Friday, August 02, 2013

Should we Save the Cat?

Here’s a Friday Question that warrants an entire post.

It’s from Tastes Like Chicken:

Could you comment on this story from Slate.com about why so many Hollywood movies these days (like it never happened in the past, but still ...) seem to resemble each other? His argument is that it's because everybody these days is using the same 15-beat structure from the book "Save the Cat, by Blake Snyder. True?

There have always been books that propose templates for structuring screenplays. And that’s not a bad thing, per se.

One common mistake would-be screenwriters make is they just start writing their script without a good outline. And more often than not they find themselves going in circles, painting themselves into corners, or realize they’re on page 150 already and have yet to introduce the love interest – and it's a romantic comedy.

You need dramatic structure. You need a beginning, middle, and end.  You need things to happen.  You need conflict.  You need a theme. You need character development. A number of these books provide it. Syd Field’s is the de facto standard.

But the danger is turning every original idea into a paint-by-the-numbers landscape.

And the greater danger is that producers and studios rely on these templates as if they were the Ten Commandments. Why? Because most of them can’t write themselves. Yet once they read these books or go to Robert McKee’s seminar they think they’re experts in story structure. There’s nothing more dangerous than an executive who knows nothing about writing but thinks he/she is an expert.

A moment on Robert McKee: This is a very charismatic self-proclaimed screenwriting guru who has made a fortune by staging weekend seminars where he drills into your head his story structure format. You pay a lot of money to sit in a ballroom for two days and hear him do his Billy Graham act. It’s very theatrical and authoritative, and for a time every Hollywood D-Girl prayed at his altar.

And every note tried to turn every screenplay into CASABLANCA (McKee spends an entire day breaking down CASABLANCA – one of his signature schticks).

Now I have nothing against writing seminars. I hold one myself. But mine is hands-on not two days of lectures, and my students are encouraged to be creative, not follow a set of rules.

The new rage is this SAVE THE CAT book. And here the author, Blake Snyder, takes story structure to a new level. Instead of just three acts, and mid-points, etc. he has fifteen specific beats that must occur in the exact order. Each beat has a purpose (i.e. state the theme) and the book even goes so far as to tell you what page in your screenplay each beat must occur.

Lots of Hollywood movies follow this and the result is you, the audience, get a subliminal feeling that you’ve seen the movie already even though you haven’t. From GANGSTER SQUAD to the new STAR TREK this template is being slavishly followed. So to answer your question -- true.

Writing can’t be programmed into a computer. There is no fifteen point magic formula for turning out art. Screenwriters should familiarize themselves with these methods and use them as a good starting point, but then allow yourself the freedom to deviate, to challenge yourself to be original and surprising.

What do producers and studio executives tell young writers they’re looking for most when they read spec screenplays? A fresh, unique, exciting voice. Something distinctive that separates your script from the others. Well, how do you do that when your primary concern is structuring your script just like everyone else’s?

Besides, for my money, the key to a great screenplay is not plot it’s character. Find an amazing character. Give him a wondrous journey or a herculean task. Put him in a world we haven’t seen. Fill it with fifteen great ideas, not fifteen beats. Or twenty great ideas… or nine. The number isn’t important. You’re not solving an Algebra problem.

KILL THE CAT. SAVE YOURSELF.

44 comments:

Hollywoodaholic said...

How many screenplays did Robert McKee actually sell?

Charles H. Bryan said...

@Hollywoodaholic Here's the imdb story on McKee: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0571210/

Carol said...

Am I the only one here who kind of aspires to asking a question that turns into an entire post? No? Just me? Okay.

Oh...this reminds me of the movie 'Track of the Moonbeast' as riffed by MST3K. I felt like the guy that wrote it read a book on how to structure a horror story, but lacked the actual talent to pull it off.

I kind of want to know what the 15 beats are, but not enough to actually read the book.

Steve said...

Ken,

Now that you've commented on McKee and other "standard" writing approaches, I would be interested to know whether you've read Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant's book, "Writing Movies for Fun and Profit," which provides advice on how to write the schlocky, lowest-common-denominator movies that studios tend to produce (and that these guys have written).

I have not read it yet, but the reviews are very favorable. It's especially interesting because, based on RENO 911! and some of their other lesser-known work, Lennon and Garant are obviously very talented writers and performers -- but they realize that the money is in writing crapfests for the major studios. I'd be interested to know your thoughts on this approach, and whether you would consider (or have considered) this freely-admitting "selling out" approach.

Jit said...

In defense of "Save the Cat", the problem isn't that of the 15 beats. The problem is that of cliche.

The 15 beats are a tool. They are basically a easily digestible version of Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey. They help in terms of structure.

The problem is not with the tool, but how you use it. You can use it to create imaginative works with a cohesive and time-tested structure to hold it together, or you can use it to create a well-structured but ultimately cliched and empty piece.

Structurally, a great film may be identical with a lousy film. Is there something wrong with the structure then? No, there isn't.

Eric said...

@Carol - Slate posted the 15 beats as a sidebar: http://www.slate.com/content/slate/sidebars/2013/07/the_save_the_cat_beat_sheet.html

Anonymous said...

I don't even think the problem is the 15 beats the writers use. You can use those beats and create a really fantastic UNIQUE script.

I think the problem is the producers/managers/agents. They live in a world where "nobody knows nothing" and so they cling to these 'knowable' paradigms, and in so doing, they potentially reject a lot of really great fricking storytelling, simply because THEY can't 'get' it. It doesn't fit into something they DO know.

Ellin said...

You are so right. Plot grows out of character, not the other way around.

I find things like StC most useful in terms of seeing if a script hits the beats after the first draft is written and then,if not, considering whether conforming to them will improve it or not (the major turning points are usually in place already).

I see BtC like a road map - it will get you where you're heading the most obvious way, but if you see a more interesting detour—take it!

Loosehead said...

Eric said...
@Carol - Slate posted the 15 beats as a sidebar: http://www.slate.com/content/slate/sidebars/2013/07/the_save_the_cat_beat_sheet.html

Holy crap - Avengers Assemble, virtually word for word. I liked that film...

Jeff said...

I love your blog Ken but I respectfully disagree with some of the things you said in this post. I've read the Save the Cat books. First off, Blake never says that the beats need to ALL happen in a specific order.

In Save the Cat Goes to the Movies he clearly demonstrates how some of the beats happen in different order in different movies. It simply serves as a reference to concepts and ideas that all good screenplays have. For instance Blake points out that if you don't have the conflict ramped up for the start of the third act, why does the audience care if the hero succeeds or fails?

Blake also doesn't say that the beats NEED to be on a specific page, he merely suggests whereabouts they may fall. Again using a hypothetical example, if you reveal the theme of your movie in the last page, why was the audience emotionally invested? The theme is stated early so the audience often has a moral dilemma that will be explored in the film.

I agree with you that writers should not restrict themselves to a rigid beat by beat structure, but on the other hand complete creative freedom is not always a positive. Cloud Atlas for instance did not follow a Blake Snyder beat sheet, but I get the feeling that a lot of the audience left confused and unfulfilled.

Anonymous said...

Taking advice from the man who wrote "Stop or my Mom will shoot".
Blake had yet to write Save the Cat so he couldn't save one of his two credited movies.

Marv said...

When I do writing seminars (been writing full time professionally for 40+ years) I always start by saying that writing is an art, not a science, and there are no rules. Then I amend that to one rule: if a scene doesn't advance character and story, best at the same time, get rid of it. Then I do the anti McKee/Truby/Blake, etc. by deconstructing movies that do not follow those patterns. Yes, there are grammar rules, but since movies, TV, comics/etc. are dialog based those rules go out the window; people talk the way they talk and rarely grammatically. You center on characters and their journey and you construct the story that best makes it interesting to watch or read the journey, and the how you do that changes with each character and situation.

Mary Stella said...

I had the pleasure of hearing Blake give a Save the Cat talk at a writers' conference a couple of years before he passed. Funny, engaging guy and he presented his approach as a tool, acknowledging that there are other structure tools around, too.

Whether I use his structure, I am at least entertained by the way he puts across his points. My favorite is how he uses "Pope in the Pool" with exposition.

Andy said...

I gotta say, I feel like you're overstating, Ken.

I'm still not seeing any evidence that CtC is what everyone's following - Gangster Squad and Star Trek may or may not feel the same, but who's proving it's because of this one book?

Given that the whole point of StC is to use examples of successful movies from the past, how is it not 'a repeatedly successful structure' rather than 'a structure this book caused'? The book illustrates how Jaws is structurally the same as Miss Congeniality - but those weren't written by following the book's advice.

Thousands of movies fit the template pretty well, but rarely exactly, before and since. How is that causation?

Not to mention that StC specifically notes that this is for certain types of movie, not all movies. (Specifically, Memento is tossed aside.) Nobody's saying 'use this or die (commercially)'.

All the structure books do the same basic things, and that's all anyone's seeing. No one book utterly changed movies. For a time they all read McKee, did everything end up being Casablanca?

I gotta say, August and Mazin nailed this one: rarely is any movie you see actually using this book as a guide, and never would anyone make a choice based on what it says rather than the best thing for the movie, agreed on by the team.

The script is not the movie. One STC-fan writer can't change the will of studios, producers and writers.

Zappa the Unholy said...

And this is why I love Quentin Tarantino. He gets a lot of grief for violence and language but his movies are rarely formulaic.

Dimitris said...

Amen! Well stated, Ken!

tb said...

"Writing Movies for Fun and Profit" is a funny book. The importance of schmoozing is discussed, among other things. I think Ken's earlier blog about how they want to know what the poster looks like, and what the trailer moments are, is also telling about what we keep seeing in movies these days

Anonymous said...

Blaming Save The Cat for the alleged decline of the movie is like blaming the D chord for the decline of rock & roll.

Eric J said...

Friday question:
You can't learn to write from books and blogs, but you can learn to improve your product from the advice experts give in blogs and books. So if you were to put together a library of experts in this field to consult, what books would be there?

ChicagoJohn said...

I think that if I were to write one rule of writing, it would be to break the rules. Not intentionally, of course, and not without knowledge of any rules. But to literally turn a story on its head.

"Pulp Fiction" was a hit specifically because it was in an order that people didn't expect.

"The Usual Suspects", as far as I can tell, didn't conform to any standard plot format.

Any Mel Brooks movie regularly makes fun of and confounds any typical format, including breaking down the walls of a musical-in-progress at the end of a Western.

Yeah. I hate paint-by-the-numbers writing.

Frank Paradise said...

Right on Ken! I was trying to think of the last Hollywood comedy movie I really liked and all I know was it was made sometime last century. Now studio comedies only seem to be made if they can gross out twenty year olds or to turn classics like 'Arthur' into dogs.

storywrtr said...

Like Carol said, I never read the book, although I am curious about it.

Personally, I have never followed the rules for writing. Outlining is difficult for me, but I do get a complete story every time. And maybe it's because I don't stick to the specific rules that has me having difficulty getting an agent.

ChicagoJohn said...

"Blaming Save The Cat for the alleged decline of the movie is like blaming the D chord for the decline of rock & roll."

With all due respect, if you read a book that said:
"Use a D chord. Then an 2nd chord. Then a third. Repeat this structure until you get to the chorus, which will be a different set of chords that heighten the original melody. Your words should repeat.
Now go back to the 3 chord D structure. Do this for 4 bars, and then go back to the chorus.
Stop for 4 beats.
Finish with the 3 D chord structure, but up one step. Repeat til end"

...wouldn't you feel that it was being awfully pedantic?

Writing is exceptionally personal. A person's voice comes out in a variety of ways. While structure certainly helps for people to follow it along, as soon as you say "this is the order things should be in", you're crippling the ability of someone to come up with a new story-telling style.

Creativity doesn't start by painting by the numbers.

BruceB said...

A lot of folks here defending "Save The Cat." The book is not the point. The slavish devotion to a formula by executives with no talent who want a way to point and scold and feel like they know what they are talking about is the problem. They don't know enough about writing to know when one can deviate from formula, and so are terrified to do so.

Miquiel Banks said...

I understand your frustration, but the problem is not SAVE THE CAT, the core problem is American Thought, which ultimately drills down into Hollywood.
We kill creativity in school, in class, in sports, and everywhere else, it's no wonder this disease has infected Hollywood.
The problem is POPULARITY, not STC (Save The Cat). Cause after Blake, there'll be someone else and after that, someone else.
The great thing about the Golden Oldies (50s, 60s, 70s, 80s) is that structure was not hammered into writers' minds, they simply focused on writing a great story. With no template or carrot wavering in their faces, writers could go WITHIN and find their own answers. And just like CHRISTIANITY, it's a religion of popularity, not one of purpose. So the crowd chases the same things and hence, Hollywood has settled on Save The Cat.
As an expert on STC Method, I disagree with you completely because even in his books, Blake specifically says the beat sheet is a template for "STARTING" your story, not for finishing. It's a checklist, something to remind you if you forgot, not a Nazi overlord to follow. Even in his books, he says that in many great scripts, the beats change order and often do. We can discuss the STC Method more if you'd like.

Miquiel Banks said...

I understand your frustration, but the problem is not SAVE THE CAT, the core problem is American Thought, which ultimately drills down into Hollywood.
We kill creativity in school, in class, in sports, and everywhere else, it's no wonder this disease has infected Hollywood.
The problem is POPULARITY, not STC (Save The Cat). Cause after Blake, there'll be someone else and after that, someone else.
The great thing about the Golden Oldies (50s, 60s, 70s, 80s) is that structure was not hammered into writers' minds, they simply focused on writing a great story. With no template or carrot wavering in their faces, writers could go WITHIN and find their own answers. And just like CHRISTIANITY, it's a religion of popularity, not one of purpose. So the crowd chases the same things and hence, Hollywood has settled on Save The Cat.
As an expert on STC Method, I disagree with you completely because even in his books, Blake specifically says the beat sheet is a template for "STARTING" your story, not for finishing. It's a checklist, something to remind you if you forgot, not a Nazi overlord to follow. Even in his books, he says that in many great scripts, the beats change order and often do. We can discuss the STC Method more if you'd like.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't we just find the cat a good home? Despite the intelligence level of many scripts, HE'S not writing them.

mikeo said...

It's not the cat, it's bad writing pure and simple. A lot of the deux ex machina that seems to be abound in contemporary screenplays is to blame here. Do I need to name some films? You know the suspects.

A bad writer always blames their tools. Besides, cats are nice.

Eduardo Jencarelli said...

After reading this post, I almost felt dirty for having bought a copy of the book, two years ago.

But seriously, I'm going to disagree. Having a well-defined template for story structure doesn't mean you automatically sacrifice character for an easily written plot.

One of my favorite hobbies is to dissect structures within movies I'm watching. Cuaron's Children of Men, while being surprising and character-driven, still has a clear story structure.

Star Wars can and should be seen as one of the prime examples of structure, while still having faith in the characters to move the story forward.

The real problem is the amount of intereference caused by execs and their attempts to tailor the story to audiences, to a point where it becomes a tired formula.

Tim W. said...

I remember watching "The Ugly Truth" with my wife (it was her choice, and it wasn't in the theatre) and being, in my head, saying what page they were on based on what was happening on the screen. It was so formulaic it was horrible.

K. Rowe said...

I'm a novelist and baby screenwriter. I've been told so much stuff I'm confused! Less narrative, more narrative, change the dialog, don't change the dialog. But not one has said anything about my story arc. I'd hope not, since my outline is the novel itself. I successfully condensed over 76,000 words, turning a fraction of them into a 115 page screenplay. But what am I missing? I've been told that since it is an adaptation that I should trim the narrative to the bone because the director and producer SHOULD read the book. Is this faulty logic?

Stephanie Palmer said...

I enjoyed your article, Ken. I wrote this in response to the Slate article: Slate Gets It Wrong- The Real Reason Hollywood Makes Bad Movies." "http://goodinaroom.com/blog/real-reason-hollywood-makes-bad-movies/

DBenson said...

Similar story:

I work in advertising, and some years ago my employer sent the sales reps to a day-long seminar on selling methods. It was, by and large, good sound stuff. The key message was to listen to the customer and tailor your pitch to what that specific customer needed, not to what you wanted to brag about. That boiled down to "Sell benefits, not features."

Problem was, too many people -- including some managers -- managed to come away with only the mantra "features bad, benefits good" and a limited grasp of that. I could write something like "Save 75% off regular price" and somebody would say "Where's the benefit? Could you put the benefit up front?" A few would even require the word "benefit" in the copy (or the headline).

Eventually that obsession faded a bit, with people saying "emphasize the benefits more" every now and then. Then came the mania for bullet points on everything.
"This is the question:
• To be
• Not to be
• And more!"

Some guy on the internet said...

Dan O'Bannon's book is great. Cuts through the bullshit and gives you practical tools that focus less on structure and more on what conflict really is. And hey, he wrote a couple good movies too.

George said...

It's not so much that writers are writing this or that. It's that studios have changed their policies on what they're going to make. That article about save the cat is obvious click bait, people. Come on. Well, look, if you dare try to write something akin to Memento. Go right ahead. Maybe it'll be one of those critically acclaimed films that don't make that much but I mean it doesn't mean they shouldn't be made. Just shut up and write from your hearts. All of you. Write from your hearts. And write intuitively. What ever happened to that?

Wayne said...

Ken, if you had wanted to, could you have written an Elvis movie?

Thanks for a great blog.

Anonymous said...

great post, Ken. hope all is well.

Anonymous said...

Except, ChicagoJohn, most rock & roll *do* follow the same structure, limited chord sequences and rhythms, even if no-one has had to explicitly spell them out.

Did you know, for instance, that in the entire 50 year history of rock & roll there has been exactly one top thirty hit in 7/8 (Pink Floyd's Money, and even then the bridge is in 4/4)? And how many Chinese language top thirty hit songs can you name?

The truth is that the conventions that exist in the rock & roll business evolved in response to what audiences resonate to. Songs that ignore these conventions tend strongly to underperform in the general marketplace. Moreover, it is exceedingly rare for an artist to propel the industry in a new direction by herself.

Yet despite all that, artists compelled to keep their individuality never fail to do so: a Bob Dylan song is instantly distinguishable from a John Hiatt or a Leonard Cohen song, despite their profound similarities and adherence to convention.

My point, I guess, is that STC merely details those conventions that have arisen and exist in the movie business. Ultimately, given there's so much space to work in, the constraints really don't matter and it's what you do around and within the boundaries that counts. No-one is in danger of having their personality orindividuality being snuffed out from their writing.

I'll end with a quote I saw on Scott Myers' board last week:
“It is a strange thing. A composer studies harmony and theory of musical forms; a painter doesn’t paint a picture without knowing something about colors and design; architecture requires basic schooling. Only when somebody makes a decision to start writing, he believes that he doesn’t need to learn anything and that anybody who has learned to put words on paper can be a writer.” -- Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev

JOETEEVEE said...

Hey Ken

Cool post...
You seen this?

StoryAlity #35: Comparing 8 screenplay `guru' systems

http://storyality.wordpress.com/2012/12/20/storyality-35-what-do-8-screenplay-gurus-say-about-screenplay-structure/

Cheers

JT
http://storyality.wordpress.com/

mrswing said...

What is The Cat? It is Blake Snyder's personal system for structuring a screenplay. The Contour system by Jeff Schechter is his detailed (even more so than STC, in the first act) system of developing his scripts. And these methods work, if they connect with you as a writer. And it turns out that a lot of American screenplays (mainly) can be successfully analyzed using these models.

However, they are only two possible structural models, not the One And Only Way To Structure A Screenplay. If you use STC as the basis for your script every time, you will tell the exact same underlying story every time. Where the hero will have successes in the first half of act 2, where things will get progressively worse at approximately the same moment in the second half etc.

Same thing with every other type of detailed structural model. They all work, they can all help you break through writer's block and/or organize your ideas, and they can result in a successful final script. I have absolutely no problem with anyone using a pre-existing structure - at times, I've done it myself. But the thing to remember is: you're using someone else's method. And you're telling one type of underlying story over and over.

What we could use: different structural models for each separate genre. What would also be great: even more 'personal' structural models available, so there's more and more variety available.

What would be the greatest? Every one of us developing their own way of structuring a screenplay. And then sharing it with the world.

And what would top even this? Being the guru who could teach people how to develop their own system, while raking in mountains of cold, hard cash. :-D

jguentherauthor.wordpress.com said...

After reading most of the books, I think the earliest film structures, plus some good sense, yield something not very different from StC or versions of the Hero's Journey. I believe that the HJ really does resonate with innate human myth/ story receptors.

An overriding consideration, on the other hand, may be: how do my main characters want their stories told? Are their entrances satisfying and thematic? Have they touched the audience? Have they each participated in at least one memorable moment?

Orrin said...

Hello Ken,

I too am relatively new to Script writing, and, I have to say, after reading several books including Save the Cat, and then running into the (Save the Cat debate), It's seems a bit like the Pirate Code. If you Question the method, one pirate/person will shoot you on the spot while another would say it's only a guideline. ...OK, maybe not quite that severe., But my questions about the books "guidelines" led me to this website: http://messageboard.donedealpro.com/boards/showthread.php?t=18034
...Here's the part that shed light for me:
Q: "How many scenes per Act?"

A: "As many as it takes."

Don't get bogged down in this kind of planning, just write the story organically. Outlining or making a beat sheet is fine, but just let the scenes happen as they happen, as many scenes as it takes to tell your story. Make sure every scene is necessary and then you'll have your total number. (and) I'm with Hairy. - If you start cutting a scene short before saying everything that needs to be said, or extending a scene after all is said and done - just to meet some artificial, numerical goal - you're probably going to screw up your script.
I think reading these posts, that it's partly producers looking for an easy way to judge scripts, and amature writers looking for a cure-all for their script woe's... that is fostering this idea that one book is the only answer. Plus Blake is gone and can't settle the debate... The questions in the book and finding these truth's has only slowed me a little for a month. no worries. My conclusion? They're guidelines. Rules are meant to be broken or changed is as fundamental rule as gravity. TY Ken for this post, and Tim's, I am more confident to allow my creative side the brevity that is required. TY Orrin

The Evil Commish said...

ChicagoJohn's comment,

"With all due respect, if you read a book that said:
"Use a D chord. Then an 2nd chord. Then a third. Repeat this structure until you get to the chorus, which will be a different set of chords that heighten the original melody. Your words should repeat.
Now go back to the 3 chord D structure. Do this for 4 bars, and then go back to the chorus.
Stop for 4 beats.
Finish with the 3 D chord structure, but up one step. Repeat til end"

...wouldn't you feel that it was being awfully pedantic?"

Agreed, but that isn't what STC did. The real analogy would be, "I've been in the music industry my whole life and I have noticed that the majority of songs that record companies are looking for use this chord progression, kick in a good guitar solo about three/quarters of the way through and run between 3.5 to 4.5 minutes long. If you want a record company to buy your song, your chances are improved if you follow the same format."
Snyder wasn't writing a book on how to be a great artist, he wrote a book from the perspective of improving chances to sell a script. He did it because he saw a lot of young, hopeful script writers getting bad advice and writing scripts that had little to no chance of being bought.
I see Snyder as more of an insider who says, "guess what guys, here's the formula used by the guys who actually make a living writing scripts." Warning for anyone who has never read the book, it will ruin almost every movie you ever see again.

VictimNoMore said...

I took the Save the Cat Beat Shee Workshop in NYC with Ben Frahm. Within minutes of the beginning of the class, he said he wanted to go home early. We paid for individual attention. After giving every student but one almost one hour of personal attention, it was 10 minutes past the "early" time Ben Frahm wanted to leave.

The last student, despite paying the same or more as every other student who received 1 hour of personal attention, was told after 2 minutes to "Shut up" so Ben Frahm could do his job, leave early and cheat everyone, but mostly the last student. Class ended immediately thereafter.

The next day, the student complained. What did Ben Frahm do? Despite the fact that the complaining student hadn't said one word the previous day, except for her personal attention, while Ben Frahm and every other student said "you know" all day long, Ben told the student she was wasting THEIR TIME. She sat there for 8 hours paying over $30/hour to listen to 5 people including the instructor say "you know" all day long. And one student who indicated she liked cops (control issues?) actually ordered Ben Frahm NOT TO DISCUSS GRAVITY because SHE hadn't seen it yet. Important or not for our education, Ben Frahm complied with her order not to discuss any movie she hand't seen. (Her screenplay was about a couple who went to 50 states to do good deeds. If you meet her, run as fast as you can. You may end up in jail.)

After the cheated student complained, Ben Frahm and the woman who wanted a cop called the cops on the complaining student. A dozen cops in 2 vans showed up in swat gear to arrest the poor student who dared to complain she was cheated out of what she paid for.

Yes, forget the cat if you don't want to go to jail. And, if you attend Ithaca College, you may not want to spend thousands of dollars to hear someone say "you know" all day. Just turn on the TV and you'll hear plenty of people say it.