Thursday, July 12, 2007

POLARITY - the pitch

One of the many wonderful opportunities I've had since I became a professional writer was being hired to create an original animated pilot for The Cartoon Network called POLARITY.

In a nutshell, it was a modern day version of the WONDER TWINS. Two friends (later brothers) who are polar opposites in personality. Through an accident (or was it?) they are granted polar opposite superpowers as well. The catch - the accident has also made it impossible for them to leave each others side. Move more than 100 yards away from each other, and they weaken and die.

What I liked was a) the unique power set - despite the Wonder Twins analogy, I can't think of anything similar; and b) the fact two kids who can't get along are forced to be together - not just as superheroes, but in life. In other words, a story that's both high concept and character driven.

Unfortunately, CN decided to go in a different direction, and the rights have reverted back to me. It's a project I remain passionate about, and I'm determined to bring it to fruition, whether it's as an animated or live action film or tv show, or as a comic.

I'm going to do something I rarely do, which is share the pitch I used to sell the pilot. That's partly in the hopes that someone might see this and want to produce/publish it. But mostly, I want this to be the first of a few posts that shed some light onto both my process and how Hollywood works.

To give some background, this started out as a live action pitch for Disney/Jetix. I pitched Disney a few series ideas (one of which, Rift Raiders, it looks like you'll see in comic form). But Polarity got furthest up the ladder. It came down to the network executive (sorry, not naming names) who could greenlight it. Ultimately, despite the success of Heroes, live action super-hero pilot was not considered financial feasible at the time.

Still, that helped me hone and develop the pitch. My meeting at CN was not one I thought went well. The exec there did not remember me from a past meeting. That threw me, but as a result I was really loose, and like with women, sometimes not caring actually works. After the multiple meetings at Disney, it took just one to get a greenlight from Cartoon Network (it would much, much take longer to get paid...but that's a story for another time, and is just how this town works).

Anyway, without further ado:


©2007 Mark Sable

POLARITY is the story of two childhood best friends who have drifted apart but must work together as superheroes not only save the world – but to survive.

ZEPH, like Adam Brody on the OC, is obsessed with all things superhero but not afraid to show it. HERC, Ryan Atwood to Zeph’s Seth Cohen, keeps his superhero obsession secret. He’s in with the cool kids now and wants it to stay that way.

Just when seems like their friendship has come to an end, they gain powers through the GENE MATRIX. Like their personalities, their powers are polar opposites of one another. If Zeph controls fire, Herc can generate ice. If Zeph decreases his density so he can phase through walls, Herc becomes so dense that he’s invulnerable. When one uses gravity to attract objects, the other can use it to repulse them. They can choose between theses opposing sets of powers when one of them yells their catchphrase, “Let’s flip the script.”

But the GENE MATRIX didn’t just give them powers, it bonded them together. Their powers only work when they’re in close proximity. Worse, when they’re too far apart, they grow weaker as time and distance increase. If they don’t stick together…let’s just say it’s not good for either of them. They not only forced to remain close to one another to work together, they’re forced to work together to survive.

Now that they have powers, Zeph just wants to use his powers to have fun, to be the athlete he never was, to help him avoid homework and to impress girls. Unfortunately, his joy makes him a little reckless. Herc, on the other hand sees their powers as a burden, and is constantly trying to keep Zeph from blowing their secret identities. With an ailing father, Herc’s got Peter Parker ‘s sense of responsibility, and always strives to do the right thing. Zeph on the other hand is always trying to get Herc to lighten up.

Even though their opposite personalities constantly exasperate one another, they are forced to work and hang out together – all the time. Not only does this provide for great drama and action set-pieces, it’s a source of comedy as well. If Herc is going on a date with the girl of his dreams, Zeph has to sit in the movies with them, even if he has a crush on her.

When they gain their powers, Herc and Zeph learn they live in a world where superheroes are real, but the public doesn’t know it – because the supervillains have won. THE OVERLORD, and evil Professor X, has made the world forget heroes existed. His reluctant mad scientist partner DR. SIPHON, true to his name, siphons off their powers for The Overlord’s benefit.

They also learn that Herc is the son of OMNI, formerly the world’s greatest superhero. Now powerless, he tries to stop his son from assuming his mantle. Meanwhile Zeph learns to his shame that he’s the child of Dr. Siphon – a secret he keeps from Herc, and one that will divide them when the truth comes out.

Like in Harry Potter…our characters wish that they and the world they live in are more than what they seem has come true…but at a price.

Together, the Zeph and Herc creatively switch their powers each week to save a world without heroes. But this unlikely pair’s greatest challenge is not learning to master their opposing powers, but to overcome their differences and work together as team.

That's the short one pager that got me my first "break" in Hollywood (not counting comics). I had already developed the idea quite extensively and would continue to do so. If this proves of interest, I hope to share some more.

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