Saving Cats?

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  • #16
    Re: Saving Cats?

    I think there are a number of versions of this, some of them repeated just as often as the cat trope. One of the more common ones is the hero taking the time to bury the dead (usually despite a ticking clock, such as being chased, or night approaching, etc.).

    I don't remember if the Portis novel or the John Wayne adaptation had this originally, but the Coen brothers had an interesting subversion of the trope in True Grit (2010), when Bridges says "If these men wanted a decent funeral, they should have gotten themselves killed in summer."

    [mild spoiler ahead]

    I feel like the recent Batman v Superman got incredibly ham-fisted with Bruce Wayne saving the little girl from the collapse of the Wayne Financial building within five minutes of us meeting his character. But then, I could probably write a book on all the issues that film had from a storytelling perspective...

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    • #17
      Re: Saving Cats?

      How about don't make it gratuitous? In THE UNTOUCHABLES, there's a real conflict there for a minute... bad guy... baby in stroller.... suspense.

      OK, Kevin Costner was the good guy in that one, but still: conflict. Showing the character's character.

      To just throw in a tender moment to try to illustrate that someone is more than he seems can come off as really cheap if not done right. Hitler probably loved his kids and maybe had a puppy at some point in his life. So what?

      Trying to reveal true humanity in someone who's portrayed as not having any, that's a challenge. A puppy ain't gonna do it. You gotta dig deeper.

      Audiences nowadays have seen it all. Don't underestimate them.

      I remember thinking a few years ago that 24 was freaking amazing at escalating conflict / suspense. So OK, put the cat in a tree, then have the tree be on fire, and then on top of that, have an earthquake or a bomb or something threatening the already tense situation and the ticking clock. Now, make the cat a person, or worse yet, a bad guy, and bingo, you've got yourself a real internal and external struggle.
      Rantanplan
      Member
      Last edited by Rantanplan; 04-22-2016, 08:10 PM.

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      • #18
        Re: Saving Cats?

        Key & Peele said they took Blake Snyder's book, Save the Cat, quite literally, and made their whole movie about saving the cat, hence --

        KEANU, Gansta' Kitten

        "The Hollywood film business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side." Hunter S Thompson

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        • #19
          Re: Saving Cats?

          Originally posted by surftatboy View Post
          Doesn't Will Smith 'save a cat' in iRobot...literally. If I'm remembering it correctly. I felt like it was a nod to that, an inside joke.
          was the book already on the market when the movie came out?

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          • #20
            Re: Saving Cats?

            Originally posted by diego80 View Post
            was the book already on the market when the movie came out?
            Pulling the dates: I guess not. I Robot/2004. Save The Cat/2005

            Hmm. Maybe I saw it on video and had already read the book. For some reason I had in my mind that I aw it in the theater.
            DOPE CITY

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            • #21
              Re: Saving Cats?

              Originally posted by surftatboy View Post
              Pulling the dates: I guess not. I Robot/2004. Save The Cat/2005

              Hmm. Maybe I saw it on video and had already read the book. For some reason I had in my mind that I aw it in the theater.

              mh ..

              I hadn't checked the day yesterday before the answer but I had a similar feeling too.

              anyway the expression could have been popular in the industry back in the days and the book's title could have simply reported it and "made it official"

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              • #22
                Re: Saving Cats?

                Originally posted by diego80 View Post
                mh ..

                I hadn't checked the day yesterday before the answer but I had a similar feeling too.

                anyway the expression could have been popular in the industry back in the days and the book's title could have simply reported it and "made it official"
                True. Probably the case.
                DOPE CITY

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                • #23
                  Re: Saving Cats?

                  Originally posted by diego80 View Post
                  anyway the expression could have been popular in the industry back in the days and the book's title could have simply reported it and "made it official"
                  That's more or less how the book's content came about as well.

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                  • #24
                    Re: Saving Cats?

                    In Kingsman, the protagonist steals a car, but crashes it to avoid hitting a possum. My eyes almost literally rolled out of my head.

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                    • #25
                      Re: Saving Cats?

                      Steve Martin in Roxanne
                      http://www.screenreads.com/formatting - The free screenplay formatting guide.

                      My book on formatting, Your CUT TO: Is Showing!, is now available on Amazon.com.

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                      • #26
                        Re: Saving Cats?

                        Originally posted by martin View Post
                        I think 'save the cat' is really a bogus rule construed to sound like new wisdom from its more common old school opposite,
                        Actually - long before any of that there was a "pet the dog scene" in fiction, as well as kicking the dog. Dogs get a lot of use in fiction techniques.

                        But there are a bunch of techniques to create sympathy or empathy with a character. One of the fun things Elmore Leonard does is torpedo this trope in his novel "Cat Chaser" (I think) where the villain pets the female lead's little dog (named "Gretchen") and talks to the dog, but the hero doesn't know what to say to a dog and doesn't pet the dog... and because the villain is only petting the dog to make a good impression and the hero is completely honest about not being comfortable petting the dog - we like the hero and realize the villain is a manipulative ahole. Leonard subverted the technique.

                        But here's the thing: you have to find some way to bring the audience *inside the character* so that they become that character for 2 hours and when the protagonist gets hurt (physically or emotionally) the audience feels it as if it happened to them. May not involve cats & dogs, but if you don't use *some* technique - the audience won't care about the character.

                        - Bill
                        Free Script Tips:
                        http://www.scriptsecrets.net

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                        • #27
                          Re: Saving Cats?

                          Like any how to book, save the cat isn't the answer to everything.

                          However, it is useful. Think of it like a checklist when you're leaving for a week...shut off the coffeemaker? Set the thermostat? Turn out the lights, lock the door, etc. I find it useful to thumb through the books from time to time, occasionally reminding me to make sure something makes the protaginst relatable or likable, depending on circumstances. It is not a 100% of the time rule. Nothing is.

                          As for an example, how about Bogart letting the desperate husband win some roulette money rather than having the desperate young wife prostitute herself to the police chief in Casablanca.

                          For a movie that was still being written as it was being filmed, it seems to have found all its cues and marks without a how-to book.

                          Good storytelling generally follows most of the 'rules' without consciously thinking about your midpoint or cat-saving. Even if you're telling the police about your fender-bender accident...it usually falls into a three-act structure...I was minding my own business...wham, bam, tension and danger, then resolution.

                          Getting a little further off-topic...I live near a place called the Trial Lawyers College. It has several functions, but one of them is that it is an acting school for lawyers that go in front of juries. The college was started by a great American actor named Gerry Spence...not a movie or stage actor, but a court-room actor. He could produce a tear running down his cheek when summing up a case to the jury. I suspect the college unknowingly uses the same story structures found in the movies, on stage or in books.

                          If you are the defendant, you want your lawyer to make you the protaganist in the eyes of the jury, make the plot of your court case emotional and relatable and let the jury finish the story with a satisfactory ending.

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