Tag: Post-Production

Unauthorized Dialogue

A few of the scenes in this movie were crafted almost entirely through improvisation. (I kind of think of it as the bargain basement Mike Leigh method.) One of these scenes was the so-called “Switch Corporal Client” who comes in expecting a session with his regular mistress only to be put in his least favorite and least well-equipped room with a mistress he’s never seen before.

So when pulling dialogue out of the air, I was presented with a line I didn’t know what to do with. R approaches the client with two options — her hand or the saddest little flogger in the world. He then asks her, “Will you lick your palm?”

Take after take he said this and every time, I’m like, DUDE, no one says that. But he kept putting it in.

Flashforward to my recent rough assembly marathon, and I have a basic rule to keep everything in for the first pass, no matter how much I hate it, no matter how much I want to cut it out. So I get to this line. And I’m like, I’m going to prove once and for all that no one has ever asked anyone to lick their palm before a spanking. Google to the rescue. And sure enough, after looking through about fifty pornographic spanking sites, I have not found one solitary instance of someone asking for this.

So will the line stay in?

Remember at the end of the Monty Python Dead Parrot Sketch when the owner says:

I got a slug.
Does it talk?

Well, if I can get the delivery to sound like that, it stays in. If not, I’m shaving it off.

Marathon Man

There are times when jokes fall flat and one has to go through great lengths to try to save them before either deciding to cut them or risk creating a “Comic Floor Drop.” For those of you unfamiliar with this phrase, the “Comic Floor Drop” is a phenomenon that occurs when a joke falls so flat that the floor feels like it descends about 5-10 feet. When these situations happen in real life, the depth of the drop increases in direct proportion to the amount of time the teller attempts to save it, much to the chagrin and empathetic embarrassment of the audience.

But in real life, these moments occur by accident. I have the power now, as I edit, to avoid these moments. And if I fail to do so, it is as if I am creating a Comic Floor Drop In Perpetuity.

So there is a joke in the so-called Marathon Man client scene, directly alluding to a line so often repeated in the film Marathon Man that it probably at one point became a working title. I’m deciding right now if the joke makes it into the final cut — if so, that means I think the joke worked. If it doesn’t, well, it will end up in the “Deleted for a Damned Good Reason” section of the DVD.

They Don’t Get Along

Sometimes the excuse to use one liners that I heard growing up was absolutely irresistible. When writing the scene where Remedy gets her name, I was playing with some dialogue ideas where R would be getting frustrated with the training, with the stereotypical and repetitive drivel that she heard coming out of the dommes’ mouths. How could the owner explain to R that originality and innovation isn’t necessarily the goal?

I flash to a memory from my tweens, when my parents had gotten a subscription to Roundabout Theater Company (which they still renew every year) and I was getting taken and occasionally dragged to play after play. During the performances, Mom would make some sort of clever comment every twenty minutes or so, I would try to get over my weird inability to really connect with stage theater, and dad would fall asleep. EVERY time. The curtain call would end and Mom would ask us what we thought. I have no idea what I said. But I remember Mom asking dad if he saw any of it, to which he would reply, “I know exactly what happened. They don’t get along.”

So that became the running joke. I’d be watching “Romeo and Juliet” — dad would be silent the whole time and then, after sitting silently for an hour and a half, he’d say, totally deadpan, They don’t get along. Doogie Howser. They don’t get along. Law & Order. They don’t get along. The Godfather. They don’t get along… and it’s a family movie.

In college I’m watching Godard and Sturges. The memory of Dad’s voice is so present that I almost turn to look: They don’t get along.

In grad school I’m watching “Beauty No. 2.” They don’t get along.

So here is my tribute to that utter truism of all drama.