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Old 07-05-2016, 09:34 PM   #1
finalact4
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Default Pilot Question on an Act Out

Hey everyone:
I'm working on my pilot and I have an act out that ends with a character being shot in the back of the head. We don't actually see the blood and gore, it's an ECU of the gun, we see the muzzle-flash. That's the act out.

Now I'm guessing an act out, on the flip side of the scene generally comes back to the same scene and finishes, right? But can you enter a new scene and tie the scenes together with a transition with the muzzel-flash and a flash-grenade going off on the other side of the scene?

IOW, we're coming back to a different moment with different characters. That's okay, right?

I mean, if I have to I can go back to that scene, but I'd rather keep moving forward.

Advice?
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Old 07-05-2016, 10:25 PM   #2
jimjimgrande
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Default Re: Pilot Question on an Act Out

you can do whatever you want.

I'd say that you just need to make sure that whatever dramatic moment you've chosen for the act out is paid off fairly soon when you come back for the next act.

That doesn't mean necessarily that the act out has to be a cliffhanger and then you come back and reveal what happened. You just need to satisfy whatever expectation or answer the question that's been created by the act out.

There's often a passage of time between act outs, whether a few moments, minutes, or coming back to a different scene entirely. That's normal.

If you come back to the same moment, that's called a direct pick up, which is also fine, but in my experience is used more sparingly, often toward the end of the show, when acts are getting shorter and you're looking to raise the stakes.
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Old 07-05-2016, 11:26 PM   #3
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Default Re: Pilot Question on an Act Out

Quote:
Originally Posted by jimjimgrande View Post

That doesn't mean necessarily that the act out has to be a cliffhanger and then you come back and reveal what happened. You just need to satisfy whatever expectation or answer the question that's been created by the act out.

There's often a passage of time between act outs, whether a few moments, minutes, or coming back to a different scene entirely. That's normal.

If you come back to the same moment, that's called a direct pick up, which is also fine, but in my experience is used more sparingly, often toward the end of the show, when acts are getting shorter and you're looking to raise the stakes.
Jimjimgrande--
okay, I'm glad I asked. This is very helpful information. I understand what I have to do.

I have a line of dialogue just before the shot is fired. I'll be able to cut to minutes later with the answer. I had considered that, but didn't realize the consequences to the story if I DIDN'T answer that question visually. Now I do.

I do use a direct pick up at the end of act one. I think it works.

Thanks so much for your help.

There's a whole lot more to TV writing than at first it seems. I'm actually really diggin' it.
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Old 07-06-2016, 01:59 AM   #4
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Default Re: Pilot Question on an Act Out

the stronger act out (imo) would be the gun on the victim before the shot and not knowing what the outcome might be.

that to me is suspense, versus going out on the shock of the act of killing itself
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Old 07-06-2016, 04:29 AM   #5
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Default Re: Pilot Question on an Act Out

Ending on the muzzle flash is fine, in my view. Eventually, you need to show the result, but can even be on another episode.

I'm biased about that, because a Pilot of mine does end with a gun going bang--and we don't know exactly who the victim is.
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Old 07-06-2016, 10:07 PM   #6
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Default Re: Pilot Question on an Act Out

Quote:
Originally Posted by JoeBanks View Post
the stronger act out (imo) would be the gun on the victim before the shot and not knowing what the outcome might be.

that to me is suspense, versus going out on the shock of the act of killing itself
Yes, of course, you're right. That would be much more suspenseful.

Quote:
Originally posted by Ending on the muzzle flash is fine, in my view. Eventually, you need to show the result, but can even be on another episode.

I'm biased about that, because a Pilot of mine does end with a gun going bang--and we don't know exactly who the victim is.
In your example, it works better than it would in mine, because the suspense and dread is created by NOT knowing who the victim is-- that's great. It sets up a great cliffhanger.

With mine, you will know who the victim is and, I agree with Joebanks, that the bigger suspense payoff is if the gun doesn't go off-- is she dead or not, that will drive us through the other side of the scene.

Now I have another act out that I'm trying to finesse. If anyone would like to offer an opinion I'd be forever in your debt.

SET UP:
I have a high-speed Slipstream (anti-grav mag train) traveling through a desolate and dangerous landscape. Ahead, the Slipstream tube has been rigged with explosive that will rip open the tube and "derail" the Slipstream catapulting in out into the wasteland.

This far-futuristic society is under constant surveillance. Everything is being recorded and watched. So, what I would like to do is create a little mis-direction...

The scene just before the act out will be on the characters inside the Slipstream, they hear and feel the explosions and literally SEE the train car forward of them ripped out and into the wasteland as their car follows--

Now I want to show a bit of the roof pancaking on top of our hero, giving us the hopeless feeling that they could not possibly have survived--

then a quick cut to an external shot of the entire Slipstream disaster in all its horrific glory.

The tricky part is on the flip side of the scene which will cut to "later." I want to show our villains watching the disaster on damaged archive footage, where a command from one of the two main character's yell "Protect, protect, protect" and the actual Slipstream has a self-protection ability and components fly off the wall and encase the hero in an indestructible capsule just as the ceiling pancakes on top of them.

We still won't know if they survived, but when we see that they do, there's an explanation for it.

There is a very good reason for doing this.

What I want to do, is create the suspense and tension of the disaster and fear that our heroine is dead, but if I show her being encapsulated before I cut to the exterior shot of the disaster-- it will lose significant impact.

I do establish early in the pilot that everyone and everything is under surveillance, so it's already part of the world and shouldn't feel contrived.

So, based on this information, do you think it would work okay? Is there something I'm not considering that might create better drama?

As always, your comments and opinions are appreciated.

Sometimes just typing this sh!t out helps me find clarity, so sorry for the rambling nature of this post.
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Old 07-07-2016, 04:50 AM   #7
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Default Re: Pilot Question on an Act Out

If the victim does die, then I agree it would be better to end the scene before the actual killing shot.

For the second question... having it shown later, through footage... seems to spoil the rhythm.
Why not just cut the scene as the roof comes crushing down on them?
The rest of the train doesn't have that security capsule, so you could have a EXT shot of the disaster, with the car in front being smashed and crushed as it hits the ground--from front to back, gradually.
As THEIR car begins to hit the ground and being crushed, you'd cut to INT. and see their roof caving in and END OF ACT.
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Old 07-07-2016, 06:07 AM   #8
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Default Re: Pilot Question on an Act Out

Quote:
Originally Posted by finalact4 View Post
Now I want to show a bit of the roof pancaking on top of our hero, giving us the hopeless feeling that they could not possibly have survived--
We are a very sophisticated story society these days. Even if this is your act 2 out, the suspense for the audience is NOT whether the heroine survives. She's the heroine, so of course she'll survive. If you establish someone as the main character, we expected them to complete their journey.

Unless there's precedence in the pages leading up to this one -- you've killed off other important characters -- your audience probably won't feel hopelessness.

They'll be curious, anticipatory.

They know she survived. They just KNOW she survived. That's the unwritten rule of Hollywood movies. The question is how. Are you, as a storyteller, giving us a satisfying answer to THAT question, preferably an escape that we haven't already thought up ourselves?

That's where the audience's emotions really lie.
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