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Helen Ballard and the Fall Creek Ten

The Avengers Assemble in the Old West

Western Horror Action

When her mother and brother are murdered by a mysterious beast while traveling through her father’s mining territory, HELEN BALLARD joins a motley crew of 10 hunters, trackers and killers to find the culprit and bring him, or it, to justice.

What the reviewers had to say:

For genre fans, watching these hunters fall to their own greed, pride, or the snapping jaws of the Slayers is about as fun as it gets. In a climate where most movies about vicious monsters find them terrorizing horny teens, it’s refreshing to see a story where almost all of the 12 principals have a miniature story to tell in their own right, and the author gracefully weaves their fates together without sacrificing the cogent mythology behind the “Slayers”. Isaiah and Tess’ fates are probably two of the most shocking moments, with their positions at the opposite end of the heroism spectrum being obvious.
Blacklist
The large ensemble cast is the perfect centerpiece for a monster film such as this, with each team member given a specific personality and respected by the authors; it’s easy to imagine any one of these characters being the focal point of their own story. The thing that makes the story so compelling is that all of the Fall Creek 10 feel more or less as disposable as the others, so the surprise of what order they’ll be picked off in and how their fates will tie into their personalities is a consistent supply of tension and catharsis for the audience.
Blacklist
This screenplay leads with a strong cast of misfit characters that not only accurately represents the cross-cultural migration that the West experienced in the 1880s, but also immediately sends the mind racing with all sorts of present-day casting hypotheses. This alone is a good sign for the material’s productions value, but the writers’ abilities at penning unique and distinctly different voices for this ensemble piece only bolster the script’s chances of gaining a foothold with actors…and their agents.
Blacklist

Production notes:

When a mysterious creature attacks the family of an Old West mining baron, the ten best hunters, trackers and gunslingers in the world are gathered to slay the beast… the prize, $250,000 in gold. Thus nine hard men and one ruthless woman descend upon Fall Creek, a rough and tumble outpost in the Northern Rockies. Each hunter has his or her preferred method of killing and a grand variety of skill and hardware is soon on display. From Gatling guns to Native American tomahawks, these men and women have come to hunt and to kill.

Upon arrival the hunters are put up at the baron’s hotel. That night they hear a tale of the beast’s savage nature, first-hand from Helen, his beautiful yet headstrong daughter who survived the attack which killed her mother and brother.

She describes a creature unlike any they could imagine. Half bear, half devil.   Some Hunters scoff at the tale, whilst others fear and respect their mysterious opponent, but all can agree on one thing… they are determined to do anything necessary for that golden reward.

At daybreak the team ready their gear, each specific to their region and style of killing. They have one week to find the beast, kill it and bring it back its head to collect their reward.

Helen tries to join the hunt, but her Father forbids it and orders the Doc to sedate her with laudanum. Helen outwits the doctor and escapes, enlisting the help of a tenacious newspaper man, Rothman, who agrees to help her catch up with the posse. After a harrowing trek through the mountains, the two finally make contact with the hunting party.

Most of the Hunters want to turn her back immediately. They may be hired hands but they aren’t babysitters. Their killers. After a huge row and the support of adventurer, Tyson Dixon, and outlaw, Jack Laiper, the hunters agree to let her stay and avenge her family. Just as long as they get their reward, what’s the difference.

Helen and the others soon learn, though, that there is more than one way to win the prize: you can kill the beast or… kill the competition. And by the time the backstabbing has begun, the monster has readied a war party of its own and our Hunters suddenly find themselves the hunted. They’ll need all of their wits, skills and most importantly trust if they are to escape alive.

 Statement of Intent:  Thematically this is an Old West version of The Avengers Assemble. Think of the Seven Samurai by way of Deadwood. Our hunters are tough, gritty and deadly but also charismatic. Some are sexy, some are funny and some are just bat-shit crazy. All together though, they form a gang of misfits you just can’t take your eyes off of.  Each character has a distinct personality, backstory, weapons and of course… killing style. And if that wasn’t enough, the prospect of $250K worth of gold will either bring out the best or the worst in each.

Binding it all together though is young Ms. Ballard herself. Having just turned twenty and desperate to breakaway from her demanding father and the oppression of this isolated male-dominated town, Helen throws herself willingly into the maelstrom only to find that she is way over her head. But as with any great hero, it is this decision to cross the point of no return (and the subsequent interactions with the diverse and world-weary hunters) that allows her to find and express the strength and wisdom she has always aspired to. Helen learns a lot from the hunters, but by the end of the film, it is the hunters who learn from Helen.

Being a monster hunt at heart, Fall Creek Ten uses numerous hooks and devices to set the table for each hero to exercise his or her ‘killing style’ long before the final battle. From Preacher-man Malik’s whip and sword to Train Robber Vincente Ramos’ dynamite, these demonstrations are key to attaching the audience to our Old West comic book heroes. There is something for everyone and perhaps some debate afterwards on who would best who and on what terms.

But unlike the Justice League, these Superheroes aren’t all out for good. And when the money is on the table and the prize nearly in hand, the daggers come out and true colours are shown. And it is when the hunters are at each other’s throats over the money, that they suddenly find themselves the ones being outnumbered and pinned down. Soon the only reward they seek is survival, and it is only Helen who can guide them to it using the lessons she has learned via her hero’s journey.

 Casting:

This film is designed to be a genre release with an A-List star in the lead of Helen – Emma Watson, Saorise Ronan, Emma Stone, Imogen Poots, Ellen Page.

The featured Male Leads of Tyson Dixon (The Adventurer) and Jack Laiper (The Outlaw) should also attract break out TV Talent and well known veterans from the genre world.

Furthermore the presence of such a large ensemble featureing a six international male and female characters should help in the creation of a globally appealing package that can be tailored for each foreign marketing campaign.

These characters would cover: Latin America, Native American, French Canadian, Belgian / French, Asian, African American

Most of the film is wilderness-based and could be shot in any mountainous region with good water features (lakes, streams, rivers, falls). Canada is the current desired location which will also deliver significant rebates and soft money contributions. As for the Old West town similar budget examples would include the muddy, rough and tumble design of the hit TV show Deadwood. Furthermore several standing sets currently exist and could be redressed to create our desired look. Interiors are typical Old West Saloon and Hotel rooms and can be stage based or practical.

Costumes, props and weapons will be given high priority in design to promote the ‘Super-hero’ nature of each character. Combined, these elements will be unique and memorable, echoing the talents and personalities of each Hunter as well as Helen herself.  Historic accuracy should be considered but more important will be the style, sex appeal and originality of the costumes in keeping with the comic book nature. Breed, size and colour of their horses as well should be considered in the character design process.

VFX are approximately 25% of the film and negotiations with a favourable VFX partner should keep costs under control. The VFX house should specialize in creatures and design of the monsters should weight up both the creative requirements (must be original and scary) vs the resources required to achieve each shot (cannot be too complex – i.e. Groot). Most of the VFX aside from the creature work will be wire removal for stunts, set extensions, muzzle blasts and general clean up to remove any anachronistic artefacts.

The cliff-top finale with cave can be built on a back-lot (or large studio) and supplemented with green screen.

As a western with numerous exteriors we will let the film immerse the audience with the sweep of the landscape and rugged beauty of the mountains and valleys. Anamorphic is preferred but consideration may be made for using Spherical with a 2:35 crop for night VFX shots/plates. The new Red Dragon 6K should be explored as well with a centre crop to allow for repositions and flexibility with VFX plates.

Sunrise, sunset and magic hour will be key to setting the visual tone and feel.   As the Slayers only come at night, these moments will be crucial transition points / story beats and therefor must be budgeted and scheduled appropriately.

Compositions will make full use the widescreen frame and large cast. Shadow, silhouette, sun flare, reflections and backlight will also be utilized to play with the shifting allegiances and duality each character.

Bold and daring angles will also be used as a nod to the comic book nature of the material. These could involve asymmetric framing (half faces), forced perspective (extreme wide with f.g. objects, ie gun), long lens rack focus (blur to reveal), Dutch angels and the odd zoom or two.

Similar looks would be: The Assassination of Jesse James, Days of Heaven and There Will Be Blood with a hefty does of John Woo & Luc Besson for the action scenes.

 

Target Audience: Broad, skewing male.  Male/Female 18 – 55. Genre fans of both Sci-Fi and Thriller

Markets: Due to the universal appeal of genre thrillers, we expect the film – with a broad and diverse cast – to sell in all territories world-wide.   Theatrical is a strong possibility in some major markets, but main revenue stream will be from broadcast rights, SVOD and DVD sales with a long tail due to genre loyalty.

Sequel and Franchise Possibilities: Due to the unique characters and story rich post Civil War backdrop, the producers feel there is a strong franchise potential for additional films based on these characters or a TV spin off if the film is successful. The subsequent films do not have to be Western based and could be set in almost any region of North America, Asia or Europe.

Rating: The movie would most likely be rated 18 (US – R rating) due to language, violence, gore and nudity but modifications could be made for a hard PG-13 if required.

Profile

Helen Ballard and the Fall Creek Ten

Western – Action Horror

The Avengers Assemble in the Old West

PRODUCTION DETAILS

Western Action Horror
When a monster attacks the daughter of an Old West land baron, the ten best hunters in the world are gathered to slay the beast.
The Wild Bunch meets The Thing
Old West, Mountains, Forest
100-minutes / English
Broad, skewing male. Male/Female 18 – 55. Genre fans of both Westerns and Horror
RSVP, Trash, Olive Juice, Magenta, The Reeds, Dance Wiv Me – click for more info
Prisoner’s Dilemma, Dead Fall
X-Men, Man of Steel, Die Hard 4, Underworld, In Time, Iron Man 3 – click for more info

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