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Kren Cooper
Inspired by the conversation about Bright on the other thread:

Somehow, you’re the director who’s been landed the franchise rights to the Shadowrun Movie Universe. You’ve got to make the first one, but the studio have indicated that they’re looking for a series of interlinked films or sequels, as long as the first one works.

What would you do?

For me, I’ve thought about this a while and would go with the following:
Shoot entirely as a CGI flick, in the style of Final Fantasy Spirits Within, for a number of reasons:
It allows for seamless integration of dragons, orks, trolls, elves, sasquatch, blackberry cats, along with the “human” actors, without anything appearing as “dodgy” CGI.
You can customise the scenery and landscape as you want, and create some of the weird and wonderful 6th world locations again without disjunction
You can also have the matrix and astral elements done with a theme, but also in the same style as the main action.
Pure CGI means you can integrate spells and effects more directly with the cast with less risk and danger.
Granted, there may be less engagement without the traditional actor – but I think the genre would fit well.

Astral space would be a very monochromatic experience and slightly ethereal – I picture the Xavier looking for Rogue using Cerebro sequence from Xmen as a good example of how you convey the world to the audience – especially the non Shadowrun hardcore fans.
The Matrix would be very bright, vivid, in your face and neon – a Tron style affair but with a less limited Palette.
Otherwise the world is a gritty and dark place, with all the grunge and despair of the background, the split between haves and have nots. It’d be set in Seattle (at least to start) probably in 2060 – but that’s because I’m a 3rd ed player at heart and that is “golden era” timeline wise for me.
The movie would start with a LotR style flashback sequence, narrated by a big name (fulfilling the role of Sir Alec Guinness in Star Wars – lending the big name wow factor and respectability to an otherwise unknown cast of new actors) – this would cover the “And so it came to Pass” section of the rule book and set the world.
Then, open with a nice fast car chase / gun sequence – like the opening of the Matrix with Trinity escaping from the Agents, just to get the audience involved.
Cut away, to a team of fresh new runners, just elevated from gang level, talking with the wizened old fixer in the bar (voiced by the Sir Alec style actor) – who takes them under his wing, seeing some promise in them, and teaches them to survive in the world (and incidentally giving plot and background exposition) to the audience, or a nice fuzzy feeling of “hey, he’s talking about Dunklezhan! I know who that is!” To the SR fans.
The first movie is a lot of scene setting and hinting at roots and backstory, introducing the Big megacorps, the state of nations, the barrens and technology / magic, but ending up with a nice heist on a corporate facility that goes wrong, with massive running gun battles, serious spell mojo and dramatic rescues from riggers and deckers doing their things at the right time.
The team would be made of 6 characters, a mix of street sam, mage, phys ad, decker, rigger and face, with clear characters and some internal conflict to drive them into at least opposition with each other and some dramatic tension.
At the end of the movie, during the getaway, one of the team definitely dies in a horrible, messy and spectacular fashion, just to let everyone know that you’re playing in a nasty world, and the heroes won’t always win and get away to live happily ever after.
Despite that, the team get away with a reasonable score, and some new enemies, and start to plan their next run. Cut to scene of Evil corp planning something nasty and soul destroying that will impact the team in some way as the setup for movie #2.
I’d go with realistic gore for the setting, and accept that it’s almost certainly going to be an 18 for the theme and content – but I think there’d be a big enough audience after some “adult” action thriller film to make that viable.

So, what would you do, in what style and with what actors or themes?
Actually the remake of Total Recall did a lot of things right with the visual design (except, of course, the story).

Make heavy use of the rain soaked, dirty streets illuminated by neon lights, have the characters show their chrome - avoid CGI unless absolutely necessary and even then use it sparingly (That's what made Jurassic Park such a good and still watchable movie).

Don't overpopulate with weird from the start - for the first episode keep yourself confined to the five standard meta types, but use tattoos and hair styles liberally as well as retro-future clothing style - mirror shades and pink mohawks and black trench-coats.

Contrast with aseptic white corp offices with little to no individuality (think Gattaca).

Use bullet time and good choreography for fights - have few but memorable fights. Let blood and gore flow.

For spell effects go for lightning and fire, but use mages sparingly and show drain (burst blood vessels, blood from eyes and ears)

Show the characters interact with the world as "slice of life" scenes to introduce the world, without explaining everything (show, don't tell).

Focus on the social divide of absolute poverty in the barrens and devastated nature contrasted by the clean and uniform aesthetics of the corporations. Don't shy away from making everyone into a bastard of one kind or another.

Story and character wise I'd go for Leverage.
New Total Recall and Dredd both do the kind of setting you'd want really well.

Honestly, I'd be looking to maximize practical effects, use limited CGI. Same theory as Fury Road, where CGI is used to enhance stunts and practical effects. This will make the use for magic (and spirits if needed) stand out much more.

Probably got with an AmerInd shaman for the runners' caster. Get an actor who actually looks the part, do it as tastefully as possible, because that's a thing that's never done and it would be great to see.

The biggest thing is the writing. A tightly plotted character-driven story somewhere between noir and heroic bloodshed.
QUOTE (Kren Cooper @ Jul 24 2017, 03:09 PM) *
Inspired by the conversation about Bright on the other thread:

Somehow, you’re the director who’s been landed the franchise rights to the Shadowrun Movie Universe. You’ve got to make the first one, but the studio have indicated that they’re looking for a series of interlinked films or sequels, as long as the first one works.

What would you do?

I would start with reading up on the world, as most directors probably don't know what it's supposed to look like. The first part of the rule book maybe, some novels certainly. And if they do a movie adaptation of one of the novels (most likely), definitely that novel. If you want to do a movie that is appealing to both fans and non-fans, you have to do your leg work, right?
I once wrote what a Holywood Shadowrun movie would probably be like:
[ Spoiler ]

A good Shadowrun movie would be really hard to make. Here are a few rules I'd try to follow:
- Make a movie around a team of runners, not a single hero.
- Make a movie about the team. It's not about a world with magic and cyber, it's not about bad corps and poor people, it's about a team living in the Shadows.
- You need to find a happy middle between street-level and world-shaking epic. Street level makes it more relatable and interesting, epic makes it memorable.
- Show, don't tell. The world of Shadowrun can be pretty complex, but that doesn't mean you need a long exposition.

The Shadowrun novels have often struggled with all these. Many focus on just one character, or go too far on the epic side. The only one I remember that's actually a good Shadowrun story (as opposed to "a story in the world of Shadowrun") is Preying for Keeps. It's not the best story, it's not the best-written book, but it's one of the few that's centered on a shadowrunner team doing shadowrunner things. And even if the stakes go up towards the end it still remains grounded enough (if you ignore one out-of-place major NPC placement).

I think I'd look towards Hong-Kong "Heroic Bloodshed" movies for inspiration. Movies like "Exiled" or "The Long Arm of the Law" are pretty good at following the rules I've outlined above.
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