How much is too much

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  • How much is too much

    Hi All!

    I'm almost finished with my second screenplay and I was wondering how much swearing is too much. The setting? Vietnam 1968. Just imagine scrungy jungle rats who've been over there way too long.

    Any insight would be very much appreciated.

    Susan

  • #2
    Re: How much is too much

    Depends on what demographic you're aiming for - family fare or adult; PG or 18 (G or NC-17).

    IMO they should be swearing like troopers but each to their own.

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    • #3
      Re: How much is too much

      Thanks for the quick reply.

      It's definitely adult. They've sworn more in 75 minutes than I have in my whole life. It's definitely been a challenge with slang, but I figured f*ck was more or less timeless.

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      • #4
        Re: How much is too much

        In my last script, 'fuck' was spoken eight times on the opening page alone. If it's required, go for it.

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        • #5
          Re: How much is too much

          this was on television
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LN5eYFH8HZ8

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          • #6
            Re: How much is too much

            Originally posted by NikeeGoddess View Post
            It's Not TV. It's HBO.

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            • #7
              Re: How much is too much

              The first f-bomb doesn't appear until page five (had to look). Yeah, it's definitely required. I read all my dialog aloud over and over until I get it just right. Do any of you do that, too?

              Screenwriting is a whole new beast. It's much easier in some ways than writing a novel, but in other ways, it's a real bitch to get just right.

              Forgot about that scene from The Wire. That was an amazing series.

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              • #8
                Re: How much is too much

                Casino has 398 f-bombs. Goodfellas had an even 300. You'll be in good company.

                Write dialogue that feels natural. Don't censor yourself at this stage.

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                • #9
                  Re: How much is too much

                  You can definitely overdo the foul language. In my opinion it is better to use a little to set a particular tone, but constant obscenity becomes obnoxious.

                  Also, consider the practical side. I have seen those movies with constant obscenity that appeared on "regular" TV. It is all just bleeps.

                  "The fact that you have seen professionals write poorly is no reason for you to imitate them." - ComicBent.

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                  • #10
                    Re: How much is too much

                    Originally posted by ComicBent View Post
                    You can definitely overdo the foul language. In my opinion it is better to use a little to set a particular tone, but constant obscenity becomes obnoxious.

                    Also, consider the practical side. I have seen those movies with constant obscenity that appeared on "regular" TV. It is all just bleeps.
                    I disagree. The writer must stay true to the piece and the tone she's setting. Worrying about what one person may possibly think is or TV airing is both not her concern nor her priority. Her only concern and priority is to write the best and most authentic piece she can. Then if it sells and if it gets made, the prods can decide all of these things and, even before these things are considered, what theatrical rating they're going for.

                    Goodfellas and Casino are good examples and anyone offended by lots of swearing isn't going to be in the target demographic, nor the queue for the film, anyway. The writer must write congruently and consistently. If that's zero swearing - great. If it's lots - great.

                    As an aside, I find TV censorship in America quite amusing. No idea how you guys cope with it. Over here, once 9 o'clock springs round it's anything goes. And no need for alternate TV versions.

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                    • #11
                      Re: How much is too much

                      I think it totally depends on the movie. If it fits, there's no such thing as too much swearing.

                      For example, see Sexy Beast. Ben Kingsleys constant swearing fit his character perfectly. It was over the top because he was over the top and it worked.

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                      • #12
                        Re: How much is too much

                        Originally posted by SundownInRetreat View Post
                        As an aside, I find TV censorship in America quite amusing. No idea how you guys cope with it. Over here, once 9 o'clock springs round it's anything goes. And no need for alternate TV versions.
                        The only way we cope is to pay for shows with dirty words, i.e. HBO, Showtime, etc.

                        With kids and life, I don't have that much time to watch scheduled programs, so we get boxed sets. Last night we watched the first few episodes of Big Bang Theory. While there wasn't anything said worse that "bitch," the innuendos the writers got away with wouldn't have been seen much on television fifteen to twenty years ago.

                        Seinfeld's Master of Your Domain episode was definitely groundbreaking! HAHA! So was Dennis Frantz's naked ass on NYPD Blue.

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                        • #13
                          Re: How much is too much

                          Originally posted by Anagram View Post
                          I think it totally depends on the movie. If it fits, there's no such thing as too much swearing.

                          For example, see Sexy Beast. Ben Kingsleys constant swearing fit his character perfectly. It was over the top because he was over the top and it worked.
                          Exactly! And his entire performance had me riveted. The only non supernatural character to scare me through my TV set. His intensity was somethng to behold and the fear of everyone else, even guys bigger than him, was palpable.

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                          • #14
                            Re: How much is too much

                            Originally posted by SundownInRetreat View Post
                            Exactly! And his entire performance had me riveted. The only non supernatural character to scare me through my TV set. His intensity was somethng to behold and the fear of everyone else, even guys bigger than him, was palpable.
                            If you liked that, you should watch 44 inch chest. By the same writers and also starring Ian Mcshane and Ray Winstone.

                            Similar writing though different atmosphere, very dark.

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                            • #15
                              Re: How much is too much

                              Originally posted by Anagram View Post
                              If you liked that, you should watch 44 inch chest. By the same writers and also starring Ian Mcshane and Ray Winstone.

                              Similar writing though different atmosphere, very dark.
                              I have it on DVD - was very disappointed. Sounded like a violent, twisted film but came across as a tepid play. And John Hurt was embarrassing.

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