In part one of this tragedy, I explained how my friend Steve and I had begun working on a screenplay in 1998 that recast Snow White as an action heroine. Unlike Snow White and the Huntsmen, our story was set in the present.
We were showing it around and getting some good feedback on it...in early September of 2001. And of course I mentioned that Steve lived on South End Ave, directly in the shadow of the World Trade Center.
The story didn't end there, though. Even though Steven initiated the project as a kind of Matrix-type sci-fi mindgame thriller, I suggested we incorporate those mind-control elements into a more conventional action thriller based on films like La Femme Nikita, which we were both fans of at the time. I felt the best way to pursue the project was to do it as a graphic novel and take that to the studios and so started looking for artists.
I finally met one I liked at San Diego in 2003 and started getting things together to pitch. Unfortunately the artist didn't work out and I was back where I had started. I decided to lay the story out myself (meaning do all the basic drawings and panel arrangements) while I looked for another artist.*
Finding a good artist to work on spec is a lot harder than you might think. Given the choice, artists would much rather work on their own projects. But I did write up a pitch for a Snow graphic novel based on the treatment and a major reworking of my first graphic novel, which I was very unhappy with. I thought the best thing to do to find an artist was to get a deal, so I set out to pitch some publishers. And then I did something really god-damned stupid.
I put the Snow treatment online.
Not for long, only long enough to send to a guy named Jamie Rich, who was running Oni Press (later home of Scott Pilgrim). I don't remember why I put it online- it might have been just a courtesy, since clicking on a link was easier than dealing with an attachment. Or maybe he asked me to, I don't remember. I don't even remember exactly why I was pitching him (this was eight years ago**) and I didn't think enough of it to keep track of any of this when I shut down my old email account.
I spent the past couple days trying to track this all down. I emailed Jamie, I called Oni; they were very friendly and helpful but neither keep records going that far back. I seemed to keep records of everything but the email in which I sent Jamie the link to the Snow treatment.
Why should I? It was just a failed pitch to an indie publisher who were hardly on the map back then. I didn't realize that nothing flies under the radar in the Age of Google. Unfortunately, it flew under the radar of the Internet Archive, along with 80% of my old website.
But it was while I was wracking my brains trying to figure out how all of the main plot points from Snow showed up in Hanna then I remembered what I thought at the time was a nonevent. How long it stayed archived on Google after I took it off my server (which I did after Jamie shot me down) is anyone's guess, but maybe it stayed up just long enough.
The timeline here is perfect- Hanna's writer (Seth Lochhead) was in Vancouver Film School apparently working on his script at the same time I was pitching Snow to Oni.
Either way, I read the spec script and the shooting script for Hanna (both of which are easily found online) and rented the movie. The following are the similarities between the Snow treatment (I've posted it online again- read it here) and Hanna- I think you'll agree they're pretty substantial.
Like pretty god-damned, kick-me-in-the-side-of-the-head substantial.
Do I think that this writer stumbled on our treatment and consciously or unconsciously took the basic architecture of the story (Hanna plays like a budgeted-down version of Snow, which we intentionally made as over-the-top as we could), grafted his travel diaries onto it and sold it?
I'll tell you what- I'll keep my own counsel on that matter. In the meantime, you can judge for yourself....
Snow is about a teenaged girl who who was raised from birth to be the perfect intelligence agent and eventually comes into conflict with the woman who made her the supersoldier that she is.
Hanna is about a teenaged girl who was raised from birth to be a master assassin and eventually comes into conflict with the woman who made her the supersoldier that she is.
Snow has a genius IQ and is master in the arts of killing. Her skills are a combination of science and relentless training.
Hanna has a genius IQ and is master in the arts of killing. Her skills are a combination of science and relentless training.
The first scene of Snow pictures the heroine running through the forest in archaic clothes.
The first scene of Hanna pictures the heroine running through the forest in archaic clothes (plus, snow).
Snow is an action thriller that makes extensive use of imagery and themes from Grimm's Fairy Tales, which we learn have personal importance to the heroine.
Hanna is an action thriller that makes extensive use of imagery and themes from Grimm's Fairy Tales, which we learn have personal importance to the heroine.
Snow draws repeated parallels to fairy tales, arguing that stories like La Femme Nikita and Alias were our modern fairy tales.
Hanna draws repeated parallels to fairy tales, arguing ...?
The original pitch for Snow called for a Techno soundtrack, citing British artists Underworld and Fatboy Slim, who were popular in the late 90s when the script was originally written.
Hanna features a Techno soundtrack by British artists Chemical Brothers, who were popular in the late 90s when Snow was originally written.
Snow is a super-intelligent killing machine who has been engineered to be the perfect human since birth.
Hanna is a super-intelligent killing machine who has been engineered to be the perfect human since birth.
Snow's nemesis, Ubela Konigen was cited as an agent for East German intelligence before launching the supersoldier program.
Hanna's nemesis, Marissa Wiegler (a German name) is an intelligence agent who had extensive links to East Germany before launching the supersoldier program.
In Snow, the supersoldier program operates in a grey area and could get Ubela in serious trouble with Washington.
In Hanna, the supersoldier program operates in a grey area and could get Ubela in serious trouble with Washington.
In Snow, Ubela was married to Snow's father, which we based on the "evil stepmother" trope from fairy tales.
In Hanna, Marissa was Hanna's father's handler, and tells Hanna she's the closest thing the girl has to a mother.
The main plot of Snow deals with the heroine's quest to rendezvous with a intelligence agent of European extraction while being pursued by her Evil Queen/Wicked Witch nemesis.
The main plot of Hanna deals with the heroine's quest to rendezvous with a intelligence agent of European extraction while being pursued by her Evil Queen/Wicked Witch nemesis.
The heroic European agent in Snow is named Harrison ("Prince", roughly).
The heroic European agent in Hanna is named Erik ("Prince", roughly).
Snow is imprisoned in a underground intelligence facility where she is closely monitored and which she escapes by snapping the neck of a captor (following intimate contact) and killing a large number of security personnel.
Hanna is imprisoned in a underground intelligence facility where she is closely monitored and which she escapes by snapping the neck of a captor (following intimate contact) and killing a large number of security personnel.
Snow's escape features a long slide down the side of a dam.
In the spec script, Hanna's escape features a long slide down an air vent.
Following her escape, Snow wanders through the Arizona desert, dodging her pursuers.
Following her escape, Hanna wanders through the Moroccan desert, dodging her pursuers.
Ubela personally assigns Hunter, an unpleasant agent of European extraction, the task of tracking down Snow.
Marissa personally assigns Isaacs, an unpleasant agent of European extraction, the task of tracking down Hanna.
After wandering through the desert, Snow encounters a strange band of fugitive Bohemians living in a beat-up Winnebago camper.
After wandering through the desert, Hanna encounters a strange family of vacationing Bohemians living out of a beat-up Volkswagen camper.
While being pursued by Hunter and his men, Snow stows away in the Winnebago, in a storage compartment beneath the floor.
While being pursued by Issacs and his men, Hanna stows away in the VW bus, in a storage compartment beneath the floor.
Snow eventually befriends the Bohemians and earns their trust.
Hanna eventually befriends the Bohemians and earns their trust.
Just how deadly Snow is is shown when she puts a friendly character in a sophisticated martial arts grapple following a misunderstanding.
Just how deadly Hanna is is shown when she puts a friendly character in a sophisticated martial arts grapple following a misunderstanding.
In Snow, the Winnebago is pulled over to the side of the road by Snow's pursuers. She leaps out and kills two of the pursuers with her bare hands, horrifying her new friends.
In Hanna, the Volkswagen is pulled over to the side of the road by Hanna's pursuers. She leaps out and kills one of the pursuers with her bare hands, horrifying her new friends.
Outnumbered, Snow drives into a river to escape her enemies.
Outnumbered, Hanna dives into a river to escape her enemies.
Even after Snow reaches her objective and reunites with Harrison, her troubles with Ubela are not over.
Even after Hanna reaches her objective and reunites with Erik, her troubles with Marissa are not over.
Snow ends with a battle between Snow and Ubela.
Hanna ends with a battle between Hanna and Marissa.
Snow, still in recovery from being poisoned by Ubela, runs up the stairs to confront her nemesis on the roof.
Hanna, who's been wounded by Marissa, runs up a ladder and a stairway to confront her nemesis as she tries to escape to the roof.
That's all I could pick out for now. I was going to rewatch Hanna but I literally felt physically ill when I tried to do so. A shame, it seems like it would be a very nice movie if I didn't feel like I was being ass-raped while watching it.
More on this as the situation develops.
UPDATE 6/11: Have a lead on the posting of the Snow treatment and some background information. Will keep you guys posted as the situation develops.
* I have most of it laid out in some level of finish, but kept having to abandon the project when freelance work came in. After a while I couldn't hold on. It was heartbreaking, really. I actually put up a sample from Snow here back in 2010, since I kept working on the project even after I gave up trying to find an artist, but couldn't get my style to work with the story.
** Note: 2005 was when archive CD with file was burned. Treatment was actually posted in 2003, I now realize.