Saga of a Screenplay: Initial Ideas

Folks, I’d like to tell you about a screenplay we’ve been writing. Right now, the working title is Nearly a Knight. It’s an exciting fantasy story with all kinds of twists and turns, and we’re really excited about it. But it’s been a long road getting to where we’re at now. That’s the story I want to tell. The story of the development of Nearly a Knight.

Almost every story begins without a title, and this one was no different. One day, back in November of 2009, we were all sitting around the table after a meal. The conversation turned to new movie ideas and somebody mentioned iSundae. We had sworn off any ideas of a threequel, but it kept on coming up. Something was drawing us to it.

In the midst of the discussion, we started talking about how it was too bad that two of our favorite characters from iSundae II never got a chance to interact in the film. Those characters were Gwenanda and Fonsuger.

In case you haven’t seen the iSundae films, here’s a quick bio of those two characters.

Gwenanda: A ditzy redhead who tends to act before she thinks.

Fonsuger: A cool, calculating villain who prefers clever scheming to doing the dirty work.

We were quite amused by the thought of the sparks that would fly if Gwenanda and Fonsuger ever had to talk to each other. And then we stopped, wondering, “Why not?”

What if we took those two characters, renamed them, tweaked them a bit (most notably to make Fonsuger a good guy), and then made them the main characters of their own film?

It was worth thinking about.

We ran with Fonsuger first. He quickly became Mortimer, a shady carnival magician with a money problem. In the beginning, Mortimer traveled with a small carnival troupe, entertaining at castles. He was in knight school (pun intended) but was forced to drop out before he could finish. The fee to get back in was huge, so he was slowly saving money. Unfortunately, he owed money to the carnival troupe’s owner… And he was also a pickpocket.

Well, our story discussions often quickly dissolve into silliness, and this one was no exception. We had a magician, right? Now he needed a nephew. The magician’s nephew. Ha!

For some reason, we kept that silly idea. Mortimer gained the companionship of Buckle, his young nephew who was traveling with him. Buckle loved the sound of adventures and he wanted to become a knight or a magician, whichever his favorite uncle ended up being.

With Fonsuger’s overhaul out of the way, we turned to Gwenanda. She was given a new name, Annette, and made into a princess’ nanny. Other than that, not much changed. She was already on the right side, so there wasn’t really anything else to do.

Princess? Yes. She was how Annette got mixed up with Mortimer. You see, Mortimer fell in with a magician who worked with real magic, not just those slight-of-hand carnival tricks. That got him into trouble when the magician unleashed a plot to get rid of the king by magically transporting the princess to an island to be held for ransom.

About this point, somebody said that something ought to happen to the king, too. That led to another silly rabbit trail, and by the time we emerged from that one, the king had been turned into a frog and Mortimer had been blamed for the whole shebang and thrown in the dungeon to await the gallows.

Now came the quest. Mortimer was broken out by Annette, who was desperate over the princess’ disappearance. She thought that she could get Mortimer to agree to bring back the princess in exchange for springing him from the dungeon. Of course, she botched it and he got out without making any such promise. But on the way out of the dungeon, they nearly stepped on the king, now a frog, and had to scoop him up before he called the guards.

This was to begin a quest in which Mortimer tried to get out of finding the princess while simultaneously keeping his cartful of money safe from his carnival boss. And that’s as far as the original idea went. Playing on the deceptions that were flying fast and furious between various magicians, we dubbed the new project Smoke and Mirrors.

That’s where we got stuck. Something wasn’t quite working, but we were in the middle of other projects and ideas, so we shelved Smoke and Mirrors for the time being and moved on.

(To be continued.)

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