Complications Ensue: The Crafty Game, TV and Screenwriting Blog
Complications Ensue:
The Crafty Game, TV, and Screenwriting Blog



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Friday, February 24, 2017

I was not satisfied with what we were able to do with one particular character in a recording session with an otherwise wonderful voice actor. Our voice actor is very good at accents, but this is a fairly hard role — a developmentally disabled adult who has to break your heart.

So I fired off a casting call to the UK.

Saying “developmentally disabled character” to the entire pool of agents in the UK is a little bit of waving a red flag in front of the Running of the Bulls. Playing disabled is an artistic challenge, so it shows your acting chops. The clip will almost certainly go on your reel. I got 80 submissions in about three hours late on a Thursday afternoon.

So I got to wade through 80 submissions. One weird thing about voice character submissions is the headshots. They send me headshots. Why would I care about headshots? I don’t care what the actor looks like. All right, it’s nice that Alex Wyndham could actually pass for Arthur if we did the movie, but he could look like Shirley Temple for all I care. When we do the recording sessions, we don’t have the camera on, so I literally do not know what half of my actors look like.

I winnow those 80 submissions to 9 I’d like to hear from; plus I go through my last casting call and ping the agents whose clients were great but not right for those roles. The actors will record an MP3, and a dozen actors will come down to three or four. I’ll audition those guys on the phone.

The lucky actor — by “lucky” I mean “probably spent a decade or two painstakingly learning how to turn his talent into craft” — then gets to record this one particular part for about fifteen minutes, plus a bunch of other stuff for forty-five minutes. And the scene will play for about a minute and a half in the game.

It is a ridiculous amount of work for a role you’re going to see on screen in the first playthrough for 90 seconds. This is why recording voice actors is expensive even for short recordings - you’re not paying for 15 minutes of work, you’re paying for the lifetime of experience that is needed to deliver a great 15 minutes of work.

But if those two minutes break your heart, then they add meaning to the hour or two of gameplay following that encounter. They show us a side of Arthur we wouldn’t know without them. So you care.

I mean, that’s the point of the narrative, after all: to make you care.

So that’s why I was up till midnight on a Thursday.

The rest of the team's update here.

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Monday, February 20, 2017

I should have posted this on the 14th, but:


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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Q. I'm a novelist who is expanding my career to include screenwriting.

I've gotten many views on Inktip. One producer contacted me to ask if I would add an angel to to script, turn it into a feature film script and then tone it down to family friendly.

I asked if we could chat by phone. We had a good rapport and I enjoyed hearing her ideas. I developed a new synopsis, tweaked it after several email exchanges until she said that she loved it.

I waited a few days. Then I emailed to ask what she would like to do next. I had asked her about her budget earlier and she didn't want to discuss money.
Warning, Will Robinson. Danger, danger. A producer who does not want to discuss money at this point is almost certainly wasting your time. Real producers understand that they have to pay money to get what they want creatively. Indeed, that is literally the job description of a producer. Producers find money in order to move their creative projects forward.

A producer that won't put money down either doesn't believe in the project, not really, or they don't have the ability to bring money, in which case, flee.
After 25 years writing for major publishers, I've never been told not to ask about money. She just emailed me to ask me about the changes to the script. I haven't added those changes to the script because the changes are major, would certainly surprise the readers who followed the book series, and I'm not sure I want to write a screenplay with no budget in mind. I've never worked gratis.

Should I write a screenplay for her without knowing the budget, or if she has the funds to pay me?
That would be "no."

She has, at this point, read a script, made notes, and read a synopsis. She's invested, at most, two hours in your project. You've probably invested several days to a week.

It costs nothing for a producer to say, "Hey, this would be great if it were set in a PT boat in the South Pacific in 1943." It costs you time to rewrite. At the end of all that time, the producer can say, "Y'know what... never mind." You're stuck with a version of your script that you don't necessarily believe in.

If someone gives you notes that make your script better, there's nothing wrong with taking those notes. Even if the producer doesn't want the script afterwards, you still have a better script.

"Put not your trust in princes," as the Bible says. Assume that some portion of whatever a producer says is optimism, and another portion is fairy tales. The money is proof that the producer is taking your project seriously, and is a serious producer.

(By the way, no, you don't ask about money. Your agent does. That is literally her job description.)

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Saturday, February 04, 2017

Lisa's rebreaking the story for a script she's rewriting. She's been wracking her brain on the third act action sequences. The monkeys never seem to be in the right place.

Last night I suggested she think about "what is your hero's greatest fear? The action sequence is where she confronts and surmounts it."

She sort of lit up and disappeared into her writer's brain, and this morning told me, "I've got the whole thing."

It's not about the monkeys. It's never about the monkeys.

A great third act action sequence is, of course, your biggest spectacle. In a great script, it is also where the hero completes his or her dramatic journey. Luke Skywalker's run at the Death Star is not really about where the X-wings go. It is about Luke surrendering to the Force and taking the path to becoming a Jedi like his father.

There are plenty of movies where the third act action sequence is not about the hero achieving his or her destiny, or completing his or her journey. The action is about the hero accomplishing his external goal. However, they are less satisfying, I find, than movies in which the action sequence is not only the physical resolution, but the dramatic resolution.

What does your hero have to do in order to complete his or her journey?

Actually, this is true of all action sequences, in the broadest sense. A sex scene should never be about the sex (unless you're writing a porno, obviously). A sex scene should be a dialog scene without words, where the characters are using sex to express their feelings about each other. They each want something, there's tension, will they get it? Yes, they do. Or no, they don't.

(It's critical to any scene, including a sex scene, or any other kind of action scene, that they won't get what they want.)

Ideally, a gun battle in a John Woo movie, a duet in an opera, a pas de deux in a ballet, can and should have a dramatic question at its heart.

Or, for that matter, a boss battle in a video game, though it may be some time before we realize this.

The reason I have this particular tool in my writer's toolkit is that John Rogers wrote about this in some detail a dozen years ago. He phrases it like this:
Don't write action scenes. Write suspense scenes that require action to resolve.

That is excellent advice any time, but particularly excellent advice for your finale.

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