Thursday, April 07, 2016

The Great Purge, Day 6: If this is a big scene, is it broken down into a series of mini-goals?

What oh what can we cut from the checklist? Today’s candidate:

On trial: If this is a big scene, is it broken down into a series of mini-goals?

Why it was added: To be honest, I don’t know. I had written a piece on a “Breaking Bad” scene that was cool, and I wanted an excuse to put it in the book? This is good advice, of course, but is it a useful question to ask when evaluating your work?

How do the checklist movies answer this question?
  • Alien: It’s a small scene.
  • An Education: It’s a pretty simple scene.
  • The Babadook: First: knock her out, then win her over.
  • Blazing Saddles: Give a speech, then get out alive.
  • Blue Velvet: Yes.
  • The Bourne Identity: Yes. We become very aware that they have two different types of weapon (sniper rifle vs. shotgun), with different ranges and so therefore they’ll have different tactics in this fight. It’s not just all out shooting and ducking.
  • Bridesmaids: First about drunkenness, then about tail light, then about date.
  • Casablanca: It’s not a big scene, and has one goal.
  • Donnie Brasco: Yes. First Donnie must mollify Lefty, then figure out Sonny, then resist him.
  • Do the Right Thing: First, get some free extra cheese, then get some brothers on the wall, then get Buggin’ out of there before violence starts.
  • The Fighter: Introduce Charlene, stand up to family, win him back over.
  • The Fugitive: It’s a small scene.
  • Groundhog Day: First he wants sympathy, then he wants to convince her, then he wants her to leave with him.
  • How to Train Your Dragon: Several strategies for confronting the dragon are progressed through.
  • In a Lonely Place: Yes, many.
  • Iron Man: It’s a small scene.
  • Raising Arizona: First they want in, then they want to find out about the baby, then they want to stay.
  • Rushmore: It’s a small scene.
  • The Shining: Yes: fix the stain, find out who’s buying the drinks, pass on role of killer, warn about Halloran.
  • Sideways: No.
  • Silence of the Lambs: The main goals of the questionnaire remains the same, but she progresses through a few hidden goals.
  • Star Wars: Find shelter, locate the tractor beam, go destroy it, convince Luke to stay, search for the princess, convince Han to help.
  • Sunset Boulevard: Yes, first she wants a monkey funeral, and then wants someone to collaborate with.
Deliberations: First of all, there’s nothing wrong with having a small scene, so this doesn’t even apply to many well-written scenes, and even when it does, it’s not a particularly illuminating question.

The verdict: Surely this one can go, right?


Brian Malbon said...

I think it can go. I think a long scene will naturally break down into mini goals, or else maybe it needs to be edited down into a smaller scene because less is happening.

The Mysterious Pi said...

I think it can go.

Steve said...

I say cut it.

Harvey Jerkwater said...

Mention it in passing as a good idea, but take it off the checklist?