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Old 01-02-2015, 08:03 AM   #1
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TPG Week 210: New Year, Same Bad Storytelling



Hello, one and all, and welcome back to the first installment of The Proving Grounds for the new year! This week, we have a new Brave One in Daniel O'Reilly. We have Liam Hayes in blue, and I'm the suave one in red. Let's see what kind of tour guide Daniel is as we all travel through



The Valley





Page 1:6 Panels (See this? The number of panels at the top of the page? I've got no problem with that. However, not doing it on every page will lose you the Flawless Victory for being inconsistent. More importantly, though, you have to maintain the correct count. Having more or fewer panels on the page than what was stated at the top won't lose the FV, but it could lose you a tiny bit of credibility in the eyes of the creative team.)



Panel 1: This is a simple, wide, establishing shot of a hotel. The hotel is neat and clean (and set up against a hill) but nothing fancy with a single story comprised of 12 units (the office and 11 rooms) arranged in an L. One of the rooms toward the middle of the hotel has it's curtains very slightly open. The approximate time is late-morning, just after checkout, and the parking lot is, consequently, nearly empty. At the bottom of the panel, crossing the parking lot, is a lone figure (Little more needed on this figure e.g. the figure of a large male.) rolling a suitcase.



(Remember, the script is a technical document. Make the artist's process turning your words into images as painless as possible. For instance, “This is a simple, wide, establishing shot of a hotel. The hotel is neat and clean (and set up against a hill) but nothing fancy with a single story comprised of 12 units (the office and 11 rooms) arranged in an L.” can be cut down to “Establishing shot of a simple, clean L-shaped hotel comprised of 12 units in one story set up against a hill.” You could cut that down even further unless you explicitly need 12 units. Also, the artist isn't going to presume the hotel is dirty unless you specifically say soe.g. “Establishing shot of a simple L-shaped hotel set up against a hill.” See how clearer that is? You get an instant image.



I'm also getting the impression you're going for motel more than actual hotel. Reference images would help.)


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Old 01-02-2015, 11:51 AM   #2
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"For right now, we are simply focused on a shot of an enormously fat man, facing away from us, thick rolls of fat on his neck, as he peeks out the curtain. The fat man is Brian Schair, age 44. He has a triple chin and one of those goatees that floats there, bobbing in a sea of flesh. In the slit between curtain and window frame, just above Brian’s head, we can see the lone figure again. The figure, a thin man in sunglasses, polo shirt and khakis, is looking off to the right. (This panel description doesn’t work. Someone tell me why. No! Even better. Rin, please rewrite this panel description in 30 words or less. Challenge!)"

Boy did I see that one coming… As soon as I read how wordy Daniel’s first panel description was.

I’ll answer your question first. This panel doesn’t work for two reasons: 1) If Brian’s back’s to us, we can’t see his goatee or triple chin. (I also don’t think it wise for the introductory shot of your character to be from the rear.) 2) The description says the curtain’s nearly closed, and that we’re inside the room. In order to see the air conditioning on the window, the curtain has to be open, OR, we have to be looking in from outside. (For that matter, why have an air conditioning unit in a room with a ceiling fan? How hot can it possibly be?) I also have issues with the camera being placed at the front of the hotel in panel one, at the rear of the hotel in panel two, and having-spun-through-180-degrees-to-approach-from-the-opposite-direction in the gutter. It’s bad cinematography.

With this in mind, I’d change Daniel’s panel to this:
Denny’s legs, in the foreground, are approaching the room with the barely-open curtains where Bryan Schair (44, obese, with thick rolls of neck fat and a goatee undulating over a triple chin*), peeks out anxiously through the small gap.

But if you wanted me to keep Daniel’s blocking and merely tighten the writing:
Inside the fully furnished, ceiling fanned, en suite hotel room with the barely-open curtains. Facing away from us, Bryan Schair (44, obese, with thick rolls of neck fat*), peeks out at Denny, the lone figure in sunglasses, polo shirt and khakis*. Denny looks off to the right.

{* The italicised words should either be in a separate character document, or should have been mentioned in the first panel when Denny was introduced so, when cut from these panel descriptions, would leave only 23 / 30 words, respectively.}

PS – on page 2 panel 4 you have Brian pointing at his heart saying, “This is my wife.” I combined the picture and the copy to infer, “I’m pointing to my wife.”

Last edited by Kiyoko, Rin; 01-02-2015 at 05:47 PM. Reason: Forgot to establish the new location! + Moving panel
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Old 01-02-2015, 09:32 PM   #3
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Thanks for the editing Steven and Liam!

Really expected this story to have a conclusion, or a twist. Yannick Morin is an excellent former editor for TPG and I think it was him who taught me that often you can see weakness in plots by describing the plot as simply as possible. In this case I would say:

A man meets an assassin in a motel. They cannot agree terms and the assassin kills him.

Based on that, it doesn't sound like a story to me. I assumed a mysterious third party was going to step out from behind the shower curtain yelling "STOP! Time Police!" or perhaps kidnapping the robot in a scam. Or maybe a film director was about to yell "CUT!"

However none of these things happened. Still we got a story from Steven, so admission price was rewarded.
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Old 01-02-2015, 09:44 PM   #4
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However none of these things happened. Still we got a story from Steven, so admission price was rewarded.
See what I do for all of you? I plumb the depths of my very SOUL for you when the writers don't do their jobs adequately.

I don't mind, though. I've got tons of stories.
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Old 01-02-2015, 09:50 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiyoko, Rin View Post
"For right now, we are simply focused on a shot of an enormously fat man, facing away from us, thick rolls of fat on his neck, as he peeks out the curtain. The fat man is Brian Schair, age 44. He has a triple chin and one of those goatees that floats there, bobbing in a sea of flesh. In the slit between curtain and window frame, just above Brian’s head, we can see the lone figure again. The figure, a thin man in sunglasses, polo shirt and khakis, is looking off to the right. (This panel description doesn’t work. Someone tell me why. No! Even better. Rin, please rewrite this panel description in 30 words or less. Challenge!)"

Boy did I see that one coming… As soon as I read how wordy Daniel’s first panel description was.

I’ll answer your question first. This panel doesn’t work for two reasons: 1) If Brian’s back’s to us, we can’t see his goatee or triple chin. (I also don’t think it wise for the introductory shot of your character to be from the rear.) 2) The description says the curtain’s nearly closed, and that we’re inside the room. In order to see the air conditioning on the window, the curtain has to be open, OR, we have to be looking in from outside. (For that matter, why have an air conditioning unit in a room with a ceiling fan? How hot can it possibly be?) I also have issues with the camera being placed at the front of the hotel in panel one, at the rear of the hotel in panel two, and having-spun-through-180-degrees-to-approach-from-the-opposite-direction in the gutter. It’s bad cinematography.

With this in mind, I’d change Daniel’s panel to this:
Denny’s legs, in the foreground, are approaching the room with the barely-open curtains where Bryan Schair (44, obese, with thick rolls of neck fat and a goatee undulating over a triple chin*), peeks out anxiously through the small gap.

But if you wanted me to keep Daniel’s blocking and merely tighten the writing:
Inside the fully furnished, ceiling fanned, en suite hotel room with the barely-open curtains. Facing away from us, Bryan Schair (44, obese, with thick rolls of neck fat*), peeks out at Denny, the lone figure in sunglasses, polo shirt and khakis*. Denny looks off to the right.

{* The italicised words should either be in a separate character document, or should have been mentioned in the first panel when Denny was introduced so, when cut from these panel descriptions, would leave only 23 / 30 words, respectively.}

PS – on page 2 panel 4 you have Brian pointing at his heart saying, “This is my wife.” I combined the picture and the copy to infer, “I’m pointing to my wife.”
I don't mind being predictable. I'd rather be predictable and be helpful than be "surprising" and not being helpful. The question is, would you have rewritten it without being prompted?

Anyway, good work on both answering the question and rewriting the panel.
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Old 01-03-2015, 05:43 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven Forbes View Post
The question is, would you have rewritten it without being prompted?
I certainly noticed Daniel's wordiness...but I would have made HIM rewrite it. (Insert grinning face emoticon.)

To be honest, I knew my script was far too wordy when I sent it to TPG, but it was an emotional knowing rather than a conscious one (if that makes sense). My script wasn't fun to re-visit, and all the unnecessary detail made my mind shut down when trying to edit it. Hence the typos. So, thanks again for your diligence on my script and for getting to the end of it - even if it meant you had to tell FOUR of your own stories to keep your interest up!!!
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Old 01-05-2015, 03:50 PM   #7
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The one thing that struck me is that the format is similar to a Future Shock submission for 2000AD, so it makes me wonder if the wordiness is actually due to this?
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Old 01-05-2015, 08:43 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LukePierce View Post
The one thing that struck me is that the format is similar to a Future Shock submission for 2000AD, so it makes me wonder if the wordiness is actually due to this?
I hope it is a Future Shock submission because that means Daniel would have had to have written a pitch. And I'd really like to see that pitch, just to know what he meant / intended.
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Old 01-05-2015, 10:33 PM   #9
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"Panel 5: Medium shot, both Brian and Denny in 3/4 profile as Brian is standing with the door open, a quizzical look on his face, and Denny is walking past without a word, lifting the suitcase. (So Denny was the figure? Why didn’t you just say that? Why keep things from the artist? All it does is complicate things.)(Moving panel. I don’t even know where the stopped action is here. Is Brian facing outside, or is he facing Denny? Either would work, but we just need to know what’s being seen. I’m not seeing this. I can’t place the camera in my head how you’re seeing this. Ryan Kroboth—can you thumb out this panel?)

It would be my pleasure.



Daniel has called for a medium shot on these characters. Without a specific direction on which way they are facing I choose to have them both looking toward the right to keep them moving "towards" the story. The box around Brian and Denny would be that medium shot.

I feel like this panel would be a good opportunity to use as an establishing shot of the interior. We have been given one for the outside, and panels two through four are only of the window and door. So I pulled the camera back for this reason. Then, for the final panel, we could move the camera to the table and look towards the two gentlemen (or presumed robot).

Also, I must be a terrible decorator because I have the television facing the door.
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Old 01-05-2015, 10:36 PM   #10
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I really thought that this story was going to end with Denny walking out the door, phoning Brian's wife, and telling her the hit went exactly as the two planned. I guess I was kind of close.
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Old 01-06-2015, 04:12 AM   #11
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Great job, DarkHalf05!
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Old 01-06-2015, 08:43 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiyoko, Rin View Post
Great job, DarkHalf05!
Thanks, Rin! I enjoyed your post, as well. You put a lot of thought into it.
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Old 01-06-2015, 04:48 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LukePierce View Post
The one thing that struck me is that the format is similar to a Future Shock submission for 2000AD, so it makes me wonder if the wordiness is actually due to this?
Quote:
Avoid overly verbose panel descriptions.
This quote is from the future shock submissions guideline.

Why would the panel descriptions be wordier?
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Old 01-07-2015, 06:50 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Schuyler View Post
Why would the panel descriptions be wordier?
Because 2000AD asks for only two documents - a pitch and a script. Due to the volume of submissions, they'll only read the latter if the former is interesting, I doubt they'd read a separate character document between the two. Which may be why Daniel put the character descriptions in with the panels.
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Old 01-07-2015, 09:47 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kiyoko, Rin View Post
Because 2000AD asks for only two documents - a pitch and a script. Due to the volume of submissions, they'll only read the latter if the former is interesting, I doubt they'd read a separate character document between the two. Which may be why Daniel put the character descriptions in with the panels.
Ohhhhh! Thanks, Kiyoko, Rin!

Last edited by Schuyler; 01-07-2015 at 10:22 AM. Reason: comma fail
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