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How to Draft your own Original Syfy Movie Concept

Syfy logoWhen you think of Syfy Original Movies (formerly Sci Fi Pictures), I’m sure some fantastic titles come to mind. Take “Piranhaconda”, the combination of a small, deadly swarming fish and an elongated amazonian predator is sure to be a real crowd-pleaser, right? Prefer fire-breathing spiders and a massive natural disaster? Try “Arachnoquake”.

The network has aired over 150 B-movie titles over the past 10 years; and yet, not a one of them has been etched into history as a through and through quality experience. There have been some moments, sure, like a cannonball bouncing off a dinosaur in Aztec Rex or a hilariously bad looking mantis-like alien biting off a human head, but even Bruce Campbell couldn’t make “Alien Apocalypse” entertaining for longer than a few minutes.

Often enough, these attempts at creating material that’s “so bad it’s good” wade too close to “so bad it’s actually just bad” territory. I suspect the reason is that most of these filmmakers ignore the most frequently repeated mantra of art teachers everywhere: You have to know the rules before you can break them. It took Sam Raimi decades of serious attempts at horror schlock before he made Army of Darkness. Don Coscarelli’s career stretched back into the 70′s before he tackled Bubba Ho-Tep. If the goal is to create something ridiculous, fun, and over the top, you still have to put some genuine effort into your absurd concept. Otherwise you’re left with trailers that are better than movies and concepts that overstay their welcome. Then, before you know it, some jerk on the internet will just come up with a way to easily emulate your creative workflow.

So without further ado, here’s how you can come up with your very own original SyFy movie concept:

What you will need

Phase 1: Character building

  1. Roll a six sided die and divide your result by 2 (round up) to determine whether you will have 1, 2, or 3 characters.
  2. For each character, flip a coin to determine if they’re male or female.
  3. Name your characters. Remember that stereotypical white person names are often the best, like Chad Ryder, Jason Blazer, or Channing Tatum.
  4. Write down six professions and number them.
  5. For each character, roll the six sided die to determine their profession. Optionally cross off each profession once it has been taken.
  6. For each character, flip a coin to determine whether they are aging, or in the midst of their sexual prime!
  7. Choose a main character.

Phase 2: Antagonist Building

  1. Roll the six sided die to determine the category of your antagonist. The categories are: 1. Natural Disaster, 2. Predatory Animal, 3. Mythical Creature, 4. Extra-terrestrial, 5. Horror Monster , 6. Pre-Existing, somewhat lackluster Franchise.
  2. Write down six options within the category you rolled and label them 1-6.
  3. Roll a die to determine your antagonist.
  4. Flip the coin. If it’s heads, repeat steps 1-3 and combine your two resulting antagonists into a hybrid.

Phase 3: Plot Construction

Now that you have your characters and your monster, all that’s left is to generate the plot. To do so, plug your creations into the following scheme, rolling the dice or flipping the coin when appropriate. When you insert your characters for the first time, be sure to add their profession and whether they are aging or in the middle of their sexual prime after a comma.

(main character) discovers that (antagonist) has come from…

DICE ROLL (1. underground, 2. deep under the ocean, 3. outer space, 4. an inter-dimensional vortex, 5. an ancient pyramid in the middle of fucking nowhere, 6. an enchanted sock drawer)

to…

DICE ROLL (1. threaten the innocent citizens of his/her hometown, 2. try to take over the world! 3. devour some virgins, 4. oppress humanity with endless bureaucracy, 5. fuck some shit up, 6. manipulate world leaders in a massive embezzlement scam).

(If you have multiple characters) (main character) must team up with (other characters) to stop this menace. Through…

COIN FLIP (research/random chance),

he/she/they learn that antagonist can be defeated by…

COIN FLIP (a mystical artifact, science!).

(main character) sets in motion a plan to stop (antagonist), (if you have multiple characters) but not before (other characters) die a horrible, bloody death (flip a coin for each character, heads = dead, tails = survives, feel free to improvise details on the death based on your antagonist).

When it’s all over, (main character) and surviving characters…

DICE ROLL (1. ride(s) off into the sunset, never to be heard from again, 2. get(s) laid! 3. decide(s) to follow his/her/their dream(s) and enroll(s) in community college, 4. go(es) to get tacos, 5. become(s) the new (antagonist) 6. hit(s) the clubs).

Examples

Tad Reginold, a bail bondsman in the midst of his sexual prime, discovers that marauding space giants have come from an inter-dimension vortex to threaten the innocent citizens of his hometown. Through random chance, he learns that the marauding space giants can be defeated by science! Tad sets in motion a plan to stop the marauding space giants. When it’s all over, he rides off into the sunset, never to be heard from again.

China Tuttle, an aging whale trainer, discovers that a Gryphon-Cobra has come from deep under the ocean to fuck some shit up. China must team up with Larry Magnus, a detective in the midst of his sexual prime, to stop this menace. Through research, they learn that the Gryphon-Cobra can be defeated by a mystical artifact. China sets a plan in motion to stop the Gryphon-Cobra, but not before Larry is swallowed whole and slowly digested to death by the beast. When it’s all over, China decides to follow her dreams and enrolls in community college.

Dante Hetzburger, a shrimp farmer in the midst of his sexual prime, discovers that a Fire-Chucky has come from underground to oppress humanity with endless bureaucracy. Dante must team up with Hannah Brenner, an aging librarian, and Delilah Green, a gas station attendant in the midst of her sexual prime, to stop this menace. Through research, they discover that Fire-Chucky and be defeated by science! Dante sets a plan in motion to stop Fire-Chucky, but not before Fire-Chucky mercilessly incinerates Delilah at a local gas station. When it’s all over, Dante and Hannah get laid!

*******

While this is a lot of fun, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that Syfy is missing an opportunity. Imagine if instead of teaming up with various independent production companies to create yet another 150 mediocre B-movies over the next 10 years, they took a chance. Imagine a world where an original Syfy picture was interesting, even thought-provoking: an outlet for young talent to show off their creativity. The network has certainly tried to be more ambitious with some of its original miniseries, why not take that spirit into its original film brand? Try to make something that transcends the niche and gets audiences buzzing again. They could create an opportunity for the next Rod Serling or Stanley Kubrick. You never know.

Or maybe they’ll just keep showing Ghost Storm every third Saturday.

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