Rolling out the weekend with some Friday Questions. What’s yours?
VP81955 starts us off with a screenplay FQ:
I've been told that when you're suggesting musical or song & dance segments, you should not specifically list the song (and certainly not play choreographer -- that's why God made Toni Basil!), but write "in the style of 'Pump It Up' by Elvis Costello (or whatever)." At the same time, I understand the screenwriter for "Guardians of the Galaxy" -- whom I'm guessing is far more experienced regarding this stuff than I am -- insisted on several '70s songs for the soundtrack. How would you suggest a neophyte screenwriter handle this situation?
The issue about specific songs is that the studio will need to secure the rights. And that can get complicated and expensive. Good luck getting a Beatles or Springsteen song. It’s generally better to leave yourself some options.
For your screenplay you could suggest a specific song and add: or something like it that the studio could clear without needing to sell off the backlot.
As for choreography, be sparing for several reasons. It’s hard to convey and the last thing you want to do is bog down your reader with extensive stage direction. As you said, it’s Toni Basil Magic.
John Astin so under-rated. Have a question - I remember that MTM series (short as it was) and remember the Astin character had a thing where he always said the full name of Mary's character. When you develop a character do you also develop those "hooks" (is that the industry word?) or does it evolve during the creation of the show, as you hear the characters interacting in real time?
You do look for quirks that help define a character. The best of these come from observing real behavior from real people. When David Isaacs and I are creating a character we'll often say, "What about that thing that Fred does?" (Poor Fred, we use him all the time.)
But again, the point is to help inform the audience as to who the character is. It’s not just giving him a funny catch phrase or goofy walk just to have him stand out.
Actors are always looking for these “hooks” to lock onto a character. Sometimes it’s a speech pattern, a physical quirk, a piece of wardrobe, or even a certain music genre preference a la GUARDIANS.
As a writer, the more specific I can make a character the easier it will be for the actor and the audience to get what I’m going for.
Another helpful hint for writers -- take acting classes and improv workshops. Learn to develop characters for yourself. I always recommend Andy Goldberg's improv class. It's the one I'm in.
Ken, you've diversified so much of late with playwrighting (a word?), TCM hosting. I'm curious if you've thought about doing a podcast? Given your broadcasting chops, storytelling and showbiz connections, I'd think you would be pretty successful with it. Have you considered that at all?
I have. I would like to do a podcast. I just need the equipment and someone to show me how to use it, how to upload it, how to link to it from my blog. I am not computer savvy (a nice way of saying I’m a blithering idiot). I also worry a little about the time and obligation a podcast would require.
Oh… and just what the hell I’d say on one of these things?
But I’m definitely interested.
From Allan V:
Like yourself, I have also called games on-air (high school, not MLB), and like yourself, I like to use the occasional profanity in my casual, everyday speech. What approach did you use to keep from accidentally blurting out an f-bomb or similar word when things get exciting during a game? Frankly, I was always a bit worried that I might let one fly during the heat of the moment.
I can only speak for myself. I am always conscious of the fact that I am “on the air.” Usually I’m listening to headphones so my voice sounds a little amplified and that provides a constant reminder that I’m in broadcast mode.
I have been known to drop a profanity or two during my daily life. But when I’m in the booth I try to curtail the casual use of such language. However, I know announcers who take great delight in saying the most disgusting things between pitches – clicking the mic on and off. That’s a high wire act I choose to avoid. All you need is one slip up.
Back in the ‘90s when announcers were calling a game on TV it was carried by satellite to the station and anyone who had a dish could access it. The mic was always on and there have been instances where announcers have sworn a blue streak or been extremely candid assessing a player’s lack of talent during commercial breaks only to have a few thousand listeners (including the kid's parents) scattered around the country eavesdropping. Oops. I forget the particulars but Al Michaels once got in trouble during a World Series by saying something between innings that was not meant to be broadcast. Double oops.