Nov 11, 2003
Assignments for Next Week
Handouts for this Week
Lesson for This Week
Cutting Comedy -- so it's funny
my opinion, editing comedy is a lot harder than cutting battle scenes
or action sequences. Of course, really good action editors may disagree
with me, but I find that the concepts of comedy -- pacing, set-up,
geography and the like -- are very difficult to control. In addition,
everyone has different opinions about what is funny, As a result,
you're constantly mediating between wildly opposing points of view.
It's a test of politics as well as cutting skills.
what else is new?
Tonight, we're going to be looking at one or two scenes
from the 1988 comedy A
FISH CALLED WANDA
,a film which still makes me chuckle because
of its plot, casting, timing and near-perfect execution of comedy.
In the first scene tonight, Wanda (Jamie Lee Curtis)
is attempting to seduce Archie (John Cleese), a straight-laced lawyer
into revealing the details about where some stolen jewels are hidden
so that she might get them and run away from her partners in the crime.
Establishing that Cleese's wife (Maria Aitken) is off to the opera,
she arranges a meeting with Archie at his house, bringing along one
of her partners -- Otto (Kevin Kline), a very dim, easily angered
American, who she has been passing off as her brother.
The genius of this scene comes partly in the geography
-- first there is the construction between Curtis, Kline and Cleese
-- how can Curitis's character get Kline hidden so he doesn't tip
off her plan. Then, when Cleese's wife arrives, the scene shifts to
a different set of rules -- how can Curtis hide herself and how does
Cleese deal with the situation. In the third section of the scene,
the comedy switches to a more verbal one -- how does Kline's character
deal with getting himself out of the room. Finally, the scene shifts
into a geographical one again -- how can Curtis get out of the room
with her necklace. To deal with the geographical portions of the scene
it is important to know where we are at all time. Even in the more
verbal portions of the scene, Cleese or Curtis still keeps us in contact
with the geography.
The second scene we might look at comes from later in
the movie after Archie refuses to apologize to Otto for calling him
stupid. The humor here comes not only from the action but from the
way in which the scene is melded to the preceding scene -- the twisting
camera move revealing Archie hanging upside down, rather than standing
up as we are led to believe. Comedy is often about setting up expectations
and then intentionally not delivering on them.
- Script pages for
- This is PDF file of the pertinent pages of the shooting script for
CRIMSON TIDE. You're going to notice a number of things about this
script, largely that it differs in some great ways from the footage
you are going to be working with. This is fairly normal on a film,
in particular a big action film. Mark the differences on the script.
- David Zucker talks about comedy
in his movie THE NAKED GUN 2.5
- .In this handout, done in 1999 for the release of the third movie
in the NAKED GUN film series, David Zucker talks about 15 rules that
he followed in creating the film. Some of them are even straight.
And, hence, valuable for this type of film.
- Log Line Assignment #3
- You are going to do your final log line assignment this week. Because
it is different than the two previous logline assignments I've put
together this assignment sheet.
Assignments For Next Week
- CRIMSON TIDE - Scene 80
- This week you will begin your final project -- the editing of
scenes from the movie CRIMSON TIDE. There is a lot more coverage
on these scenes than you're used to. However, after working on
all of the scenes that you've been doing for the past twelve weeks
should be able to approach the scene in an intelligent manner.
First, figure out (from the script) what the scenes are about.
the beats? Then look at the footage. How does the footage work
with what your analysis was? Where do you have to change it? Then
out what you want the audience to be looking at at each of those
beats (you can do this in pencil on your script pages if you'd
Then begin cutting. Do at least a first cut. Note that, even though
you are doing this one scene, you are getting the script pages
for the entire sequence that you are going to be cutting. Read
all of the scenes, since they will inform how you work on this
one. One final note -- please don't look at the film CRIMSON TIDE,
as I want these exercises you do over the next four weeks to be
about your own analyses and editing, not about director Tony Scott's
or editor Chris Lebenzon's work.
- Write your third logline
- This week you will be writing your final log line of the semester.
However, there is a difference in this one -- I want you to do
this on a film which you would like to
make, rather than one which is already made. Go back and look at
the notes from your last two log lines -- what about your analyses
needed toughening up. Bring that to this assignment, knowing that
I won't have seen the film that you're talking about. Make me want
to see this film. Make me want to work on this film. Make me want
to edit this film.
- Read Chapters 16 and 16A of the book
- This almost wraps up the reading and gets you ready for the quiz
which will probably be in three weeks.
(will open in a separate window; click on the close
box to return to this screen)
Anatomy of a Log Line" -- SCREEN TALK Article on Log Lines
- Rob-Gregory Browne writes about creating a log line, from the
point of view of the writer. Though he doesn't really deal with the
issues of adjectives and how to turn the log line into something
dynamic (as opposed to concisely telling the story) much of what
he says has validity to the editor trying to do a story analysis.
To Write A Really Good Log Line
- Wendy Moon discusses the elements behind writing a great log line.
One of my favorite lines is this:
"You've heard over and over, "If you
can't say it in three sentences, you don't know what your script
is about." Trust me--they're right and you're wrong. You have
to, absolutely must, learn to get to the heart of what your script
is about--your career may very well depend on your ability to state
what your script is about in a fascinating way."
Art Of The Pitch
- The New York Times Sunday Magazine published an interview, on November
12, 2000, with two writers who have recently scored some successes
in selling scripts. In view of your final log line assignment, due
tonight, I thought you might be interested in what to say to studio
executives during a pitch meeting. It's a bit of horrifying lighter
side to what we've been talking about in terms of the arts.
- Ever wonder why phones are always answered after only three rings
in film? Or why bad guys in film always lurk around on a corner until
their presence is revealed by a flash of light -- or a car's headlamp? The answer to these questions are that "these are movie cliches!!" This is a hilarious list of cliches about money, alcohol, answering machines, heroes, and much much more.