Beckett has a khaki t-shirt on (he could be in any time, not just the 70s) with short cropped hair brown hair before it went white. Three smiling comrades, three good friends, brothers in arms.
4. CAPTION: (TEX cont…) ….CARTER BECKETT. 5. BECKETT: They’re coming.
PAGE FOUR (3 panels)
Flashback to 1976, we are now inside the photo and in colour.
1. CAPTION: Pluto, late April 1976.
2. AMBROSE: I hold this smile any longer my jaw’s gonna fall off.
3. SABINE: This is going to ruin the whole brooding intensity thing I’ve got going you know Beckett.
4. BECKETT: Take the godamn photo already before…
Ok up until now we’ve just seen the top half of this image from the photo. Now it is time to pull back for the full reveal, this image is pretty sickening and very unexpected. We think these guys are our heroes so what we are about to see will leave a bad taste in our mouths. Now that we see the whole image we can see a Plutonian lying on the floor in front of the three men, he wears just a loin cloth and both his hands and feet are bound with rope. He is being treated like an animal even though he looks more like a man. Beckett even has one of his boots up on the captives thigh as if to show off their trophy, he looks every bit the great white hunter here.
5. BECKETT (cont): …this thing comes to.
Close on the Plutonian’s head, on the back of his neck we can see a tattoo/branding – the number 134340 (Pluto’s classification).
PAGE FIVE (5 panels)
Back outside of Beckett’s Lodge. BILLY and TEX from the Land Rover are marshalling the troops from a safe distance as their team of mercenaries moves in on the lodge. Two move around to the far side and another two move around the near side, as if stalking their prey.
1. TEX: The longer he stays in there the harder this is going to be. Time to flush the old B****** out.
One of the men throws a smoke bomb through the window on the near side.
Another of the men does the same thing on the other side.
One of the mercenaries is on the lodge’s porch getting a little over confident. He has his gun out in front of him as if he is about to go in, he wants to be the one to take Beckett down for sure.
2. MERC: Coming, ready or not.
Ok this is the money shot. Beckett’s dog, the Rhodesian Ridgeback (bred to hunt lions in Zimbabwe and South Africa) is leaping towards us/the mercenary from the porch roof, teeth showing in full attack dog mode.
3. DOG: GRRRRRRRRRRrrrrrrrrrr!!!