Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Script Review for Gary

For Gary's The Break-Up Artists. "A pair of break-up artists meet their match when they hook up with their female counterparts."

(Paintings by Todd White.)

...two areas I thought were lacking: Pick-Up Artistry and Comedy.


In order for two guys to be superb Break-Up Artists, they must first be superb Pick-Up Artists, and Chris and Jerry are quite simply not up to snuff. But you're in luck! Your very own Mystery Man once infiltrated a secret, underground society of pick-up artists! And I got what I wanted from them, too - I walked away with two superb outlines and 5 concepts. Hehehe... They are SO going down. (In fact, I plan to work on one of those outlines after I finish my current "dark thing.")

Thus, I recommend:

* Art of Seduction by Robert Greene. He offers an excellent breakdown of the different kinds of seducers, methods, and victims. I share this because I think you could've made better distinctions in methodologies and personalities between Chris and Jerry. And also between them and Sergei's differing approaches. There's a wide variety of seduction artists out there.

* Doc Love's System - He's completely wrong about how long a guy should wait before calling a girl - 5 to 9 days - is he flippin' MAD? But he has a lot of great things to say, particularly when it comes to measuring a girl's Interest Level (touching, body language) and there are sure-fire ways to lower that same girl's Interest Level, which should be of great interest to this writer and concept.

* The Game by Neil Strauss. He'll tell you everything you'll ever need to know about being a PUA (and I'd recommend all of the books Neil recommends, too). Neil was the biggest geek in the world who became the greatest pick-up artist in the world, who in turn felt he lost his soul and gave it all up for his true love. THAT is a great story. (In fact, the girl who REFUSED to sleep with him was the one who broke him free of his self-indulgent pick-up artist lifestyle.)

* I'd also recommend spending the few hundred dollars it would take to be "trained" by a private PUA just for the sake of experience. You'll get a lot of ideas by just going through that kind of training in person. If you can afford it, go with Neil Strauss. I've met him. He was known in the underground as "Style." That's what everybody called him. (He now runs the StyleLife Academy.) There's another guy I like who is known simply as "Mystery." (No, he's not me.) I am, of course, partial to his Love System. Hehehe... Mystery's a bit screwed up, but you can't help but love the guy. And he IS an expert. (One time, he actually stole Scott Baio's girlfriend right in front of him with this hilarious wristwatch magic trick. I was rolling. Mystery would walk into a club or a bar and be THE MOST outrageously dressed guy in the city - crazy hats, shirts, pants, 5 watches on his arm, ANYTHING to get the attention of every girl in the room. And he was very successful.)

I share these things with you for a number of reasons: 1) as I mentioned, in order for two guys to be superb Break-Up Artists, they must first be superb Pick-Up Artists. Chris and Jerry's approach was all wrong. There's no indication with the way they interacted with Rachel and Mary that they're schooled in any way in the art of "picking-up women" and that's learned behavior. Their interaction smacked of just ordinary AFC's (Average Frustrated Chumps) when, in fact, you should be highlighting wild tactics and lies and tricks and deceptions to illustrate what's WRONG with their lifestyle. These guys would never use pick-up lines. Only AFCs stoop to pick-up lines. They'd never openly reference sex. (It's all in the subtext, baby!) They'd say carefully scripted (and memorized) conversational approaches designed to not only start a conversation but bring out very specific emotions in women. Not only that, they would say those lines using this kind of hypnotic neuro-linguistic way of speaking, as championed by the infamous Ross Jeffries. He has an example on his home page of that kind of speech. (I can't say I'd recommend him. He has a bit of an anger problem. But he's very smart. One COULD learn a lot.) Another example: it's always the MEN who would suggest going somewhere else, which would have been carefully planned and orchestrated from the very beginning. And they would've had a limo to impress them. 2) You have no idea what an ultimate bachelor pad looks like. Style and Mystery had THE pad in L.A. It was crazy. Courtney Love lived with them for a time. For example, a pick-up artist would never have a chair in his bedroom. The ONLY place a female visitor could sit in his room would be, of course, the bed. 3) I think your structure should be modeled more after the structure of Neil Strauss' book. Thus, Chris and Jerry could've been the geeks who wanted "the life," who needed someone to teach them, and then they're given a chance to join the Cocksman group. THEY are taught. They evolve in their methods in different ways, and become superb in pick-ups but even more renowned for their break-ups. They build the ultimate bachelor pad, etc, only to eventually discover that the life's hollow and empty by repeating the same patterned speeches and behavior over and over and over. THEN Chris threatens to leave to find true love. Or something. (After Neil Strauss spent some time with his "true love," he ran out of scripted dialogue to use on her, and he eventually had no other choice but to be himself.)

FYI - I have chairs in my bedroom.

Just so you know.

I may be repeating myself here, but the overall setup was kinda weird. Chris and Jerry are already pick-up artists and arguing about a change in lifestyle as early as PAGE 13. WAY too early. That's the kind of conversation that should lead to an Act Two climax which puts everything at stake. Even then, what you have is not enough of a conflict for a script, because Chris and Jerry could easily go their separate ways. If they were, perhaps, the guys who ran the Cocksman group and built A LIFE training newbies on how to pick-up and break-up with women, as well as this ultimate pad which has given them financial rewards (because newbies are paying THEM to live with them to learn) then perhaps you'd have something more tangible at stake, because Chris' departure would mean the end of life as they know it. And perhaps the end of big money, too. And it would have to be a case where Chris is the more expert of the two, the main draw of wannabes around the world, so Chris' departure would REALLY mean THE END of their lifestyle. And finally, their most successful break-up is when they break-up with the PUA community. Or something like that.


This kind of concept cannot be camp or comedy-lite. This has to be a full-blown, laugh-out-loud, pee-in-your-pants comedy. Period. That's the only way this'll sell. Humor is essential to A) pick-up women and B) win over audiences in a RomCom like this one. You should up the comedy to at least 7-10 jokes per page and make one third of those non-verbal gags. The biggest problem here in terms of your comedy is the dialogue. You have way, way, WAY too much talk, man. A number of thoughts about this, too. 1) The blocks of dialogue looked a little wide to me. I could be wrong. The dialogue margins should be no wider than 3.5 inches, but in your case, I'd recommend 3 inches just to discipline you to use WAY less dialogue. 2) Using less dialogue means that you have to think more cinematically. Consider Jennifer van Sijll's book, Cinematic Storytelling. Consider physical symbols of their love. Consider non-verbal ways of communicating like those listed here:

The Nonverbal Dictionary of Gestures, Signs, & Body Language Cues.

3) Cut the chit-chat. 4) Enter a scene LATE and leave EARLY. 5) People don't always speak in complete sentences. Fragments are welcome. 6) Comedy is more effective when the sentences are SHORT. It's always short with a verbal punch at the end. Usually, that verbal punch would be a funny word with a "ck" sound in it. Consider the short sentences, fragments, and endings with a "ck" sound in this example from Neil Simon's Laughter on the 23rd Floor:

VAL: (Russian accent) Ernie, do me a favor. Look for a pompernickel bagel.
MILT: His name is Arnie.
LUCAS: It's Lucas.
VAL: It's not Ernie?
MILT: It's not even Arnie... It's not even "pompernickel..."
VAL: Don't bother me. It's too early in the day to say "go fock yourself."
MILT: There's no such word as "fock." A person can't say "fock" himself. You can't be a U.S. citizen until you say "Go fuck yourself."
VAL: Kiss my naturalization papers, okay? (looks at the table) I can't believe there's not one pompernickel bagel...
LUCAS: There's one.
VAL: Thank you, Lukela. You'll go far on this show. (opens bagel) Look at this. Already sliced. This is why my father brought us to America.
LUCAS: For sliced bagels?
MILT: Mine came for chocolate pudding. In Poland, they could make it but they couldn't get it in the cups.


MILT: This is our head writer, Arnie. A man who learned to speak English from a dog who barked at night.
VAL: Is dot right? I got news for you. My dog dreams funnier than you.
MILT: My dog can say "fucking pumpernickel."
VAL: Good. Then he can take your place on the show.

Do you see what I mean? I'm not saying to mimic his style but find for yourself a much tighter rhythm of comedy that's usually punctuated by short sentences with verbal kicks at the end. 7) I'd recommend Comedy Writing Secrets (2nd edition) by Mel Helitzer. Every screenwriter should understand the principles of comedy, and Mel has the best book on the market. I also loved Steve Allen's How to Be Funny. 8) I'd hate to be in a position where I'd have to decide between Steve Garvey and Ger (for SOM), but your comedy should be at that level or funnier. Aspire to kick both of their asses. That kind of obscenely competitive ambition can only help your spec.

Click here for the full review.


TJ (Joshua) said...

You've MET Mystery and Style and the gang?

Holy Cripes . . . I haven't taken any of the courses or whatnot, just picked up the book and read a few chapters (and stopped because I realized that it was my life about ten years ago, only without the training ;)) but I thought at the time there were at least a couple movies in this stuff.

Now that you're writing it, fuggedabout it . . . ;)

I see that Mystery has some reality show, too.

Mim said...

MM, I would never use the chair in your bedroom.

Laura Deerfield said...

I would... but not for sitting.

Mystery Man said...

Guys, I fixed some of those links. Sorry about that.


Joshua - Mystery has a reality show? Are you SERIOUS? I gotta check that out...

I love you girls.


TJ (Joshua) said...

I just saw a commercial for it, but I don't remember if it's vh1 or whatever, there's a shitload of 'em, bullshit reality shows like that, but the guy was definitely identified as mystery and he was definitely dressed as mystery . . .

funny, cause the little I read of the book, I thought a lot of those guys were real losers . . . but it could just be a reaction to my own past . . .

Anonymous said...

Yes, the show is on VH1, starts next week I think, I keep meaning to tell you about it. As soon I saw the promo I thought of you ;-)

Mystery Man said...

I love it!

Anonymous said...

Have u ever tried to wait 5 to 9 days to call a woman?

As long as they are unstructured and have interest in u, their interest in u increases during the wait.

The ones that don't like u, won't remember u. The ones that have rules will hate u for it (who wants these girls).

The sweet girls that like u will be a little mad, but they will like more than the last time u spoke. Why, because u don't appear needy and they wonder where they stand with u. They will go out with u if they like u. After a few dates, they get tired of u waiting so long to call, and they start calling u. Works like a charm!

Mystery Man said...

Hey there,

Yes, I have waited that long (with girls that didn't really matter to me if I dated them or not). I love the good Doc, but you have to read ALL the relationship pick-up artist gurus to get a more well-rounded education. Doc Love's wrong about two things - 1) most girls nowadays live off of their cell phones, so insisting that we get their home phone number just isn't practical at all anymore, and 2) 3-5 days is perfectly acceptable. When you're dealing with girls who are anywhere between 8s and 10s, they may have a high Interest Level in you at first, but they'll likely have other options on the table, too, so you have to move more quickly to hook them. That's a fact. When you study other guys like Style and Mystery, you will know simply by the way they're flirting and interacting with you on the date how much interest they still have in you, so you really don't need to do this silly waiting game of a test. You will know if you're a good artist. I also think you're giving off the wrong impression by waiting so long - it makes you look indecisive, disorganized, and too slow to get something off the ground. I'd rather test girls in other ways than this.

At the same time, Doc's right about a few things: you have to wait a couple of days so you don't look desperate, don't call them on the weekend, and set up a first date that's during the week. SO... Let's say you get a phone number on a Friday - call them on Monday or Tuesday and set up a Wednesday or Thursday date.