Thursday, March 28, 2013

Story Treatments

Treatment #1

Jak and Emily are wandering the halls of the Dreamland, examining dreams. These particular dreams are love dreams: dreams about the boy or girl you’re desperately in love with but too afraid to talk to in real life. Emily wants to make one of them come true, but Jak insists that these dreams are held by the geeks, the nerds, and the socially awkward. You know, the lost causes. There’s no way Emily can grant any of them; the dreamer is too painfully weird to ever get with the guy or girl of their dreams. Emily insists there’s no such thing as a lost cause and finds the dream of a young outcast, Wes, who just wants to ask his dream girl, Nina, to dance. In the dream, he gives her a rose all romantically and the girl of course says yes. “All he needs is a push,” Emily says. Jak relents, but he lets her know that if he’s right and the kid can’t ask the girl to dance, he’s just going to be insufferable.

Jak and Emily arrive at the school dance and find Wes standing just a few steps away from the girl of his dreams, Nina. Emily tosses Wes the rose from his dream. The rose hits Wes’s head and he turns to face Jak and Emily. The two motion to Nina. Wes takes a moment to get it but he finally does. Wes walks over to Nina and just as he’s about to present his rose, Nina is called away by a friend. Heartbroken by this near miss, Wes tosses the rose aside.

Jak laughs, having been proven right. He turns to brag to Emily but sees that she too is heartbroken. Taken aback by this display of disappointment and emotion, Jak struggles to find words of support. As Jak talks, Wes’s rose hits another girl at the dance, Shauna. She approaches Wes and asks if the rose is meant for her. Sensing the wonder of the opportunity, Wes eagerly declares yes and the two began dancing the way two middle schoolers dance.

As Jak walks Emily out, she turns around and sees Wes and Shauna dancing. She is thrilled while Jak is baffled. “No way!” Jak says. “All he needed was a little push,” Emily replies. Jak smiles and admits defeat (“I guess there aren’t any lost causes”). He asks her how she wants to celebrate her victory. Emily thinks and smiles.

The short ends as the two of them dance at the school, with Emily cheerfully insisting that Jak’s dances move aren’t real dance moves. After a small argument Jak says they need a focus group to come to a consensus. He calls Wes over to them, insisting that he owes them.

Treatment #2

While looking through dreams in the dream room, Emily notices a dream bubble that’s nothing but TV static. Jak and Emily go to investigate and discover that Aaron, the dreamer, watches so much TV, plays so many video games, and is on the computer so much that his imagination is completely dead.

Aaron is more or less always completely zoned out (though he is a savant when it comes to violent first-person shooters), so Jak and Emily have a difficult task ahead to get him to engage again with the world. Without any real world engagement, he can’t dream, leaving them without a job.

Their efforts include:

-getting him to paint a landscape. Jak wants him to paint something as good as Thomas Cole’s “The Last of the Mohicans”. Instead, Aaron just dabs dots, indiscriminately. Jak eventually tosses the painting away into the arms of an art dealer, who thinks it’s a masterpiece.

-riding a bike through the park. Aaron can barely pedal so Jak does most of the work. They crash into the one tree in a park that has almost no trees.

-playing basketball. Jak jumps on him to score a sweet slam dunk.

-going to a hospital to witness the miracle of life. Aaron is nonplussed and Emily is horrified. Jak seems vaguely confused. “This whole process seems awfully inconvenient.”

Jak and Emily return Aaron to his home, certain that they’ve failed. As Jak and Emily wander the dream room, Jak spots a nightmare creature about to infect a dream. Inspiration strikes as Jak grabs the creature and drops it into Aaron’s static-filled dream. Sure enough, the ensuing nightmare (a power outage rendering all of his gadgets useless) jolts Aaron back to life.

Emily: That was mean.

Jak: I know, that’s why I did it, thus leaving you the innocent.

Emily: I don’t like “Good Cop, Bad Cop.”

Jak: See, that’s why you’re the “Good Cop.”

Treatment #3

A boy, Martin, at Emily’s school is a nervous wreck. Where he was once a vibrant and outgoing student (and senior class president), now he is nothing but a quivering husk. She approaches Martin and asks him what’s wrong. He replies that he knew she was going to say that. He’s seen it before. He’s seen her walk over to him and ask him what’s wrong. He clutches his head and laughs. Martin can see everything now. Emily tries to comfort him, telling him that it’s all in his head: just coincidences and nothing more. Martin doesn’t seem to pay her any attention.

Later, in the Dreamland, Emily talks about this strange occurrence with Jak. Jak is very curious about the situation and investigates Martin’s dreams. Sure enough, the dreams show events happening to Martin before they happen to him in the waking world. He explains to Emily that’s a pretty major form of Déjà vu. Normally, Déjà vu is a fairly minor quirk between the dreaming world and the waking world, but Martin’s case is more extreme. Emily wants to know how to stop it. Jak explains that after a while Déjà vu becomes something of a cycle: the person starts subconsciously putting themselves in situations that end up proving their visions “true.”

All Jak and Emily have to do is look into his upcoming dreams and stop them from happening. That should break the cycle and free Martin from his Déjà vu.

Jak asks why Emily cares so much about a kid she barely even knows. She replies that’s just the right thing to do. He doesn’t seem moved by her statement.

What follows is an absurd montage of Jak and Emily looking into Martin’s dreams and failing to stop the events from happening. For example they fail to stop a rouge basketball from landing on his lovingly-prepared lunch. They fail to prevent his chemistry experiment from blowing up right in his face. And they fail to stop Martin before he trips down flights upon flights of stairs. “Man, this kid’s subconscious must really hate him,” Jak states incredulously.

They’ve got one huge chance left to end his Déjà vu: Martin’s class president speech in the school gym. At this speech, a lone figure will rise up and toss a water balloon at Martin, knocking him off his podium and causing him to land with his body in an embarrassing position. Alas, the dream is too vague to know who the perpetrator is, so Jak and Emily frantically search the crowd before the assembly starts. 

Martin begins his speech, weary with the knowledge of what is to come. Jak and Emily rejoin each other and at the very last moment they find the identity of the perpetrator: the class treasurer! Ricky explains he’s been the treasurer every year for four years and now it’s his time to take over. Besides, nobody cares about the class treasurer! Jak and Ricky battle while Emily tries to grab the water balloon. But Ricky manages to overpower both of them and throw the balloon!

Martin sees the balloon coming towards him and closes his eyes, ready to embrace his fate. But the water balloon misses him! Martin is shocked; the visions are no longer true! He laughs and soon gives the greatest speech of his life about choices and how they help create meaning in our lives. The school is riveted and everything turns out fantastic.

Jak and Emily drop Ricky off with the school administration. As they leave, it looks like Martin is going to run up to them and thank them. Instead, he runs right past them to talk to a group of students.

Jak chides Emily; so they did all of this hard work for nothing? Not even a “thank you?” Emily laughs and says it doesn’t really matter. All she knows is that it was the right thing to do.  Jak laughs and replies, “Now I’ve got Déjà vu!”

Treatment #4

Krik is visiting The Nightmare King in his prison. To protect his identity, Krik is wearing the baggiest of baggy clothes along with a baseball cap and sunglasses, but it still remains unmistakably him. The Nightmare King confides in Krik that he is intrigued by Emily, particularly how she has the ability to come and go from the waking world to the Dreamland. His greatest ambition is to escape his confines and enter the waking world and spread his nightmares there.

The King conjures up a nightmare creature and shoves it into Krik’s hands. Stash it somewhere on Emily’s person and let her take it to the waking world. Krik nervously obeys; he may enjoy hanging out with an evil being but actually doing something about it is a whole other matter.

Krik stashes the creature into Emily’s backpack, which she’s brought in from the waking world. When Emily’s done visiting with Jak, she heads home, bringing the creature into the waking world with her.

While at school, the creature breaks loose from her backpack and starts creating waking nightmares. That is, kids can see their own worst nightmares, but no one else can see them; it’s a very personal experience.

In the Dreamland, Jak is alerted to this incredible violation of nature so he skips down to Emily’s school. He finds Emily, wracked by her own nightmare; a nightmare of incredible guilt for all the trouble she’s caused. Jak tries to wake her out of it but it’s no use. He leaves her to stop the nightmare creature.

Jak, being a dream creature, is able to see each kid’s nightmare and, unfortunately for him, is able to be effected by the nightmares. After some tussling, Jak finally finds the nightmare creature hiding in the school’s basement, reigning over a sea of nightmares ala the Queen from “Aliens.”

While Jak deals with a host of nightmares, Emily is still dealing with her own. She hears Jak struggling in the basement and, using all of her might, she breaks free of the nightmare of guilt and doubt by remembering it may be her fault she brought the creature here, but it’s going to be far worse if she does nothing at all. She rushes down to the school basement and tries to avoid a bunch of shambling kids, paralyzed by their nightmares. Emily finally defeats the nightmare creature the only way you can: waking it up. Emily shoves an alarm clock right in his face and as it blares the creature is shocked and disappears.

Soon everything returns to normal and Emily and Jak breathe a sigh of relief. Back in the Nightmare King’s prison, the King has Krik’s neck in his grip as he laughs. “Well, there’s always next time…”