ON SPEC: That Time I Wrote A 60 Page BATMAN BEYOND Pilot

A lesson for budding writers.

Last night, I had a bottle of wine and got on Twitter. It was a celebration of sorts; I got the most polite rejection from a film studio I may ever read, and it was all for my silly and probably expensive action comedy feature. As an amateur writer, this doesn't just feel like progress - it plainly is.

Wine makes you wistful, and while I wasn't thinking of lost love or how much I miss my friends in Vancouver, my brain drifted to my first attempt at a full length pilot. The stupid, ill informed child in me decided on Batman. And not just Batman, but Batman Beyond.

See, I was living on a small island in the South China Sea at the time. Maybe the romantic inside me drew the comparison between my ESL teaching sojourn and a rich billionaire ninja orphan's Asian vision quest. Or maybe it was because the Batman of Batman Beyond's real name is Terry and HEY my name is Terry, too!

For the uninitiated, Batman Beyond is a cartoon that takes place about 40 years from now and follows Terry McGinnis, a former gangbanger and overall ne'er do well who's trying to get back on good terms with his family. When his dad dies in a company cover up, Terry breaks into Wayne Manor and steals Bruce Wayne's new Batsuit prototype and takes it for a test drive. Bruce, as an old man, helped Terry week to week stop a rogues gallery of old and new villains. It's basically The Force Awakens, but it came out in 1999. It was also awesome - and basically laid the groundwork for several new comics that are still popular today.

Anyway, I was in a bit of a slump. Teaching English to little kids turned out to be something I wasn't creatively satisfied doing. But, every evening after school, I felt a little more fulfilled in attempting to translate this material to live action. I was taking steps toward what I wanted to do, feeling it out by fumbling in the dark. I was very proud of my 60 page draft when it was finished. SO proud, in fact, that I commissioned artwork from a nice lady named Jennifer Lewis to go into a pitch bible. I had a very nice package ready to go out into a world I totally didn't understand. I'll let you see for yourself!

Poster artwork by Jennifer Lewis.

Poster artwork by Jennifer Lewis.

Scott Porter as Terry McGinnis, Batman of the Future. Artwork by Jennifer Lewis.

Scott Porter as Terry McGinnis, Batman of the Future. Artwork by Jennifer Lewis.

Summer Glau as Dana Tan, Terry's childhood friend. Artwork by Jennifer Lewis.

Summer Glau as Dana Tan, Terry's childhood friend. Artwork by Jennifer Lewis.

Josh Lucas as Derek Powers, CEO of Wayne-Powers Technologies. Artwork by Jennifer Lewis.

Josh Lucas as Derek Powers, CEO of Wayne-Powers Technologies. Artwork by Jennifer Lewis.

And naturally, Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne. Artwork by Jennifer Lewis.

And naturally, Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne. Artwork by Jennifer Lewis.

It's alluring to write material you don't own. It's a good exercise, teaching yourself how screenplay format works with characters you're comfortable writing. But, a word to anyone who has a Marvel Netflix idea burning in their back pocket - keep it there. I spent five months of my life on this project, and while I'm personally very proud of it, I could have spent that time creating something I owned.

Even after I sent this package to everyone I knew who was in the industry, it got me a single half phone call where I was (rightly) told this isn't mine. I'm surprised I got even that, frankly.

I'll leave you guys with a hopeful glimmer - I still don't regret it. Beyond did help get me into grad school. Moreover, it helped me realize that I'm passionate about developing stories.  If you have an immediate grasp of what writing something like this can do for you, and you still want to, then by all means- do it! Treat this like tee ball - you get to make easy homeruns while learning crucial and important things like formatting and act breaks.

After giving this thing I wrote four years ago another once over, it's not half bad! Don't get me wrong. It's not great -- formatting needs work, there are no act breaks, random words are capitalized for no reason and good LORD look at all the passive voice -- but hey, I still think it's pretty fun.

So, without further ado, I'll let you all read it. You'll even see my old Korean phone number listed on the contact page!

You can access the script PDF by clicking here.

Folks, posting this script was meant to inspire you. Don't ever stop chasing the things you want to chase. It's, frankly, brave to keep going when you don't have guarantees.

I hope you all enjoy it! Have anything to share? Leave some love (or some hate) in the comments below!

Terry Erickson is a screenwriter, lifelong film fan, and all around good guy based in Baltimore, MD. He's driven across America twice, is obsessed with Back To The Future, and loves almost everybody.