"We don't see" his junk/her chest

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  • #16
    Re: "We don't see" his junk/her chest

    Originally posted by TwoBrad Bradley View Post
    Is this an option?
    Why wouldn't it be? A script is just a document to tell your story and enable the reader to see what you see in your mind's eye.

    I've already supplied two variations of the same thing. Just be clear.

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    • #17
      Re: "We don't see" his junk/her chest

      I'm reading a novel where a serial killer cuts out the tounges of his victims, and each killing is more horrific than the last. Halfway through the story now and he/she has just skinned, literally skinned alive, the latest victim while the vic was hung from the ceiling by his feet so he could remain alive longer as he was skinned.

      I wonder if this could and should be described, directly, in a screenplay and left to the director/producer/censors to determine what's filmed.

      Should we worry about Readers or Production Companies being turned off by too much violence? Isn't this situation similiar to the junk issue?

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      • #18
        Re: "We don't see" his junk/her chest

        Originally posted by jonpiper View Post
        I'm reading a novel where a serial killer cuts out the tounges of his victims, and each killing is more horrific than the last. Halfway through the story now and he/she has just skinned, literally skinned alive, the latest victim while the vic was hung from the ceiling by his feet so he could remain alive longer as he was skinned.

        I wonder if this could and should be described, directly, in a screenplay and left to the director/producer/censors to determine what's filmed.

        Should we worry about Readers or Production Companies being turned off by too much violence? Isn't this situation similiar to the junk issue?
        Describe what we'll see on-screen. If we wouldn't see the details of the skinning, don't describe them. No point to it other than confusing your reader and making them wonder if this R-rated gorefest would make an audience hurl up buttered popcorn.

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        • #19
          Re: "We don't see" his junk/her chest

          Originally posted by ATB View Post
          Describe what we'll see on-screen. If we wouldn't see the details of the skinning, don't describe them. No point to it other than confusing your reader and making them wonder if this R-rated gorefest would make an audience hurl up buttered popcorn.
          In the book, it is important to the story that we know the details of the skinning. I think it would be important to include this in the screenplay whether or not a shot of the skinned victim would make it to the screen.

          Why should I as a spec screenwriter edit the scene? My job is to write a spec script that impacts a reader, not to tell the director how to make a movie out of it. If the director feels it's too gory to show, let him/her figure a way how to film it and edit it in the shooting script.

          I don't see how a great spec script could be too "sexual" or too "gory" for all Readers. But I'm not a pro and may be way off.

          ADD: I'm referring to the 1999 novel Messiah by Boris Starling.
          Last edited by jonpiper; 07-27-2012, 09:58 AM. Reason: add name of book.

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          • #20
            Re: "We don't see" his junk/her chest

            Originally posted by jonpiper View Post
            Why should I as a spec screenwriter edit the scene? My job is to write a spec script that impacts a reader, not to tell the director how to make a movie out of it. If the director feels it's too gory to show, let him/her figure a way how to film it and edit it in the shooting script.
            Writing in an impactful way is certainly important, but so is whether or not the reader believes the project fits into their parameters. Taking your example of the skinning of a live victim, if that's written in excruciating detail, it could be a turn off to some readers. If you're a spec writer that no one knows, it could also make them wonder what kind of nut they would potentially be dealing with. The thing same goes for sexual taboos.

            But, as spec writers, we need to take calculated risks here and there to get noticed, so there's definitely a fine line.
            On Twitter @DeadManSkipping

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            • #21
              Re: "We don't see" his junk/her chest

              How explicit to get in a script is just one of a zillion choices we make when writing scripts.

              Making choices is what we do.

              How much is too much?

              I don't think we can answer that question on an internet forum. I don't even think we can formulate general guidelines. It's a case by case thing. Different writers have different goals.

              If I was gonna give advice, I'd say "know who your audience is" & try to write accordingly.

              If you're writing a torture porn script that's going to be submitted to companies that produce those kinds of scripts, you might want to go far out there to grab ppl's attention. If you're writing a cutesy PG teen rom com, you should know what's expected of those types of scripts.

              Know your audience. Know what your goals are. Use common sense.

              The original question was more of a technical one that I think has been answered.

              "Trust your stuff." -- Dave Righetti, Pitching Coach

              ( Formerly "stvnlra" )

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              • #22
                Re: "We don't see" his junk/her chest

                Originally posted by jonpiper View Post
                Why should I as a spec screenwriter edit the scene? My job is to write a spec script that impacts a reader, not to tell the director how to make a movie out of it. If the director feels it's too gory to show, let him/her figure a way how to film it and edit it in the shooting script.
                Wrong. Your job is exactly to tell the director, the producer, the studio, the actors and everyone else reading your script exactly how they should make a movie out of it. They may disagree or suggest differences, but that's the job. You're not writing a book, you're writing a text version of a movie.

                You don't "let him/her figure a way how to film it and edit it." Your primary concern is to convey your intentions for the film through the script.

                Directors who write don't approach the screenplay task any differently than writers who don't direct.

                Why should you?

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                • #23
                  Re: "We don't see" his junk/her chest

                  I think it's a bad idea for an aspiring screenwriter to think of himself/herself as a "spec screenwriter" -- i.e., someone with a set of criteria and goals for each screenplay that are different from those of a regular old screenplay written by a regular old screenwriter.

                  Just my opinion, though. It's probably wrong.

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                  • #24
                    Re: "We don't see" his junk/her chest

                    Originally posted by jonpiper View Post
                    In the book, it is important to the story that we know the details of the skinning. I think it would be important to include this in the screenplay whether or not a shot of the skinned victim would make it to the screen.

                    Why should I as a spec screenwriter edit the scene? My job is to write a spec script that impacts a reader, not to tell the director how to make a movie out of it. If the director feels it's too gory to show, let him/her figure a way how to film it and edit it in the shooting script.
                    Originally posted by Craig Mazin View Post
                    Wrong. Your job is exactly to tell the director, the producer, the studio, the actors and everyone else reading your script exactly how they should make a movie out of it. They may disagree or suggest differences, but that's the job. You're not writing a book, you're writing a text version of a movie.

                    You don't "let him/her figure a way how to film it and edit it." Your primary concern is to convey your intentions for the film through the script.

                    Directors who write don't approach the screenplay task any differently than writers who don't direct.
                    Why should you?
                    In my example, I would show the dead victim, skinless, clutching the skin in one hand, as in the novel, while the detective tells us how he must have been skinned while still alive. That would be my intention. I would convey that in the script for max impact.

                    Should I do that, knowing that it may turn off some directors or readers or that it would not be filmed.

                    That's what I meant write what you feel best conveys your story and let the director tell you or another writer how to revise it.

                    Is that a wrong approach?

                    I thought of a possible answer to my own question.

                    The director would tell me, if I were so lucky, to figure out a way to write the scene without showing the skinned victim.
                    Last edited by jonpiper; 07-28-2012, 06:18 PM. Reason: Answer the question.

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                    • #25
                      Re: "We don't see" his junk/her chest

                      Write your intention.

                      I don't know how you managed to astral project yourself into the director who will be shooting this movie, nor should that be relevant even if you could.

                      You're in charge of this screenplay. Do not change it, anticipating that someone might want something else. Write what you want, how you want. That's all you have, dude. Your voice, your intention.

                      The changes will come.

                      When they come, they won't even be what you expect.

                      At that time, you'll have to explain your intention and negotiate your own story.

                      But not now.

                      Right now, write exactly what you want.

                      The Exorcist is one of the biggest box office hits in film history, not to mention one of the greatest films ever made. It features a scene in which a 12-year old girl violently masturbates with a crucifix.

                      Silence of the Lambs shows some pretty brutal stuff.

                      Quality trumps squeamishness.

                      Who cares if someone's turned off? Do you want that person making this?

                      WRITE YOUR INTENTION. Period the end.

                      Compromise later. No one will say "We loved everything but this one scene that we thought was too gross, so let's not buy it."

                      They have no problem telling you what THEY think. Why should you have a problem telling them, through your script, what YOU think?

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                      • #26
                        Re: "We don't see" his junk/her chest

                        "Angle Off?"
                        "I need someone who laughs at all my jokes. You know; honest feedback."
                        - C. Montgomery Burns

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                        • #27
                          Re: "We don't see" his junk/her chest

                          Craig, everything you said is good to hear. It frees me from a self imposed censor that's cramped my style.

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                          • #28
                            Re: "We don't see" his junk/her chest

                            Thanks to everyone for the comments and suggestions.

                            It seems my question really has 2 parts. #1, should anything be included to make clear that there's no nudity? Based on the scene I described and the comments here, I've concluded - Yes.

                            #2: How do I do it? From the examples/suggestions people have provided above, I now have an idea as to how to approach it. And that's a big help. Now it's a matter of my creating something that fits well with my particular scene.

                            One other thing -

                            Originally posted by nmstevens View Post
                            But this isn't a question of the common sense of a producer or director -- this is about the reaction of a potential buyer in reading a screenplay, who is trying to evaluate the intentions and judgment of the writer.

                            And who knows whether a given writer may have "common sense" or not?
                            As a factual matter, I don't know if that is a correct analysis of the situation, but that is certainly my sense of it all. Since I'm a new guy, when someone picks up my script, she/he has no reason to believe that I do have "common sense" (whatever that means on any particular page of my script). If this scene were on page 75 of my script, by that point I would have already given the reader (a) reasons to have stopped reading 65 pages sooner, or (b) reasons to trust me a bit. But (especially) since this will be an opening scene...

                            Again, thanks all.

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