An excerpt from my script review for Office Christmas Party which will be available 12/23/16
And because it’s Christmas, and I think there’s a lot to take away from this script, enjoy an EXTENDED excerpt:
3.) Quality of Characters
Or more importantly, making it a motivation for characters in a comedy.
Go through a list of classic comedies. How many have the main character(s) trying to hook up?
Whether trying to get it, or wanting to avoid it, sex is funny, because most of us are awkward in relation to it.
(In some form or another.)
One of the basest of instincts, making characters struggle in their “quest for sex” is funny to us because we’ve been in a similar situation, know someone who has, or worse, had someone be that awkward on our behalf.
Single? Married? In a serious relationship?
Doesn’t matter, there’s certain degrees and situations that we can relate to.
This script did a good job of presenting character relationships (or lack thereof) we could identify with.
Josh and Tracey – Past lovers giving us the “will they, won’t they” experience.
Allison and Fred – Single mom just wanting to find a decent guy, instead finds a grown man into role-playing a naughty child that needs spanked by “mommy”.
Nate and “Becca” – To save face in front of his coworkers, Nate has to hire an escort to pose as his make believe girlfriend.
4.) Dialogue and Description
A single word…
Erica’s a cold, calculating bitch of a boss and nothing escapes her gaze, but INSTEAD of saying all that we’re given a single word.
She notices bad behavior, she reacts with a single word.
It’s easily translatable to the screen, and as I read I could actually SEE the expression on Erica’s face!
The script was filled with that clever style of description I’m fond of, so much so, that I’ll type out specifics even though the version I read is a scan.
It’s THAT important.
We’re watching the people WORKING. Exhausted, stressed
headachey. Dealing with long lines, angry customers—
And then examples of certain people that have shitty jobs come the holiday season.
We can see how crushing this time of year is on their spirits, and that’s in direct contrast to the customers they’re serving.
Weak-sauce holiday decorations sprout up here and there.
Bland, safe, chintzy Christmas, Hanukah, and Kwanza crap. It
somehow makes things look less festive.
Aside from the obvious “tip of the hat” for using weak-sauce, again, we can visualize the decorating, like the staff knew they had to do it, but didn’t want to offend anyone so instead maybe it shouldn’t have been done at all.
Page 8 (between Josh and Tracey):
He’s stopped listening. Clearly isn’t the first time she’s
told him to suck her dick.
She turns off her monitors. Hates it when he reminds her
he’s not stupid.
This bit coupled with the dialogue between the two is an excellent exchange and introduction to Josh and Tracey.
Clear to the reader their relationship, and simple for the actors to sell it.
Whoa! The two groups start moving like West Side Story gangs
toward each other.
A visual most of us are familiar with (in fact you may be mentally humming the music right after reading it) that makes for a clever way to express how Sales and Legal interact around the office.
Page 60 (Re: out of control employees mixing drinks):
The bartender tries to stop them, but the inmates have taken control…
This party has gone from fun and exciting to a prison riot. We can imagine some of the bedlam occurring without the author needing to spell out each and every incident.
THE CAR ISN’T STOPPING.
BEARING DOWN ON THEM… AND….
Excellent technique to draw out the tension on this particular story’s climax.
Certainly don’t overuse tricks like this, but feel free to employ them to give a better mental picture of how the critical parts of your story should play out.
(I feel it’s important to note, in the case of this script, this was THE SINGLE time this technique was employed.)
If you adopt a similar writing style to your action and description, people are going to want to read it, and when they do they’ll appreciate it.
Other writers may tell you to avoid unfilmables…too cute…novelistic…whatever!
Go with your gut.
Creating an interesting read is more than just plot and story.
You’re a writer, and should be able to use creative words, phrases, comparisons, etc. to get your point across WITHOUT beating your reader over the head with a sea of details.
Less is more!
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