004 – LOG – Interview with Alison Parker

Title:  Log
Genre: Horror Comedy
Logline: A weekend of debauchery turns to terror for a group of friends staying at an old lumberjack camp when a bloodthirsty log springs to life and embarks on a murderous rampage.


On today’s show, I had the extreme pleasure of speaking with Alison Parker (LOG, LAZER SLOTH).  Seriously, it was a blast and she was a very generous (and understanding) guest.

She recently won the Canadian Film Fest’s Harold Greenberg Fund screenwriting competition with her script LOG.  Now this is a script that embraced its concept. If you are interested in learning more about her or her projects, please check out the links below.

EMAIL: eclipsethescript@gmail.com

LINKS:

Here’s the script for the audio trailer:

Well, well here we are…Somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, as twentysomething Erica is heading to a long abandoned teen lumberjack camp she’s recently inherited from her parents in order to find out about the camp’s tragic history, and to learn more about her roots.

Accompanied by four friends, she intends to spruce the place up and knows she will need them for support as she sees the place where her father was murdered and her mother was the only suspect…but mom hasn’t spoken in twenty years.

Erica has been troubled her entire life with more questions than answers, especially about who she is, but this trip isn’t about learning the grisly details of the past, but trying to connect with her family, finding peace in her core, and, well…of course…partying.

If you were hoping for a story of innocence and discovery, you can forget all that nonsense…this isn’t that fuckin’ movie.

This movie here is about their direct encounter with the camp’s shady history and the one whose bite is worse than his bark. This is knot your ordinary, run of the mill killer.

When the gang realizes what they are up against, they shall pine for mercy…and are stumped by what to do next. Once the horror intensifies it becomes a real Pearl Arbor.

Be thankful this isn’t your nightmare, because if you happen to find yourself bent over or prostrate, well…let’s just say … it will be unpleasant…(queue music)

Welcome to a world where the sap is salty and the acorns sweet. And if you’re bushed from all the terrible wordplay, consider it your PUN-ishment.

Possibly arriving in theaters October 2018, LOG, may god have mercy on your hole.

This movie’s going to do for lumber what The Blair Witch Project did for state parks.

I hear Christopher Walken is playing the Log – this things got potential to be treelogy.

Oh look, someone’s left a wooden nickle on the ground…(queue music) oh shit.

**Original music to be composed and performed by Kenny Loggins…
…Well that was obvious…wasn’t it?**

Written by admin

  • Scott Serradell

    You guys CRACK me up!

    Mike! Great episode! It just flowed. Informative, casual, fun, funny — it hit a lot of wonderful notes and it was a pleasure to listen to. I appreciated you having Alison go into (and her willingness to discuss) her beginnings, those awkward first steps with writing, her wrestling with her confidence, and basically how she went for it and honed her voice to tell the stories she wanted to say. I found a lot that resonated with my own journey (save the log rape…) Really: It all felt effortless.

    And I won’t embarrass Alison with how awesome I think she is — But I will say that it was wonderful to hear about the interest in her work and it is likely we may see it soon on the big screen. She has worked hard, she has an amazing voice, and I will always wish her the best of luck.

    • Linkthis83

      Thanks, man. There is no doubt that her generosity and genuine spirit played a big role in our dynamic.

  • Kirk Diggler

    Good show. “Log” was one of those scripts that you either loved or hated. There was no in-between.

    I didn’t like Log, even though I laughed a few times. One scene I remember was when one of Log’s victims had their intestines entwined with a ceiling fan. Gross and funny.

    But beyond the shock value, as a screenplay it came up short, particularly in the context of a screenwriting blog that purports to be all about helping writers to improve by highlighting tried and true screenwriting methods like dramatic irony, arrive late/leave early, set ups/payoffs and reversals.

    I know others will go on about the importance of ‘voice’ and what not but I felt Log was bereft of any of the aforementioned techniques (at least in the 40 or so pages I read) and said so at the time.

    That said, Alison comes across as humble, likable, and confident in pursuing projects that have meaning to her. The line she says about not writing dramas because she doesn’t feel she has anything to offer that type of story is a great point, because dispassionate writing leads to boring stories. No matter how I feel about Log it’s obvious that her passion for the story came across and seemed to rub off on those who read it. Which quite honestly, is more than most of us can say about anything we’ve written, myself included.

    Best of luck to her going forward.

    • grendl

      Wait. If Log was a script you either loved or hated, when you say you didn’t like it, doesn’t that fall somewhere between those two?

      Did you hate it?

      Just asking.Because you said there was no in between.

      I fall in between loving and hating it. I thought the energy and passion in the writing were certainly present, but Alison sort of does backflips to shock and surprise an audience, pushing the concept as far as she can to see what she can get away with.

      Here’s the problem I have with writing like that, although clearly the board of the Canuck film contest didn’t. It doesn’t get the reader involved in the story. We watch, shock after shock wondering what awful thing Log will do next, but there is little attention to building our anticipation as an audience, other than expecting normal horror tropes to appear.

      I’m going to use one of the simplest concepts of any horror franchise as an example, Friday the 13th.

      The campers, usually teens show up at Crystal Lake to party and have premarital sex. Jason Vorhees arrives to exact puritanical vengeance upon them, just as Mike Myers did with amorous babysitters.

      We get the sense from the outset, that if there is a god, he would not be pleased by their carousing and partying and enjoying each other in such hedonistic manner.

      There’s a karma there.

      Here in Log, the story involves someone who cut down trees, his daughter being raped by a log, etc. but these things aren’t established nearly clearly enough in the first act.

      If I were to give notes I would have visuals of the raping of the woods following the initial attack so that the audience can subconsciously understand there is a bit of karmic payback at work here,

      I wasn’t patient enough to wait for the story to unfold without immediate evidence as to Logs motivations. In “Halloween” we see immediately Michael Myers sister inviting a boy to her bedroom leaving her young brother unattended.

      We understand on some level her murder, even through the prism of a psychotic mind.

      Logs motives are supposed to be made clear by having Junior Loggers being attacked. It’s not enough. I know it’s a simple silly premise but visuals of trees being chopped down, wood being cut into boards, things of that nature should follow the shock scene opening.

      Small things bothered me like the reveal that the ax that bounced off Log was plastic, something Alison told me in the action line but something an audience won’t understand. Why is there a plastic ax in the woods?

      I like Alison, just the right balance of ballsy and self deprecating, and have come across many pros in the business with her attitude. Undaunted, undeterred. It’s good to have these qualities.

      I do think she should take a microscope to her script and really focus on what does and doesn’t work though. It’s easy to get an award and say good enough, but come on. They’re Canadians. That’s their entire culture.

      It has potential to be an entertaining film, although tonally it shifts from silly to grotesque wildly. She should reign in the story a lot, building up to those outrageous moments rather than hitting the same note over and over, trying to sustain shock throughout.

      But Alison has a vivid imagination and willingness to get better, so there’s that.

      • Kirk Diggler

        “Did you hate it?”

        Okay, hate is a strong word. I disliked it as a screenplay fully knowing that Alison’s intent was to make a cult-like, midnight-show type film. I get what she was trying to do and it might work as a VOD horror comedy.

        In the context of SS’s 13 week screenwriting competition, since it ignored all screenwriting conventions I felt it was a poor choice to win 1st prize.

        Apparently there is an in-between and I was just using hyperbole to make a point. I didn’t hate it, i just felt it was a poor example of what screenwriting should be, especially when measured against the script it was competing with, Cratchit.

        • grendl

          Here’s the thing about rule breakers in the arts.

          They have to understand the rules they’re breaking, and show an ability to implement them in the first place.

          Picasso knew how to draw and paint an anatomically correct human being before moving their noses where their ears should be.

          Too often rebels don’t show their ability to write a classic story. Maybe Alison has done that with her ferret movie or sloth script, I don’t know.

          I think every screenwriter should have a story in their portfolio that shows an understanding of the format they’re trying to experiment with.

          • Marija ZombiGirl

            Not having any basic screenwriting techniques present in a script is not tantamount to breaking the rules. It just shows that all that stuff isn’t yet instinctual to the writer and that’s not criticism, that’s fact. The good news is that it develops more and more with every script that we write.

  • grendl

    First off, I like Alison. She’s the right balance of ballsy and self deprecating, and that will serve her well in the business.

    Her desire to shock should be tempered however with a need to make sense in a story.

    The choice of Junior lumberjacks as the targets of Logs rampage is a good one. It gives the murderous rapacious villain justification. I never saw Rubber and don’t know if that was just senseless killing. Like Attack if the Killer Tomatoes, if that’s the case then it’s a case of been there done that. Inanimate objects suddenly becoming animate with human killer tendencies without any justification has been done.

    After the initial log attack, I think the story needs to slow down to set up things a bit. Maybe there’s a plan to deforest a swath of land to build a summer resort. Maybe this is the case, I made it to page 42 and didn’t see a set up like this.

    The log raping people as payback for mans rape of the land seems to me to make sense. Certainly the junior Lumberjack choice was Alison’s attempt to justify the logs spree. But we to see more rape of the forest in the first act, something that the audience will see and subconsciously note as something that may come back to haunt humanity.

    And if rape of the land is the human crime being paid back, then log dismembering humans is the perfect payback. I don’t have a problem with the sexual rape part so much, but there is an issue of shock wearing off from overuse.

    At a certain point in the story Logs misdeeds will inevitably begin to show the law of diminishing returns. There should be more of a build up to his most egregious atrocities, a progression.

    Also there didn’t seem to be too much attention paid to the victims of his rampage. Interchangeable characters serving as fodder , as grist from the mill. The fact that he raped someone’s mother is pointless backstory.

    We like to understand the motivations of psycho killers. Alison’s choice of the lumberjacks in training suggested it but not clearly enough.

    I see in this script raw talent, energy, and little self indulgence and a need to meet the audience at least halfway as far as expectations so that some anticipation can be established. The fact that the script zigs and zags and refuses to be put in a box, or in a corner is admirable, but also risks frustrating the audience. You have to give them someone to empathize with. Like Laurie Strod in Halloween.

    The speed with which this was written is evident. It has that raw energy of a fourth draft. But it needs editing, structure, progression. And you don’t have to explicitly state the Logs motivations, but you shouldn’t hint at it with junior Lumberjacks and then leave it to your audience to piece it together. If he’s just a mad log killer, then they shouldn’t be junior Lumberjacks, just dumb teens like the ones at a crystal lake being killed for having premarital sex.

    This isn’t meant to discourage Alison, and winning ten grand is I’m sure validation she made some good choices, but a script can always be better. Canadians are notorious for settling for good enough.

    That’s kind of a joke.

    Good luck with it.

  • Justin

    I knew “Log” would win a competition at the very least. It was just that well-written, despite my dislike of the horror genre.

    Great podcast.

  • Edward

    Very entertaining and informative interview. Great to hear about the experiences of a writer at this early stage in their career. I hope you get more interviewees like Alison.