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Posts published in “Spec Flashpoint”

Spec Flashpoint – Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

What we have done here is barely touching the surface of what could be done around Flashpoint.
It’s easy to talk all day about the show but if you don’t write that spec, it’s pointless.
The hardest step is to finish that first draft, so just do it!

Ideas for your Flashpoint spec can be found anywhere. The show is often based on real-life cases.
For instance the pilot episode was inspired by an ETF sniper shooting.

I would probably avoid however basic hostage situations as it has been done and redone on the show.

The teaser is a crucial part of the show and its structure. It must hook the reader/viewer.
Someone holding someone else at gunpoint also has been quite done on FP so be careful on not recycling stories.

The most important part of the story are the characters.
Linking the story to them and making the audience care is a crucial part.
As seen previously, the background of the SRU members has been well developed, so you can maybe tap into that for your spec.
Choose wisely the SRU member you want to center on. The whole thing must make sense (at the very least thematically).
Create interesting antagonists that we will root for or against.

Don’t make a happy ending for the sake of it, but don’t kill everyone in a big atomic explosion.
Everything must happen for a reason.

For more info on the show you should also look for interviews with the writers.
Jill Gollick has several of those around the creation of the show.
Actually, she even made a much better breakdown of the pilot episode than mine (with character beats et al.). So definitely check that out.

Why not as well go on fan forums and official boards (such as CTV’s) to garner even more info (from the fans’ POV).

The series is fresh enough that you can get away with almost any storyline for the moment, as long as the characters and their actions are believable and interesting.

Trust yourself, trust your writing, and write it.

Good luck!

Spec Flashpoint – Part Two (C)

Part Two: Researching it
C – The SRU

Now that we have seen the characters and the structure of a basic Flashpoint episode, let’s take a look at what connects it all: the Strategic Response Unit.
As you may or may not know, the SRU per se doesn’t exists; it is actually based on Toronto’s Emergency Task Force (ETF).

The SRU/ETF only uses lethal force when necessary. Their main goal being to resolve the conflict peacefully with the less harm done.

You can often find in the show the use of some technical lingo.
It is pretty understandable in the context, but just to clarify, here is a rundown taken from the official CTV FP website:

Auto Transcriptor – A computer that automatically transcribes negotiations and team radio chatter, used as the official SRU record of an incident.
D-D’s – Distraction Device, e.g. a flash-bang, used to distract a subject.
Beanbags – Beanbag rounds fired from less lethal weapons.
Breach – To break open. SRU members will breach a door or window with a large ramming device to pursue a subject.
CQB – Close Quarters Battlehouse. A 360-degree, full simulation shooting range used for training.
CS Gas – Tear gas.
EDP – An Emotionally Disturbed Person.
Entry Team – A specialized SRU unit charged with breaking into a subject’s hideout, combining the element of surprise with overwhelming force.
EFE – Explosive Forced Entry, also called Aggressive Entry.
Glock – SRU sidearm weapon.
Flash-Bang – A grenade-type device that stuns and distracts subjects by emitting a loud bang and super-bright flash; it destabilizes the subject using the element of surprise.
JTF2 – Joint Task Force 2. An elite Canadian Special operations military unit that cross-trains with SRU.
Less Lethal – A weapon not designed to kill, e.g. rubber bullets, tear gas, Tasers. A team member assigned to use a less lethal weapon is referred to as “Less Lethal.”
Negotiator – Mediator or envoy. The negotiator’s job is to bargain with the subject to turn himself in, release hostages or navigate an otherwise positive outcome. Negotiation tactics are often employed before deploying force.
Ninjas – Nickname for entry teams.
OC Spray – Pepper spray.
Remmy 700 – Sniper rifle (Remington).
Red, Green, Black and White – Code words for the Left, Right, Rear and Front of a building.
Scorpio – The command that gives a sniper authorization to use lethal force.
SIU – Special Investigations Unit, a civilian organization mandated to investigate incidents involving deaths or serious injuries caused by the police.
Surfing – To pin a subject to the ground by lying on top of a police shield, on top of the subject,.
Time, Talk and Tactics – The three principles of an SRU team.

We can also quickly add to that list:
I have the solution” – When the sniper has in his sight the loose gunman, ready to take the lethal shot.
De-escalate” – Calming down the antagonist and the situation.
Also, after some kind of shoot-out, the SRU members yell “No harm!” to notify that, you guessed it, they haven’t been hurt.

The SRU also seems to use some kind of color-chart for their negotiation, measuring the antagonist’s danger level. The terms “De-escalating” or “re-escalating” will also be used around this chart.
It seems to be loosely based on various negotiating/psychological techniques but nothing quite concrete.
I did however found out a PowerPoint transcript of a 2006 conference named “De-Escalating Volatile Situations” with something that vaguely resembles a color-chart linked to a violent person’s awareness to his environment:

Five Stages of Alertness
Condition White – environmental unawareness
Condition Yellow – heightened state of awareness
Condition Orange – an undesirable event has occurred or is occurring
Condition Red – you must react now!
Condition Black – is one of panic, absolute terror, frozen muscles, mental paralysis, frenzy, and victimization

It certainly isn’t what is actually used on the show but in my opinion it seems quite close to what we have seen about it so far (mainly Episode 1×02).
Linking the whole thing with Stockholm Syndrome will probably get you a viable chart if you intend to use psychological negotiation techniques in your script.
The PP transcript linked above also has lots of other information regarding such techniques.

If you do find out the “real” negotiation color-chart used in the show (if it does exist) then please don’t hesitate to post it here.

Various other information (such as their equipment) on the ETF can be found on their wiki page, as well as a documentary on the ETF that CTV did a couple years ago. A summary of that doc can be found here.

Tune in next time for the exciting conclusion of our “Spec Flashpoint” series.

Spec Flashpoint – Part Two (B)

Part Two: Researching it
B – “Bad Guys”

This post is going to be shorter than usual, just because we already kinda riffled through it in previous posts.
That, and there’s an infinite number of possibilities you could go with for your baddie(s).

Fortunately for the show, “bad guys” are not every time really “bad”. For the sake of argument I am calling them “bad guys”, but most of the time they are really being “grey guys”.

Even though the teaser of almost every Flashpoint episode up to 1×09 has had someone holding someone else at gunpoint, “bad guys” on the show are pretty diverse.
They range from real bad guys (1×03, 1×06, 1×09), to good guys cornered into doing a bad thing to save themselves (1×05, 1×08), others (1×02, 1×04, 1×07), or just plain crazy/brainwashed people (1×01, 1×09).

For a more detailed bad guy/episode breakdown, please refer to this previous post.

“Bad guys” seem to love playing with guns in every Flashpoint episode; guns being real easy to obtain.
How many bomb threats have we had, versus how many hostage situations?
It could be an interesting twist to subtract guns and hostages from the equation completely, and have the “bad guy” use other kinds of weapon. Whether a virtual one, a psychological one, or just a baseball bat.

Also, change the situation surrounding the baddie.
Change the number, change their back story, change what is driving this mad man to kill his ex-lover. Did he/she cheat on him with a(nother) woman? Did he/she win the lottery but didn’t give him a cent? Or perhaps he/she decided to have a sudden sex-change?

Whatever the reason, the audience needs to be involved in the story.
Create on the audience a “Stockholm syndrome” so that they will not want to see the baddie hurt. Or on the contrary, make him real evil.
Make the audience emotionally involved and attached to the character.
In a bad way, in a good way, or both.

Now that was quicker than I imagined.

Anyway, next time, we’ll talk about the SRU itself… Or should I say TPS?