Before I film... at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > And Now, For Something Completely Different... > The TOTEM Poll: Totally Off Topic, Everything Media

The TOTEM Poll: Totally Off Topic, Everything Media
Let's talk about anything media related.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old June 1st, 2004, 09:34 PM   #1
Major Player
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Las Vegas
Posts: 316
Warning: Violence

Before I continue on to storyboarding and filming I would like to polish the script. I am interested in the suggestions and comments from people on this board. All of my friends have said they like it, but they're my friends.

synopsis: "Three teens break into an old mans house to take something very important to them. While leaving, the youngest teen lags behind and is caught and injured by Joe, the owner of the house. The other two teens flee. While dialing 911 for the dying boy, Joe notices the missing item and hangs up the phone. Joe is going to get his stolen item back."

draft 4 (revisions based on the first few critiques here):
PDF
or
HTML

It's about 14.5 pages, so if any of you are bored. .. I would appreciate it.
Bryan Mitchell is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 2nd, 2004, 07:47 AM   #2
Major Player
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: St. Louis, MO
Posts: 581
A quick read and the story seems OK though riddled with cliches. Since, I assume, you are the director, the camera descriptions make this a shooting script. Otherwise, a different director would hate you for the descriptions.

If you use experienced actors, they may hate you, too. You shouldn't give step by step, inch by inch, descriptions of character action leaving nothing for the actor to work on. Even inexperienced actors may give stilted performances.

There are many script writing errors throughout but I think you were only looking for comments regarding the story so I'll hold on them.
Rob Belics is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 2nd, 2004, 10:33 AM   #3
Major Player
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 817
Bryan,

I like the script... I think it has a nice edge and will keep people properly tense. It seems like it will be a lot of fun to shoot too... I really like the cell phone call timing... that is a very nice touch.

If you shot it as is I think it would be effective, I do have some specific feedback if it helps (in no order):

1. The punctured lung idea is really interesting on paper, but I don't think that it will translate well to the screen. You can' t really show the audience that he has one, and it makes little sense in the dark house and excited atmosphere for Joe to diagnose it that quickly. I like that it shows Joe is experience in battlefield treatments, but I think you don't need that.... leave a green beret around and you are fine. The plot point there is that Joe is torturing Alex in an interesting way... I think you can find one that more easily translates to the screen.

2. Is the Glock what they stole from the display case? That was not clear to me. If it is, then it would help to see Peter pulling it from a bag or something. If it was not, then you need to make that more clear because it is a decent assumption for the audience to make.

3. Whether it is the Glock or not, I would like to see a little more about what draws the kids to this target. It is fine to not see what it is, but I'd like to see more about why the kids care so much about it... the "It's not yours" line is interesting, but will be more so if we just have a little more to chew on. Are the kids just being deliquents? Or are they on some moral mission? I'd like to know more about that.

4. It's pretty impossible to break a bat on a soft target like a rib cage. Movies are movies and all, but it seems like you are shooting for a gritty realism here, and that stuck out to me.

5. The implication of the Joe character is that he is past his prime. By having his uniform out on the dresser, with the medals on, you counter that by showing he is still there. I think the medals should be in a display case on the wall or something. This distances him from them, much like the half-empty bed (which I liked).

6. ...on the steadycam shot from Joe in bed to the front door... I think I would get more tension from seeing the kids at the front door, starting with their picks, and then track from the inside of the door up the stairs - still past the photos - up to find Joe in the bed. It would prolong the guessing much more... the audience doesn't know if we are tracking to find the target of the theft, a dog, the owner, a little child.... we can even pass the medals and photos so that the audience knows that the house they are messing with is a dangerous one, before we get to see that Joe is actually there. If it were me, once the shot is on him, we'd hear the door open and see him flinch a bit and go back to sleep, then cut to kids.

7. I agree with Rob on the stage directions for actors. As a rule they are nice to write to share your vision to producers and such, but you will get much better performances from the actors (and from yourself as a director) if you take them out completely. Things like "(quietly excited)" and "(assuring himself)" bring the actors out of their realities a bit. Let them play with just the lines first, and you can always suggest things like this if you don't like what they do...

8. I don't know if "A Chroncile of Violence" is your working title or final, but I would suggest changing it. Violence is more interesting and compelling if it is in a story about something else. The kids are on a mission, Joe has a purpose, I think a title that is born from those things will make the violence more effective. Otherwise, from the title, people are watching with the notion of "ok, when are people gonna start shooting each other" and not getting invested in the story that gives that context.

Good luck and keep us posted.
__________________
Barry Gribble
Integral Arts, IMDB
Barry Gribble is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 2nd, 2004, 08:03 PM   #4
Major Player
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Las Vegas
Posts: 316
This is exactly why I posted this here. Real feedback from people who actually take the time to read and analyze my work. I thank both of you for your help.

Currently I am doing rewrites based on all of the feedback I have recieved, here and elsewhere. Here is what I'm currently changing.

Rob and #7 Yes, I am the director. I absolutely agree with and understand your points about the shooting directions now. I thought that since I was directing it really wouldn't matter, but I can understand now how it might affect the actors, and readers.

#1 I think the punctured lung itself should translate fine. Even if people don't know or assume that, they will still be able to see him in very much pain and coughing up blood. But I agree with your point about Joes analysis so quickly in the dark. He is definitly skilled at treating lung injuries in war, that being what he did. (On a side note, as part of military training during vietnam they would shoot a goat just above his top right shoulder so that the bullet went in and stopped inside his lung, thus filling it with blood. The first thing they had been trained and knew to do was to turn the goat on that side.) Given this, I think I will rework the dialogue but still have joe turn him on that side, guessing the injuries upon the sight of the blood.

#2 The item is not the glock. Peter lives fairly close to Joe's house. He drove home, but once there he grabbed his gun and went back. Either this, or it was in his glove compartment (If the first presents timing issues for the audience). Why didn't he take it with him upon first entering the house? It would A) create panick and a sense of doubt or fear in George and Alex on the simple job. B) Peter assumed no one was home. There is no car in the driveway.

#3 I have a backstory about how the item belongs to Peter's dying father, but the short can only be a certain length so I took that out. I had hoped that it would work like the item in the briefcase in the movie pulp fiction. About 1/3 of the readers tell me they need to know, so I guess that really didn't work.

#4 It would be pretty hard to break the bat. I say Alex's rib cage hit it's weak spot :). Both break. Good point though. I'll give it some more thought.

#5 Good point on the intro to Joe, and his uniform and all. Backstory to that about him looking at it all earlier, but I think I'll rewrite it with your suggestions.

#6 Barry.... I love that. Rewriting now. Harder to go up a stairs with a stedicam then down, but it's the shot that matters.

#8 good point about that too. Being that I like violent movies, and making stage blood I think I'm going to make a series of violent movies. The series will probably be called Chronicles of Violence, and this short will probably be "Joe's House" or something of that sort.

More on #7. The reasons I used the parantheticals you mentioned was because the dialogue could mean so many things. Quietly excited was to let the reader know that Peter could not hear George's voice. I'll take out assuring himself, and many of the others however.
Bryan Mitchell is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 2nd, 2004, 10:33 PM   #5
Major Player
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: St. Louis, MO
Posts: 581
You should do something about this exciting bit of dialogue:

ALEX
Hey - I wana see!

PETER
Let's go.

GEORGE
Come on.

ALEX
Oh-

Removing the description between reveals rather dull dialogue. Does it serve any purpose? Couldn't a wave of the hand or grabbing of an arm do the same thing?

It reminds me of this:

CAROL: Hi!
JANE: Hi!
CAROL: How are you?
JANE: Fine. How are you?
Rob Belics is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 2nd, 2004, 10:38 PM   #6
Major Player
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Las Vegas
Posts: 316
LOL. I've been rewriting, and just came back to check for replies. That scene was in fact changed. I'm going to replace the screenplay online with my revised draft in a couple minutes.

What would you say the three biggest/worst cliches were? Perhaps I can take them out.

edit: Revised script uploaded.
Bryan Mitchell is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 3rd, 2004, 01:48 AM   #7
Major Player
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 817
Bryan,

I'm really glad you found the feedback helpful... I glanced at the rewrite, but haven't had time to read it fully... I will try to on Wednesday. What I saw of the changes I liked, and am flattered that you incorporated some of my suggestions.

A couple points in reply:

A. I really don't think that we need to know what the object is. In Pulp Fiction though, the mission was clear - our protagonists were there to return the rightful property of Marcelus Wallace. It didn't matter to the audience what it was, we still knew the intentions and reasons behind the character's actions. In this, likewise, I just want to know why they are there... recovering something stolen from the father is good, but we may not even need that much detail... some dialogue from them showing that they feel they are getting back something that does not belong to Joe is enough I think. But that little bit will help a lot in understanding that these kids are not just being petty thieves.

B. If you keep the object vague, you are still going to have people thinking the object was the gun. That presents a problem, because if you try to show Peter getting the gun from elsewhere then you ruin the surprise of him showing up when he does. I think a solution could be having the object placed in a bag, and having Peter hold that bag still in his non-gun hand when he returns. This makes perfect sense with the "come to trade" line also.

C. I may not know what you are going for with the punctured lung thing... why you prefer that over run-of-the-mill torture. It is more interesting, I know, but I think it takes several leaps from the audience to really understand what is going on. I still think this gets in the way when the key emotional events, as I see them, are that Joe is torturing him and that Joe has lots of combat training. I am reacting to it because it has the feel of something that you just really want to use because you know it and not many people do, rather than something that the story demands on its own. I think you can do it, so long as you are aware of what obstacles the audience has to overcome to understand and believe it, and you think that it is worth making them overcome those things. For my purposes it is much simpler and just as compelling if he is just torturing him with the broken bat.

D. I'm glad you are thinking about the stage directions. I highly suggest you check out Judith Weston's book, "Directing Actors". It is amazing, and will definitely help you understand the director-actor relationship. In short, though, the actor has to be completely in character, thinking about what the character is thinking: I'm hurt, I'm about to die, I want to run away, I am so pissed at my friend for getting me in to this, etc. Telling him then to be "quietly excited" is a little like saying "don't think about an elephant". Any time he spends thinking about "quietly excited" he is no longer afraid of dying, etc. If you need it to be quiet for the plot point you can tell him something like "you are happy to hear peter, but right when you are about to say something you realize if you say it out loud you might wake up Joe." It actually can sound trivial, but you will be amazed at the difference you get between saying "say it quietly" and "say it like you don't want to wake up Joe."

Just like when you edit your work you have to forget that you were director, forget that a shot two four hours to get and just decided, "ok do I need that to tell the story or not." Ideally you want to forget that you were the writer also, and revisit the script with new eyes and see what new you can find in the dialog without those directions.

E. While I've mentioned that I want to see a little more info on the characters, I don't mind the dialog as much as Rob seems to. These are teenagers fearing for their lives and in a hurry. They are not going to be pithy. But I do agree some tweaking will help.

Thatís about it. Keep it up and let us know how it is coming.

When do you plan to shoot? What are you shooting on? Do you have actors lined up?
__________________
Barry Gribble
Integral Arts, IMDB
Barry Gribble is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 3rd, 2004, 02:39 PM   #8
Major Player
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Las Vegas
Posts: 316
-When do you plan to shoot?
Sometime between the 15th and 30th of June.

-What are you shooting on?
XL1s + me66

-Do you have actors lined up?
Nope. School is out right now, otherwise I would put something up in the film halls. My older brother is a good actor but he's in Georgia. I'm still thinking about the answer to this one.
Bryan Mitchell is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 3rd, 2004, 07:28 PM   #9
Major Player
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 817
Bryan,

Well good luck on the shoot... sounds like it will be intense. I like the script and look forward to seeing the result. Keep us posted.

School being out, you should be able to find some good young actors for the role.... I have no idea where to look in Vegas, but they must be there :).

So do you have the steadycam? Are you renting one?

I used a lot of fake blood on my last shot... let me know if you need any lessons learned on it...

Be well.
__________________
Barry Gribble
Integral Arts, IMDB
Barry Gribble is offline   Reply With Quote
Old June 3rd, 2004, 11:23 PM   #10
Major Player
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Location: Las Vegas
Posts: 316
I have a home built sled, but I would like to rent a full glidecam v8 for a day. I don't know if I would have to drive out to LA to do that though. 5 hour drive :-/ I would like to rent one here in town though. -But don't know where I could get one.
Bryan Mitchell is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > And Now, For Something Completely Different... > The TOTEM Poll: Totally Off Topic, Everything Media

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 02:35 PM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network