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Old 12-10-2013, 10:49 PM   #11
ComicBent
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Default Re: Person's name changes

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I think that when you give the *reader* information that the viewer at the time doesn't have, you're potentially creating some serious confusion about what the *audience* is supposed to know or not know at any particular point.
Yes, calling the figure Norman could make things unclear as to whether the audience is supposed to see Norman in drag, obviously made up as his mother.

But in this case I would not argue to identify the character as Norman. The slasher is just an unidentifiable figure who does something and is quickly gone. You do not have to identify someone like this with a name. In fact, the part may actually be played, not by the actor portraying Norman, but by anyone. A description as an "unidentifiable figure" will suffice, and the whole thing becomes a nonissue.

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Old 12-11-2013, 01:11 AM   #12
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Default Re: Person's name changes

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Originally Posted by nmstevens View Post
Whenever I hear this point of view, all I can think of is a section of Psycho written this way:

INT. THE BATHROOM, NIGHT

Marion is in the shower, the shower running.

Unnoticed by her, the door to the bathroom opens. A figure enters, cautiously approaches, pulls back the curtain.

It's Norman, disguised as his Mother. He proceeds to stab Marion repeatedly as she screams in horror, struggles.

Finally, he flees --


Something wrong with the above? I think so.

I think that when you give the *reader* information that the viewer at the time doesn't have, you're potentially creating some serious confusion about what the *audience* is supposed to know or not know at any particular point.

Ultimately, when a script is broken down for production purposes, everybody involved is going to know everything about a script. Production will know that the character who comes in through the door is really Norman and that there is no actual Mother.

But you certainly don't want to reveal, in the screenplay, that it's Norman dressed up as his mother at that point in the script, given that this is the big surprise reveal that doesn't happen until the very end.

I'm always in favor of clarity and it seems to me that the purpose of each particular scene is to convey to the reader whatever information that that particular scene is supposed to be conveying to the audience.

If you give a reader more information in a particular scene than that scene is supposed to be conveying to the audience, not only does it interfere with the script in terms of the work as a piece of story-telling, it also potentially creates confusion as to when exactly any given particular piece of information is supposed to be conveyed to the audience.

If somebody reading the script gets confused as to whether Nina and Sheila are the same person, then the writer has done a bad job of conveying that fact.

If whatever software generating the cast list gets confused about it, then whoever is doing the cast list needs to know what the heck the script is about and make the appropriate adjustment.

NMS
Hang on a minute. Are you suggesting PSYCHO is badly written?
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Old 12-11-2013, 06:04 AM   #13
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Default Re: Person's name changes

It's a little difficult to compare that scene in PSYCHO to someone writing a spec. Stefano and Hitchcock didn't have readers in mind while writing the script; they wrote it for themselves knowing the movie was going into production. I guess it's okay to use the scene as an example of what not to do for a spec in light of the OP's question, but I don't think there's anything wrong with it given the circumstances of that particular film.
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Old 12-11-2013, 10:47 AM   #14
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Default Re: Person's name changes

NMS made up that, to show how giving up the trick then would be a bad idea.

It is not the scene as written in the screenplay.

I hope this clears it. Once a post of mine was misinterpreted and then people followed up commenting on that interpretation and then... and....
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Old 12-11-2013, 11:13 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by ComicBent View Post
Yes, calling the figure Norman could make things unclear as to whether the audience is supposed to see Norman in drag, obviously made up as his mother.

But in this case I would not argue to identify the character as Norman. The slasher is just an unidentifiable figure who does something and is quickly gone. You do not have to identify someone like this with a name. In fact, the part may actually be played, not by the actor portraying Norman, but by anyone. A description as an "unidentifiable figure" will suffice, and the whole thing becomes a nonissue.

Best ...
Yes, but prior to this, there are any number of scenes in which we *hear* the character that we are obviously supposed to believe is Norman's mother. We hear her voice coming from the house. We hear Norman, presumably, arguing with her.

Now, according to the advice that you just gave (and correct me if I'm wrong), since this character *isn't* actually Norman's mother, but is actually Norman himself, pretending to be his mother, and since this is, after all, merely a production document, then the script should appropriately identify both voices as that of "Norman" -- and not bother trying to conceal the fact by identifying the character as "Norman's Mother" --

-- thus blowing the surprise ending of the movie the very first time "Norman's Mother" speaks -- and likewise confusing the question of whether we're supposed to actually think that we're hearing an old woman speak or supposed to *understand at the time* that it's Norman imitating the voice of an old woman and in fact, we're merely hearing a man speaking to himself.

If that's what you're suggesting -- and it seems that it is -- that I'm afraid I must stick to my guns and disagree.

NMS
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Old 12-11-2013, 11:20 AM   #16
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Default Re: Person's name changes

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Originally Posted by Timmy View Post
Hang on a minute. Are you suggesting PSYCHO is badly written?
I wasn't quoting from Psycho -- I was suggesting that, were one to take the poster's advice, this is how Psycho would have been written -- which isn't a good way to write such a scene.

This is actually how (part of) the scene appears in the screenplay:

INT. MARY IN SHOWER

Over the bar on which hangs the shower curtain, we can see the bathroom door, not entirely closed. For a moment we watch Mary as she washes and soaps herself. There is still a small worry in her eyes, but generally she looks somewhat relieved. Now we see the bathroom door being pushed slowly open. The noise of the shower drowns out any sound. The door is then slowly and carefully closed. And we see the shadow of a woman fall across the shower curtain. Mary's back is turned to the curtain. The white brightness of the bathroom is almost blinding. Suddenly we see the hand reach up, grasp the shower curtain, rip it aside.


And earlier, when Norman is arguing with his Mother, the other voice is identified as "WOMAN'S VOICE" -- just as the figure here is identified as "Woman."

NMS
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Old 12-11-2013, 09:54 PM   #17
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Default Re: Person's name changes

Obviously, you sometimes want to maintain the mystery, and in those cases you can do so in the way that you suggest. I do not disagree with that. And, yes, if you use NORMAN as the character name when we hear the strange, unidentified voice, it causes a great uncertainty as to whether we are all supposed to recognize the speaker as Norman.

No argument about that.

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