So, as I was saying, this will be a slow process as I have other projects as well as my normal job to contend with, hence me only getting this together today.
I’ve condensed my notes down to some handy basics that give a decent outline of the characters and plot and, somewhat, the sort of tone of show to aim for, and from that it should be easier to decide whether you’d like to jump on board, even as a story consultant as opposed to writing full episode scripts or providing story outlines.
If you do want to be on board, PM me and I’ll put together a private thread with everyone who wants to be involved on it. Doing it that way means everyone has a voice and no idea goes uncredited. Hopefully one or more of the mods could jump on too, even if it’s just to make sure the board rules are adhered to. I’m sure they will, but ultimately this is a public forum, not a work environment or a private website, so that needs to be respected at all times. This is a fun thing to do and hopefully will be a good learning process for everyone involved.
I think there’s a real market for space adventure aimed for more mature audiences, whereas before they have always tended to be as kid friendly as possible, even if there’s adult themes being explored. The Expanse and now Discovery have obviously pushed that boat, and I love them, but there’s a certain fantastical element to them that’s missing for me in both. I like the idea of the fantasy elements of Star Wars and the alien politics of Babylon 5, only with gritty realism in how characters act and progress/grow.
It was the Quentin Tarantino doing Star Wars that made me finally say, “Fuck it, lets try and see if something can be done with this.”
Haha I can see what you’re saying there. I do like the idea of the politics onboard the ship itself being a lot of our main focus, not just for budget reason, but to give a sense of them almost being at siege in this Fortress, fighting off enemies over an extended period of time. BSG already had these sort of politics there, whereas Goya is creating everything from scratch. Some characters won’t take kindly to being the bottom rung of society and some might like the power of being bridge crew a little too much.
There’s a big dollop of Blakes 7 in it too, I have to admit.
You have gold with the idea of an ancient warship calling up a crew of misfit rascals. That’s your hook. The magic is who the rascals are.
I’m a huge believer in simplifying. It works for audiences and it’s a sign of confidence in a writer. You’ll see it in every Millar book. I think you should kill some darlings and simplify your crew. Fewer aliens, less weirdness. baby steps at the start, like the Star Trek model.
I think you’ve aimed far to high in the number of episodes in the first season. Should be no more than 8.
This has to be different than just a heroes journey arc. So you’ll need a twist - the crew eventually splinter and become enemies, that kind of thing. Black Sails is a nice model on how to do this.
Have you thought about making the ship a prison rather than a casino?
Well I do want the vibe of those things, only in space! I kind of want everyone to look at it like a job - say you were offered a job working on a show but it wasn’t what you want to write to enjoy it, I think in writing professionally there’s a big part of that, especially in TV. Like, if you write for the BBC there’s a very good chance you’ll be writing Doctors before you write anything else. I think that because sci-fi isn’t your thing you could bring a lot to the table.
Something set of Numinor One before Goya ‘wakes’ might be very cool.
Thank You! I do think that between O’Hara, Vicieux and Goya there’s the basis of a trio like Kirk, Spock and Bones or Luke, Han and Leia, ultimately it’s really their story more than anyone else’s.
I agree with simplifying, I watched Jumanji last night and its biggest strength is its simplicity… But… Every TV or Movie space faring story ends up simplifying by cutting the crew down… it’s part of where the idea came from, to rail against that. In the same way The Wire or GOT opens up the worlds of crime and fantasy past just a few detectives or a small band of heroes on a quest.
So, personally, to reconcile that, I had to think of other ways to simplify it while it was still in my head - the way I came up with is visually. The average audience member shouldn’t need to know even a tenth of what’s in those notes - not character’s names or names of races or any backstory - if you can’t tell what is going on by watching with the volume turned down it fails. That’s why there’s a bunch of different races with different coloured skin and every character has their beginnings in a basic trope. The audience should gain the information they need at a glance.
Plus, an in-built simplifying element is that there is a tier system of storytelling in terms of main, secondary and tertiary characters - their role on the ship. A character like Zone may only appear in a handful of scenes in a season, but his general simplicity as ‘the doctor’ means he can appear very little but be easily remembered and still have a longterm personal arc. Bridge crew are our main focus, then the away team are the ‘b squad,’ (almost like an ‘A and B plot’ for each episode), then the reoccurring down below characters who get far less screen time.
From the outset, I haven’t wanted it to fall into that ‘7 crew members and every one else is a red shirt’ thing. In this age of TV drama I think audiences can bear a wider load in terms of story telling. But I agree there still needs to be simplicity in getting the story across to the audience, definitely.
In my head it was 10, but for the purposes of a writer’s room I extended it so people could put in story ideas. Ideally we should be working a good deal ahead of ourselves in terms of plot, so I’d be happy to see 15 episodes split in two and then added to, to bring up the numbers for two seasons. I really have no idea how this will go right now, it’s partly an experiment and what I have written is not at all set in stone, especially plot wise. I’ve left myself open enough not to become overly attached to any particular characters or storylines.
100%. Tobin, the Danny Ocean style character is our main twist here, so far. There is no redemption for him. He will grow as a villain, getting increasingly ‘evil’ and finding all sorts of ways to align himself and others against our redemptive crew. While introduced as a Robin Hood hero trope, he’ll turn out to be a truly horrible piece of work.
I stayed away from that because of Farscape and GOTG - It was originally just a basic space station to begin with so you had all these strangers and the beginning of a disaster movie, then I decided it would be pretty cool if it was Mos Eisley, only in space.
Thank you for these notes by the way, Jim, you always challenge my thinking in positive ways, I wish you could be more involved.
Having some of the crew end up in prison at a later stage and having Goya have to go break them out could be cool?
In those old Marvel Star Wars comics from the eighties they had them basically running around doing all sorts of piratey adventures as they couldn’t really focus on the story being told in the movies - I really like the idea of this war being a backdrop to these characters getting up to all sorts of mischief for as long as possible before the heroes journey finally kicks into high gear.
You’re welcome, but I’ve gotten involved a bit in Millar doing this exact same thing. Part of what I’m saying here is what I’ve learned from that experience. I guess part of this is really about you defining what you want here. Something you can position as a pitch, something you want to make as a comic, or a creative exercise mainly for fun and practice.
Every Millar books can be broken down to a single sentence. And it’s always about one thing, not two things. It’s a good formula. Too often with writers they come with complex setting and idea, full of twists and turns, and it’s just something other people can’t get their heads around. Most of those ideas end up going nowhere. Trimming is essential, finding the gold in your idea and making that the star is the most important step.
What if Superman never left Kansas?
What if the Wedding Crashers built a time machine?
What if there’s another world when you die?
What if street kids got super speed powers?
What if Batman was a total cunt?
What is a regular person tried to be a superhero?
Millar is a master at that stripped-down high concept, but I think that there’s still room for other approaches, less commercial though they would likely be. So I guess you’re right in saying that @ParkerMcCombe needs to define what this is, but I think discovering that will be a big part of this exercise anyway.
As an aside, does this mean you’re getting to get a special credit on more of the Chief’s books? Or is more casual than that?
Hmmm. I worry a great deal about it standing up to today’s TV drama if it’s too simplistic in it’s single sentence. I really haven’t envisioned it as anything but a TV show - I know there’s certainly no way to do it as a writer’s room style story with various people working on it, books would have to many voices and comics simply don’t make enough money.
In a pitch sentence I would say “Mos Eisley, on a space ship, in the middle of a war.”
The stuff I’d want Goya to sit alongside though, I feel have much more complication in their formula. GOT, The Wire, Oz, Pulp Fiction, Deadwood, Westworld… All of them are big dramas that we never see in space, and space is perfect for ensemble pieces.
I have other things that fit the mold you’re talking about… Ex Stellis - What if a UFO crash landed off the coast of Portrush? Samurai City - What if Japan found America first? Glint - What if only one person was connected to the internet? Clickdust - What if the wee lad from Roald Dahl’s Witches grew up and became a Witch hunter?.. I suppose you could distill Goya down too - What if a sentient, ancient space-warship picked its own crew? - but every single other space TV show or Film sticks to really narrow corridors, I genuinely think the only reason Goya would break out of a niche market is to push beyond that, it’s really the main thing about the concept that truly excites me enough to not keep it in the ideas that came and went drawer.
It’s a tough thing, because I know what you are saying, and it’s quite possibly the difference between the chance of it finding interest in someone wanting to make it and it going over everyone’s heads and no one outside the writer’s room even getting it… but I have wanted more meat on my space opera for so long, I really want to take the gamble with this concept and see if that can be done - something that has the depth of The Wire and the charm of Pulp Fiction, but fantastical Sci-Fi with lasers and telekinesis and space battles.
Hold off judgement until I have a decent draft of the pilot ready, at least.
I think that’s true, too. I could put this pilot script up and everyone could be like “Nah, we need to go back to the drawing board,” rather than thinking of a million cool things to do with Goya and the characters.
I don’t do anything near enough to earn a credit. I read scripts, give my 2 cents. He has some great stuff coming up.
TV Executive: “So, Deep Space Nine & Babylon 5?”
I will. You’ll need all that complication but it’d come later. You don’t lead with that. You don’t make it about that. If you say ‘it’s like the Wire’, everyone says if we could remake the Wire we’d have done so already.
The thing with TV is they’ll warp it to fit the showrunners vision. If someone like Millar has his works changed significantly (and in some cases he’s not even consulted on where they’re taking it) then that’s just the world of entertainment. You could put in all this work and it’s the first thing to be thrown out. Hell, they even change historical events to fit the showrunners vision.
It’s frustrating to have to dumb down anything you care about, but complexity is almost impossible to communicate (just look at the politics thread).
A book for reference has a better chance. Ever consider just writing a book?
To be honest though, and I really don’t mean to shit on things, having multiple creatives on this kills it immediately. No contracts means all sorts of problems if it takes off. It’s probably best remaining as a fun exercise but you’re offering up one of your darlings here and you should be aware of that. We all have ideas that we’d love to see take off, dream about them, nurture them. Make sure you’re ok with letting this one go.
Me: I think you’ve made a fundamental error there, they are space stations, not ships. Staaaahhhyyysssshennnns.
*gets thrown out of the office immediately
I’m already booked up with Samurai City.
Don’t worry, you aren’t shitting on it, I’m way ahead of you…
I don’t see it going anywhere either because of how the real world works in business, but we can’t learn as a writer’s room unless we act like one working on an actual show. Everyone gets to learn and gain experience in that and I get the concept out of my head and told in some shape or form - win/win.
It will be in a much better place than in my brain or desk, taking up valuable space. I’ve very little of either left.