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Old July 24th, 2006, 06:00 PM   #1
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What does a "Mockumentary" script look like?

Hello all,

I apologize to the moderators if this post is unnappropriate to this forum, I was not sure where to post a message of this nature. (feel free to move to correct board)

I am in awe at the recent development of "mockumentaries". Trailer Park Boys is an excellent example of what a mockumentary type style of shooting looks like, as well as "The Office" on NBC is another perfect example.

My question for you guys is, have any of you ever had any experience with Mockumentaries? If so, does anyone have an example of how the shows script was written? Additionally, from a technical standpoint, how does a director prepare his shots on paper? I am having a hard time visualizing how a team goes about pre-planning a mockumentary with the obvious ad-libbing and improv this style of shooting brings.

Thanks for any help!
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Old July 24th, 2006, 07:04 PM   #2
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You can typically buy scripts of popular TV shows (don't think TPB scripts are available though). They should illustrate proper script formatting... Final Draft (software) can help. Part of the formatting is to make the script easy to read for other crew positions... i.e. the casting agent should be able to easily figure out who needs to be casted. That's why names are capitalized the first time they appear.
Int/ext is to help the producer (and DP). Nighttime shooting is harder / more expensive, and locations affect cost.

2- To answer the creative side of your question:
If so, does anyone have an example of how the shows script was written?
A lot of shows will plot out the story arcs for the season. This is for the shows will continuing storylines (i.e. 24, soap operas, etc.).
Other TV series are mostly self-contained... i.e. Simpsons. At the end of the episode, everything gets "reset" and things go back to normal.

*Sometimes the plot arcs change. i.e. The 24 website has some information on how they deviated from their original plot arc.

The reason is this:
People don't watch every episode of a series. If the series is self-contained, you can pop in randomly and get what's going on. The title sequence typically tells you what the show is about.

If the storyline continues, the show is more interesting creatively. For those who missed an episode, there is a "previously on" recap (don't write this). Some shows like this (i.e. Lost) don't bother with a title sequence.

In a similar vein...
Many shows open with something dramatic (i.e. a death), to get viewers hooked into the show.
Before commercial breaks, they have something interesting happen... so viewers stay over the commercial break.

Typically story structure has rising action... with a climax towards the end of the show, then a denoument where everything gets neatly tied up. On the way there, there's a bunch of plot twists.

Shows have their own style... i.e. TPB humour is definitely unique to the show. The whole show is basically variations on the same theme / ideas... at the core of it, they are good honest people although being social misfits on the outside.
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Old July 24th, 2006, 07:38 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply,

I guess what I would like to add is that I would love to physically see a copy of a mockumentary script - one episode.
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Old July 25th, 2006, 12:09 PM   #4
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Within this genre, there is a lot of variety. With the Christopher Guest films and certain mockumentary shows like "Reno 911", the script is really just an outline that details who will be in a given scene and the story arc (and enough specifics for the various departments to be prepared such as props, wardrobe etc), but the actual lines are improvised. However with shows like "The Office", the shooting script has complete dialogue just like any other show. I know that the British version was shot with no more ad libbing than a traditional show, I think the American one is the same, although it's a safe bet that Steve Carrell provides plenty of "alts"!
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Old July 25th, 2006, 01:01 PM   #5
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Seems like the majority of the sucess for a mockumentary is greatly dependent upon the actors casted. Don't know if thats a good thing or a bad thing!
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Old August 3rd, 2006, 09:15 AM   #6
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There's a lot of differences in this "genre" as with anything else. It depend on how much of a doc feel you want to give...It can be amazingly simple or really complex and you can decide and cast accordingly...you might not need great actors at all if you have a clear vision and are able to communicate it effectively...hunt online...almost all scripts are out there...though a lot are pieced together after the movie has come out so you won't know if that's what they had when they shot or not...

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Old August 3rd, 2006, 12:29 PM   #7
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Peter Jackson's - Forgotten Silver, has some good "making off" footage on the DVD, that might be informative.
"Ultimately, the most extraordinary thing, in a frame, is a human being." - Martin Scorsese
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