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plot Outline for a prequel to John Carpenter's "They Live"

this is the outline for a prequel to John Carpenter's They Live (1988). It was meant as an easy exercise to get me back into writing, not even necessarily screen writing. Turned out it was not so easy after all.
There is a lot of back story here, some of which might not be needed for an actual movie. It has gotten rather long and involved, so one of my questions is whether it is too much to cram into a movie and maybe better suited for a small streaming series?
Not being too original a thinker, I pilfered stereotypes, tropes and cliches from other films and series. It is basically Breaking Bad meets They Live, with a bit of Hidden Figures and Primer mixed in for good measure. (No time travel though, just the garden-shed, amateur-style development of new technology.) For the actual treatment, the plan is to carve up the sequential plot into a disjointed narrative with witty flashbacks, in the style of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. I have not thought much about how specifically to do that but with a view to the marketing, it would seem prudent to open right away with a revealing shot of one of the protagonists discovering their first alien, and flashing backwards and forwards from there in some way.
Further back story not included in this outline concerns the aliens themselves, and retconning some of the awkward questions and apparent plot holes from the original movie. Like for instance, why don't the aliens take over the Earth outright when their technology is so superior and advanced?
Once again, my answer is inspired by other works, specifically The Expanse, as well as a short story by William Gibson called Hinterlands. Most of that advanced tech hasn't even been developed by the aliens themselves. On their home planet, the ghouls from They Live were not much more advanced than human civilization. They merely got their hands on a few table scraps of technology when their world got into the crossfire of two real galactic empires. Those are the ones who are actually advanced beyond comprehension, and they seem to be busy wiping each other out. The ghouls had barely learned to use the intergalactic teleport technology depicted in the original movie when their home planet got stomped, a stellar apocalypse caused by those warring gods, perhaps without them even taking notice. To them, humans and ghouls are mere ants. Only a small number of these ghouls have escaped to Earth, but they did manage to bring the stealth rays, which is why they chose a strategy of covert subversion rather than outright genocide or colonization of Earth by raw force. I picture their original society as "anarcho capitalist". They might even be in a Stargate kind of situation where they are able to travel to a selection of other planets via a network of intergalactic teleports set up by the advanced alien races, and getting into all sorts of shenanigans.
Basically, they are Ferengi refugees.
What do you think?
Casting ideas:
"Big Frank" Vlasov - Michael Rapaport or the guy with the crazy eyes from the Fire Department Chronicles
"Little Frank" Hoff - Michael Sheen or Bill Hader
Cela Mann - Zoe Saldana or Janelle Monáe (in a pinch: Amber Ruffin)
The OB-GYN - Patrick Fabian or Andy Umberger
Frank Hoff's wife - Anna Kendrick
Cela's Landlady - Dionne Warwick



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Really? No notes at all?
It's not even 4,000 words, it can't be too long. It won't even take you twelve minutes to read. Soooo... I can only assume you all think it is embarrassingly and unfixably bad?
Why are you outlining something that you can't make?
It is an exercise. Same as lots of musicians keep studying or even composing music all over the world even though they are never playing any concerts.
That said though, this film would be super easy to make. It could be shot on an iPhone these days and would look ten times greater than everything we shot on Super 8 or 16mm back in the day at school with the AV club 40 years ago. Even the alien make-up of the original, which had a fairly low budget, was based on cheap Halloween skull masks with a few dabs of red, white and blue face paint. On a technical level, there is nothing difficult in here.
What is not easy is to get a few people to read 3,800 words, think about them for a few minutes and share a few spontaneous impressions.
But if the lack of whitespace is the issue, that is the easiest fix. Let me drop a second version.


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I have not the slightest interest to actually make a film. It is a massive pain in the butt. My interest is just the screenwriting. Any considerations that go into actually making films are at best wildly speculative.
I feel like you should expand the sunglasses fight scene from the original into it's own feature length story.

"Put these sunglasses on"

"No, your crazy"

"just put on these sunglasses for one minute ok"

"I'll kill you before I'll wear those sunglasses"

"I'll kill you before I let you refuse to wear these sunglasses"

"well, you're going to have to, because I'm never wearing those sunglasses"

Cracks Knuckles. "Challenge accepted"

Also, great casting decision with Dione Warwick. I can't imagine why no one wants to work with such a grounded person.

lol, jokes aside, it's an interesting concept, but the above posters do make a good point. You seem to have the capability to produce original ideas, so why not do something original, so as to at least provide for the possibility of further progression?
I feel like Aldous Huxley, Timothy Leary, or any of Hoffman's next gen protégés would have interpreted our responses in the same light. You sir, are an outstanding member upholding a proud tradition of questioning the very nature of reality itself. What is an IP anyway? Just an artificial construct of the patriarchy, intended to extend the oppressive grasp of the insipid villains that propagate unwarranted hatred of any type of outside the box thinking.

Unfortunately, now that you've caught on to our carefully orchestrated subterfuge, we'll all have to change our names and move to another forum.

But seriously, it's not that your story ideas are bad, they are a bit grandiose for someone talking about iphones and rubber masks, but that aside, people here are just trying to gently point you in a direction with a bit more potential. Write fan fiction if you like, but making it work is the same difficulty as just writing regular fiction, and regular fiction is useful to people, and has the ability to develop into something.

I'll wait patiently for the "50 shades of grey" comments that are inevitable at this point.
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I'm with Skinman on this.

I'm writing out pieces of the Superman canon, including Jor-El's planning his son's escape from Krypton, and how the Kents in Smallville would get in contact with the ship when it crashes in their area. I am hoping that Warner Brothers will one day accept a multi-film pitch from me, but, in the meantime, I'm writing for the sake of writing.

Keep it up, buddy!
There's nothing wrong with writing fan fiction. Hope you guys are having a good time. It's just that from a business perspective, when you build on someone else's existing IP, you are basically at their mercy when it comes to negotiations. They have veto power, and can simply shut you down if you don't accept any deal they offer, and this is why most industry people avoid that path. When you see how bad the deals are for people in a good negotiating position, you might rethink putting yourself in a bad one.