Finishing projects and script changes

It has been a little while since I checked in so I thought I’d drop you guys a line.

I’ve almost reached my original episode goal for Season 3 of VCoT. It is killing me not sharing them as soon as they are completed, but having them stockpiled will actually be better in the long run, both for Cinevore and myself. I’m not in a position where I can create episodes in the same way that I used to. This is actually a very good thing.

Keeping to my original monthly deadline was great for output when VCoT first got going. This gave me a certain fire to complete things on a regular basis. It was excellent training for producing a show on my own. However, doing them piece meal like I used to, let a few underdeveloped episodes slip through. Although, now that I am creating an entire season in one go, I can take my time with scripts, making sure to cram as much fun into a short period of time as I can.

Let’s actually talk about the script writing process for a second.

In between seasons 2 and 3 of Victorian Cut-out Theatre, I have worked on scripts, pitches, and punch-ups for Cinevore Studios. This has been excellent training for me and I believe has made VCoT a better show as a result.

When working on joke punch-ups, my job (sometimes with a crew of other writers) is to add maximum joke density to a short video. Lots of ideas get thrown into the pot, a lot of jokes don’t make it, some inspire better jokes and then Matt and Stephanie trim the script, keeping the best bits. The final product is lean and as funny as possible. In doing this, I learned that in three minutes, you have to get setup and character out of the way immediately and then get to the meat of the piece. If it takes too long, something has to go. You get less precious about your writing this way and hopefully you get the best version of your script.

The VCoT episode titled A Decent Burial is a case where the first time I recorded audio, the episode was running about four minutes without credits. Unacceptable! My hope was to get it under three minutes if I could, so I had to take another crack at the script, and the first thing I noticed was that the entire intro took too long. Below is an example.

DRAFT 1

[Young woman walks into parlor of a funeral home]

Woman: Hello? Is anyone here?

Man: Excuse me, madame. How may I help you?

Woman: I’m looking for a casket.

Man: Are you shopping for a loved one or are you just browsing?

Woman: My husband, I’m afraid. Tell me, do people really come in to just browse for coffins?

Man: You’d be surprised, madame. Poets mostly, a few teachers, a vicar once. Said it made him feel more alive. Do you see a casket or coffin that strikes your fancy?

Woman: Well they all look lovely. What is that one?

Man: You do have an eye for craftsmanship, madame. This here is our Milton Pedigree 3000 with optional bell and lifeline.

That vicar joke is dull and doesn’t quite work, and it holds up the real entry to the jokes. Here’s the final draft of the intro.

[Young woman walks into parlor of a funeral home]

Woman: Hello? Is anyone here?

Man: Pardon me, madame. How may I help you?

Woman: I’m looking for a casket.

Man: Of course. Do you see a casket or coffin that strikes your fancy?

Woman: Well they all look lovely. What is that one?

Man: Excellent eye, madame. This here is our Milton Pedigree 3000 with optional bell and lifeline.

Woman: Bell and lifeline?

Man: Indeed. Should a live person become buried by mistake, the bell and lifeline make it possible for the unfortunate party to ring for help.

Same amount of lines, but the removal of the bad joke keeps things moving along. Some of the lines are shorter too. I mention the woman’s husband is deceased later in the script, so I felt free to take it out of the intro. I think it flows a bit better, don’t you.

The script is filled with these little changes and bugaboos, making the lines flow better, quicker, and funnier. In the end, I was able to cut the sketch down to 2:45. Which is great timing for an episode of VCoT. By pruning the weak bits, the really good parts shine brighter and the whole thing cooks.

If you guys like hearing these odd little bits about the show, let me know and I’ll put more into future blogs.

In other news…

I’ve finished my scripts for the reader’s theater next month and I’m looking forward to hearing how they read outside of my own head. I’m wondering what sort of discoveries the actors will make during the course of the readings that might spur new discoveries in me. Above all, I do hope that there is interest in the work we are doing. Enough interest at least to warrant future performances or full scale productions. Fingers crossed.

Last night my wife and I attended a Eurovision party hosted by our friends, one of whom is from the UK. I had never heard of Eurovision before show told us about it, but in Europe, this is THE premiere event. Basically Europe sends a singer or band to complete and give a concert, each country votes on the best performance/song and then you have a winner. This is a gross oversimplification of a show that look like Blade Runner replicants step into the holodeck and sing while the audience from The Hunger Games goes ape-shit.

Let me be clear, I’m not a fan of American Idol or any of those overhyped talent shows, but I was so impressed with the Phillip K. Dickian visuals and the Thunderdomeesque competition, that I kind of fell in love with it. I don’t watch the Oscars because it is self-important arbitrary nonsense, I don’t watch the Super Bowl because it is millionaire playing sports ball, but Eurovision exists in a world where everyone seems to know how arbitrary and ridiculous it is. There is very little pretense to the veritable orgasm of weird staging, nonsensical costumes and holographic gimmickry. I can’t recommend it enough. We will definitely be watching again next year.

P.S. I know I’ll sound like a rube to those with tech training, but whatever. Creating rain in After Effects is amazing and much easier that I thought it would be. I don’t need much from AE to make VCoT but the little shortcuts and tricks it has added to the show have made it look infinitely better than it used to AND much easier to create.

Anyway, I have to button this up so I can work on a new script for VCoT. I have one written but…I think I can do better. This feels really good actually.

Take care,

-Rob