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Thread: TPG: Week 52 - John Lees

  1. CalvinCamp Guest

    TPG: Week 52 - John Lees

    This week, John Lees is back, with a continuation of his earlier submission (An Inconvenient Tooth - from Week 40).

    The first part wasn't quite my thing, so let's establish, right up front, that this part is very likely to be not quite my thing, as well. But I'll go in with as objective a perspective as I can manage (and with John's intent for the story better established in my mind than it was originally) and we'll see where it takes us.

    For starters, the heading claims that this is "The Standard #1" and I think that was an earlier script, wasn't it?


    PAGE SEVEN (3 panels)

    Panel 1. It’s still morning, but we’re in a different location now. We’re outdoors, on a quiet suburban street, but we get little impression of the surroundings in this panel. Here, the focus is on a close-up of a dog turd on the pavement, reasonably firm in structure, with flies buzzing around it. Here, the caption would not be boxed, but would instead be disembodied text, hovering above the poop, with an arrow pointing down towards it.

    CAP: SOME SERIOUS SHIT.

    I've been told, by some letterer's, that they just skim the panel descriptions (and sometimes not even that), so I would suggest also putting some sort of "not boxed" notation at the caption itself, or perhaps highlighting that part of the description so they're more likely to spot it.

    Panel 2. This peaceful scene is destroyed, as a shoe comes thundering down on top of the dog turd, squishing it underfoot. The shoe is of the formal variety, black leather, rather stylish looking. Unfortunately, the poop made quite a mess upon implosion, with splatters flecking onto the side of the shoe as well as caking the sole.

    SFX: SQUILCH!

    I don't think you can show all that in a single panel. I'll give you the foot thundering down (using some motion & lines, and splatter), and I'll give you the mess. But I don't think you can show the crap caked on the sole of the shoe when the shoe is on the ground. You'll need to save that for the panel where the guy stops and checks his shoe.


    Panel 3. I imagine this would be a larger panel, one that would dominate the page. We now see that this suburban street is filled with police officers, kitted out in SWAT gear. Several of these police officers populate the background of the panel, ready for action, but standing front and centre in the foreground of the frame is an individual who seems rather out of place. Dressed in a stiff black suit with white shirt and black tie, he stands out amongst all the SWAT uniforms. He is tall, and impossibly gaunt, with spindly limbs and a wiry giraffe neck. His oily black hair is pulled back in a tyrannical side parting, and he wears a pair of thick black-rimmed glasses. This is Agent Wagstaff of the FBI. At this moment, his left leg is turned upward at the knee, allowing him to see the poop-smeared sole of his shoe. In his right hand he holds a Dictaphone, held up close to his mouth. In his left hand, the index finger has a smidgen of the shit from his shoe, which he is holding up to his nose. On both these hands, he wears white latex surgeon’s gloves, at all times.

    WAGSTAFF: NOTE: UPON FURTHER INSPECTION, I CAN CONCLUDE THAT THE SUBSTANCE CURRENTLY RESIDING WITHIN THE CREVICE OF MY BOOTHEEL IS INDEED EXCREMENT, OF THE…*SNIFF SNIFF*….CANINE VARIETY.

    PAGE EIGHT (4 panels)

    Panel 1. Indoors, in the hallway of a modest suburban home. This is a long shot from behind Margot Fitzmakobe, a housewife in her early fifties, as she pads towards her front door in her bathrobe and slippers.

    SFX: DING-DONG! DING-DONG! DING-DONG!

    MARGOT: I’M COMING, I’M COMING…

    Panel 2. A medium profile shot of Margot, just after opening the front door. She has a shocked expression on her face, and is inclining backwards slightly, as a skinny, rigid arm has thrust at her from out of the left side of the panel, jamming an ID wallet (the details of which we cannot yet see) a mere inch in front of her nose. Motion lines could be used here to indicate the arm’s rigid upward motion, as if it were a spring-activated lever.

    SFX: THWIP!

    Panel 3. A Margot POV shot here. The ID wallet is in the extreme centre foreground, with an FBI badge on the left side, and an ID card on the right side, with the name SPECIAL AGENT WALTER WORTHINGTON WAGSTAFF III next to a goofy looking photo. In the background is Wagstaff himself, hunched forward, head tilted at an awkward sideways incline, as if he were afraid to look a woman directly in the eye.

    WAGSTAFF: MARGOT FITZMAKOBE, MY NAME IS WALTER WORTHINGTON WAGSTAFF, THE THIRD. I WORK FOR THE SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS DIVISION OF THE FBI. I’D LIKE TO ASK YOU A FEW QUESTIONS.

    I think you want to break that dialogue up a little for more natural flow - unless you want the guy to sound like a robot, running on at a monotone (a possibility that might be fun).

    Panel 4. A long shot of Margot’s kitchen. At one side sits Wagstaff, hunched forward over a steaming cup of coffee. At the other side sits Margot, stiffly and uncomfortably perched on her seat, arms flat on the table as if bracing herself. Behind them, two armed SWAT officers stand at attention by the kitchen counter. Daylight shines into the kitchen from a large window positioned between these two officers.

    WAGSTAFF: THEY GIVE ME ALL THE FRUITY CASES, MRS. FITZMAKOBE. THAT’S WHAT BRINGS ME HERE TODAY. I NEED TO ASK ABOUT YOUR HUSBAND.

    MARGOT: I….I HAVEN’T SEEN HIM FOR DAYS.

    PAGE NINE (6 panels)

    Panel 1. A medium shot of Wagstaff. Smirking to himself, he is looking downward as he reaches a hand into his inside jacket pocket.

    WAGSTAFF: HEH. WELL, THE OFFICERS SEARCHING YOUR HOME RIGHT NOW WILL BE ABLE TO CONFIRM THAT FOR US.

    Panel 2. Same medium shot of Wagstaff. Now, he is holding a lollipop in his hand, having just produced it from his jacket pocket. He stares at the lollipop intently as he focuses on peeling off its plastic wrapper.

    WAGSTAFF: WE HAVE REASON TO BELIEVE TOM FITZMAKOBE HAS STOLEN SOME HIGHLY DANGEROUS FBI PROPERTY. BEFORE HE… DISAPPEARED, DID HE SAY ANYTHING UNUSUAL TO YOU ABOUT HIS WORK WITH THE BUREAU?

    MARGOT (O.P.): N-NO.

    Panel 3. Same medium shot of Wagstaff. He has raised the lollipop to his mouth, and has it nestled in between his back teeth. At last, he has raised his eyes upward to stare at Margot, though from this angle it looks like he’s staring out the page at us.

    WAGSTAFF: YOUR HUSBAND IS IN A LOT OF TROUBLE, MRS. FITZMAKOBE. AND IF HE’S HERE, AND YOU’RE HIDING HIM… THEN YOU’RE IN A LOT OF TROUBLE TOO.

    Okay, Wagstaff has too many pauses in his speech for you to be intentionally trying for a run-on monotone effect, so you need to break up most of his balloons. Right now, many of them are big, chunky blocks of dialogue that won't flow as well as they could.

    Panel 4. Same medium shot of Wagstaff. Now, at last, he is biting down on the lollipop in his mouth. His eyes are closed, and he is making this odd face that looks like an unsettling combination of sexual elation and constipation.

    There's nothing actually wrong with the panel as you've described it, but if your artist can pull off that expression like it looks in my head, it could be silly enough to rate a close-up.


    SFX: KERRRRRRRUNCH!

    WAGSTAFF: UUUUUUUUNGH!

    (more)

    PAGE NINE (continued)

    Panel 5. Back to a long profile shot of Wagstaff and Margot sitting face-to-face at the kitchen table, with the two SWAT officers standing to attention in the background. Wagstaff is leaning forward over the table, spindly hands pressing down on its surface in front of him, like some predator ready to pounce. Margot, meanwhile, is wincing uncomfortably, looking away from Wagstaff with head averted outward in the direction of the reader.

    WAGSTAFF: WHAT’S THE MATTER? YOU LOOK ILL AT EASE… SOMETHING TO TELL ME?

    MARGOT: NO, IT’S JUST…. THAT’S A NASTY HABIT, MR. WAGSTAFF. YOU’RE GOING TO CRACK ONE OF YOUR TEETH OPEN DOING THAT.

    Looks like some of Margot's dialogue could stand to be broken up too.
    Panel 6. A low angle shot, looking up at a smirking Wagstaff, sitting at the kitchen table and twiddling the now empty lollipop stick between his fingers. From this angle, we can see that a man is pressed flat against the ceiling directly above him. This man is Tom Fitzmakobe – a well-built man in his mid 50s, with gray hair and 3-day stubble.

    WAGSTAFF: I’D BE MORE WORRIED ABOUT TOM’S WELL-BEING, [comma] IF I WERE YOU, FOR THERE IS NOWHERE ON EARTH HE CAN HIDE FROM ME.

    Okay, now that's funny.

    The only thing I'd suggest is to move the first part of the dialogue to the panel above, so that, "For there is nowhere on Earth he can hide from me," stands alone in this panel, just to further emphasize the complete absurdity that no one sees the guy on the ceiling.


    PAGE TEN (7 panels)

    Panel 1. Tom has jumped down from the ceiling and landed skilfully on his feet, slamming Wagstaff facedown into the kitchen table in the process. The coffee cup Wagstaff was drinking from has been spilled over with the force of this impact.

    You've suddenly stopped calling out your shots (viewpoints, camera distance and angle) at a moment when there's an obvious transition to a different shot. If you're going to be as specific as you've been in previous panels, you probably want to stay consistent.

    Also, what do you want the reactions of other people to be (assuming they're in the shot at all)?


    SFX: WHAM!

    WAGSTAFF: URK!

    Panel 2. Tom has swung Wagstaff’s prone form into the first SWAT officer, knocking him to the ground and causing him to fire his weapon upwards into the ceiling. The stunned second officer is in the process of unholstering his weapon.

    SFX: BLAMBLAMBLAMBLAM!

    Panel 3. Tom is smashing the chair previously occupied by Wagstaff over the second officer’s head.

    SFX: CRUNCH!

    Panel 4. A long shot of the kitchen. Wagstaff and the two SWAT officers lie in a heap on the floor. Margot remains fixed to her chair, shocked. Tom stands in the centre of the panel, his hand resting on Margot’s shoulder as he looks down at her, eyes filled with regret.

    TOM: I’M SORRY. I LOVE YOU.

    Panel 5. Another long shot of the kitchen, as Tom dives through the back window. Margot is in the process of standing up, arms outstretched, eyes wide and desperate, as if silently pleading Tom to take her with him. Meanwhile, another two SWAT officers have belatedly barged into the kitchen, guns raised.

    SFX: SMASH!

    Panel 6. Wagstaff is sitting on the floor, slumped against the kitchen counter. He is bleeding from a cut on the side of his forehead. In his right hand, he holds the Dictaphone up to his mouth. In his left hand, hung limply by his side, rests another lollipop.

    WAGSTAFF: NOTE: BLUETOOTH IS IN THE WIND.

    Panel 7. Wagstaff is still sitting on the floor, but now the right hand holding the Dictaphone hangs limply his side, and he is crunching down on the lollipop.

    SFX: KERRRRRRUNCH!

    So what's his expression this time, as he crunches?

    PAGE ELEVEN (3 panels)

    Panel 1. We’re outdoors again, in a suburban street, and we’re on a medium shot of Tom Fitzmakobe as he runs. His eyes look grimly ahead, his face etched with concentration. On this page, the captions represent a voice in Tom’s head, and so they should look distinctly different from the earlier narration captions.

    Given the silly nature of the story, and the tendency for some people to see thought balloons as silly, AND the fact that you want the captions to represent a voice in Tom's head... could I suggest some variation of off-panel thought balloons, rather than caption boxes?

    I'd also suggest putting a notation by the caption again.


    CAP: WE MUST FIND THE HOST.

    TOM: SHUT UP, I’M NOT LISTENING TO YOU. I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU MADE ME DO THAT! MY WIFE…

    Panel 2. Tom is still running, but here he looks wearier. Sweat is beading on his forehead, and his eyes are widening with panic.

    CAP: NO ALTERNATIVE. OUR MISSION WAS IN JEAPARDY. [jeopardy]

    TOM: IT’S NOT OUR MISSION, DAMNIT! I WANT NO PART OF THIS! I… I WANT MY LIFE BACK!

    Panel 3. Tom has stopped running. He has doubled forward, hands clutched against the sides of his head. His eyes are clamped shut, and his mouth is open in a scream.

    CAP: WE MUST FIND THE HOST.

    TOM: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRGH! GET OUT! GET OUT OF MY HEAD!

    CAP: WE MUST FIND THE HOST.

    Not bad. I kind of liked it.

    There's a couple things I think you could work on. I think you should decide if you want to call out camera direction everywhere or not, and stick to one or the other. And I think you should break up some of your dialogue into multiple balloons for better flow and more natural pauses.

    Beyond that, I don't have much to beat you up over. Even most of my specific suggestions are more preference or advice than anything that I could actually say is done wrong.

    Your pacing is fine. Your dialogue (though feeling a little crunched together at times) is fine. Your story is what it is (and it's not un-funny).

    I think, with a little polishing, you'll be in pretty good shape with this.

    What do the rest of you think?
    Last edited by CalvinCamp; Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 05:39 PM.



  2. jamesfairlie Guest

    Nice one John. I love Wagstaff as a character and look forward to seeing more of him. I have a few points though:

    Quote Originally Posted by CalvinCamp View Post
    Panel 6. A low angle shot, looking up at a smirking Wagstaff, sitting at the kitchen table and twiddling the now empty lollipop stick between his fingers. From this angle, we can see that a man is pressed flat against the ceiling directly above him. This man is Tom Fitzmakobe – a well-built man in his mid 50s, with gray hair and 3-day stubble.
    How is Tom attached to the ceiling? I'm picturing him wedged between the wall and a beam, or something, but you don't say.

    Quote Originally Posted by CalvinCamp View Post
    Given the silly nature of the story, and the tendency for some people to see thought balloons as silly, AND the fact that you want the captions to represent a voice in Tom's head... could I suggest some variation of off-panel thought balloons, rather than caption boxes?

    I'd also suggest putting a notation by the caption again.
    I think this is a great idea, but it may be because I love thought balloons, and want to see more of them everywhere.


    Quote Originally Posted by CalvinCamp View Post
    There's nothing actually wrong with the panel as you've described it, but if your artist can pull off that expression like it looks in my head, it could be silly enough to rate a close-up.
    I'm trying to persuade John to do the art for this one himself. I think he posted his picture of Wagstaff last time, but I'm going to post it again because I love it.

    (also, slight niggle, Calvin, that text isn't red)




  3. CalvinCamp Guest

    Quote Originally Posted by jamesfairlie View Post
    (also, slight niggle, Calvin, that text isn't red)
    It is now. Can't imagine why it didn't show up that way before.
    Thanks.



  4. JohnLees Guest

    I was pleasantly surprised to see that Calvin actually quite liked this particular chunk of the story. So thanks for that!

    As regards the "Standard #1" title, I made the same mistake when I submitted it to Steven, and never got round to fixing it. Basically I was having trouble with formatting when I first started writing it, so I copied the Standard script template, and changed MOST of the stuff to reflect this being a new script. But that particular part escaped my notice.

    I agree with your criticisms. Aside from one correction of a panel, I submitted the script to you totally unchanged from how it was when I submitted it to Steven - I've barely even looked at it since. But since I wrote this script, I learned (from you, in fact) of the benefits in splitting up word balloons to get a better sense of vocal rythmn and dramatic pauses. If I had written this script now, I'd have definitely done more to break up Wagstaff's dialogue.

    The thought balloons are a great idea that I think I'll incorporate, and yes, the lack of detail in that first panel of page 10 was a lapse on my part which I need to amend. That's a couple of things I could do with tightening up.

    Jamie, thanks for your comments as well. I should definitely mention HOW Tom is managing to stick to the ceiling. And thanks for embarassing me with my scrawly art!



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