dialog in the office / boardroom

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  • dialog in the office / boardroom

    aw man, i have spent the better part of 20 years in offices, and too many of the last 10 or 12 in too many boardrooms but i am having trouble making this bit work

    my protag walks into a boardroom, real late
    his boss is pissed
    the protag doesn't really care - he thinks he is secure in his job as he brings in beaucoup bucks to the firm

    the two of them kinda have it out - not climactically: he won't get fired 'til somewhere in actII but this is like the fourth scene and is indirect foreshadowing (we know he is gonna be canned, eventually, and maybe he does too but hasn't really admitted it to himself yet)

    so we are in the hightech and mahogany board room, hero and boss are bantering

    problem i have is the action - it seems flat... he enters, the table is all but full, he gets a coffee, sits in the last empty chair, the boss starts hassling him, he fights back, then the boss really tears him a new one

    boss talks, hero answers, boss talks, hero answers, boss slam his hand on the table and talks, hero pulls a file from his briefcase and slaps it on the table while he talks, the boss gets up to get a coffee while he talks, hero answers, boss sits down again, talking.. hero answers and slides the file down the table - boss looks at file, hero talks, hero gets up, picks up briefcase, talks again, walks to door, opens it, talks again
    scene ends
    ------
    after all that, yep i have questions

    Boss stands, makes his way to the coffee urn, pours himself a cup
    BOSS
    talk talk talk

    HERO
    answer answer answer

    BOSS OR Boss sits down
    (sitting) BOSS
    talks some more talks some more

    ........should i go action line or parenthetical here?

    how boring is this?

    any good online scripts you have seen and would recommend re board room crap like this?

    should i just go with the dialog and not sweat the action here? it is a two page or so scene, btw

    should i be saying "Boss returns to head of table and takes his seat" or would you assume that "Boss sits down" means he went back and did not just sit on the floor (or on the coffee machine?)

    hope this is coherent - god knows my current copy of that scene doesn't feel like it... i intended to leave it and return later but it is bugging me and i want to clean it up a bit now just to get it out of my head space

    thanks

  • #2
    Dialog

    How does it read? I mean when you and a friend read it out loud? Does it feel right? How long does it take (min; sec)?

    The nastiest boss I ever had hardly ever spoke. Right before he fired me, he called me into his office and said, "How's it going?" Then a security guard showed up with a box. In 15 minutes, I was out the door.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Dialog

      Hard to say without reading your script, but my impression is that the scene may be going on a bit too long. Do like Ptero says and time it by reading it out loud. Unless the "information" in each of the verbal exchanges is vital to the story, you really only need to establish that there is a tension between the two men.

      [sidebar to PteroDon] Sorry I left you out in the other thread. It was an oversight. Sent an e-mail. Your suggested line was a good one.

      Bill Marquardt

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      • #4
        Re: Dialog

        well it doesn't really read anymore- i kinda ripped it into pieces that i need to add, change and reassemble

        the boss/worker relationship isn't like you might be thinking - the hero is a bigbucks a day billable guy who gets the clients and brings in business - (like the movie star) - he is great at what he does, but has the ego and attitude to go with that... the boss runs it all and typically has to deal with the ego (like the director)

        more of a love-hate symbiotic thing happening... if you recall my drug user story line, well this is part of it - the only reason the hero is eventually gonna get fired is his growing inability to cover his coke habit - even tho the work is still flowing and the money is still coming in he is going to become an embarassment

        dialog wise, what i had before reads okay - i know i need to break up dialog with patches of action so it stays interesting... just struggling with what that action should/could be

        thanks

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        • #5
          to bill

          well, the scene is two pages - i wouln't have thot that too long... to me the dialog is pretty much cut to what it should be
          and it is a primary character development scene, establishing who the hero is, what he does, how well he does it and is kinda pivotal in terms of introducing his attitude


          again thanks

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: to bill

            Actually, two pages of dialog probably is not too long. I was judging by the number of exchanges you were indicating, which seemed like a lot. As far as the action in between goes, I would say keep the direction to a minimum. Keep in mind my experience is limited, I'm repeating what I've learned in writing classes and from the screenwritng books I've read. Concensus lately seems to indicate that directors/producers only want minimal scene direction from the writer, so saying something like "He returns to his seat" is probably enough. I'm sure someone with a better grasp on the biz than I will chime in and give you more input.

            Bill Marquardt

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            • #7
              Re: to bill

              Well, you are saying the dialogue is blah blah blah. That pretty much sums up how important the dialogue is to you. It is already clear what's happening, the guy shows late, the boss is pissed, it doesn't matter, the hero is that good. So you have two pages of dialogue to show that, but really, only one thing is necessary to show that. Your character flips a file down the long long table, it's THE file, it's his ace, he's done.

              The end. No two pages. No nothing. It's over. He won. Reaction. He walks out.

              That is my take, anyway. I could be wrong.

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              • #8
                not bad, gig

                i'll try looking at it that way... like i said to bill i want to define his character, attitude and ego-wise in this early scene

                paring it down as you say does get the point across - maybe i'll chop a bunch and leave a few salient points to set up the ego that later is his downfall work-wise

                the blah blah blah part is because i don't like to give too much not because it doesn't mean too much - and because the script is at home and i am just doing my usual middle-east slacking at the office ;-)

                tanx agin

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Dialog

                  You might have something else going on before he enters. Like a junior guy is making his big presentation to the board. This is his moment. And then the hero walks in and starts fighting with the boss and he's trying to keep going but he's dying because the boss isn't paying attention. If you finesse it right, the hero and boss could just shoot minimal lines back and forth under the poor geek's dialougue -- basically play it out in subtext.

                  this is just off the top of my head but:

                  geek: And so our net billing is up 20% last quarter and --

                  Hero: 20% huh? Someone must be making this firm a lot of money.

                  etc.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Agree with GiG

                    Do it her way.

                    He enters, obviously late. Boss is pissed, maybe says something to belittle the guy in front of everyone. Hero slides the file across the table. End of scene.

                    If the blah blah blah dialogue doesn't tell any more than what I've written in the above paragraph, why is it there? The hero is important to the firm, @#%$y, doesn't think the rules of showing up on time really apply to him, thinks he knows what motivates the boss (the file--the sales). The boss is a jerkweed who thinks his people should follow the rules AND produce, and figures there's probably someone out there who can replace the Hero (and there usually is).

                    Hero enters, obviously late. Nasty looks from his co-workers.

                    Boss: Says something insulting and domineering.

                    Hero slides file across the loooooong table as he imperiously takes his seat.


                    Or did you need to say something else about these characters that this scene doesn't say?

                    Your pal,
                    Couchguy

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                    • #11
                      steeves, this is my first post, but your subject interests me. first, if this boardroom is full of other folks besides the boss and protag, what are they doing? twiddling their thumbs? not likely. at least one of the 'others' will offer their two cents worth. it always happens. consider having one of the other roomies tell us something that's not critical to be said by the boss or protag. personally, i don't like a bunch of silent attendees in a scene.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        My experience has been when something like this occurs, the others (depending on the type of company) do any of the following:
                        1. whisper their asides to whoever is sitting next to them
                        2. take a break
                        3. interject something/join the fracus
                        4. twiddle their thumbs
                        5. watch like it's a movie (they can enjoy it, be embarassed, be scared,...)

                        Your scene is not that long and you have plenty there. I remember reading somewhere, that you don't have to put busywork (smoking, drinking, leafing through files,...) into a scene, that that's the director's decision.

                        Best.
                        ps

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                        • #13
                          This may've already been said in another post...if it has, feel free to put me in my place...:rollin

                          I'm sure you're well aware of this... Take a look at each bit of dialogue in the scene...if everything moves the story line forward and adds to the tension of the scene, your a-ok. But, if it doesn't, cut it out. If the dialogue is interesting and carries the story, you shouldn't need to add a lot of dancing and prancing around the room...

                          Just chimin' in...

                          Take care,
                          Steve, aka Noctivagus

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                          • #14
                            Re: file folder

                            Steeves,

                            GIG's idea works well. I'd run with it with one twist:

                            Is this a setup scene, we're we supposed to get a hinto of the hero's impending dismissal? If so:

                            The hero enters, smugly taking his seat.

                            Steam pours from Boss's ears

                            Hero slides file down the table, @#%$sure grin on his face.

                            Boss slides the file before the hero's Chief Rival:

                            Boss to Rival: "Look this over".


                            It'll everyone's attitude, stance, and the Bossman's distrust in the hero. Changes are imminent. Hero ignores the sign, leading to his dismissal later.

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                            • #15
                              I might be missing something, but...

                              from the above replies, it strikes me that this scene is fairly early in the story. Is that true? If not, then whereabouts in the script are we at this point? How much have we seen/experienced of the protag up til now? Can you sum up what we should know of him (and the boss) at this point for us? I think that would affect how the dialogue would be received.

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