More On Fluffy


More notes on scriptwriting


So you’ve spent the day at the Dog and Cat Hospital, and while you were there, you were witness to (and filmed) the amazing rescue of Fluffy the puppy hit by the car and saved by the vet.

At the end of a long day, you come home.

Your home life is not so good.

Your wife is on the verge of divorce. (Maybe she has already filed!)

You, on the other hand, are trying to rescue the marriage.

“Honey” you say, as you enter the house, “I just had the most fascinating day at work”.

“Oh really” she says, not bothering to look up from the newspaper.

“No. Really, I saw the most fascinating thing. And I shot it all”.

“Great” she says, absentmindedly flipping through The New York Post.

“I want you to look at some of the stuff I shot”, you say, hoping to garner both her attention and her respect (forget it).

She continues to flip the pages of the paper.

“You know…. I’d love to…. but…. I’m kinda ….hmm….30 percent off sale at Zabar’s…..kinda…. busy….”

“No” you say in earnest… “really, I just want you to look at some of the stuff I shot… It’s pretty interesting”.

“Love to babe”, she says, still immersed in The Post, “but….I’m really pretty….wow, Bloomingdale’s one day sale… pretty busy….”

Now you start to get annoyed.

“Just look at one thing” your voice going up. “Just one God damned thing….OK?” and you slam the table. (Trust me, I was married to one of these, once).

She looks up.

You’ve got her attention.

“OK” she says, making eye contact with your for the very first time. “Show me one thing”.

Now…what is the one thing you show her?

Is it the exterior of the Dog and Cat Hospital?

I don’t think so.

Because it if is, she will wish she filed a year ago.

What kind of moron thinks that is interesting?

No, you show her the most exciting thing you have. Fluffy being saved by the vet, on the Operating Table.

If that doesn’t get her attention, nothing will.

Now, your audience cares even less about you than your soon to be ex-wife.

Is that even possible?

You bet. You know why? Because you didn’t spend that weekend in the Bahamas with the audience.

You didn’t have that thing in the back of the car in December with the audience.

They audience could not care if you died then and there on the spot. Even less so than the soon to be ex.

So why do you insist on starting your pieces with that exterior shot of the building?

Nothing will drive them away faster.

You HAVE to start with the most exciting footage you’ve got.

Have to.

There is no option.

This makes scriptingwriting much easier.

Find the most exciting thing you’ve got and put it on the screen first.

You’ll get their attention. No one is turning away from Fluffy on the OR table.

No one.

Now that you’ve go their attention, what are you going to do with it?


6 responses to “More On Fluffy

  1. Strunk and White endorsed the same principles for literature in “The Elements of Style”. They sympathized with a reader adrift in an endless ocean of text, and argued that writers must eliminate unnecessary words and present content in a straightforward and concise manner.

    It’s exciting to think video is reaching the same saturation point.

  2. Video reached that point long ago.
    Honestly you serve up old stuff that we have done forever as if it is new or radical thinking.
    “To walk grasshopper you must put one foot in front of the other”
    When I shoot I know when I’ve got the opening shot just as I know when I’ve got the end shot. As I shoot I run lines in my head, usually cheesy tabloid lines but it works when a real writer writes to the pictures.
    That’s just normal practice.
    Open with you best shot, take the viewer on a journey and if you are really good complete the circle by linking the end shot to the opening one.
    It’s basic. It works and good TV does it all the time… but Michael won’t show you any of that.

  3. stephen
    I have been running training seminars for professional broadcasters (like the BBC or US local stations) for years. You would, no doubt, be astonished at what they don’t know and the bad practices that they carry out. Perhaps things are different in NZ, but not here.

    As for showing your stuff, send me the links. I am more than happy to give you the space. (I need it on Youtube for the embeds here on wordpress).

  4. “You would, no doubt, be astonished at what they don’t know and the bad practices that they carry out. Perhaps things are different in NZ, but not here.”

    Michael, you got to start hanging around with real professionals. I can’t believe you said that, by saying “here” I’m sure you meant “in your own little circle”.

  5. Nino,
    I think you spend more time on this site more than I do.
    Why don’t you send over some of your best videos. You’ve certainly earned a place in my ‘little circle’. Welcome buddy!

  6. “You would, no doubt, be astonished at what they don’t know and the bad practices that they carry out. Perhaps things are different in NZ, but not here.”

    Thanks for the invitation Michael, but I would hate to be bunched in a mix and wrongly categorized by you.

    But anyway, you have an incredibly great sense of humor.

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