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threatens his life and family? Controlling Idea: Through exploring the themes of perfection, desire, and obsession, The Producer follows Joel, a musician and his burgeoning relationship with Alexander a producer. However, at their first recording session Alexander becomes more and more obsessive, forcing Joel to stay and record a masterpiece. As the night progresses,Joel is attacked physically, his relationship with his girlfriend jeopardized, and his parent’s life put in harm. As the night wears on Joel has to either record his first big hit, or try to find his way out of this unending nightmare. Synopsis: Joel is singing an original song in a small café, while Alexander a producer watches. Later, Joel is signing a contract in Alexander’s car. Joel is recording the song in a studio as Alexander watches. Finished, the engineers and backup singers leave, but Alexander asks Joel to stay behind. Alexander asks Joel to get closer and familiar with his own work. They banter some more, Joel reveals his parents paying for him, his motivation/idols, and his saddest moment when he was a child. Alexander then asks Joel to stay behind and record this memory, Joel obliges but notices a gun in Alexander’s coat. Joel starts singing about his saddest memory, his childhood dog dying, and starts to cry. Alexander unsatisfied with Joel’s emotion walks into the recording booth and starts slapping Joel. Lighting a cigarette, Alexander holds it against Joel’s face forcing him to try harder. Joel mad leaves the booth but Alexander coerces him to come back. Joel’s G-string snaps and he asks Alexander to get him one. Alexander obliges and leaves to look for one in the studio, Joel uses the g-string to unlock the booth door, noticing Alexander’s coat he sees the gun missing. Alexander comes back with the gun pointed at Joel. Forcing Joel back into the studio, he starts to berate him. Joel hides the gstring he used to unlock the door; Alexander calls Katie, Joel’s girlfriend, and insinuates that Joel left with a girl.
Joel uses this and starts to sing, Alexander enters the recording booth. Joel attacks Alexander, after a brief fight, Alexander manages to cut off Joel’s pinkie finger. Alexander leaves and comes back with water and a band-aid; he then brings out his phone and shows Joel. On the other end is a face-to-face call showing Joel’s sleeping parents, and a man standing over them. Alexander forces Joel to pick which one will die, after much deliberation Joel selects his dad. Alexander hangs up and Joel starts to sing again. Alexander happy with the last recording enters the booth intending to kill Joel. Although before doing so he intends to show Joel that he did not kill his father. Before this can happen Joel grabs Alexander’s gun and shoots his ears rendering him deaf and bleeding heavily. Joel leaves the booth, goes to the room with his missing fingers and goes to sleep. Analysis: The Producer has issues that need to be re-worked before its true potential is realized. In its current draft, the back-story and ordinary world is not established on any satisfactory level. Structurally there is too much information given in the character and action descriptions. The motivations and desires for certain characters need to develop further and explained, in particular Joel. Additionally, some dialogue is too expository and mechanical, which can be helped by trimming and limiting the I’s that are used. The Producer has an interesting premise that should be explored, with certain stakes and desires clearly established that are coupled with solid tense moments. Structure: The ordinary world is barely established. How successful is Joel as a musician? Does he have any other passions? Currently isn’t anything for us to sympathize or understand with. There is some mention of a family and back-story but this is established too far in the script. The reader needs a reason to understand his plight and root for his success. Additionally why is he so tired? There is no explanation for how long it took to record? One day? How long have they been there? Is it repeated days that
are taking a toll on Joel? Elaborating more on this earlier could clear things up and give him more sympathy. There is a lot of extraneous description that can be completely omitted or limited. “A man approaches the microphone with an acoustic guitar Strapped around his neck. He is JOEL WINTER. 24 years old, ambitious, conscientious and above all, genuine. He’s Dressed very casually with scruffy hair.” Omitting the man part and beginning with Joel and his description may help with the flow of the scene. “People in the audience smile and nod their head, tapping Their fingers and their toes. Everyone looks at JOEL. Including ALEXANDER LANE, 42, eccentric, generous and an opportunist. He is a successful music producer looking for artists to sign. He sits in the centre of the cafe, facing towards JOEL. He’s Dressed in an expensive suit and has his hair slick back, a Stylish sore thumb in this place. He rubs his chin with a Pen in his hand and a sparkle in his eye.” These paragraphs can be folded together, too much description is given and will cause the readers eye to wander. In some parts the action, seems repetitive or needs a clearer explanation. “He scans a recording Contract that’s resting on the hood of a car. JOEL quickly goes through it and signs the bottom.” Is he scanning it as in making a copy or reading it over? If so, he is doing it twice and one of the lines can be omitted. “The men invite the women out for drinks.” This line should be changed to dialogue; this allows for a better reading and doesn’t confuse the reader. Or maybe omit it all together, it is irrelevant for the audience to know this information and the script already is lacking development for the protagonist. “ALEXANDER gives him a nod and starts to head towards the
Control Room.” There is a habit of giving actor’s direction, which should be omitted from the screenplay. Focus more on action that is required and not overtly blocking what they are doing. JOEL’s face drops, disappointment. We don’t need to know he is disappointed, we can already tell by the face dropping. ALEXANDER scrunches the cigarette in his hand and walks out… We know he is scrunching it with his hand and that part could be omitted.
JOEL frowns, concerned at what ALEXANDER is up to. This is overtly descriptive. It can be trimmed to say “Joel suspicious starts to frown. JOEL looks up at him. [Sadness overwhelming his anger]. He Tries to steady his hands. Leave the interpretation to the actors and directors; you don’t need to write it out. Let it flow organically through dialogue and action. Also there is too much in the parenthetical within the actors dialogue. ALEXANDER (trying to comfort him) You alright, Joel? I think that wasn’t the right direction so let’s trying something else--You can just say comforting.
ALEXANDER (CONT) (the spark back in his eye, sinister now) But we can do better.
Leave it to the actors and too much prose. Also that would be hard to act out. ALEXANDER (walking around, gesturing with his arms as he talks, gun still in hand, getting increasingly desperate) Joel. You’re a tricky one to emote. I’m really confused - I thought you wanted to be here, I thought you wanted to do this. Look. Don’t get me wrong. (pointing the gun at him, waving it) I believe in you. I believe you have it in you. Just let Break up this parenthetical throughout the dialogue as mini forms of action. JOEL (CONT) (watching ALEXANDER, concerned about setting off a fire alarm) Stumbling by strangerTrying not to thinkDrink down the memory that you leftI know it’s hard--Just say concerned, the audience will not know what Joel is thinking and that would really impossible to act out. Perhaps put in passing that Alexander is standing underneath an alarm. JOEL Waiting for the night to fix The night to fix, fix me (quicker, with a tear, trying to please ALEXANDER) Strolling through the night Keep company from cats and dogs Waiting for the night to fix The night to fix, fix me Just say tear.
Characters: Joel’s back story needs to be reworked. Why should we care so much about him? What has been revealed before terrible things happen to him? Is a relationship with a girl supposed to illicit sympathy from the audience? Currently the character has very little known about him, but we are supposed to feel the most towards him. The audience needs to know more about his personal life, and what is happening before things get bad for him. Is his career falling hard? Is he desperate? Has he been in a position of vulnerability? Maybe the songs he was singing before were personal, maybe about his girlfriend? Perhaps she is kidnapped, forcing her to sing for her life and how much she means to her? Also the end where he just decides to sleep, works on a comedic level but it sabotages the script. There is near black level of dark humour in the script but this sabotages it. He is supposed to be straight man, does he not care about his family? His girlfriend, or his fingers? The story beings with him being guided and controlled by exterior forces and ends with him being controlled by his exhaustion. There needs to be more of a character arch for him. There has to be more action that’s make him more active, besides taking care of Alexander which is revenge and only serves as a part of the arc. Alexander’s mysterious nature does work, but certain things must be explained. In most movies where circumstances like this occur (The Strangers, Martyrs), the individual is assailed and tormented in their environment. However, this is not the case of in The Producer, and some of this must be explained. Is Alexander always this rich? Has this happened before? Are the background singers and engineers are a part of it? Additionally, why does he cut off her Joel’s fingers? The death, the threats, and the trickery all work but the finger cutting is counter intuitive. He perhaps can cut another aspect of the body that won’t interfere with Joel’s ability to play guitar.
Dialogue: Certain aspects of the dialogue can be re-worked. ALEXANDER (CONT) Go have your lie-ins. Go, go. Not sure what this means. ALEXANDER Joel, can you stay back for a [little talk] for a sec? This line is clunky and too expositional. “Joel can we talk for a sec”, may flow a bit better. JOEL (CONT) (re: phone) Katie, Alexander wants to have a quick chat, I’m not sure how long I’ll be. But I’ll let you know and I’ll see you later, okay? ... Okay, love you too darling. Too many I’s and overt explanation, this can be trimmed down. JOEL Uh... kinda... Nick Drake’s Pink Moon I reckon. Mostly. The “I reckon”, is too much and feels out of character. ALEXANDER (CONT) [Right, okay. Thank you everyone. I’ve really enjoyed your work today And] I think we made a lot of progress and... everyone - day off tomorrow. This line is slightly repetitive, it can begin with, “…I think…”
Theme: The script has potential in the way it explores it themes. Whilst doing so it has an interesting premise that can be riff with tension and terror but needs to balance all the elements evenly. Currently not enough is given to explore the idea of obsession and perfection, which may be solved with greater character development. Additionally by explaining a tiny bit more of Alexander’s motivation and back story to make the actions slightly more believable it could help explain the themes. In the end, the script has an interesting premise but needs to be re-written and fleshed out more. The action breaks and parenthetical must be touched up. Lastly, some lines are awkward or too expository, which can be solved with some refining.