Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Trust the Reader

From a recent TS script review of mine:

I want to say a word on trusting the reader. An inevitable sign of growth in a new writer (and we all go through this arc) is in the area of trusting the reader. Newbies who haven't developed the discipline of trusting the reader tend to over-explain simple things in the action lines or they over-explain obvious reactions in characters or they indulge in on-the-nose dialogue to convey obvious emotions we all know that particular character is feeling. Over time, you'll learn that you only need to explain something once (or not even explain it at all) and then move on because you know very well that your readers are with you, will get it without needing your help, and will appreciate you more for trusting them and moving forward. An example of this might be, like on pg 62, you mentioned that the gang saw "an ocean of trees." Okay, great. But then you had to add, "Absolutely no sign of civilization, whatsoever." Yeah. We got that with "ocean of trees." Let's move on. Do you see what I mean? I also mentioned characters indulging in on-the-nose dialogue to convey obvious emotions we all know that particular character is feeling. This brings to mind the moment after Kevin sees [his best friend] Josh [kissing his girlfriend] Emily, and he's all pissed off and he later tells everyone off. Well, we've seen this a billion times before. We all know exactly what Kevin's thinking and feeling, and it's moments like these where a writer has to find ways to show us something totally unexpected from a character. What if he didn't tell them off? What if he embraced Josh? Why would he do something crazy like that? What if, when Emily kisses him, he doesn't push her away but pulls her in, and I don't know, has angry sex? You lower interest by having characters play out in ways that are totally expected and you make people more engaged when they do the opposite.

Also -

You should also consider multiple setups in one scene. I'm a believer in horizontal / vertical storytelling. I think a writer should work hard to give the audience a smooth, seamless, and efficient setup to the story. You establish many things in as few scenes as possible to quickly move us down that horizontal plane of storytelling. That is, until you get to those vertical moments, which is the reason we're all there to see that film and the time when the story could slow down or briefly stop. In an action movie, it's the action sequences. In a comedy, it's the big gut-busting moments. In a horror story, it's the suspenseful moments of horror. So when you finally get to those moments, like when the engineer transforms and you have Angie on her way to see him, that's when you should slow down, focus your creative energies in dragging out the suspense to excruciating levels. I recently posted a murder scene on my blog that was actually written by Alfred Hitchcock from an unproduced screenplay. One murder scene took up 12 pages. Mind you, it wasn't the greatest murder scene ever since Psycho but it was fascinating to analyze. It wasn't about getting a murder scene done quickly in order to move the plot forward. It was about the EXPERIENCE of the murder scene. It was about the characters and the question of "will he or won't he commit murder" dragged out to excruciating levels. That's what horror does. And I think almost all of your scary scenes, which were good, could have still been dragged out longer, could've been more intense to heighten the EXPERIENCE for the audience. It's not about volume of scares but quality of suspense.

HW Producers & Samuel Johnson

Thought these Slate articles might interest you guys:

What Does a Hollywood Producer Do, Exactly?

…The top post of "producer" is just the tip of the iceberg, as anyone who's watched the opening credits of a movie knows well. Although
Slumdog Millionaire, for example, credits only one producer, it lists two executive producers and two co-executive producers, along with a co-producer, an associate producer, and a line producer.

An executive producer often owns the rights to a book or story idea or secures at least 25 percent of the film's budget. Executive producers rarely have creative or technical involvement and are often caught up with several projects at once. The "co-executive producer" title applies to studio executives or distributors who have a limited financial stake in the project. A co-producer works under the producer and often helps with casting, financing, or postproduction. The line producer is on the set at all times to supervise the budget but has little or no creative input.

"Associate producer" is a largely honorary title. Sometimes it's a form of recompense for exceptional performance on-set. A script doctor who saves a bad screenplay, for example, might be granted an associate-producer credit. The title is also frequently an inexpensive way for a producer to pay back a favor or reward an assistant or colleague who had little to do with the film. As David Mamet wrote in
State and Main, an associate producer credit is "what you give to your secretary instead of a raise…"

See also this rather amusing article: Money Made Him Do it: What Samuel Johnson can teach us about writing.

Johnson's father, a bookseller, never made much money, and in time his business failed completely. Johnson got to spend a year at Oxford, after he came into a small legacy, but the money wasn't enough to keep him there until he could earn a degree. He spent his 20s trying, and largely failing, to find work as a schoolteacher. When Johnson got married at age 26 to 46-year-old widow Elizabeth Porter—whom he called Tetty—he used most of her money to start up a school, which attracted exactly three pupils and closed after 15 months. By the time he set out for London in 1737, with no assets except a play he hoped to get produced, it could not but seem, as Meyers writes, that "his life thus far had been catastrophic."

But London proved to be Johnson's salvation. He made a connection with the editor of the popular Gentleman's Magazine and started to earn a living by hackwork. Soon enough his reputation was made by his satirical poem "London"; his heroic labor on the dictionary, which appeared in 1755, made him famous. Working alone, with just a few assistants, he did for the English language what it had taken the whole Academie Francaise 40 years to accomplish for the French. The terms of the book trade, however, were not generous to the author in the 18th century. Johnson spent his fee for the dictionary well before the book was published, and he earned no royalties. This may seem unfair, but as Boswell wrote, "[W]e must, at the same time, congratulate ourselves, when we consider that to this very neglect, operating to rouse the natural indolence of his constitution, we owe many valuable productions, which otherwise, perhaps, might never have appeared."

"Fame is the spur the clear spirit doth raise/(That last infirmity of noble minds)/To scorn delights and live laborious days," said Milton. But while Johnson cared about fame, it was simple need—the need to eat and keep a roof over his head—that made him accomplish so much. Over the course of his career, beyond the dictionary, he produced an edition of the complete plays of Shakespeare; an encyclopedic series of Lives of the English Poets; the poem "The Vanity of Human Wishes," one of the great satires in the language; the moral tale Rasselas, a kind of English Candide (written in one week, Johnson claimed, so that he could pay for his mother's funeral); A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland; and the 208 essays of The Rambler, which for more than 100 years were known to every well-read person in England and America. And that is not to mention the translations, book reviews, lectures, sermons, parliamentary reports, and assorted journalism...

Monday, February 23, 2009

Screenwriting News & Links! 2/23/09

Oh my head...

Hey MM, what did you think of the Oscar winners?

Eh. Where's the coffee?



New Screenplay:

Slumdog Millionaire - August, 15, 2007 draft by Simon Beaufoy

(Hat-tip to


First, a few Oscar Links:

The complete list

Notable quotes from the 81st annual Academy Awards

Ryan Seacrest is a Douchebag

Slumdog Millionaire bags Oscar for best adapted screenplay

Here's The New York Times

Best Original Screenplay Winner Dustin Lance Black Backstage Q&A

Hunky Gay Man Wins For Best Screenplay

Dustin Lance Black's Oscar Acceptance Speech for Original Screenplay

Where are all the old fat screenwriters that we are used to seeing?

The funniest he's been since Shanghai Surprise

Big Picture: Not exactly an enchanted evening

Backstage: Kate Winslet hugs, Sean Penn on Mickey Rourke, more!

Reports from the theater, parties...and bathrooms!

I'm going back to bed...

Peter Bart’s
Oscar doesn't carry the same weight: How winning an award no longer cements career
Nothing we own today is worth what it was a year ago -- not our houses, our 401Ks, not even our careers. So with the Oscar noise at last dying down, it's worth asking whether even an Oscar is worth what it used to be. I would argue, hell no. For filmmakers, winning the top prize, or even a nomination, used to mean a ticket to creative autonomy as well as to plump paydays. Look what a Pulp Fiction best screenplay Oscar did for Quentin Tarantino in '94 or the screenplay Oscar for Matt Damon and Ben Affleck for Good Will Hunting in '97. Well, not anymore. Tarantino's been busy, but we haven't seen much work from Bennett Miller (Capote), Taylor Hackford (Ray), Peter Weir (Master and Commander) or Spike Jonze (Being John Malkovich) since their moments in the sun. Sure, these are talented guys with idiosyncratic tastes, but still, despite all the attention showered on them, they haven't been getting their work out there.

See also Cieply’s NYT article: Movers and shakers in the film industry don’t like to grumble openly about the Oscars. After all, nobody wants to be caught talking down a ritual that has been very good, for a very long time, to a very large number of people in the glamour business. Still, the Hollywood table-talk this year has been much less about Oscar prospects and more about the process. And an overriding theme is this: The movie prize cycle had better become shorter, brighter and more popular in its bent — or some major players are pulling back.

"2009 Spirit Awards: Truly Indie Anymore?" asks Nikki Finke.

Oscar-winning writer Ronald Harwood reveals what it's like to win
But – I whisper this – they’re terrible, a controlled, noisy chaos where no one seems to care who you are or what you’ve won. My wife and I went to three and they were all dreadful. At the Vanity Fair after-party, no one made us feel welcome, no one brought us a drink and only a polite few congratulated us. And at this point – under instruction not to put it down because they often get stolen – I was still clutching my Oscar.

Juno and the Best Screenplay Debacles of History
Great screenplays are a lot like sports officials in that the good ones stand back and orchestrate events, facilitating the flow of the action while doing their best to draw as little attention to themselves as possible. You know the referee has had a good game when you simply didn’t notice he was there and the same is true of a good screenwriter. But if there was ever a case of the writer speaking directly out of the mouth of the characters then Juno is it. The impossibly named Juno MacGuff comes across as a great many things: brave, smart and compassionate. But one thing she spectacularly fails to come across as is a 16-year-old high school girl and it is a testament to Page’s great ability that she could carry the film off while weighed down by a screenplay littered with distractions and attention seeking dialogue. Diablo Cody seems so desperate for some sort of validation from her audience that she is completely unable to detach herself from the story she is telling and ends up sounding like the worst kind of writer - one whose material so insists on itself that she not only tries to tell the adults what all the kids are into these days, she tries to tell the kids, too.


Simon Beaufoy: Looking for the Perfect Love Story

A Dustin Lance Black article called 30 Years Later
So much of what I’ve done in this business up to this point has been to make myself ready to take on the overwhelming responsibility of retelling Harvey’s story. It took many years of research, digging through archives, driving up to San Francisco in search of Harvey’s old friends and foes, charging a couple of nights at the Becks motor lodge on Market and Castro with my principal source, Harvey’s political protégé, Cleve Jones. What I discovered on those trips wasn’t the legend of the man that I’d heard in adolescence. What I discovered was a deeply flawed man, a man who had grown up closeted, a man who failed in business and in his relationships, a man who got a very late start. Through Harvey’s friends, foes, lovers, and opponents, I met the real Harvey Milk.

Also -
Hollywood slowly opening door to gay drama

Interview with Benjamin Button Screenwriter Eric Roth

Playwright Robert Anderson Dies at 91
He also wrote the film and television versions of most of his works, earning an Oscar nomination and WGA Award for I Never Sang For My Father. He also received an Oscar nomination for the screenplay for The Nun's Story and a Golden Globe Award nomination for The Sand Pebbles.

SAG rejects 'final offer' from AMPTP

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang - Screenwriter Sued by Ex-Girlfriend for $5 Million
Hollywood screenwriter Shane Black is being accused of terrorizing his former girlfriend, Sonya Popovich. She alleges he physically assaulted her on several occasions, often in a drug-fueled rage, and at one point even wielded a loaded weapon in her direction.

Colin Farrell splits with writer girlfriend, Emma Forrest
Actor Colin Farrell has reportedly split from his writer girlfriend Emma Forrest, after dating her for a year. According to US magazine In Touch, Forrest confirmed that the pair are no longer an item. Reports suggested that the split occurred because Forrest was unhappy with Farrell's lack of commitment to the relationship. A source said: "He would not introduce her to his family. She was also upset that he didn't thank her at the Golden Globe Awards."

Look. There’s an
Organization of Black Screenwriters. Who knew?

Catching Up With... Fanboys writer Ernie Cline
So, Lucas said, “Sure. Why not?” And that changed everything. For a while it looked like DreamWorks was going to make it. They told me Steven Spielberg was going to take the script home and read it. And I was like, “That’s not even possible.” But it was. It happened. But for whatever reason, DreamWorks said no. But somehow the script got to Harvey Weinstein and he read it. He flipped out for it. He loved it. He read it on a Friday night and by Saturday night he was on the phone with the producer saying, "I want to make this movie with you guys." That was 2005. And within four months they were shooting the movie. They started casting. And suddenly it was Carrie Fisher: Princess Leia was going to be in it. And Lando Calrissian, and William Shatner, and all these great actors. And I got to go and be an extra. I played one of the Star Trek guys in Riverside, Iowa. The reason I did that was because I could be in a scene with Shatner, not knowing that the day I’d get to meet him I would have to be in a Star Trek outfit, which was embarrassing.

Batman 3 Script Scoop
IGN Movies has learned that, as of right now, Christopher Nolan is the only screenwriter attached to Batman 3. Studios and guild members are required to submit work lists to the guilds of the projects that they are on. IGN has learned that a work list from Warner Bros. was submitted last week listing Christopher Nolan as the sole screenwriter on Batman 3. From what we've learned, The Dark Knight's Jonathan Nolan or David Goyer aren't officially involved in the script phase as of yet.

David Hayter talks Metal Gear Solid and Lost Planet Movies
Yes, very much like Dune. I don't have any original ideas! (laughs) Fortunately, I work in Hollywood and they don't want any.

David Hayter Insists Fox More Satanic Than Most Studios

Why Alan Moore Hates Comic-Book Movies
“The main reason why comics can’t work as films is largely because everybody who is ultimately in control of the film industry is an accountant. These people may be able to add up and balance the books, but in every other area they are stupid and incompetent and don’t have any talent. And this is why a film is going to be a work that’s done by dozens and dozens and dozens, if not hundreds of people. They’re going to show it to the backers and then they’re going to say, we want this in it, and this in it... and where’s the monster?”

BTW - Jon Savage traces the history of the smiley face.

Soderbergh and Dobbs battle in The Limey commentary
But even by his high standards, Soderbergh’s commentary with screenwriter Lem Dobbs on 1999’s The Limey is something special, a heated feature-length argument that couldn’t be further from the ego-stroking sycophancy of most tracks. It’s a case study in what happens to a script after it’s run through the sausage factory of production; even with a sympathetic director at the helm—Soderbergh championed Dobbs’ script for Kafka before making it his second feature, and the two remain friends—the writer will always get the shaft in the end. That’s why writers tend to be miserable cranks, and Dobbs is as cranky as they come; for his part, Soderbergh is magnanimous enough to take his licks and give a little back in return. Here’s Dobbs near the beginning of the commentary, setting the tone: “I’ll say, in your defense and mine, that screenwriting is a hopeless profession. My God, if Robert Towne can complain about Chinatown to this day, what do you want? Didn’t I fax you that interview with [writer] Alain Robbe-Grillet complaining about Last Year At Marienbad? [Director] Alain Resnais just totally fucked it up, Delphine Seyrig was completely wrong, ruined the whole movie. So if the screenwriters of Last Year At Marienbad and Chinatown can complain about what directors did, then what do you expect?

Superman Returns & X2: X-Men United Writer To Adapt Dead At 17

Hardy Men Gets A New Screenwriter
When we first heard about Hardy Men, it was well before Tropic Thunder, and the pairing of Ben Stiller and Tom Cruise in a buddy comedy sounded totally bizarre. Now, on the other side of Les Grossman, the idea sounds inspired-- and a new writer has been hired to hopefully get the project off the ground. Ed Solomon, who wrote Men in Black as well as Eddie Murphy's upcoming Imagine That, will try his hand at the script, which was mostly recently retooled by Mr. and Mrs. Smith writer Simon Kinberg. THR notes that Stiller and Cruise are still lined up to star, with Night at the Museum director Shawn Levy planning to direct.

Disney hires new scribe for 20000 Leagues

How to Write a Great Twist For Your Third Act
One way to improve a screenplay is to find a way to look at it from another viewpoint – whether the story is to be optimistic or pessimistic. If we take the notion of optimism versus pessimism and look to Aristotle, we can come up with a truly original ending for our scripts. Aristotle defined a "reversal" as being a plot change by which the action veers round to its opposite. According to Aristotle, the best reversals are caused by the main character’s recognition of something that causes the reversal, so it doesn’t come out of left field, that is, it must be subject to the boundaries of probability or necessity. The reversal arises out of the recognition of something that could have been seen before, but was not. This is where we reach those edges of boundaries that will help you find that original twist you were looking for.

History of Poop in Movies

Details about Spielberg's Lincoln


On the Contest Circuit:

Acclaim Announces Feature Contest Winners

Acclaim Announces TV Contest Winners

Two Scriptapalooza Alumni Get Projects Produced

CWA Announces 2008 Successes

First Glance Announces Feature Contest Winner

ScriptapaloozaTV Announces Contest Results

All Access Competition Announces Semifinalists

Free Screenplay Contest Announces Winners

Kairos Prize Announces Competition Winners

Big Bear Lake Announces 2008 Contest Results

American Screenwriting Competition Announces Semifinalists

L.A. Comedy Scripts Announces Finalists

Cowrite Announces Week 2 winner

Female Eye Announces Screenplay Winners

HSI Announces Latest Contest Winner


And Finally

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

That Oh-So-Unsympathetic Hedda Gabler

I’m trying to find time in my schedule to see the new Hedda Gabler in New York. Mary-Louise Parker is an inspiring choice. When I was young, I remember sitting down to read the plays of Henrik Ibsen all at once. Of Ibsen’s entire collection, the one that always stood out to me was Hedda Gabler, and this was before the corruption of my mind by gurus and ideas about sympathetic protags with goals.

There was a recent article in The New York Times that I loved, which inspired me to re-read the play. (I have an old Eva Le Gallienne translation, although you can now read for free the
Edmund Gosse and William Archer translation at Project Gutenberg.) The NYT article, by Charles Isherwood, explored why Hedda still fascinates us so:

So what is the mystery of her attraction? Probably her mystery itself. No matter how many times we encounter her, how many new angles we view her from, Hedda remains strangely inscrutable, her essence as elusive as the murky depths of our own tangled psyches.

If she were created by a playwright today, a new-model Hedda Gabler would probably stride onstage waving the standard flags of dysfunction and emotional disorder. Between bouts of pistol-polishing she’d be blabbing away about her issues with daddy worship, her husband’s inability to fulfill her needs, the oppressive social order and the sterility of Norwegian towns.

Exactly! That is exactly why years from now Hedda will continue to tower over so many contemporary characters. We explain too much. We reveal too much. And it’s the characters with depth but without the self-analysis and Freudian explanations that draw us back to them again and again in search of answers, in search of new insights we hadn’t noticed before, and all the while seeing our own personal attitudes about that character change with time and maturity and wisdom. There is a joy in that process with drama.

Hedda is why I say you don't always need sympathy and empathy with a goal. Sometimes just plain old fascinating and entertaining will do the trick, and Hedda is a prime example. She is just a bigger-than-life character with great
depth. In fact, in the first act, Hedda’s husband, Tesman, is speaking with his Aunt, who at one point says “the fascinating Hedda Gabler.” And I think Ibsen was inviting the audience to analyze this character. And to ask yourself, “why is she this way?” “What’s wrong here?” Because he will not verbalize why, but he will pepper the play with clues everywhere. It's a game between playwright and audience, and I love it!

On the topic of her being an unsympathetic protagonist, Hedda is, in many ways, an evil bitch. As Mr. Isherwood wrote:

She’s mean at the beginning and even meaner at the end. For her first trick, she mercilessly derides a sweet old lady’s brand new hat. Later she uses a visiting guest for target practice in the backyard. And for a big finish, she consigns a baby to the flames. (A metaphorical baby, that is.) Through it all she exudes tetchiness, weariness and a general contempt for everything in sight. She finds everybody a bore, and even bores herself — to death, essentially.

None of the things Mr. Isherwood wrote are factually incorrect. But those scenes can be played a variety of ways. The episode with the hat, for example. You could play that as Hedda insulting obscenely a sweet old lady’s hat for no reason whatsoever to the horror and revulsion of everyone in the theater. OR that hat truly was the ugliest piece of headgear ever conceived in the history of women’s fashion, and you can laugh that Hedda cut through the bullshit to point out something no one in civilized society had the courage to say.

Now I lean more toward the second interpretation because I think there has always been an undercurrent of humor and entertainment throughout Hedda Gabler. She could be very funny. There is a scene where a neighbor, Mrs. Elvsted, stops by because her husband had asked her to find the tutor to their children, Mr. Eljert Lövborg, who had gone missing. Well, Hedda quickly sees through this woman’s bullshit. She gets her husband to leave the room, expresses a desire to be friends, and gets her to confess her sins, that is, she was looking for Mr. Lövborg herself because they were having a torrid affair.

In some respects, you gotta love Hedda.

But there is a moment where Mrs. Elvsted confesses her fear that there’s another woman Mr. Lövborg has been unable to get out of his heart, a crazy woman who he spoke of vaguely and admitted that she once threatened to shoot him with her pistols. And we all know that crazy woman was Hedda, and we laugh at her reaction and evasion. “What nonsense,” she says. “No one does that sort of thing here.” What else can you do in that moment except laugh? And I think Hedda’s just as amused by that little turn of events as we are, because she lives to be in the middle of drama. There is both a lightness and a darkness to her that must be carefully balanced. To make her completely dark robs her of not only her humanity but the necessary depth that keeps audiences fascinated. She can’t simply be flatly unsympathetic, a
maniacal ice queen for four acts. No protagonist should be. But she is living proof that a protagonist can be ultimately unsympathetic in her behavior so long as she possess great depth, contradictions to her character, a lightness to contrast the darkness, a mystery to her nature, and also a strong entertainment value in her story to keep us engaged.

In the clip below, you can see in the first minute a glimpse of that scene with Mary-Louise Parker in which Mrs. Elvsted talks about the crazy woman who threatened to shoot her secret lover with a pistol. It is played for laughs, and that’s the way to go, if you ask me.

Also - Hedda is unique in that she has no goals whatsoever. Nothing in the plot directly effects her, except perhaps the position that her husband hopes to get. Beyond that, she’s just entertaining herself by getting involved in other people’s affairs (and making them worse). Of course, she’s bored. Of course, she embodies the phrase, “Idle hands do the devil’s work.” Of course, she’s not happy. She married a man out of pity and reasonable assurance that he’d keep her financially comfortable. But her Tesman is a weak and whipped man. He would do anything she asks him to do like an obedient dog. Plus, I think he repulses her with his constant praise of her beauty. In fact, I think she was repulsed by most men around her for their weaknesses, which may be why she gave Mr. Lövborg a pistol and told him to do the “courageous” thing. In her mind he was a coward like all the others, and she would be greatly amused by the drama that would unfold if he actually goes through with it. We also know she was a spoiled child. She cannot stand responsibility, which she had never really known and I think would have brought her some happiness.

But if you were to ask her why she does these things? She wouldn’t be able to tell you anymore than she could explain to Judge Brack why she trashed the old lady’s hat.

Mr. Isherwood, an avid supporter of preserving her mystery, wrote:

The urge to clarify — and to forge a connection with the audience by evoking sympathy or amusement — can trip up an actress in this role perhaps as in no other. Hedda must captivate without seducing, and that can rub against the grain of an actress’s natural instinct. Attempt to reveal too much about Hedda that Ibsen did not specifically plant in the text, or settle too firmly on a neat psychological formula, and you risk reducing her to a bored housewife, a frustrated neurotic, a thwarted artist. She is all these, in part and in theory, but she must be more, too, larger somehow than both her personality and her predicament.

There was also an interesting comment
on Wiki, that Joseph Wood Krutch made a connection between Hedda Gabler and Freud: “Hedda is one of the first fully developed neurotic heroines of literature… Hedda is neither logical nor insane in the old sense of being random and unaccountable. Her aims and her motives have a secret personal logic of their own. She gets what she wants, but what she wants is not anything that the normal usually admit, publicly at least, to be desirable. One of the significant things that such a character implies is the premise that there is a secret, sometimes unconscious, world of aims and methods — one might almost say a secret system of values — that is often much more important than the rational one.”

Monday, February 16, 2009

Koepp’s “Indy IV” Script

Did you guys know that David Koepp’s Indy IV script is now available here? Get it while you can! I skimmed through it. Indy's father is no where to be found, probably written out before this draft.

However, I noticed some interesting changes.

* Here’s something we didn't see in the warehouse sequence: they threaten to kill Mac, which is what compels Indy to help the Russians. They throw Mac down onto the ground and put his head right up to the tire of a truck and turn the engine on. But that was short-lived because Mac's soon following Indy around like everyone else.

* There's a scene with Mac and Spalko after the warehouse sequence where she tells him, "You did well" and leaves. This moment rings false (or weak) as any good villain would've killed Mac right there.

* Koepp had the mushroom cloud look like a human skull. Seriously? Is Koepp for real? Since when was Indy that cartoonish?

* One of the complaints I had was that there was no payoff to the setup of Mutt and his switchblade. He can do tricks with it. He’ll pull it out at a moment’s notice, but he never once used it. Well, in Koepp’s script, Mutt actually used his knife on one of the graveyard guardians in Peru. Indy was also supposed to use his whip here, too, which was nice to see because I didn’t think Indy used his whip enough. In any case, Mutt stabs one of those crazy guardians in the shoulder with his switchblade, which the man pulls out and just as he's about to throw the switchblade back at Mutt, Indy uses his whip to save him. Mutt picks up his knife, feels kinda freaked about using his knife for the first time, and Indy tells him, “You did good, kid.”

* Then Indy actually explains who the guardians were - Nazca Indians. And I'll bet you all of that was removed to avoid getting complaints about killing Indians and also praising Mutt for stabbing an Indian. That the guardians were Indians and that it might’ve generated some complaints is beside the point. The entire graveyard guardian sequence should’ve been scrapped and redone because it was all too similar to the other sequence with Indians, the “Ugha Warriors,” who came out of the crevices in the caves before they reached Akator.

* The scorpion sting was another complaint of mine. It felt like a setup to a payoff that never happened. Well, in the script, the talk about the scorpion bite led to a couple of other (bad) jokes of Indy telling Mutt that the skeletons and such won't “bite” him. It’s not funny, would’ve never played well, and still technically wrong. Scorpions sting, they don’t bite, and Indy would’ve known that.

* I always thought it was a pacing misstep that Indy and Mutt should stand around and talk so much after finding the skull. Well, in Koepp's script, as soon as Indy found the skull, the floor was supposed to give way beneath them leading to I don't know what because the next couple of scenes were omitted. After that mystery sequence, they climb out of the cemetery to be greeted by the Russians.

* Before the scene with Indy & Marion & Mutt in the truck, there was an awful scene between Spalko and Mac in order to try to make Spalko scarier and fails miserably. An antagonist is scary THROUGH ACTION. It’s what the antagonist DOES that makes us scared.

- The scene with Mutt and the monkeys was actually meant to be scary. Mutt was desperate to avoid being killed by the monkeys that were probably meant to be bigger and scarier.

* During the big “tentpole” chase sequence in the rainforest, Mac reveals to Indy: "INDY, YOU STUPID SON OF A BITCH, I’M CIA! I practically shouted it at you in the ten, I said ‘Like in Berlin!’ What were we in Berlin, mate?!” And then INDY & MAC both say together: “Double agents, yeah?” Then Mac fights the Russians alongside Indy and says at one point, “You think General Ross just happened to turn up in Nevada to bail you out? I sent him, he’s my control agent!” Indy says, “Why didn't you say so before?” And Mac responds, “What do you want me to do, paint it on my ass?!” Now this dialogue would’ve put more of a question mark over who is really leaving the red-light blinking thingees for Spalko on the way to Akator. After they enter the temple, Mac pulls a gun on the gang causing Indy to say, “So you’re what? A triple agent?” Mac responds, “Nah, I just lied about being a double.” The whole thing with Mac was just beyond silly.

* In the script, four Russian soldiers enter the chamber with Spalko. In the film, only Spalko entered, which is less threatening.

BTW - do you guys remember that discussion we had about the big snake in Darabont’s draft? Some felt it was too fake, too hard to believe, etc. Check out this article: Ancient Fossil Find! This Snake Could Eat a Cow! They found the remains of a snake 42-45 feet long, reaching more than 2,500 pounds, and could “easily eat something the size of a cow. A human would just be toast immediately.”

Hehehe… (Thanks, Neil, for the link.)

Well, after years of following the rumors of Indy IV, I believe this will be my last article on the subject (unless other drafts surface, which is highly doubtful). So I’d like to close by posting links to four articles (that earned a Dardos award) from my series on Indiana Jones 4:

50 Flaws of Indy IV

50 Strengths of Darabont's Draft

The Wedding of Indiana Jones

The Long, Sordid Road to Indy IV


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Accent and the Ascent of Evil

Hey guys,

My very good friend and talented writer,
Nicholas Horwood, submitted an article for publication in Script Magazine. Unfortunately, they’re not accepting new pitches for the time being as they have had to cut pages and are working hard to keep their writers on staff.

But it’s a hilarious article, and I begged him to allow me to post it on my blog. His comedy scripts are the only ones I’ve ever read in my career that made me guffaw with laughter. I’ve
written about Nicholas before in a piece that should give you a sense of how funny his scripts can be, although he has branched out into some quality dramas. He was also a third place finalist in the Final Draft contest not long ago and won the comedy category at Page International.

His article is not only fun but also good for writers today, because a large part of what we do is rethink stereotypes.

Anyway, hope you enjoy it,



Accent and the ascent of evil
Nicholas Horwood

Someone once said that when it comes to being vilified on film the British are the only “ethnic minority” who don’t seem to mind. Italian Americans may object to being portrayed as gangsters and Russians may protest that they are no longer a legitimate target in this post Cold War era, but we Brits tend to accept our fate with a stiff upper lip.

The British toleration of this victimisation may have something to do with the guilt that many Brits still feel about the past behaviour of the British Empire. Rising to power at a time when stealing other people’s land was all the rage lead to a certain amount of unpleasantness that many of its descendents still feel guilty about. Despite the many positive things that were achieved by the British Empire (America, golf, Risk, etc.) its memory, for most British people, is a pain in the collective arse.

For this reason many of the films that show the British at their historical worst are either British or made with strong British involvement; Gandhi, The Wind That Shakes The Barley, Michael Collins, In The Name of the Father are all good examples. This collective guilt would certainly explain why UK audiences are happy to line up to see themselves symbolically flogged in Hollywood films such as Titanic, Braveheart and The Patriot.

And when it comes to cinema British villainy is not just limited to recent history but extends to a long time ago and to a galaxy far, far away; as is documented in George Lucas’s Star Wars series where we see the tendrils of the British Empire extending to every corner of the galaxy and includes in its armoury planet obliterating doomsday weapons!

The leader of the Empire (no need to specify which one after all) is Emperor Palpatine, played by veteran British actor Ian McDiarmid. Palpatine is a former republican pen-pusher who, after being elevated to power by a certain Jar Jar Binks (whose origins we do best to draw a veil over) goes on to abolish the republic and replace it with an Empire so brutal that it makes its Earth-based cousin look like an ewok. Palpatine then recruit’s a series of evil Britons to help run his little operation, including General Moff Tarkin (of the Buckinghamshire Moff Tarkins) played by Peter Cushion and Count Dooku played by Cushion’s former Hammer Horror nemesis Christopher Lee.

The exception to the “All Brits rule” rule is Palpatine’s junior apprentice: Darth Vader, or Lord Darth Vader to give him his far more evil name. Vader is an interesting case study here in that he is not voiced by a distinguished British actor but by distinguished black American stage actor James Earl Jones. Dave Prowse, the actor who physically embodied the role of Vader, was quite put out to have his own voice dubbed over, but Lucas felt that Prowse’s broad West of England accent (think Long John Silver) didn’t quite create the right sense of menace.

However, we are later to find out that the Dark Lord of the Sith is in fact neither American nor African American, as it turns out that his accent is merely the product of the electronic voice built into his helmet!

In fact if we follow Darth Vader’s journey to the dark side we find some interesting facts about the correlation between accent and evil. Young Darth, Anakin Skywalker, started life as a sweet and precocious tussle-haired American youngling on the desert planet Tatooine. He is then rescued from his day job of being a slave by a friendly Irishman named Qui-Gon Jinn, a closet Queen named Amidala (who insists on calling the boy “Annie”) and, most bizarrely of all, a not evil British Jedi named Obi-Wan Kenobe!

Young Anakin is then given a job as a Jedi Knight and grows up to become a fairly normal moody teenager. Unfortunately poor Anakin falls into the clutches of evil after experiencing a spectacularly bad day at the office which sees him having his arms and legs chopped off by the British Jedi (ah-ha!), falling crotch-first into some moltan lava and culminates in him being imprisoned in the mother of all gimp-suits in an act of outrageous body fascism.

The newly christened Darth Vader is then left for several years to stew in his own evil juices, not emerging again until the end of Return of the Jedi when Luke Skywalker removes his dying father’s helmet to reveal… British stage actor Sebastian Shaw!

It just goes to show: if you spend too long walking on the Dark Side you are going to do terrible things to your accent, old chap.

And British villainy is not just restricted to historic films like Star Wars but extends to every genre imaginable. Both cinematic incarnations of Thomas Harris’ Boston raised serial killer Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter are played by British actors Anthony Hopkins and Brian Cox.

So why do we Brits get treated so badly on-screen by our American cousins? What’s the skinny? Is it because to Americans we still represent that cruel yoke of tyranny that they strove so long to overthrow? Are we the archetype of overbearing authority? Are we in short The Man?

Or is the explanation simply to do with market forces? After all, with the poor state of the UK film industry there is no shortage of unemployed distinguished actors hungry for a bite of that tasty American lettuce. Was it money that lead Sir Nigel Hawthorn to don a kimono to play the totalitarian Dr Raymond Cocteau in Demolition Man (safe in the knowledge that no one in his social circle would ever see the film?) after all, didn’t Orson Welles end up advertising frozen peas on British TV? Then again maybe Sir Nigel just wanted to work with Stallone.

This explanation would certainly explain why Die Hard villains Alan Rickman and Jeremy Irons played the brothers Gruber with German accents and why Sir Ian McKellen played Magneto with an American accent.

Then again, perhaps Hollywood producers believe that British evil transcends the clipped received pronunciation accent that Professor Henry Higgins admired so much. A rose by any other name?

If we turn our attention to Hollywood historical films where the British are not historically the villains, we still find the old RP accent in abundance. If Hollywood casting directors are a little squeamish about asking German actors to play Nazis, they are more than happy to ask British actors to take on those same roles. For some British people this is quite frustrating as World War II is a period of history where the British were undeniably not the baddies!

Could it be then that portraying a villain is considered so difficult that only a veteran British stage actor has the skill necessary to pull it off? Surely not, I mean… it iz zimply a matter ov talkink like zis. Nein?

And what of those other popular movie villains, those prototype Britons: the Romans? No problem here surely, after all, the Roman Empire has been on its best behaviour for many years. Even the British have forgiven them for their aggressive road building policies. Surely, therefore, Italians would be the perfect people to play Romans, right?

No? Us again? *sigh*

As already stated, there is a notable exception to the evil Brit stereotype: the Wise Old Dude, as embodied by the likes of Alec Guinness, Ian McKellen, Denholm Elliot and Michael Gambon.

The Wise Old Dude is the flip-side of the Evil Brit and provides another great opportunity for the British stage actor to sneak away for a few weeks and earn a little extra pocket money. Wise Old Dude is usually a mentor or boffin that the spunky American hero has to seek help from when his hero’s quest throws up a certain kind of challenge. Perhaps he needs to decode a rune, translate a parchment or do some tricky math.

The Wise Old Dude will then lend the hero the benefit of his ancient wisdom. But beware! For the Wise Old Dude is sometimes an Evil Brit in disguise; as in The Da Vinci Code, where seemingly wise old Sir Leigh Teabing (Teabag surely?) played by Sir Ian McKellen, turns out in fact to be an Evil Brit in disguise.

In the Luke Skywalker/Obi Kenobi relationship there may be a clue to the strange treatment of Brits in film. The mentor/mentee relationship is common in legend: a young, virile hero just getting started on his journey, seeks counsel from a wise old man who is coming to the end of his life (see also Dragonslayer). The young pup learns from his symbolic father but it is he who saves the day and gets the girl. Hmm, is that a growing sense of symbolism I detect… or are you just pleased to see me?

It seems then that this vilification of Brits in film is not dissimilar to a child who rebels against their parent. The seeming hostility is, for the most part, just an attempt to establish a separate identity. An independence if you like.

Still, as I leave you now I make this appeal to the people of American, Ireland and Alderaan, to spare a thought for our feelings. To paraphrase Jessica Rabbit: we aren’t bad... it’s just the way we talk.


Around Blogosphere – 2/14/08

First, Julie’s great article on Theme and the Entertaining Question:
A significant part of the screenwriting learning curve is figuring out what theme really means. Many new writers say that the theme of their script is something like: love is all you need. Or an eye for an eye. Or time heals. Or family ties endure. Okay, these are not themes. They are truisms and - I'll go ahead and say it - cliches. Kill me with a spork and do it now. You know why these tired cliches are a no-go? Because the answer is freaking self-evident. When anything is self-evident in life - it's boring because now I have no reason to engage with it. Yup. Love heals all, alrighty....oh forgive me, I nodded off there for a minute…

…So one might go from, on a global level, "time heals all" to something very focused and entertaining like "If your brother slept with your wife, could you forgive him? Ever?" See what I did there? I mean, you're going to start off with whatever your premise is, but the entertaining question is an expression of theme in a very personal way which allows the audience to engage it in a WWYD way.

Bill Martell on the Writer's Bloc Show! (You were great,
Part 1 - How did I get started?
Part 2 - Write the best idea.
Part 3 - How to get pages written.
Part 4- Scriptwriters Network & Writing Cable Movies.
Part 5 - What's next?

Mike Le and
Jesus Christ Superstar

David Bordwell on Flashbacks
What purposes does a flashback fulfill? Why would any storyteller want to arrange events out of chronological order? Structurally, the answers come down to our old friends causality and parallelism. A flashback can explain why one character acts as she or he does. Classic instances would be Hitchcock’s trauma films like Spellbound and Marnie. A flashback can also provide information about events that were suppressed or obscured; this is the usual function of the climactic flashback in a detective story, filling in the gaps in our knowledge of a crime. By juxtaposing two incidents or characters, flashbacks can enhance parallels as well. The flashbacks in The Godfather Part II are positioned to highlight the similarities and contrasts between Michael Corleone’s plotting and his father’s rise to power in the community. Citizen Kane’s flashbacks are famous for juxtaposing events in the hero’s life to bring out ironies or dramatic contrasts.

John August on
Which project should I write?
If you have four ideas, all equally viable, I’d recommend writing the one that has the best ending. That’s the one you’ve thought through the most, and the one you’re least likely to abandon midway. But whatever you do, just pick one and write it without delay. If you have great ideas for your other projects, absolutely take some notes, but don’t switch. Finish what you’re doing, or you’ll have a folder full of first acts.

Alex Epstein on
How To Take Feedback
My rule of thumb is: readers are usually right that there's something wrong. They're often right about what's wrong. They're usually wrong about how to fix it.

Epstein’s article reminds me of Piers Beckley’s post
on Readers
Paying a reader to give you notes on your script is like paying a prostitute to give you notes on your sexual technique. Yes, they're a professional. Yes, they're good at what they do. And yes, if you're just starting out there's a case to be made that advice from someone who's been around the blocks a few times is going to help. But in the long term, both of them have a vested interest in continuing to receive your custom. And that means two things. One: You're never going to be told you're that bad. Two: You're never going to be told you're that good.

Joshua James has a 20-minute Elizabeth Gilbert video on
Writing and the Creative Process.

Emerson’s latest
opening shot – The Producers
"The Producers," Mel Brooks first film, uses its first shot to break taboo by sexualizing old women. The character Max Bialystock is based on a producer Brooks worked for as a young man. This producer would, like Max, make love with old women to get funding for his plays. But Mel Brooks, whose films "rise below vulgarity," doesn't end his taboo-breaking here. He goes on to apply the same gleeful irreverence to ex-Nazis, homosexuals, and voluptuous foreign blonds. Indeed, if the studio had not objected, Brooks would have called this movie "Springtime for Hitler."

Tom Stempel’s latest in his series on
Understanding Screenwriting

Salva and the
4-types of non-arcing characters:
1.Characters whose essence can't be changed:
-The Serial Characters
2.Characters who won't realize they must change:
-The Quixote Characters
3.Characters who can’t change, although they’d like to:
-The Tragic Characters
4.Characters who decide not to change:
-The Mafioso Characters

Lucy on
Screenplay Dialogue
When it comes to dialogue, I find it helps to think of dialogue as more than mere words: there are so many variations of saying the same thing (especially when it comes to English and its many synonyms and dialects) that WHAT is said by a character is often more important than HOW, since the way in which they express something (or not, even) is often indicative of WHO they are (and thus HOW they would say it anyway… Phew – what a long sentence! I’m sure I could’ve said that a lot more concisely…. See?!). Anyway.

Dizzy from the Altitude, Happy to Plummet
Pre-Code Cinema and the Post-Code-Shock Syndrome

Out of His Head
Metaphysical Escape Attempts in the Screenplays of Charlie Kaufman

Sex, Drugs, and Exploitation

Julie Gray on
Structure: The Rhythm of the Dance
Structure is like the bass guitar - it keeps the rhythm. It's the 1-2-3 and a 1-2-3 of your script. And it is best plotted out in your outline first. As in a dance, the rhythm is obvious and yet subtle at the same time. You may not notice it but you feel it. It drives the dance.

Alexandra Sokoloff on
Plants and Payoffs
I very strongly encourage novelists to start watching movies for Plants and Payoffs. It’s a delicious storytelling trick that filmmakers are particularly aware of and deft at… it’s all a big seductive game to play with your audience, and an audience eats it up. Other names for this technique are Setup/Reveal, Plant/Reveal, Setup/Payoff, and sometimes FORESHADOWING (which can be a bit different, more subtle).

Scott W. Smith’s
Screenwriting Quotes Series

Kevin Lehane’s
Definitive List of Cliché Dialogue

A couple of articles from the new
Senses of Cinema:

Naked Bodies and Troubled Souls: Antonioni and the Ways of the Flesh
Tony McKibbin examines what he calls the “ontological problem of nudity in Michelangelo Antonioni’s work”. A refreshing focus on an aspect of Antonioni’s films not often discussed in commentaries on his work.

In Bed With Bond
Senses Co-editor and James Bond aficionado Scott Murray puts the many claims made about the sexual politics of the Bond films (and books) under the microscope.

And finally…

Not only is the Inglourious Basterds trailer available (above), as many of you know, but Empire has Tarantino EXPLAINING the trailer. When asked why he has the extra u in "Inglorious," Tarantino replies, "I can't tell you! But the 'Basterds'? That's just the way you say it: Basterds."

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A murder scene written by - Hitchcock!

Have you ever read a scene that was written by Alfred Hitchcock?

I’m sure most of you have not. Now get yourself into an Alfred Hitchcock state of mind. Can you hear the music from
his TV show? Or Psycho perhaps? Do you remember how he spoke? The loooong pro-NOUNCEd woooords of Allll-fred Hitch-COCK. Hehehe… I posted a video interview below to help young writers of the world discover his wonderfully eccentric speech. Are you in that state of mind now?


I’ll try to be brief setting this up. After the cool reception of Torn Curtain in 1966, Hitch found himself in a career crisis. He needed to do something amazing to get back on top again and he had some radical ideas (at the time) to do just that.

He was going to have a serial killer protagonist.

And he was going to call it Kaleidoscope or Frenzy (not to be confused with the other Frenzy that was made – similar in name only).

This is what he submitted when he registered his ideas with the WGA:

The story idea in which Mr. Hitchcock is interested is one which would cover the events prior to the beginning of the story told in "SHADOW OF A DOUBT". That is to say, the events surrounding the killing and disposal of these various women.

He had three killers in mind as models for his protagonist. First, there was the case of JG Haigh, the acid bath murderer. This crazy man killed a number of women for personal gain and disposed of their bodies in “baths of acid.” There was also the case of Christie, who was actually a necrophile. He murdered a number of women but instead of disposing of their bodies, he would actually hide them in various parts of the house... in cupboards, under floorboards, etc. (Among these scattered women was his wife!) And then there was Neville Heath, an attractive, charismatic, and quite deadly Royal Air Force officer, also known as “The Baby-Faced Killer.”

Well, Hitch shared these ideas with screenwriter Benn Levy who had worked with him on Blackmail. Benn said, basically, go with Neville Heath and wrote in a letter to Hitch: “The ultimate irony of his psychoses of course is that he truly is ‘just a little boy who can't cope with life’. ‘Little Boy’ might be a nice title.” Hitch loved it. Papers were drawn. Benn wrote the script. Hitch hated it. Really hated it.

So then a funny thing happened. At the ripe young age of 68, Hitch sat down to write this screenplay himself. The protag would be called Willie Cooper. There would be two murder sequences and a big ending. The first victim, Caroline Varley, works for the United Nations, and gets offed in Central Park. Willie meets the second victim, Patti Landis, at a Manhattan art school and much suspense is drawn out of when and how Willie might murder this girl, which would eventually take place on an abandoned U.S. battleship from World War II.

And then there’s the ending. A female policewoman is sent out as a decoy to capture Willie, and he actually falls in love with her.

Hitch called it his “dark love story.” Hehehe

Now Hitch went further in the development of this film than any other project that never made it to the big screen. He was going to break new ground with the use of indoor natural lighting and a 360 degree pan of an entire apartment. He scouted locations and did test footage (the stills from those tests are peppered throughout this article). The sex and violence would’ve broken the kind of barriers that were later broken in films like Bonnie and Clyde. Hitch was ahead of his time. Dan Auiler wrote, “Here is one of cinema’s greatest directors proposing a groundbreaking film that would have eschewed the American studio style for the kind of filmmaking Hitchcock was seeing in France and Italy. More importantly, [Kaleidoscope] would have returned Hitchcock to the kind of dark films that characterized his British period.” But Universal’s rejection of his concept (and that of a serial killer protag) was absolute. It was a decision that irked Hitch to the end of his life.

The thing is, Hitch was right. His concept would have worked, and everybody was (and is) wrong about unsympathetic protags. Sympathy or its lack of has nothing to do with a great protagonist. What matters is
character depth. If you have a dynamic character as your protagonist, who has many different sides to his character, a guy who is incredibly charming and yet also a demented killer, people will be repulsed and also fascinated. And if this dynamic character is surrounded by sympathetic supporting characters, they will watch the film to the end, because they will try to A) figure out what makes the killer tick, B) they will quietly sympathize with (and worry about) all of those innocent supporting characters, and C) they will root for his downfall and be overjoyed when it finally happens.

This is what happens in
Don Giovanni and people love it.

A quick analysis of the scene:

* This is not the greatest murder scene since Psycho. At times, you may laugh, as well you should. This should be enjoyed! We should have fun! It is fascinating in both its strengths and weaknesses and in just observing how a master is thinking about a scene. But there are some golden nuggets that may be plucked with analysis.

* Consider the fact that this one suspenseful murder sequence takes up about 12 pages in Final Draft. 12 PAGES! A good scene with suspense takes time to set up and should be dragged out to considerable lengths to heighten the experience for the audience. An entire film is not about advancing a plot. The plot must be advanced until we get to the reason why we’re there to watch the film, and in this case, it's great suspense, which we expect from Hitchcock. This is a moment of
vertical screenwriting. The is why we’re all here. So consider this question with your script: why are we here? What is the big payoff to everything you’re setting up in the story?

* This scene is Hitch fully employing
his bomb theory. The bomb is in the woods. The bomb is ticking. And the bomb is threatening the life of Caroline. Audience knowledge is key to the suspense here.

* I think, generally, amateurish approaches to scenes with killers goes like this: killer and victim meet, something makes the killer suddenly irate, he kills the victim, and the scene is over. Consider how much more advanced this approach is. This isn’t simply about a killer suddenly becoming irate and killing. This is a killing rooted in character. This guy’s got some mommy issues, so the trick to this scene is how he draws her in, gets her to be motherly to him, almost sexually maternal, in order to trigger the feelings he needs to kill. This also feeds the need of the audience to understand what makes him tick. If he was just a flat, unsympathetic killing machine, people would be walking out of the theaters. But this is about character.

* I love how the sequence begins with long and medium shots, gradually moves to close-ups and extreme close-ups as the emotions of the characters become heightened, and then we end on a long shot. Needless to say, this is a 1968 shooting script style and the format is not how we would write specs today. We don't write camera angles. You can, however, imply the shots with
the way you write your action lines and imply close-ups with Secondary Headings. (Hopefully, this will also prove how absurd “we see” reads in action lines.)

* There’s a playfulness to the camera work, as if we're sneaking through the woods and hiding behind trees just to watch them. There's a playfulness to the characters, too, albeit a playfulness of the 1960’s variety, but that’s still essential to these moments just as the humor of
John Michael Hayes elevated his earlier films. But Hitch is no John Michael Hayes and he still could’ve used a good writer.

* You may think that Willie's dialogue about his wife is way too on-the-nose. Here's the thing. He’s not married. (Mommy issues.)

* The most hilarious aspect of this excerpt is that Hitchcock writes just as he talks and you can hear his voice in the action lines, as if he was talking to you now, as if he was just telling you a little story…


They’re the mothball fleet.
Freighters left over from the war.

They’re sad-looking, aren’t they?

They’re dead. Shall we see if we
can gate-crash them?

Caroline shivers a little and shakes her head.


Willie looks at her inquiringly.

They’re spooky.

Okay, we’ll stick to our original

He starts up the car and they move on OUT OF PICTURE.


WE SEE Willie’s car about a hundred feet away. It is tilted down as though they had turned off the roadway. There is no one in it. The CAMERA PANS and in the distance, through the trees, WE SEE Willie and Caroline. They are hand in hand. Willie carries a large paper sack in the crook of his arm.


WE SEE them crossing and coming NEARER TO CAMERA which is PANNING with them, with trees crossing in the f.g. from time to time. We LOSE them behind one large tree in the f.g. so the CAMERA MOVES and has a PEEK. WE FIND them in an embrace.


still in an embrace. As Willie shifts his position slightly to envelope her more closely, first an orange then a tomato, then another falls out of the sack. He releases her.

What is it?

Willie looks down.


He stoops to retrieve it, the CAMERA PANNING DOWN as he does so without mishap. Still bent down he reaches for the orange.


stepping on the second tomato.

There we go again!

(grinning at him)
Romantic, aren’t you?

Well, you can’t have everything.
Come on.


Willie stretches out his hand to her and starts to move but, as he is looking over his shoulder, he bumps into a small tree.

Round the tree, Willie, not through

Oh, I see.

WE LOSE them behind some bushes or ferns for a moment. They emerge from the bushes and as they both FILL THE SCREEN they stop and look.


From their viewpoint is a waterfall. During the previous scenes, the sound of this waterfall has been growing and at this moment it is at the loudest we have heard it.

What are we going to eat?

There’s a place over there. Let’s
get across.

Do you think we can?



WE SEE the two tiny figures starting to cross the stepping stones at the foot of the first part of the waterfall. We can just about hear their voices above the roar of the water as they shout to each other.

Willie, I know I can’t make it!

Of course you can.

WE SEE Willie stretch out a hand and help her across.

There you are... That’s a girl...
That’s it... Easy does it...

They have nearly reached the other side when his foot slips.

(in alarm)

You nearly lost me that time! On
we go... Just a pair of mountain
goats.. Careful with that one...

Willie loses his balance again. His arms wave upwards in an effort to regain equilibrium.


reaches our for him but her hand succeeds in grabbing only the paper bag. He flops down into a swirling pool.



The water is deep where he falls. When he surfaces he splutters...

By God, you have lost me!

He scrambles his way up the nearest rock to the shore. Caroline leaps competently until she lands on the top of this same rock, helpless with laughter.


now seated looks up. Caroline drops INTO PICTURE beside him. The waterfall is seen OUT OF FOCUS behind him.

Oh, Willie!
(she puts her head on his
wet shoulder)
Darling, you’re not fit to be let
out alone.

That’s right; you notice

(rises to her knees)
Let’s get you out of those wet

Oh? And into what?

Into anything. Do you want double
pneumonia? We’ll hang your things
on the bushes; they’ll soon dry in
this sun.

Well, what am I going to wear?

You’re going to wear this.

Caroline removes her sloppy-joe revealing a plain white, open-neck shirt underneath.

How can I get into that? It’s a

It’s not. It was my brother’s. He
gave it to me. He’s just as big as

But for God’s sake, Caroline, it’ll
only come down to here!

The CAMERA PULLS BACK as he rises to indicate a position barely below his waist.

You won’t wear it as a sweater,
stupid. Just wrap it around your


Go round the back there and I’ll
get out the food. Be seeing you.

Willie holds the sweater in front of him held high to the shoulders. It does not quite reach - !

You’ve said it sister.

He goes off and wanders away to the bushes taking off his clothes as he does so.

Hey, my cigarettes are all wet.


She now squats on the ground and starts to unload the brown paper sack.

I’ve got some.

She takes out a couple of bottles of beer and cokes, a package of sandwiches, some paper cups, etc...

Hurry up. How does it look?
She glances up.


Willie appears. The arms of the sweater are tied round his waist and the body of it hangs down in front of him like an apron. He carries the rest of his clothes in his arms.

Well, it’s not exactly my color.

He turns round to spread his wet clothes over a nearby bush.


breaks into laughter at the sight of his bare behind.


He turns good-naturedly.

Alright, alright!

He advances toward her.


rises and crossing, goes into his arms. She is still laughing.

I’m sorry, darling. You look so
sweet. You just look like a little
boy. I don’t know why. Here, come
and sit down; let’s eat.

The CAMERA PANS THEM DOWN ONTO the grass, side by side. Willie freezes for a moment.

What’s the matter?

Willie puts his hand under his behind.


He leans his body over to permit his extracting a pine cone.


Oh no! You would!

Caroline turns and starts to busy herself with the lunch. She takes out a bottle opener, turning to Willie, she asks him...


Willie shakes his head, a different mood seems to envelope him.

Sandwich? Ham or tuna?

What? No, I’m not hungry yet.

Anything the matter?


Caroline glances at him watchfully and then bites into her sandwich. Willie leans out and slightly behind him, he breaks off a dried branch from the bush. He starts to play with it, stripping the leaves off as he does so. There is silence for a moment then Willie turns to Caroline.

Why do I like being with you?

I like being with you.

(barely smiles, pursuing
his own mood)
Why do you never ask me questions?

About yourself! But I do, don’t I?

Willie shakes his head.

I suppose because you tell me all
you want me to know.

What I want you to know is

I know. There isn’t much that you
hold back, is there?

Not from you.

There is a slight pause.

But there has been one thing.

Caroline waits.

It’s - it’s kind of difficult.

I’ve got a shrewd idea.

Willie looks at her.

Have you? What?


You’re married, right?


looks straight ahead.



looks away.



without turning, she quietly says...

I think - I think you should have
told me earlier.


I’m sure I should... but when it
comes to self-destruction, I always
play my trump card at the right
moment! If you want to know, I
ducked it. I was afraid you might –
might lose interest.


still looking away.

Are you - happy?


That’s a silly question. I
wouldn’t be here, would I..? She’s
older than I, quite a bit older.
We came together because - I don’t


turns back and says to him...

Because you thought you needed
somebody to look after you... and
she needed somebody to look after.

The CAMERA EASES BACK to INCLUDE Willie as he continues.

Smart, aren’t you? Well, I don’t
need it now. At least I probably
need it but don’t want it! I
suppose nobody wants... a warden...
I shouldn’t say that. She’s very
nice really. I’m probably more to
blame than she is. God knows I
make her as unhappy as she makes
me... a tough life, you know. She
doesn’t get much work; not as much
as she deserves. And it makes her
nervous and unhappy... she’s rather
fond of the bottle.

Oh, no.

That’s one reason why I’ve never
left... Maybe I haven’t had the
guts, anyway... Maybe I haven’t had
the incentive - before.

Would she mind?

Would she mind.

Willie thinks for a moment. He continues with genuine bitterness.

I think she’d be glad to get shot
of me. I’m her cross!


startled by the tone of his voice, looks directly at him.

Is - is there another man?

She waits and then we hear Willie’s voice off...

Could be.

There is a pause.

Is he - around?


shakes his head.

Someone... she knew before me. I guess
he’s still in her system.

He turns his head away from her.


as she watches him.


He covers his eyes with one hand. We hear Caroline’s voice off...

Oh, Willie, don’t.

WE SEE her hand on his shoulder. It strokes his back tenderly.


She murmurs softly...


The CAMERA PANS her over as she presses her cheek against his bare shoulder.

Oh, please!


He turns his face back towards her, the CAMERA PANS SLIGHTLY as Caroline’s face comes up INTO PICTURE. They look at each other. The CAMERA EASES BACK SLIGHTLY as he takes her in his arms and kisses her. WE SEE her arms go about him. The CAMERA GOES WITH THEM as he presses her back gently onto the grass.


FILLING THE SCREEN - They kiss at great length.


travelling over her back. It moves on past her waist and WE SEE his arm pressing her to him.


coming undone. It FILLS THE SCREEN, WE SEE Willie’s hand come between their bodies as he starts to unbutton Caroline’s shirt.

Back to their NOSES AND MOUTHS still kissing. The CAMERA GRADUALLY PULLS AWAY until the back of Willie’s head FILLS THE SCREEN. We see nothing but his hair. The CAMERA CONTINUES TO RECEDE, passing a bush which obscures the lower part of their bodies until their two reclining figures FILL THE SCREEN. The CAMERA PULLS AWAY CONTINUALLY until the figures are so tiny and the scenic waterfall FILS THE PICTURE. The CAMERA is so far away now that we have LOST SIGHT of them altogether. The only sound is the loud roar of the waterfall, which somehow seems to increase with the size of the picture.


His feet FILL THE SCREEN in the f.g. WE SEE that he has his pants on. The CAMERA MOVES IN until his head FILLS THE SCREEN. A cigarette dangles from his lips. He is staring ahead. A puff of smoke emerges from his mouth.

The CAMERA MOVES OFF him and down to the head and shoulders of Caroline. She is lying on her back, the sweater by her head. Her eyes are open and glazed. There is a trickle of blood from one nostril. His hand ENTERS SHOT and strokes her hair for a moment. There are scratches on the back of his hand.


He turns and eyes the body.


The CAMERA PANS FROM the dead face down onto the body.


His eyes are travelling down.


The CAMERA ARRIVES on the girl’s abdomen where WE SEE rivulets of blood.


WE SEE Willie rise. He stoops to pick up some clothes including his coat and shirt from the bush. He glances down at the reclining figure which WE can FAINTLY SEE and then he moves away. He crosses the rocks and goes back in the direction of his car.


in the distance making his way towards his car. He gets in it and drives off. The CAMERA PANS into a different direction up the road. Round the bend WE SEE a GROUP OF CHILDREN, perhaps a dozen or so, accompanied by an adult WOMAN. They are obviously out on a picnic and are singing together in unison.