Sunday, October 7, 2007

Cool words for writers - Dialogue Hook

A Dialogue Hook is a verbal example of of a dangling clause and what is said provides a transition to the next scene.

Tension is created because we’re left wondering just what is going to happen.

Here’s a example from “Toy Story” (1995)


Thursday, September 27, 2007

Thought for the day...

"Every piece of work in the shops moves. Save 10 steps a day for each of the 12,000 employees, and you will have saved 50 miles of wasted motion and misspent energy."
- Henry Ford


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Film Breakdown - Mystery - The Last of Sheila (1973)


1. 2:02 - A party is underway and a couple are arguing. Sheila (Yvonne Romaine) walks out of the house, followed by her husband Clinton Green (James Coburn) who demands she return... she does not, instead choosing to walk through the dark streets of Bel Air. Out of the evening comes a green car, speeding and swerving... likely a drunk driver as the car hits some trash bins. The car hits Sheila... the driver of the car reverses and gets out. Evidently grasping the seriousness of their dilemma, and perhaps being too late to do anything about it, the lone driver gets back into their vehicle and with a squeal of tires disappears into the night. Ends: 0:02:02


2. 1:12 - Dissolve to a yacht anchored off the coast of some small town. The name of the yacht reads SHEILA. Credits roll as we peek inside, though all we hear is the tap-tap-tap of an old mechanical typewriter and all we see are fragments of a crossword, pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, board games etc. Clearly the boat’s owner likes games. Clinton Green sits among his things, typing away on what look like stiff, card-like paper. As he finishes, he puts the card stock away into what looks like an envelope whose face already sports a handwritten name in ink. Clinton smokes a cigar and adopts a smug little smile. The names on the two envelopes read “Lee” and “Tom”. Ends: 0:03:14


3. 1:02 - Tom (Richard Benjamin) sits in his living room watching television. His wife Lee (Joan Hackett) enters the room from outside.Through exposition, Tom reveals that their luxurious house (the pool can be seen in the b.g.) belonged to her dead father, else Tom would unlikely to be able to afford such luxury. Lee holds a letter from Clinton and reveals they’ve been invited to join him for a week-long party on board the yacht. Tom is excited but his wife tells him to write something new... Clinton is never going to produce his “Freak show” script. Ends: 0:04:16



4. 0:02 - Clearly in flashback (since we have now seen those letters arrive at their destination), we now see Clinton continue typing on his old machine. An envelope to one side already awaits his labor, the name “Christine” can be read. Ends: 0:04:18


5. 1:11 - A loud A-type personality Christine (Dyan Cannon) talks on the phone and is evidently discussing the upcoming week-long party on Clinton’s yacht. Whoever it is that’s on the phone, it isn’t Clinton Green talking to her since Christine is disrespectful towards the deceased Sheila. However, she does reveal that it is the one year anniversary of Sheila’s death. She phones someone called Freddy and reveals she wants to go to the South of France (evidently Clinton’s origin or destination). Ends: 0:05:29

6. 0:06 - Clinton folds something into another envelope, seals it shut... the name on the front reads “Philip”. Ends: 0:05:35


7. 1:01 - On a television or movie set, Philip (James Mason) sits and barks orders to those around him. A group of children are dressed-up and sit on large props... likely they’re making a television commercial. Philip is called away to answer the phone... it is his wife or secretary and after listening for a bit, he instructs her to send a telegram of acceptance. Ends: 0:06:36

8. 0:06 - Clinton stares at another two envelopes whose handwritten names are “Alice” and “Anthony”. Ends: 0:06:42


9. 0:52 - Anthony (Ian McShane) handles the press while his wife Alice (Raquel Welch) fields questions from the paparazzi. She reveals that she’s exhausted after shooting her latest motion picture and she and her husband are going to vacation on the yacht of a famous producer friend. They’re both in Rome - at the airport waiting to board their plane - and Anthony man-handles an insistent Italian who chases them both as they head towards their plane - he falls to the ground and Alice is upset with Anthony because he’s so brutish. Ends: 0:07:34

10. 0:09 - Clinton Green holds a card which reads simply “The Game Will Begin Every Night At 9:00pm Sharp”. Ends: 0:07:43


11. 2:22 - The yacht is moored at the quay... however, there’s no one on board. Tom and Lee sit on their luggage, not wanting to board because they would be leaving their luggage unattended... Tom’s back is evidently not what it should be and so they dare not risk hauling all their stuff on board themselves. An open topped Rolls Royce arrives with everyone else crammed into the vehicle... Clinton sits prominently above all others and shouts a welcome to Tom and Lee. Clinton wants to take a group photograph and arranges everyone into a particular order by the bow of the yacht. Only then do they all board. Ends: 0:10:05

12. 0:37 - Clinton’s guests mill around the yacht’s main living room; they observe all the games strewn around. There’s a notice board standing to one side with everyone’s name on it... Clinton reveals that is “for later” and pins up the group photograph on a cork board. Ends: 0:10:42


13. 2:10 - Clinton shows each guest their rooms on board. Alice and Anthony get a large double room... in a smaller room, the other couple Tom and Lee speculate that Clinton did that so as not to put up with sulking for six days. Christine barges into their room and she and Tom speculate about what Clinton is up to... they seem to think that a movie about Sheila is brewing (as Sheila appears to be a compulsive subject of Clinton). Through exposition, it is confirmed to us that her killer was never found. Ends: 0:12:52

14. 2:57 - The guests are outside on the deck soaking up the sun and Clinton is talking (presumably) about a movie. Sounds like Christine was right after all; Clinton mentions wanting to call it “The Last of Sheila”. Anthony appears interested but presumptuously mentions that he’s not sure if Alice will be available (to play the lead). Wanting to change the subject, Clinton prepares to outline the upcoming game - what he’s dubbed “The Sheila Green Memorial Gossip Game”. He goes on to explain that he’s prepared six little pieces of pretend gossip, one for each of these guests in attendance... they’re to be kept secret by each person there. We then see some individually-typed cards revealed from the opened envelopes... for example, “You are an Informer”, “You are an Ex Convict”, “You are an Alcoholic” and so-on. However, we don’t see who revealed them. The idea of the game is to discover everybody’s secret and prevent everyone from discovering yours. Clinton goes on to explain that every day they will dock at a different port and at that place, they can discover the proof of one guest’s secret... Clinton will announce which secret to look for and give them all a clue beforehand revealing what to do/where to go on shore. Tonight they’re looking for the “Shoplifter”. Ends: 0:15:49


15. 1:15 - Evening finds our guests on a motor boat heading for the shore. Clinton isn’t with them though he’s following behind the boat in one of his own. Christine has a silver key in her hand, this apparently being their clue for the night. Inscribed on the key is simply STERLING 18K and it is obvious that each of the guests have their own key. Clinton reminds them to not confer with each other and with an extravagant circle around their boat with his, he’s off... back to his yacht. Ends: 0:17:04

16. 2:37 - Series of Shots - Anthony knocks on the door of a private home near a large novelty key somewhere in downtown... however the door is opened by a grouchy Frenchman who appears to cuss him out. Lee is about to enter a store when she’s pounced upon by Christine... sure she’s breaking the rule, but she speaks some French and doesn’t want to do this alone. Alice sits in an outdoor bar and is served a beverage... she’s deep in thought. Back with Lee and Christine, Lee is busy trying to get an expert’s opinion on the key itself while Christine is evidently shopping. Lee is told that it’s the key to a hotel and armed with this information, Lee skulks out of the store without Christine (who stands by the register haggling with the sales person over some trinket). Tom meanwhile has walked up to the door of an advertised “Hotel Sterling”... as he walks into speak to a receptionist, he finds Philip there asking to compare his keys to those of the other rooms. Tom hides and scuttles up a staircase unseen... out on the street, Christine is running after Lee. Unable to catch up with her, Christine stops running when she catches sight of Anthony and latches onto him instead. She tells him the French word for key is clef and armed with that, Anthony disappears. Lee is searching through a phone book’s yellow pages. Philip is behind the hotel’s reception, visually comparing each room key to his clue. Meanwhile, Tom is outside room 18K and taps on the surface... getting no response, he inserts his key and turns the lock... the door opens!
Ends: 0:19:41

17. 2:38 - Tom lets himself into room 18K. Inside a television set blares out the noise from some old B/W movie. The room is seemingly filled with junk... trinkets are on every flat surface, things are stacked against every wall. He opens a door and creeps in... on a nearby table, a clothed mannequin lies with a knife sticking out of his back. As Tom is about to reach out, Clinton shouts out NOT to touch the dummy! Clinton is sitting quietly to one side, watching everything. Clinton tells Tom to figure out what happened and to leave before any of the others arrive. Tom reveals that this must be the shoplifter’s room... there’s a lot of stuff in there, each still with a price tag attached. The dummy is a detective whom the shoplifter has killed. In the dummy’s hand is a bottle of perfume... a revelatory Chanel #5 is uttered by Tom, who beams and returns to the other room, switching the noisy television over to channel five. A fake documentary is shown to be playing on that station, Clinton’s voice can be heard... the picture of the shoplifter is clearly that of Philip. The door rattles with another key being inserted and Clinton quickly switches channels back to where it was originally and tells Tom to run away... Lee now enters the room and Tom leaves after a quick kiss. Ends: 0:22:19

18. 1:43 - Series of shots - Anthony walks outside on the street. He comes to the outside bar area and spots Alice smoking a cigarette. He offers to help but she’s not interested and he leaves. Back in room 18K, the fake documentary is running again and a beaming Philip sees himself as the Shoplifter. Outside La Clef du Sol restaurant, Christine meets Anthony who has just come out... she inadvertently gives him a clue about it being a hotel key and he skulks away. She embarrasses herself by barging into the restaurant, convinced (at least initially) that the solution is there. Anthony arrives outside the hotel room 18K but sees the sign on the door know which reads “The Game is Over”. Ends: 0:24:02

19. 0:42 - Alice continues to sit at the outside bar when to one side, an unseen person catches her attention. She becomes agitated, telling them that the mustn’t be seen here but that she does want to get together tonight on the top-deck of the yacht. She thinks they’ll be alone and she wants to talk about the game. Anthony now returns to the bar and the unseen person leaves quietly. Ends: 0:24:44

20. 0:34 - On the motor boat waiting to take everyone back to the yacht, Christine is hearing from Philip how there’s no such thing as 18K silver. Tom and Lee arrive and sit at the back... it looks like Tom is helped back on board by the crewman, no doubt because of Tom’s continuing back pain. Anthony and Alice return to the quay... Anthony wants to know who solved the riddle and how many solved it in total. But no one is telling as they head back to the yacht. Ends: 0:25:18

21. 1:28 - Later on the yacht, Tom brushes his teeth in the bathroom while Lee reads a magazine on their bed. It seems Clinton reminds Lee too much of her father... domineering individuals who play games and rewards those they like. Outside there’s some sort of argument going on between Clinton and someone else... Tom and Lee decide to ignore them all and engage in an intimate embrace... Ends: 0:26:46

22. 2:02 - Alice is talking to the unseen person again, this time on the top deck of the yacht as originally planned. She reveals that it was she who was once caught for shoplifting. She shows her card, which reads “You are a Homosexual” and she believes Clinton might have mixed-up the cards... she really wants to know what card the unseen person has... Ends: 0:28:48

23. 0:33 - Anthony lies alone on his bed listening to music on headphones. Alice comes into the room and Anthony taunts her with the fact that she always loses at games. Alice tells him to get a real job and Anthony mocks a hurtful tear... Ends: 0:29:21

24. 0:39 - In Clinton Green’s bedroom, it is evident that he’s listening-in on the conversations of his guests. Clinton switches off listening to Anthony & Alice. Christine enters his bedroom dressed provocatively... not finding him there, she opens the bathroom and joins Clinton.
Ends: 0:30:00

25. 0:10 - Tom sits on the bed smoking a cigarette. He appears deep in thought and absentmindedly buttons up his shirt. Ends: 0:30:10

26. 2:33 - Philip is in the main living area preparing himself a drink. To his side stands the notice board, the first row of a table reads MONDAY and we see the winners of the first game are Philip and Tom whose columns are circled; everyone else’s columns are X’d. Philip spots Lee sitting outside and joins her on deck. They reminisce about times past. Philip asks Lee why she and Tom don’t simply finance Tom’s movie themselves (instead of waiting for Clinton) but she poo-poohs the idea, adding that it’s not something Tom would consider. Tom now joins them on the deck and impersonates Clinton’s voice... once Philip leaves, Tom and Lee retire back to their room. Ends: 0:32:43

27. 1:01 - Back in their room, Tom reveals that there’s something going on and he’s going to talk to Clinton about it. Lee thinks it’s too late but they both know Clinton hasn’t slept eight hours since Sheila died. Tom leaves the room. Outside of Clinton’s room, Tom can her Clinton and Christine frolicking (or at least laughing) in the cabin and Tom decides not to disturb them. Philip now exits his bedroom and catches Tom outside of Clinton’s room... Philip tells Tom to go to bed. Ends: 0:33:44

28. 2:34 - Morning finds everyone out on deck relaxing in the bright sunshine. Clinton is shooting golf balls across into the ocean and at his feet, Anthony chit-chats about managing Alice’s career, being interested in that end of things, and asking what Clinton would say to making him an assistant producer on his next movie. Clinton walks away, not answering the question but choosing to mimic Anthony’s mocking hurtful tear (see #23). Over by the ladies, Alice walks away from Christine after a catty exchange of words. Christine reveals that she’s on the yacht to keep one client and get another... Lee reveals she’s there to try and keep hold of a husband. Off to the side, Alice joins Clinton who has now donned some diving gear. Alice apologizes to him for Anthony not having handled things better earlier on... Clinton dives overboard into the water. Ends: 0:36:18

29. 1:46 - The crew are having their naps and Christine asks Anthony for a drink - she’s parched floating around on the sea alongside the yacht in the afternoon. Inside, Tom plays darts alone. Anthony comes into the room to get a drink. Meanwhile, back outside, Clinton surfaces and shouts out various attempts to engage his guests in conversation... however, Tom, Philip etc aren’t biting, probably because Clinton’s tone is borderline patronizing. Ends: 0:38:04


30. 3:11 - Christine floats on her back in the ocean, close to the yacht. She sings to herself. Meanwhile, inside the boat we see someone’s POV... someone who secretly skulks around the boat, making sure the various crew members are occupied in personal pursuits. The POV shifts to the engine room. Outside, Christine is at the stern, the yacht’s silent propeller just beneath her. Inside, the POV lingers by the engine lever. Elsewhere, the cabin staff are undertaking mild chores when the sound of the boat starting is heard... the yacht shudders a little. Outside, Christine is sucked off her inflatable raft and into the churning slipstream of water. She struggles to swim away from the rotating blades, but the current is too strong. One of the crewmen dives for the engine shutoff switch on the top deck and at the same time, Anthony dives into the water to help Christine. The motor stops and Christine is hauled on board by Tom and Anthony... she is clearly intact physically and coughing water out of her lungs. Philip covers her with a towel and Christine is borderline hysterical, laughing up a storm and screaming at the same time. Clinton swims quickly up to his yacht to tend to his guests... satisfying himself that she’s alright, he proceeds to chew out the crew about starting the engines while they’re out there in the water.
Ends: 0:41:15

31. 2:11 - Tom & Philip conspiratorially whisper to each other about who could have turned on the yacht’s motors... between them they try and account for everyone of the guests and where they were when the incident occured. Tom’s back is acting up and asks Clinton to be spared having to play the game that night - Clinton says it’s okay, his big night will come on Saturday. Clinton then joins a few of his crew members to go inland to one of the islands. He’s probably preparing tonight’s game. Ends: 0:43:26


32. 0:49 - Clinton arrives back on his motorized boat in the evening; a few yards away from his yacht, he uses a loud-hailer to summon everyone of his guests onto the top deck. He throws them one parcel - the so-called clue for that evening - and tells them the launch will return at 8 pm that night. The island has a monastery and tonight they have to find “The Homosexual”. Ends: 0:44:15

33. 2:09 - The guests sit around in the living room. Their clue for this evening seems to comprise a guide book of the island they’re about to visit... Anthony reads out loud and there are some typos (deliberate?) and some cryptic facts which are unlikely to be true. Back in their quarters a few minutes later, Tom decides to shower before they leave for this evening’s festivities. Lee decides to leave him to it, choosing to go upstairs. While Tom is alone showering, we see an unknown someone enter their room. Whoever it is make their way to Tom’s wallet, in which lies Clinton’s card for him... it reads “Hit and Run Killer”. Ends: 0:46:24

34. 1:11 - Inside the island monastery, Clinton is dressed in the simple habit of a monk. He has lit candles throughout one of the rooms and lowers a tape recorder into a hidden crevice... it emits the spooky sounds of thunder, lightening and an owl hooting. The atmosphere suitably spooky, Clinton withdraws... Ends: 0:47:35

35. 2:05 - The guests now enter the monastery and written instruction direct them all to wear the monk habits left for them by Clinton. They are reminded to maintain their vow of silence. Meanwhile, Clinton makes his way throughout the large building, laying clues and printed messages throughout. The guests contemplate their next move when monastic chanting can be heard from several different areas of the monastery - no doubt tape recordings, but the ensuing chorus is humorous to several of the guests and does add great atmosphere for tonight’s game. They all disperse in different directions. Ends: 0:49:40

36. 6:48 - Series of shots - Anthony follows the sound of a particular chant, convinced this is Clinton singing and not some tape recording... he finally arrives at the source of the singing, but there’s a sign there that reads “Wrong”. Philip enters a large, cavernous candle-lit room... he decides to move into a smaller chamber to one side and finds a wooden confessional... a door to the side invites him into the confessional... he sits down and finds himself confronted with Clinton in drag. It turns out that Philip has used the wrong door to the confessional... however the other one is stuck and Philip is told to leave while he deals with getting it unstuck out of its jammed state. Meanwhile, Tom arrives at a source of chanting, and himself sees a “Wrong” sign... Tom spots Philip emerging from the confessional and himself tiptoes in to find Clinton for himself. Later, Christine does the same thing. As she steps out, she comes across another guest and (like us) doesn’t know who it is... but she says to them that this is the best game ever. Later in another room, she hears the ominous sound of a crash coming from Clinton’s direction... and we then see Clinton fall out of his confessional... dead! The killer (unseen, dressed in a monk’s habit) is about to escape when Alice appears outside the door... she knocks and asks to know what is going on. A sign is pushed out to her from under the door... it reads “The Game Is Over”.
Ends: 0:56:28

37. 0:49 - Morning finds our guests on the top deck, enjoying their breakfast in the bright sunshine. Philip mentions that Clinton didn’t sleep in his bed last night and nobody picked him up from the island. Anthony tells them all that his disappearance is part of the game. Philip disagrees, citing the fact that he hasn’t filled-in the scoreboard in the living room. Ends: 0:57:17

38. 2:32 - We hear the echoes of the guests calling out for Clinton in the monastery. Daylight now fills the rooms which only a few hours ago seemed so dark & shadowy. They make their way to the confessional room and open the door. We hear a scream from the ever-loud Christine and she’s told to get out. Tom and Philip enter and examine Clinton's corpse. Anthony enters and Tom tells them to not touch anything. Anthony appears to think it is an accident. Tom smells a rat. Philip finds a cigarette butt in Clinton's confessional but Tom reminds him that Clinton didn’t smoke cigarettes. Anthony is taking Alice back to the yacht as she’s sick. Ends: 0:59:49


39. 21:25 - The yacht’s captain tells Philip that the police have been summoned but won’t get there until the morning... they will harbor where they are until then. The guests now fix themselves drinks and talk about Clinton. Alice says it’s such a shame and Christine is upset. Anthony maintains that Clinton’s accident shouldn’t halt the movie continuing as originally planned. Tom reminds them this isn’t the first accident - yesterday’s propeller incident. Tom asks who solved the clue last night... as Alice had the “Homosexual” card, the game should have continued until she solved it... but she never got the chance to do so. So it was unlikely that it was Clinton who ended the game... furthermore (Tom says) the piece of stone that struck Clinton was ornately grooved, meaning it came from the base of a stone pillar and not the top. Tom takes the lead in trying to solve Clinton’s death... he starts by trying to analyze the very purpose of the original game. He asks everyone for their original cards and seeing them, believes the whole game to have been Clinton’s private joke.

Tom picks out the “Homosexual” card. It appears to be confession time... Lee is speechless but Tom admits he had a “thing” with Clinton. Alice admits to the “Shoplifting”. Christine admits to be the “Informer”. Anthony claims he’s the “Ex Convict” and can prove it. The tension now builds considerably as only Lee and Philip remain to claim their sin.

Lee finally fesses-up and admits she was the one who accidentally hit & run into Sheila.

We flashback to yesterday night and witness Lee confronting Clinton in his confessional - she knows what the game is about and wants the game to stop. When he whispers to her to get out, she does so but picks up the candleholder and rams it through the confessional door... Clinton falls out. Dead.

She then stages the crime scene to hide the fact that she killed Clinton. She now wants to make a clean exit and leaves the room by herself. Ends: 1:21:14

40. 0:34 - Philip mentions to Tom that he’s worried about Lee having made the “clean exit” line... he therefore rushes out of the room and to their bedroom. The door is locked to their cabin. He threatens to knock it down but she reassures him that she’s okay and wants to take a nap. He promises to come back later. Ends: 1:21:48

41. 0:52 - Anthony and Alice stand outside on the top deck. Anthony walks down to where the others are once Tom returns... Lee just wants to be alone. Ends: 1:22:40

42. 0:52 - Christine eats cake in the dining room and is sick at the news... sick at the news of hearing about the deal that Alice got on her last picture. Tom has obtained a master key from the Captain... Lee is apparently still not answering the knocks on her door. Christine admits to knowing she is a recovering alcoholic. She offers to accompany Tom to Lee’s cabin but he declines. Ends: 1:23:32

43. 0:31 - Tom lets himself into the bedroom and Lee lies there on their bed. He makes his way over and she moans in her sleep. She is alive. Tom removes a bottle from her grasp. Ends: 1:24:03


43. 0:26 - Philip stands outside while the others chat indoors. He hears a ker-splunk and sees a bottle of Scotch thrown into the water float-by. Ends: 1:24:29

44. 1:31 - Tom lays on the sofa... Philip holds the cigarette butt found in Clinton’s confessional. Philip appears deep in thought and tries to get Tom’s attention. However, he’s fast asleep... Philip makes his way to the yacht’s control room and helps himself to a key from a set hanging there. Philip then knocks on Lee’s bedroom door... not hearing a response, he lets himself into the room. However, her bed is empty and there’s nobody in the bathroom. Ends: 1:26:00

45. 0:07 - There’s a knock at Christine’s door and we hear her puff & pant suggestively... Philip makes his way in and we now see Christine doing sit-ups with the help of a crewman who holds her legs in place. No, she hasn’t seen Lee. Ends:1:26:07

46. 1:09 - Philip now wakes-up Tom and tells him that Lee has disappeared. She’s nowhere to be found. Tom rushes back to their room to verify this for himself... finding Philip is correct, Tom disappears to find the Captain. Philip gets an idea to look into Clinton’s room... in the bathroom, in the only cabin with a bathtub, Philip finds Lee. Dead... her wrists slashed. Ends: 1:27:16

47. 3:14 - Back on dry land, a stretcher covers a body on the quay and the Captain stands there talking to a man in a suit (a detective?). We’re seeing this from the POV of a telescope or a small movie-camera. The body is placed into a waiting ambulance. The POV changes to Alice who watches the ambulance... holding the camera is Anthony but he leaves when Alice starts to become morbid about Lee’s death. Christine is carrying a set of clothes to shore, claiming she wants to look terrific for their interrogation by the police. Anthony leaves to find a taxi, claiming the hotel will give away their rooms if they don’t check in soon. Tom exits a room smoking a cigarette... Alice thanks him for not revealing anything about “them” yesterday. She leaves and Philip comes to say his goodbyes. Tom asks him whose at fault for all of this... Clinton, Lee, Sheila...? He makes a move to leave and Philip mentions wishing he could remember something Clinton said. Ends: 1:30:30


48. 8:14 - The crew are celebrating their shore leave. Tom walks among them and heads for the waterfront in the night. From the shore, he notices the yacht’s living room lights flicker on, then off... on, then off. His curiosity piqued, he makes his way back on board. Inside sits Philip who calls out for Anthony in the dark... Tom says it’s him and the lights come on. Philip is practicing stomping out cigarettes in the light and in the dark. It is evident that the cigarette butt they found in Clinton’s confessional was odd in that it appeared as though the filter was stomped out... leaving the lit end to continue burning.

It now appears that Lee only thought she killed Clinton. But actually he was already dead.

Tom is now incensed that his wife Lee died for nothing; she killed a dead man. So someone killed her. Philip wants him to calm down but Tom leaves the room and says he’ll be right back. Ends: 1:38:44

49. 2:53 - Montage - Tom enters a bedroom and is searching for something. Back in the living room, Philip fixes himself another drink... while at the bar, he notices Clinton’s group photograph from the first day of their vacation. He remembers Clinton saying that for this game, you didn’t have to move if you were smart enough. In the bedroom Tom is rummaging through a set of chest drawers. Philip has retrieved everyone’s game cards from the trash and is comparing them to what’s on the photograph. Philip has flashbacks of what transpired on the boat throughout the week... Clinton telling Tom his special day was on Saturday... Christine revealing to all that Lee was a recovering alcoholic etc. Philip is deep in thought and appears to have had some sort of revelation. Behind Philip a hand appears outside the glass door and quietly locks access out of the living room. Philip presses a button on the bar to summon the kitchen staff but we see the kitchen is deserted. Ends: 1:41:37

50. 16:00 - Tom walks up the staircase and rejoins Philip. It seems each have “found” the beginnings of an idea.

Philip has found that everyone’s “secret” card formed the letter of an acronym which spelled SHEILA. Two odd things he’s found though... the “little child molester” makes no sense unless it was so phrased that way to form the “L”... this is probably the clue that gave him the insight into the acronym. Secondly, Tom’s secret should be “A” which doesn’t match his “HIT AND RUN KILLER” card. It should have been “Alcoholic” which Tom actually got as a card and represented Lee’s secret.

Philip admits it was he who started the yacht’s rotors but that was to kill Clinton - he’d realized what he was up to and had no desire to be exposed as a pedophile. Philip does a masterful job explaining just how Tom carried out the crimes.

Tom reveals that the crew have the day off since their master is now deceased. Philip makes a run for it but Tom is younger & quicker and manages to attack Philip and strangle him. In flashback we see Tom carry Lee’s drugged body over to Clinton’s bathroom... he had drugged the bourbon bottle with Seconal (prescription anaesthetic/sedative/hypnotic drug), knowing full well that no one else on board drank bourbon.

Philip and Tom continue to fight when suddenly Christine walks into the room. It appears she and Guido were on board entertaining themselves when she turned on the radio in Clinton’s room and instead of music, heard Tom and Philip’s conversation.

Philip reveals that the entire saga is worthy of a motion picture... to that end, he reassures Christine that they will need her services in putting together the movie. Tom will provide the money, now that he’s the sole inheritor of Lee’s fortune ($5M+). Philip then leaves with Christine, reassuring Tom that all will be well.

Tom is stuck between a rock and a hard place... he has basically been blackmailed into cooperating with Philip and Christine... and there’s nothing he can do about it.

The end credits roll with Bette Midler singing “Friends”. Ends: 1:57:37

Cool words for writers - Gerund

Originates from Latin and is the name for a form that is derived from a verb but that functions as a noun.

Easily spotted because it typically ends in an “ing” and feels like an incomplete action.

For writers, especially screenwriters, these words are probably most effective in titles. Examples:-

        “Searching for Bobby Fischer” (1993)

        “Killing Mrs. Tingle” (1999)

        “Finding Nemo” (2003)

        “An American Haunting” (2005)

        “Running Scared” (2006)

Some may find using them to be pretentious, but others find that the incomplete action conveys significantly to the selling of the story premise.

So... consider a gerund in your story title if you want to hint at something or “dangle a promise” to pique some curiosity.

Just remember to deliver on that promise...

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Great Moments in Cinema - SCARFACE (1983)



The Bengal tiger paces his spot, restless.

A monsoon-like wind blows through the trees on the estate.

The monkeys listen quietly.

The flamingoes flutter.

... Then there’s a burst of loud music from the stereo speakers on the balcony -- a Billy Joel song, something smooth and easy about the high times and how fast they go...

See Tony in a long shot, throw open the terrace doors and stagger out onto the balcony, overlooking his estate.

... On a closer angle, we track him to the edge of the balustrade. He’s done so much coke now he’s practically catatonic; staggering and muttering to himself.

                ... Jesus fuckin' Christ whatsa matter
                with me, get a hold of y'self now
                these cocksuckers gonna run over you
                let 'em try I bury the cocksuckers...

His point of view -- panning his estate. The dark emptiness. The wind rustling the treetops.

Tony echoes back at him. Shaking his head at himself, He starts to cry!



                        ...Ooooh fuck Manny, how the fuck
                        did I do that? How the fuck! ...oh
                        Manny, Manny... you were there
                        for me, you were the one, Manny, you
                        understood, always understood...
                        well what the hell happened, huh?
                        What the hell happened to us?...

In far b-g. Now behind Tony, on the video monitors in his office we see:

The main gate and guard shack -- a Marielito crosses into view, checks the gate, turns. Suddenly two figures spring out at him. One of them garroting the Marielito. He struggles.

Another monitor now reveals two more figures moving into the interior of the guard shack. They knife the other Marielito.

A third monitor carries another image of shadows moving through the trees on the state.

On the balcony, Tony is oblivious to it all, almost incoherent.

                        I said you, Manny, I said I
                        never go crazy and you said, I would
                        you sonofabitch and you were right...
                        those were the good days hunh, we
                        was crazy back in those days, we’d
                        do anything, you and me, we was on
                        the way up, nobody nothing coulda
                        stopped us cause we were the best hunh
                        -- the fucking best...

As Tony turns and starts back through the terrace doors into his study, the camera glides around to a view of a hook flying up and catching the balustrade.

A shadow starts climbing up as:

                        ...we still are Manny, we still are
                        -- see, I’m gonna wipe out all them
                        fuckers out there, I’m gonna run the
                        market, I’m gonna be King Cocaine
                        you hear me, you buy you buy from me
                        -- Tony Montana. Covers all the
                        magazines. Fan Mail. Television
                        stars, movie stars, shooting stars
                        --- he’s a star...



As he crosses his office, the camera moves to reveal Gina standing there half-dressed in the doorway, her eyes blazing with hatred.

Tony sees her.

She steps forward, offering her body almost naked to her brother.

                        Is this what you want Tony?...

Tony shocked.

                        You can’t stand another man touching
                        me. So you want me Tony, is that it?
                        Well here I am.

She fires the Baretta we now see in her hand.

The bullet grazes Tony in the leg, snapping him from his catatonia as he goes reeling across the floor behind his desk. She fires again. Again.

                        I’m all yours Tony, I’m all yours now.

Bullets ripping into the desk. She advances, offering her sex, methodically shooting out the clip at rhythmic intervals.

                        Come and get me Tony. Before it’s too late.

He spins across the run away from the desk, trying to put distance between them. She sees his scurrying, turns, and expression like a demented angel.

                        Come on Tony, fuck me! Fuck me! Fuck me!

Advancing on him, firing. The furniture tearing up, the chair spilling, television sets and computer toys shattering, Tony squirming away, hit again in the thigh, shocked and scrambling over to the terrace windows. Her next shot shatters the window and as Tony ducks again to the side, we see outside onto the terrace behind him!



A young Columbian punk no more than than twenty -- one of the hitters -- is crouched there, reacting to the broken window.

He doesn’t hesitate, turning his machine gun on Gina.

Gina is torn to pieces by the firepower -- blown across the room, spine severed and dead before she hits the floor.

Tony sees it, yells something, in the same instant swivels to knock the barrel of the machine gun aside. The punk is taken by surprise, not having seen Tony, and Tony now runs him backwards across the balcony and hurls him over the balustrade.

The punk lands in one of the shallow pools on the grounds at the base of the balcony.

Tony, from above, grabs the punk’s machine gun and empties the whole clip into the figure thrashing in the pool below.

Ernie runs into view on the far side of the pool, spots what is going on and yells up ---

                        Tony, they’re everywhere! Get outta here!

Ernie suddenly wheels, hit in the face, by a burst of silencer bullets.

We catch a brief glimpse of Sosa’s black side, the Skull, moving quickly along the wall of the house -- directly underneath the balcony on which Tony stands.

Tony, tossing the empty machine gun aside, wildly runs back into his office to get more guns, crosses to Gina’s corpse. It takes him by surprise. He comes to a dead stop, kneels, looking questioningly in her face.

                        Hey Gina come on, you still angry at
                        me? I didn’t mean to kill Manny, I
                        was... I was--

Running his hands along her face, trying to rouse her, gently lifting her eyelids. Blood’s running out of her mouth in rivers.



                        Come on Gina, get off the floor.
                        You’re all dirty now, you need a
                        bath... Mami’s gonna be angry baby
                        -- ooh is she gonna be mad at me!...
                        Come on open your eyes my baby,
                        open your eyes... - give me a smile.

There’s been a steady pounding and calling on the door of the office. Tony finally hears it, looks up, then over at the monitors.

One of them reveals Chi-Chi standing there outside the door pounding it.

                        Boss! Hey Boss! Open up!

On the monitor we see Chi-Chi suddenly spin and open fire down the foyer. Return fire decimates him. A grenade goes off, blows him up against the door.


He now seems to come out of his catatonia, runs to his sideboard, hauls out a rocket shoulder-fired rocket launcher and straps an Uzi across his shoulder. He looks up at the monitor.

On the monitors, the hitters are now darting across the foyer and coming up to the left and right hand stairs.Three of them are already huddled outside the door, around the corpse of Chi-Chi, motioning to each other, laying a grenade at the base of the door to blow it out.

Tony loading his rocket, intends to beat them to the punch, talking to himself.

                So you wanna play hunh, say hello
                to my little friend here.


The rocket tears down the door and blows the Columbian punks off the landing into the foyer.

It sounds like Armageddon, one of the hitters is screaming, smoke billowing out wildly.

Tony, at the height of his mad glory, steps out at the apex of the stairs, firing his machine gun and yelling.

                Whores! Cowards! You think you
                can kill me with lousy bullets hunh?



Another hitter tumbles down the right-hand stair.

                Who you think I am? I kill all you
                fuckin’ assholes. I take you all to
                fuckin’ hell!

Left. Right.

Another hitter drops, screaming, off the stairs into the pool below.

A grenade goes off. Tony is hit again, but keeps on firing away. Laughing like a madman.

                You need an army you hear! An army
                to kill me!

Behind him we see the remainder of the pound of cocaine go up in a burst of wind, whipping around the office in auras of white. It is a ghostly effect out of which now appears the face of the Skull moving from the terrace towards Tony’s back with a sawed-off shotgun.

                Ha ha ha ha ha! You whores, you
                scum, I piss in your faces !!! Ha
                ha ha ha ha!!

Skull, now inches from Tony’s back, pulls the trigger and blows Tony’s spine out his belly.

Tony crashes forward over the bannister into the interior swimming pool below.

He floats quietly face down in the lit blue waters.

As the titles begin their crawl up, the music theme is expressive salsa with a dash of gaiety.

The camera moving off Tony to catch the reflection of the lit sculpture on the surface of the still waters. It says:

                        “THE WORLD IS YOURS”

And so, for the brief moment, it was.



Our camera now distancing itself from the body in the pool, panning past the dream villa, past the shambles and the wealth, past the hitters pillaging and looting and drawing that obscene word “Chivato” in blood on the outside walls, past the stacks of cash blowing across the floor like leaves in autumn, with the looters running after it across the busted door with the tropic wind blowing down Coconut Grove -- to the Miami skyline across the Biscayne Bay.

                THE END

Thursday, September 20, 2007

SP Terms - Sluglines

Sluglines or probably more accurately Slug lines provide information about a specific scene. Also known as a scene heading, a master scene heading or shot heading.

In Spec scripts, the slug line is typically comprised of three pieces of information:-

1) Scene intros - an abbreviation documenting information about where the scene is set.

        INT. - interior and tells us the scene is shot indoors
        EXT. - exterior and tells us the scene is shot outdoors
        I/E. - also known as INT./EXT. (or vice-versa) this tells us the scene
                is a combination of indoors & outdoors

2) Location - information about where the scene takes place


        Note how elements of a location are separated by a hyphen and
        need to occur from general to specific

        e.g. INT. ROLLS ROYCE - TRUNK

        (though too much information makes for a difficult read.)

3) Times - the time of day that the scene is taking place (a practical implication for eventual production)

        e.g. DAY or NIGHT

        They recommended that for Specs, writers should confine
        themselves to these two only. This is to maintain the reader’s         orientation and still be able to tell the story.

        However, any or more of the the following are deemed valid with
        many readers:-

        (and so-on).

In addition to master slug lines, it is now commonplace to see what are called mini-slugs (or secondary headings) within a master slug lined scene. In other words, once the scene has established itself as being (say) in an apartment, it is acceptable to shift focus to a specific part of the apartment without the accompanying (messy) new slug line.


Matt sits down on the sofa... he rolls up his newspaper and swats the cat playfully. The cat jumps off and walks over to Matt’s


where he jumps up and lays down on the keyboard.


In a shooting script, the slug line can comprise extra components :-

                                        AERIAL, UNDERWATER etc

        2.6) Subject of shot - focus is deliberately concentrated
                                        e.g. TRACKING SHOT - JIM, MIKE, PAT

(these are outlined here only to explain what one might see - maybe - in a shooting script... it’s worth noting however that standards are not always consistent, so variations can/will occur.)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Thought for the day...

I'd just like to inspire people to be themselves and do what they want and not conform to the rigid guidelines of the music or entertainment business.
~Juliana Hatfield