TO: Production/Story Team for “SEAL Team Six”
FROM: Vice President of Feature Film Development
IN RE: Story/script notes for the second draft of “SEAL Team Six”
First, let me tell you how much we all LOVE this latest draft — and I mean that! Love love LOVE! It’s got heart and action and suspense and just the right amount of patriotism (thanks for dialing that way down, by the way! couldn’t be more thrilled!) and we’re almost ready to stick a fork in it and send it out for casting. That’s how much we love it! And I mean that! We really do love this project and your work on it and especially the super-quick way you all pulled together a compelling story with just-believable-enough characters (thanks for dialing the believability down, too! really appreciate that from a toy-tie-in/Happy Meal perspective!) and please know that as soon as I finish dictating this memo I’m going to ask my assistant to take down another memo to Business Affairs and make sure that the second-draft payments are sent off to your agents/managers double quick!
That’s how much we all LOVE this project! So much so that we’re making a HUGE effort to pay you all on time! As per our contract!
All that aside, we do have some thoughts/concerns with the project going forward. We’ve done some great work collaborating on the first act — and we all agree that your initial instinct to not have President Obama accompany the Team Six gang into Pakistan to fire the two deadly rounds himself was a good one. When we all looked at those pages — although some of us found them compelling and believable — we had to agree that you guys were right: better to stick with the “facts” and not embellish it too much. Also: We need to see SEAL Team Six shoot the unarmed Osama in the back in order to set up the trial and lawsuit sequences in Act Three.
But let’s stick with Act Two, for the moment. A lot of us here in Development still have problems. We’re not happy with the Khalid Sheikh Mohammed interrogation flashbacks. We still think the waterboarding scenes are too intense — we’re going for a PG-13 — and we’re also not sure if they’re even accurate. According to Attorney General Eric Holder, KSM didn’t crack under that kind of “torture,” but instead responded gradually to gentle questioning in a civilized manner. Maybe you could set those scenes somewhere else? Maybe he could be just finishing up a shiatsu massage or some other kind of spa treatment, maybe one of those herbal wraps or something — please make sure he’s clothed, though; we’re thinking Robin Williams for this role and he, like KSM, is unappetizingly hairy — and in his relaxed state he just pops out with the name of Osama’s courier?
Lastly, we’re unsure about the entire Act Three. It just doesn’t ring true that the bin Laden family would get absolutely nothing in the lawsuit sequence. Not even a wrongful-death settlement? From our perspective, they deserve something, right? Home invasion, no due process, no warrant, unlawful search and seizure, depriving children of their father, etc. etc.? I think we need to realize that if we’ve done our job right and told a great story, audiences are going to have sympathy for the bin Ladens and are going to want some kind of justice for them, especially the four moms. That’s how we read it, anyway.
We think we’ll be setting up a very sophisticated and nuanced finish when SEAL Team Six is arrested and tried for murder in the first. (And will add some wonderful poignancy when Cheese Man, the leader of Team Six, has to accept that Redhawk, the female leader of Team Five, is every bit as capable as any man to be a Navy SEAL. FYI: will need this scene and dialogue very soon to get the Scarlett Johansson deal closed.)
Again, we LOVE this project and appreciate all the hard work you’ve done. And the small changes we’re suggesting don’t really make it all that different, except for the ending, but we’re not sure there’s much emotional resonance to the top-secret medal-awarding scene anyway. We think there’s a more Oscar-worthy finish in the trial and the imprisonment of a bunch of gung-ho SEALs who made a mistake and violated international law. Small changes, sure, but we think this film is on track to be the first War on Terror movie to make real money! Americans audiences are hungry for a more ambivalent and less rah-rah view of our country and its role in the world, and we’re excited to be making a big-budget movie that delivers just that!
Take a day to digest these notes, and then let’s hop on a call to talk!