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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Short Scene Finalists


Okay here we go, Wavers. You know how this works. Vote for your favorite and bear in mind our Rouge Wave Voting Rules & Guidelines: Each short scene had to include the key words: September, President and Orange. Vote for the short scene that was clever and that effing entertained you and of course no ballot stuffing. This is not about how your friend or your brother, uncle or co-worker is so nice, this is about recognizing clever writing.

Edited to add: Yes! The Wave-inatrix's virus has apparently resulted in some sort of brain aneurysm which resulted in my thinking that the deadline was LAST night at midnight. So this is early. Apologies to those who might have still been working on a short scene. Go with it for this time and again, sorry about that.

Naked Comes the President

by Curious George

INT. DARK OFFICE -- NIGHT
A WOMAN, half naked, paces back and forth. She sips from a
tall glass of orange juice and stares at the computer on her
desk. She mutters under her breath,"C'mon, you bastard."

A QUIET KNOCK at the door.

It opens and BRIAN COWDEN, 31, walks in. He looks sharp in Marine dress blues.

BRIAN
Madam President?

Brian, curious, walks over to the President's desk and peers
at the computer. He's stunned at what he sees...

PRESIDENT
Shhhhhhh! I got this SOB right where
I want him.

BRIAN
Madam President? Marilyn? You need
to quit for the night. You're meeting
with the Joint Chiefs in a few hours.
The September Project--

Brian looks at the screen again.

PRESIDENT
Hush! If I don't win this hand I
gotta give up Hawaii.

BRIAN
(gasps)
Jesus, Marilyn. How much have you've
lost?

PRESIDENT
I've already had to give up Guam and
American Samoa.

BRIAN
What?!

Brian shakes his head, reaches over and shuts down the
computer.

BRIAN
Let's go. That's enough poker for
tonight. Back to bed Madam President.

He grasps her by the arm and gently guides her to the door. They exit and walk softly down the hall.

Oranged
by Gerry Hayes

INT. OVAL OFFICE - MORNING
Gathered around the PRESIDENT, a group of smartly-suited,
high-ranking staff. Chief of Staff, STEVE PANELL speaks.

STEVE
Don't worry about a thing, Mr.
President, it's all been oranged.

The president frowns and tilts his head slightly.

PRESIDENT
Steve? Did you say 'oranged'?

STEVE
Erm. No sir. I said 'arranged'.

PRESIDENT
You did. Why would you say 'oranged'?

Steve looks flustered. His colleagues on either side are
looking at the floor. Most are smirking.

STEVE
I... it's... I.

Steve cracks. It all comes blurting out.

STEVE
I'm sorry sir. It's a game. Each
day, we try to work a particular
word into the meeting. Whoever has
the highest score at the end of
September gets a prize.

The president folds his arms.

PRESIDENT
So last week when Mike told me that
Chancellor Nerdlinger was waiting in
reception?

Steve nods. MIKE is no longer smirking.

PRESIDENT
I waited there for two hours, Mike.

MIKE
I'm sorry sir. I hope you can over look this.
Perhaps we can let cylons be bygones?

STEVE
Yes sir. I'm cherry flurry too.

The President hangs his head and sighs.

Todd Explains
by Seth Fortin

EXT. STREET - DAY
Todd and Barnes sit in an old beater watching the driveway
across the street. Todd presses the can of frozen orange
juice against his bruised and swollen face.

TODD
The meaning is simple. He doesn't
want to be the President, because
the President is beholden to the
Congress or whatever. "The President
can't get nothing passed." But the
Pope has a universal power. He's
got authority over everybody, and
he's got the word straight from God.
He's not trapped by the political
process.

BARNES
What about the line, "He might have
better luck if he was drummin' with
his dick"?

TODD
It's a metaphor.

BARNES
Does Jesus know that you listen to
songs with dirty lyrics?

TODD
Jesus and I don't talk morality.

BARNES
All right.

They pass a few moments in silence.

BARNES
So when did Jesus start telling you
to fuck with drug dealers?

TODD
I don't know... middle of September.

BARNES
And this is His plan, huh?

TODD
(sheepishly)
Yeah.

BARNES
Why did He want me along?

(beat)

BARNES
I mean, why am I on the inside and
Burger's on the outside?

TODD
I don't know, man. I don't ask those
kinds of questions.

They fall silent again. Suddenly Todd sees something across
the street.

TODD
Shit. There he is.






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15 comments:

Luzid said...

Naked Comes The President - great, funny mini-premise (I love the idea of the president gambling American territories).

Oranged - Meow hear this, sounds like someone recently watched Super Troopers (word game) and the episode of the Simpsons where Homer went to college ("This bra bomb of yours better work, Nerdlinger!"). It's always fun to mess with the president's head!

Todd Explains - nice use of the "orange" requirement. Not sure what's really happening beyond this Jesus dude getting tough on crime.

Dave Shepherd said...

I didn't enter, but I've always wondered why short scene competitions tend to favor dialog heavy scenes when we're supposed to be writing for a visual medium.

Generally speaking, action work far better on the silver screen than dialog -- Wall-E, No Country for Old Men, There Will Be Blood -- all have minimalist dialog, all great pieces of writing.

Don't get me wrong, dialog is important -- but you can make a movie without dialog, you can't make a movie without action.

Comedy is also favored above all else in shorts, but that makes sense to me, as it's one of the more difficult genres to write.

meg said...

Enjoyed all three. Good point, Dave, about the dialog vs action.

I was working on a short scene too. Oh, well, it wasn't meant to be. Learning as a writer not everything is in my control.

I'm wondering, Julie, if all the entries used the word president in reference to the President of the US? I was taking it in another direction.

Anonymous said...

@Shepard, welcome to the new era, it's called "the talkie."

Julie Gray said...

All 3 entries did use the word "president" and refer to the president of the US. It didn't matter what type of president people indicated in the script, these 3 just happened to do it the way they did.

I received a number of entries that were knocked out of the top 3 for these reasons:

typos

copious, poorly written action lines

not compelling or entertaining

language usage issues

Curious George said...

I wish we ad been allowed two scenes, the second would reveal that all is not what it seems.

But at least I made it into the top three (provided, of course, there were more then three who made it past the discerning eye of the Script Department staff).

E.C. Henry said...

Break my heart, why don't-cha Miss Gray! Thought I had untill tonight to make a submission...

(frownie face)

Well-p, I've got what I THINK is a real funny scene that I'm going to down in my room and finish. Whether or not it makes the finalists I hope read it Julie. I'm going to sent you two scenes. 1 the one page, 2 the complete scene as comes from my heart. Hopefully I'll be able to make you laugh...

- E.C. Henry from Bonney Lake, WA

meg said...

Oops. I wasn't clear. Perhaps this is how I should have asked. Did most entries, in addition to the 3 finalists, use the president term as a reference to a USA prez? Just wondering if many went beyond the obvious use.

Anyway, I appreciate the explanation of why some didn't get considered. Typos. Really? That surprises me. And strangely gives me hope. Every screenwriting book I've studied seems to mention that.
But it still seems to be a big secret.

Dave Shepherd said...

@ Anonymous --

Good one.

Never said I had a problem with dialog. All I said was that action works better in film than dialog. And I'm right.

People don't go to a movie to hear people talk, they go to a movie to see things happen.

Ask a person what a movie is about and they'll tell you the images they remember, not the snippets of dialog.

Kirkland said...

Shepherd

As a writer with a little bit of experience at writing movies, I think Anonymous may have a point. A limited point, but a point nonetheless. I would tend to agree with him or her, so I'll ask you the obvious:

Compare the last time you quoted the action lines from a movie to that of the dialog. Which gets quoted most often?

A movie may be visual, but it's heard and remembered for the words. It's why I tell stories, how about you?

Dave Shepherd said...

@ Kirkland --

If I were to list 100 movies that you've seen, would you remember more lines of dialog, or would you remember more visual images?

Finding Nemo -- I remember a few quotes, and the dialog was good, but more than that I remember watching Marlin and Dory bounce on the jelly fish, Marlin's "kids" getting eaten by the barracuda, riding the current with Squirt and Crush, the fish at the end dropping into the ocean while still in plastic bags, being on the tongue of the whale, all the fish swimming down in the net --

Dialog may be catchy, but images are the heart of a film.

I don't remember a single quote from Bambi other than "Man has entered the forest", but I remember a lot of the scenes.

Dialog is important, but images are more important. Ultimately it comes down to:

Show, don't tell.

We may have a philosophical disagreement, you say you write to be remembered for the words, I'd rather be remembered for the images.

meg said...

Might I suggest that memorable dialog is memorable precisely because memorable scenes have created a context for the dialog to be remembered?

Kirkland said...

@meg

Which are, oddly enough, created with words. It seems most of the screenwriters who hold an opinion on this topic--visual v. dialog--want to devalue dialog, to dismiss it as being unimportant, as something to be tolerated but not needed in cinematic storytelling. And that viewpoint is simply wrong, to me anyway. There isn't any film (of the talking era anyway), that people have quoted in their everyday lexicon of conversation that didn't come from dialog.

Think about it, when was the last time someone used a scene of a film as part of their everyday conversation. But everyday someone spouts something they've heard in movie dialog, even without realizing where it came from. That says something about the importance of dialog, but also speaks to how words creep into our lives and affect our lives on a daily basis, doesn't it?

And if you don't believe me, try writing a film without it, and see how far you get.

People may go to the movies to "see" a film, but what lives with them long after the images are gone from their memory is the dialog. It's there in the subconscious just waiting for the right moment to be used.

Dialog matters, it's that simple.

meg said...

@ Kirkland
I'm having fun with this discussion. I find both points of view interesting. I'm so new at this screenwriting stuff i didn't realize there's a dialog vs description/visual debate...I tend towards the dialog myself, perferring to let the words and the actors convey the meaning...

Kirkland said...

@Meg

It's a difficult balance, all you hear from the experts is make it "visual."

Two thinks happen with young/new screenwriters, one they "tell" rather "show" when writing their screenplays. And they confuse those words with the importance of using dialog to move the story forward...

Action is description, dialog is movement--both are important to the screenplay.

Make no mistake, dialog, good dialog is the lifeblood of any film worth thinking about. And if you're good at it, you'll do well as a screenwriter.