Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Poor Pluto

I wrote this short story in wonderful Lissa Rovetch's class at Pixar.  It's a story about Pluto getting kicked out of the planets club for being too small.  He decides to start his own club and has to deal with some unexpected results.  This story was inspired by two things:
1) I grew up with Pluto as a planet and am sad to see him demoted from being an "official" planet.  That must suck.
2)  I heard a story in one of my storytelling classes about a younger brother being excluded from his older brother's friends' club and it stuck with me.  I'm the oldest bro but I've seen the pain on my younger brothers' faces from being excluded from my awesome karate dojo for being "too undisciplined."

The artwork was done unbelievably fast by the super-talented Pixar sketch artist Dan Holland.  One of the many benefits of working at Pixar is that you're surrounded by great artists.  Every night we had class, Dan was constantly sketching.  I don't think he can turn it off, which is how I feel about writing.  He did a couple of two-page interior spreads to communicate the look and feel of the images.

Dan's artwork:
Jupiter playing cometball with Pluto:
Pluto wandering the solar system after being kicked out of the Planet Club:

Poor Pluto
by Mike Sundy

              1  - Deep in the Milky Way, a planet named Pluto loved to
               play cometball.  He never got to play with the other planets
               because he was so small.

               2 - But today was different.  Three planets were out and you
               need six to play, which meant--
               "Aww, we have to let Pluto play," said giant Jupiter.

               3 - Jupiter hurled the huge comet toward Pluto.  VISHHHH--
               Flames crackled out from its tail - KRKK-POP!

               4 - Pluto caught it in his orbit.  But he couldn't hold it -
               ZANG!  It broke free and zapped into--

               5 - A black hole.  "PLUTO!" shouted Jupiter.  "That was my
               favorite comet!  You ruined our game, Stupid."

               6 - Jupiter called the other planets together - they whispered
               and glared at Pluto.

               7 - Jupiter towered over Pluto.  "You're kicked out of the
               Planet Club."

               8 - "But-- you can't do that!  I've always been a planet,"
               said Pluto.
               "We have new rules for being a planet," piped Earth.  "One:
               no funny orbits.  And two: you must be big enough."

               9-10 - Pluto knew the angry planets would never accept him.
               He drifted through the asteroid belt--
               Past the ecliptic plane--
               Beyond the scattered disc.

               11 - He drifted so far the Sun grew dim and cold.  He curled
               up at the edge of an icy rock belt.

               12 - "What's wrong?" said a voice.  Pluto turned around.  It
               was someone a little smaller than him named Eris.

               13 - "I'm not big enough to play cometball," said Pluto.
               "What's that?  Sounds fun," said Eris.

               14 - "It is fun.  But you need a comet to play, and they're
               hard to find--" said Pluto.
               Eris zipped away and back-- with four small comets!

               15 - So Pluto showed Eris how to pick up a comet - SHUCK.
               He showed her how to spin - ZUUU-ZUUU.  He showed her how to
               throw - VOOOM.

               16 - Pluto found he was great with the smaller comets - they
               were just right for his orbit. Some Kuiper Belt Objects (KBOs)
               came to watch them.

               17 - A tiny KBO approached Pluto. "Do you think I could play?"
               "Sure.  Anyone can play," said Pluto.

               18-19 - Pluto looked at the dozens of KBO's now gathered.
               "What if you have a wobbly orbit?" said a lumpy KBO.
               "Anyone can play," said Pluto.
               "What if you have strange colors?" said a purply-green KBO.
               "Anyone can play."
               "What if you don't have any moons?" said a moonless KBO.
               "Anyone can play."

               20 - "Yes, anyone can join the Plutoid Club," said Eris.
               "I want to be a Plutoid.  Me too!"  said the KBO's.

               21-22 - Soon the club had thousands of players.  FHWOOSH!
               ZHOOMP!  WUH-RRANG!

               23 - A bumpy KBO fumbled a comet near the Belt's edge.
               When Pluto went to get the comet, he was surprised to see
               Jupiter hiding in a nebula.

               24 - "What are you doing here?"  said Pluto.
               "Tell him to spin more before he releases," said Jupiter.
               "Tell him yourself," said Pluto.

               25 - "You'd let me play with you?" said Jupiter.
               "I thought you had your special Planet Club," said Pluto.
               "We kicked out a couple more planets.  But then there weren't
               enough for cometball," said Jupiter.

               26 - By this time, several KBO's had gathered around.
               "Can I play with you?" asked Jupiter.

               27 - "Anyone can play," said Pluto.

               28 - "Hooray!" said the Plutoids.  Jupiter was good with the
               small comets, but Pluto was the best.  They lit up the sky
               with their fun.  ZING!  ZANG!  KA-ZOOM!

                                         THE END

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Bad Mormon

I wrote this comic short film BAD MORMON and shot it with two of my brothers on a Flipcam during a family vacation in St. Louis.  I wrote it without dialogue as I wanted to see if I could tell a story purely through images.

Caveats: This video is only intended for laughs, not any sort of religious or political commentary.

Good Mormon wants to enjoy his favorite activities: studying scripture, appreciating fine music, and petting his beloved bird. Bad Mormon has other ideas.

Writer/Director/Editor - Mike Sundy

Modern Family TV spec

Recently I've been more interested in writing for TV. I love mockumentaries and have since watching the early Christopher Guest movies. My buddy Toby and I got a copy of the British Office when it was just airing in the UK and it blew us away. The first TV spec I wrote was an Office spec. The second one I wrote was this Modern Family one. It's called Neighborhood Watch.

Logline: Phil and Claire form a neighborhood watch in a misguided attempt to catch non-existent hoodlums. Cam and Mitchell undergo hazing to join an exclusive playgroup. Jay and Gloria teach Manny how to deal with a school bully.

Awards: 2012 Austin Film Festival Second Rounder (top 10% of over 6000 scripts)


CARDBOARD CASTLE is my most personal script. It's also won the most awards of any script I've written. Coincidence? It's a family fantasy with a little darkness to it, inspired by my own relationship with my father and also my relationship with my beloved daughters.

Logline: A stoic Air Force captain journeys into the whimsical mind of his comatose daughter and races to save her from a fearsome beast.

2011 Scriptapalooza Semi-finalist
2012 CineStory Quarterfinalist
2012 PAGE Awards Quarterfinalist
2010/2011/2012 Second Rounder in the Austin Film Festival (top 10% of 6000+ scripts)
2011 BlueCat Quarterfinalist


I'm going to be detailing some of my previously written projects. Then I'll start posting new writing (some of which may be incomplete). I hope to use this blog as a way to showcase my writing and share the journey of an aspiring screenwriter. If only I could get Blogger to stop embedding crazy HTML tags and jacking up my font. I'll bend you to my will, Blogger, mark my words. You'll rue the day.

SANTAGATE is an AFF Finalist!

SANTAGATE is a family comedy script I wrote over the course of a couple years.  I started it in the amazing Tim Albaugh's UCLA Online workshop.  After I wrote the rough draft, I pitched it at my first Austin Film Festival in 2010.  Not being the best pitcher, I was shocked to tie for third in the Pitch Finals.  Two years and seven drafts later, it makes the AFF comedy screenplay finals.  Many thanks to my fellow writers in the UCLA Online Workshop and Pixar Screenwriters' group for all the great notes.

Logline: A kid reporter obsessed with the truth struggles to uncover the greatest grown-up conspiracy of all time: the secret of Santa.

2012 Austin Film Festival Finalist in the comedy screenplay category (top 5 scripts out of 2000)
2012 Austin Film Festival Semi-Finalist for Enderby Entertainment Award
2011 BlueCat Quarterfinalist (older draft)

Writing Goals

I want to be a full-time professional writer of family films and comedies.  I started off being a screenwriter but have been doing more TV writing lately and am enjoying that.  In a perfect world, I'd write on staff for a TV series and also write feature specs and TV pilots.  And write children's books on the side.

Writing Bio

I read voraciously as a kid.  Grew up to write crappy poetry as a teenager.  Don't laugh, it got me a couple of girlfriends who were out of my league.  I stopped writing poetry when I got married since all the angst was gone.  After getting laid off from yet another dotcom startup where I was sure to be a millionaire "any day now", I realized I wasn't fulfilled doing computer work all day.  So I took a test at the Johnson O'Connor Institute to measure my aptitudes.  The test told me to consider a career as a playwright.  Instead, I chose to pursue screenwriting since I didn't want to starve.  Figuring this would take a week or two tops, I signed up for the UCLA Professional Program in Screenwriting.  Ten years later, I'm finally a little less crappy of a writer than when I started.  Now I spend my time with the Pixar screenwriters' group and the Pixar children's book writing group.