Thursday, 24 November 2011

Xbox Junkie - A Short Film Script

Xbox Junkie is a script that I am developing for my housemate Michael Kelly, who is a third year Creative Media Practice student in need of a script for his dissertation short film. Thus far I have spent one week developing the idea and another week writing a first draft that consists of thirty pages. 

I have developed the script from an original brief that Mike gave me, which concerned itself with a middle aged man who had abandoned his family and social ties because of his new addiction to playing video games. This was actually something that Mike had been inspired from a similar story he had read in a Guardian article: At War with World of Warcraft. Although, not being much of an avid a gamer, I didn’t really find that idea all too appealing. However, before deciding to make a fiction short film, Mike’s original intention had been to make a documentary about gaming so I decided to use the theme of gaming as my starting point.

The resulting thirty page script, certainly the most ambitious script that I've written, concerns itself with a protagonist who uses gaming as a means of shielding himself from the real world. Hence the naming of the script as Xbox Junkie, because the script explores how gaming can become an addiction; that can produce the same results of being addicted to drugs. While game addiction isn’t something that is yet recognised as a proper addiction it is certainly something that keeps getting re-examined in this respect and is something that keeps cropping up in the news: Why anything can be addictive.
Initial outline, if you can believe that
The protagonist uses gaming as an excuse/shield to stop himself from achieving his true potential – his true potential being something that contains a lot of pain. With this theme of game addiction at its center the script goes on to explore how the protagonist breaks free of his addiction while also exploring how he got addicted to gaming in the first place. If are to look at the script in terms of story types then it is a man in a hole combined with a boy meets girl.

The scene outline
On a series of bus rides, I have gradually been reading the shooting scripts for American Beauty by Alan Ball and North by Northwest by Lehman Ernest. I made a very conscious decision to read these scripts because I wanted their respective styles to rub off on my script. From American Beauty I was looking to gain the existentialism as seen through a lens of black comedy with the humourous and snappy dialogue of North by Northwest. I’ve always enjoyed black comedy so it seemed like an essential when writing this script because I envisioned this script being quite comedic. Also the script would be existentialist through its examination of game addiction and using that as a shield against the world. Finally, as the script is also a boy meets girl story I wanted to inject it with that sparring quality of dialogue that you see in couples who just seem to click.

While the style might come from American Beauty and North By Northwest, the content comes from things in my life and from the people I share my current house with. Certainly, the idea of the protagonist spending most of his time sat on his Xbox is something that a particular member of our house, who will remain unmanned, has been doing to no end! Also, the idea of preventing anxiety from getting in the way of your ideal career or dream is something that keeps recurring in our house. The idea of time running out and the mortality of humanity is something that is also present in the script, and it is because I am currently terrified of wasting time! At the moment, the script is only a first draft, but I hope that by drawing in these very real themes and emotions it comes together to tell a very convincing story.  

That all said, though, this script may not get made! It is not because Mike doesn’t like it, far from it. Rather, it’s because on the night I handed him the first draft I came up with an idea of how I could turn his original idea, of the middle aged man who had abandoned his family and social ties due to his new addiction to playing video games, into a script. For the time being then, I have laid Xbox Junkie to rest while I produce a first draft of this new idea, and I will soon have more details about it.

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