Monday, September 18, 2017

TODAY'S 2nd NUGGET: The Seventh Seal (1957) - Formatting Myths

[Quick Summary: While he staves off dying by plays chess with Death, a knight searches for the meaning of God's absence among the country folk he meets.]

This is the 2nd of the two of the most infuriating truths that no one tells you:

Quest. #2: This script is in single spaced paragraphs!! Where's the formatting?! Why didn't they follow the (fill in the blank) book on formatting?!

Answer #2:  Here, the script is written by and for the director.

Each line is a shot and reads easily in paragraph form.

It works for Bergman here, but may not work for everyone. (Try it yourself.)
-------------------------------------
But since I'm on my high horse, may I share some Hard Won Truths?

Q: Don't script readers care about formatting?
A:  They DO NOT CARE about formatting as long as it's a good read.

Q: When do they care?
A: When YOUR writing gets in the way of THEIR reading.

Q: Doesn't bad formatting "get in the way"?
A: It's an easy way to spot the experienced vs. non-experienced, but it's not the top reason to reject your script.

Q: Wait, what?
A: Bad formatting isn't enough since it is too easily fixed.  More likely, it's a deeper script problem.*

Q: What do you mean?
A:  Many non-writers (and many writers) are confused by problems that just LOOK like formatting issues on the surface, ex. bad structure, bad transitions.

These all use the same tools and cues but for very different reasons and effects.

ex. Formatting - Make sure "INT. KITCHEN" is all caps, spelled correctly, right font.

ex. Transition - INT. KITCHEN needs to be scrapped for INT. HOUSE and one continuous shot of woman running in front door --> hallway --> kitchen --> back door. No individual headings, as it would disturb the building momentum.

Q: But I like formatting! What's wrong with formatting?! Wordsmithing?
A: I like them too. But if we're honest, those are the easier part. You want to get paid for the tougher stuff.

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: Study and pay attention to what works (or doesn't) in other scripts.

It's the only way to get better at the tougher stuff.

The Seventh Seal (1957)
by Ingmar Bergman
Adapted from his play

*I only mention things that are within a writer's control above.

Remember that there are many things that are NOT within your control.  ex. Sometimes the timing is lousy. Or five scripts enter the market together with the same concept.  Or the producer lost funding.

TODAY'S NUGGET: The Seventh Seal (1957) - Juggling Humor into a Serious Film

[Quick Summary: While he staves off dying by plays chess with Death, a knight searches for the meaning of God's absence among the country folk he meets.]

This script demonstrates two of the most infuriating truths that no one tells you:*

Quest. #1: It's about the "silence of God"? Why bother with such old fashioned film?

Answer #1: I had mixed feelings after reading this script.

First, this story doesn't have a clear cut objective to accomplish.

The Knight asks "Where is God?" and the answer is a struggle. With Death. With meaning. With day to day life. Yikes.

Second, however, this script did keep me entertained while discussing a serious topic.

What a major juggling feat!  How did the writer do it?

Perhaps we could get a few insights from this recent review of another 2017 film:
This is the story of a kid learning his parents aren’t perfect and all of his neighbors are violent racists. Without any humor or interesting characters to keep the film entertaining, that’s a tough premise for a movie. And it’s tonally impossible to balance. It makes “xxx” a comedy with almost no laughs and a drama with no depth. (underline mine)
Hmmm....Humor or interesting characters keep the premise alive and the tone balanced. Eureka!

Here, the Knight's search for answers to the silence of God (heavy premise) is palatable because of his travels with actors Jof and wife Mia (interesting characters), who add humor and fun.

Note below how life goes on despite Death stalking Knight (life vs death):

ex. "JOF stands in the hot sun with a flickering lantern in his hand. MIA pretends to be asleep on a bench which has been pulled forward on the stage.

JOF: Night and moonlight now prevail Here sleeps my wife so frail...

VOICE FROM THE PUBLIC: Does she snore?

JOF: May I point out that this is a tragedy, and in tragedies one doesn't snore.

VOICE FROM THE PUBLIC: I think she should snore anyhow.

This opinion causes mirth in the audience. JOF becomes slightly confused and goes out of character, but MIA keeps her head and begins snoring.

JOF: Night and moonlight now prevail. There snores - I mean sleeps - my wife so frail..."

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: Tone has always flummoxed me, so I'm glad to have clearer insight into how humor affects a heavy drama's tone.

The Seventh Seal (1957)
by Ingmar Bergman
Adapted from his play

* FYI: I had too much to say, so here's the first of two posts today.

Monday, September 11, 2017

TODAY'S NUGGET: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) - An Unusual Form (Elegy)

[Quick Summary: A 19 y.o. Robert Ford can not imagine how his hero worship of suspicious and violent Jesse James could lead to tragedy.]

This script really threw me.  It's odd, but I didn't know why. 

In my greener days, I would've been quick to dismiss it:

CONS
- It's rather plotless for the first 50+ pgs. until it picks up pace.
- The last 30 pages seem like an epilogue gone too long.

But when faced with an unusual script, I know now to take a step back and look:

PROS
- In pgs. 55-100, there's great suspense and a dueling between Bob and Jesse.
- The purpose of the scenes is different than other scripts. It's less about plot, more an attempt to capture a feeling. Here, it's knowing that loss is coming.

I think the closest analogy is an elegy, "a mournful, melancholy poem, especially a funeral song or lament for the dead." *

Notes for the scene below:
- Prior to this, Bob has killed Jesse's cousin but is unsure how much Jesse knows. Now Jesse has come to Bob's relative's house and he baits Bob.
- This is a bittersweet moment. Bob finally gets what he's been wanting (Jesse's acceptance) but now his hero is a threat.

ex. "BOB: How come George has a grudge against you?

JESSE: Hmmm?

BOB: You said George Shepherd had a grudge against you and I've just been wondering what it was?

JESSE: Oh. George asked me to protect this nephew of his during the war and it so happens the kid had five thousand dollars on him. The kid winds up killed, and all the money swiped from him, and when George was in in prison someone whispers to him it was Jesse James slit the boy's throat.

CHARLEY: Just mean gossip, was it?

JESSE: Bob's the expert; put it to him.

BOB rises from the table like a stamping boy in a snit.

JESSE: I've make him cranky.

WILBUR snickers.

BOB: I've been through this is all. Once people get around to making fun of me, they just don't ever let up.

MARTHA: Someone's speaking awful fresh over there!

BOB is forced to walk past JESSE to get to the main room. JESSE kicks a leg across BOB'S path, clouting the floorboards with his boot. BOB glances down at his bogus grin - the suggestion of malice beneath his antics.

JESSE: I don't want you to skip off to your room and pout without knowing why I dropped by for this visit.

BOB: I suppose you're going to tell us how sorry you are that you had to slap my cousin Albert around.

Such a great heat seems to come then from JESSE'S eyes that BOB glances away as if from sunlight, but in a second the man cools and says:

JESSE: I come to ask one of you two Fords to ride with me on a journey or two. I guess we've agreed it ought to be Charley; you've been acting sort of testy.

BOB stands pale and silent. Then he steps around JESSE'S boot and calmly climbs the stairs to the upper room."

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: I can see why this script would be a tough sell. It's harder to grasp than a traditional narrative form.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)(dated 12/8/04)
by Andrew Dominik
Adapted from the novel by Ron Hansen

*"The elements of a traditional elegy mirror three stages of loss. First, there is a lament, where the speaker expresses grief and sorrow, then praise and admiration of the idealized dead, and finally consolation and solace."

Monday, September 4, 2017

TODAY'S NUGGET: The Omen (1976) - Horror = Fear, Dread, or Dismay

[Quick Summary: After he is convinced to swap in another baby for his stillborn, an American ambassador and his wife are not prepared for the destruction that follows.]

ME: "What exactly is horror? 
MYSELF: It's blood and guts.
ME: That's lazy. This script is clearly horror, i.e., scary, but WITHOUT much blood and guts. So why is it still horror?
MYSELF: How does the dictionary define it?
ME: "(n.) painful and intense fear, dread, or dismay."
MYSELF: A-ha! Now you see why used the shorthand of "blood & guts"?

In other words, rely on "fear, dread, or dismay" (not blood & guts).*

ex. "INT. LIBRARY

Thorn turning to Kathy; pleased.

KATHY: I like her.
THORN: Yes.
KATHY: Where did you find her?
THORN (taken aback): Where did I find her?
KATHY: ...Yes.
THORN: I didn't find her, I assumed you found her.

They exit.

INT. ENTRY HALL - ANGLE ON KATHY

KATHY (shouting up the stairs): Mrs. Baylock!

INT. UPSTAIRS - SAME - ANGLE ON MRS. BAYLOCK

about to open the door to the child's room.

MRS. BAYLOCK (turning): Yes?

ANGLE ON KATHY

ascending the stairs, Thorn behind her; pausing as they reach the landing.

KATHY: I'm sorry, we're a little confused.
MRS. BAYLOCK (stiffening): Why is that?
KATHY: We don't know how you got here.
MRS. BAYLOCK: By taxi. I sent it away.
KATHY: What I mean is, who 'called' you?
MRS. BAYLOCK: The agency.
KATHY: ...The agency?
MRS. BAYLOCK: They saw in the papers you'd lost your first nanny, so they sent you another.

ANGLE ON KATHY

amazed.

THORN: ...very enterprising.
KATHY: I'll call to confirm that.
MRS. BAYLOCK: That'll be fine. Here are my references.

There passes an uneasy silence: all staring dumbly at each other.

MRS. BAYLOCK: If you'll excuse me now.
KATHY (uneasy): Yes, of course.

Mrs. Baylock reaches for the door...                                                                  CUT TO:

INT. THE CHILD'S ROOM - SAME

as the boy sits on the bed gazing out the window...slowly turning as he hears the door opening.

ANGLE ON THE NANNY

ENTERING; closing the door behind her, and locking it -- turning to gaze at the child. As she does, her expression transforms --her body stiffening, as though she is gazing upon something of incomparable beauty.

ANGLE ON THE CHILD

vaguely frightened.

CLOSE ANGLE ON MRS. BAYLOCK

moved.

MRS. BAYLOCK (fighting to control her voice): ...Fear not, little one. I'm here to protect Thee.

CAMERA HOLDS on her face."

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: For horror, it's all about building the fear, dread, or dismay.

The Omen (1976)(dated 9/8/75)
by David Seltzer

*I once read a spec horror script that was pages of blood and gore, but failed to build any fear/dread/dismay. It was boring. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

TODAY'S NUGGET: Femme Fatale (2002) - Voyeurism & Increasing Tension

[Quick Summary: A double crossing French con woman flees her conspirators, and when she's forced to return home, she runs a con to avoid the retribution.]

As mentioned last week, De Palma chooses "more controversial terrain: suspense, violence and eroticism."

I'd also like to add "voyeur" a minor addition to the list.*

Voyeurism is all about:
- Watching and seeing, which is why it works well with film format.
- Danger of being discovered, which increases the tension.

But how do you make 'watching and seeing' interesting on the page?

My two thoughts: 

1) As always, the audience always need to wonder what is going to happen next.
2) But in this script, the added twist is that even the voyeur is wondering.

Note in the example below:
- How each scene lures the voyeur (and us) into wanting to see more
- How there is danger to Larry, to Mrs. Watts, which keeps us anxious, curious

[FYI: Larry is a papparazzo following Mrs. Watts, the femme fatale.]

ex. "INT. LARRY'S VW - AFTERNOON

...As the driver's side of the LEXUS sweeps past [Larry], he catches a glimpse of a face.

A classic model's profile if [sic] wasn't marred by that ugly shiner spreading out from under her sunglasses and down her left cheek.

Could this be the LADY OF THE HOUSE with "photo op" written all over her face?

LARRY speed after her to find out.... 

EXT. PLACE PIGALLE - NIGHT

The LEXUS parks in front of a SEX SHOP. LARRY finds a parking place across the street as MRS. WATTS gets out of her car and walks over to a STREET WHORE. They talk for a few seconds, then MRS. WATTS folls the STREET WHORE into the shop.

LARRY, grabs a camera out of the car, and crosses the street to get a closer look.

Through the window, he watches MRS. WATTS talk to the MANAGER. LARRY snaps off a few shots. A little insurance in case SHIFF tries to muscle him again.

The MANAGER motions MRS. WATTS to follow him. As they move toward the rear of the store, the STREET WHORE turns to face the front door. LARRY ducks down out of sight. He retreats back behind a newsstand. When he turns back to look, the STREET WHORE has returned to the street and MRS. WATTS and the MANAGER have vanished. LARRY rubs his hand across his mouth. What the hell is going on? He looks up and sees two figures silhouetted in the second story window. One's a woman. One's a man. They appeared to be in a heated argument. Finally the woman opens her purse and flings something down on the floor. The man kneels down to retrieve it. The woman slowly pulls up her skirt, turning her back to the window. Her hand reaches behind her back and grips at the shade cord. Grabbing hold of it, she pulls down the shade, cutting off LARRY'S VIEW.

A few minutes later, MRS. WATTS emerges from the SEX SHOP carrying a BROWN SHOPPING BAG. She gets back into the LEXUS and drives of.

What was that all about? A bag of sex toys for an evening adventure? A perplexed LARRY continues tailing her....

LARRY watches from his car as MRS. WATTS checks in[to a hotel]. While she's occupied with the DESK CLERK, LARRY slips out of his car, crosses the road, and looks into the side window of the LEXUS. Resting in the bottom of the SHOPPING BAG is a GUN and a BOX OF BULLETS.

LARRY ducks down from view as MRS. WATTS returns to her car, takes out the SHOPPING BAG and returns to the hotel. LARRY follows."

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: Even in 'watching and seeing' scenes, the character is actively reacting to what he/she is seeing.

Femme Fatale (2002)(dated 11/21/00)
by Brian De Palma

*I hope that critic Roger Ebert might agree with me.  He wrote: "This is a movie about watching and being watched, about seeing and not knowing what you see."

Monday, August 21, 2017

TODAY'S NUGGET: Body Double (1984) - Writing an Erotic Scene

[Quick Summary: An out-of-work actor watches a beautiful woman through a telescope, and when she is murdered, he chases her killer.]

I don't really like reading sex scenes on the page.

Frankly, they're often handled poorly, and I do not appreciate the writer trying to show off and/or shock me with yet another orgy scene that is neither sexy nor erotic. 

So what's does a good erotic scene look like on the page? 

I find it ironic that I cite this De Palma script as a good example.*

However, I admit that he explains well about what it should look like on the page: **
A lot of filmmakers think that just showing people kissing each other, and having a very good time, is enough. But so often their eyes are closed, and you can’t see their faces. The audience is completely shut out. In Hitchcock movies, you can see that they are kissing each other on the neck, and talking. They’re kissing lightly on the lips, and you can see their eyes. You see how they’re reacting. That’s what creates the eroticism of the scene. - Moviemaker (emphasis mine)
Note in the scene below how many times De Palma directs us back at the protagonist's (Jon) reaction.  We get involved as Jon gets involved:

ex. "Sam goes over to the telescope.
Looks through the viewfinder.

SAM: There's one very special feature to this house...

Sam fiddles with the viewer.
Pans to the side --up and down.Finds what he's looking for --

SAM: Come here, Jon. Meet my favorite neighbor.

Jon approaches.
An expression of doubtful bemusement on his face.

JON: Hey, Sam, what're you --

Sam grabs his arm.
Positions him at the telescope.

SAM: Just take a look.

Reluctant, but curious, Jon leans over.
Presses his eye to the lens.                                                                  CUT

INT. SAM'S HOUSE

POV
THROUGH THE TELESCOPE

EXT. FAMILY OF 4 HOUSE

Out of focus:
A family of four at the dinner table.

INT. SAM'S HOUSE

SAM (o.s.): See her?

JON (o.s.): Huh? Just a fmily.

SAM (o.s.): Not them, lower.

Jon pans down.
A jiggly movement.

EXT. GLORIA'S HOUSE

Focuses on the window below the family.
There in the window, a WOMAN.
Standing in the shadows.
A candle on the window sill.
Her face is obscured.
Like an eclipsed sun.
The woman, GLORIA, is drinking wine.
And touching herself.
Slowly, sensually, her breasts.
She puts the wine glass down.
Unbuttons her blouse.
Shrugs it off.
Beneath, she wears a thin silk camisole.
She unhooks her skirt.
It puddles to the floor.
She puts one foot up on a chair.
Touches her leg.
Caresses herself.

INT. SAM'S HOUSE

JON
at the telescope.
Fighting a battle.
And losing.
He cannot tear himself away.
Sam smiles.

SAM: Nice, huh?

And Sam retreats into the bedroom to pack."

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: The protagonist's reaction to what he sees, i.e., the change in him, is as important for us to see as what he's focused upon.

Body Double (1984)(revised 12/16/83)
by Robert . Averch and Brian De Palma
Story by Brian De Palma

*First, because his scripts are not really my cup of tea.

Second, if you didn't know already, De Palms is quite a divisive filmmaker, who chooses "more controversial terrain: suspense, violence and eroticism." (emphasis mine)

**I like that he says that eroticism, in his words, is "a bit of an illusion."

Monday, August 14, 2017

TODAY'S NUGGET: Blow Out (1981) - Laying Story Pipe

[Quick Summary: After recording the sounds of a car "accident," a movie sound effects guy is hunted for that recording.]

This script surprised me in two ways:

First, the plot is intriguing and fairly...well, normal (though it's De Palma, so not THAT normal).

Second, I was ok that the inciting incident* (the car accident) occurs on p.15.

- So what was happening from p. 1-14?  The writer was laying down what I call "story pipe," which is necessary to setup a situation or a setup a payoff later.**

- What is the "story pipe" that kept me turning pages from 1-14?
p. 1-8: The script opens with a maniac stalking female college students in their dorm.
p. 9-12: We see that p. 1-8 is a film within a film, and our protagonist Jack is working the sound effects.
p. 12-14: On TV, a reporter states that the Governor McRyan will be announcing his candidacy for higher office, maybe tonight.
p. 15: Jack is recording sounds at night, near a creek, and sees McRyan's car swerve off the road into the water.
- Was all that story pipe necessary? In this script, I'd say yes because it sets up why Jack is outdoors at night with a sound recorder.

ex. "Jack nods. Sam starts to pace again.

SAM: And I still don't understand what a smart guy like you is doing this shit for.

JACK: Hey, I do the sound - you do the shit!

SAM (getting mad): No - you do the shit -- like that wind in the trees. Sounds like you're whistling in the crapper.

JACK: It's out of the library. We've used it a million times.

SAM: That's the trouble. I've heard it a million times -- get something new.

Jack nods.

SAM: And what about that scream? We got to dub it.

JACK (innocently): Right. (beat) Know any good screamers?

SAM: I got a few ideas."

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: Don't be afraid to lay story pipe. Make sure it isn't backstory.***

Blow Out (1981)(shooting script, dated 10/21/80)
by Brian De Palma

*Inciting incident = Act that kicks off the action

**"Story pipe" is not backstory, which is often unnecessary.

***How will I know the difference? 
a) Experience over a long time.
b) Reading more scripts.
c) From good feedback from other good writers.

Monday, August 7, 2017

TODAY'S NUGGET: Dressed to Kill (1980) - Formatting; A Series of Shots

[Quick Summary: When a woman is murdered by a blonde, the lone witness becomes the blonde's new target.]

YOU: THAT IS NOT "STANDARD" FORMATTING!

ME: Yes, I know.

YOU: Do you care???

ME: Nope.

YOU: Why not?! I don't get it. Everyone is so uppity about formatting.

ME: Because IF the writing shows the story so I can connect the dots...
...and IF I get swept up in the story
...and IF it makes me feel intensely for the characters
...and IF it delivers the punch, the climax, the ending
...then the script works.  I don't notice the formatting.

YOU: So what's the deal with formatting "rules"?*

ME: They are like training wheels. You use them:
- As a fallback.
- When you're unsure what the producers want.
- Until you don't need them as much, i.e., When you're the director and know how to write in a series of cinematic shots.

De Palma is a good example of the last category.

Note below:
- how it is a series of cinematic shots
- how the shots build on each other

ex. "INT. ELEVATOR

When the elevator finally arrives, KATE steps in the car. She hears the sound of footsteps rushing down the hall. She frantically pushes the "close" button. The doors shut before the person coming down the hall can reach her. She is crying openly now and is thankful that no one is in the car to witness her shame. She pushes the lobby button and the car descends. As she pulls her finger off the button she realizes she's left her wedding ring on the bedside table.

KATE: Oh God!"

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: Pay closer attention to how the shots build upon each other, because the sum of those shots is what the audience sees.

Dressed to Kill (1980)
by Brian De Palma

* Remember: On this blog, "rules" = guidelines.  They are not etched in stone.

Monday, July 31, 2017

TODAY'S NUGGET: Obsession (1976) - The Secret is Not the Creepy Parts

[Quick Summary: After his wife and child die in a kidnapping, a Southern real estate investor falls into a deep emotional freeze, until he meets his wife's look alike.]

In the land of "De Palma weird,"* this story is mild, but the twist is creeeeepy.

I thought that I'd be too creeped out to read on...but it's an addictive page turner.

Why? Why is this creepy but good vs. other creepy thriller/horrors just tedious?

I think the secret is NOT THE CREEPY PARTS:

1) The secret is to lay out a character's emotional dilemma that stirs our empathy.

ex.  In this story, Michael Courtland has his wife and child stripped from him, then he descends into hell.  His wound never heals and he is emotionally stuck in 1957.

2) Now the character's RESPONSE to the dilemma can go screwy/creepy/wild.

ex.  Twenty years later, he meets a woman who looks like his dead wife. He drags her to the old places, has her wear the wife's clothes. He's unmoored and doesn't notice.

Do I really need #1? Yes.

Why can't I just do smash a bunch of screwy/creepy/wild scenes together? ** #1 teaches me to care about the characters. A stream of #2 won't hold on the reader.

Note below how the writer:
-  Lay out the dilemma (Mike's emotional vulnerability in his first date with Sandra)
-  Lay out the threat (his spying business partner La Salle)
-  Prepare us for Mike's response later when he finds out

ex. "There is an awkward moment as they say goodnight. Sandra's prepared to accept a goodnight kiss, but Michael is afraid to offer one. Instead, he extends his hand in a shy, awkward way, and she takes it.

COURTLAND: Goodnight, Sandra.

SANDRA: Buona notte, Mike.

They turn and go their separate ways. The CAMERA PANS with Courtland as he walks down the street. Suddenly it STOPS on a man watching from an alley. We ZOOM IN TO DISCOVER it's La Salle."

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: Take the time to first lay out the character's present emotional state and dilemma, no matter what the genre.  Otherwise, it's forgettable.

Obsession (1976)
by Paul Schrader
Story by Brian De Palma and Paul Schrader

*De Palma scripts are outliers, i.e., they lie outside the normal bell curve of weird.

"De Palma weird" = My attempt to describe this outlying weirdness level.

** This is especially true of what I call "horror porn" scripts where it is scene after scene of gruesome --> more gruesome --> gross out. There is no emotional development, and it becomes tiresome.

Monday, July 24, 2017

TODAY'S NUGGET: Phantom of the Paradise (1974) - Showing Character Through Interactions

[Quick Summary: After a rock opera producer steals his music and his muse, an up-and-coming composer fights back to get everything that was stolen.]

I've read a lot of weird scripts in my day. This one is WEIRD.

Is it Bad Weird or Good Weird?

This is Good Weird, which was worth a second look because it had something worthwhile to say. (BTW, it took me at least 2/3 of the script before I got it.)

Notice how the writer show us what the characters stand for by using interactions:

- Swan (antagonist) is a creepy bastard, as seen by his interactions with the girls.
- Winslow (protagonist) is persistent, as seen by his disguise to meet Swan.

(FYI: If you read the scene below and feel creeped out, it's ok. That's the intent.)

ex. "INT. SWAN'S RECORD-SHAPED BED - NIGHT

Winslow, in drag, but determined to see Swan, lies on a massive water bed surrounded by skimpily clad singers.

GIRL ONE: When do we get to sing?
GIRL TWO: I don't think too much singing goes on here.
GIRL THREE: I've been here 12 times and I don't get to sing -- all I get is to come back.
GIRL FOUR: What do you do here?
GIRL THREE: You'll see.
GIRL FIVE: Can't you sing on your back?
GIRL SIX: I've never tried.
GIRL FIVE: Well, if you can sing standing up, you can sing lying down.
GIRL SEVEN: Why don't you take off your slip?
GIRL EIGHT: I'm waiting for Swan.
GIRL SEVEN: He won't miss anything, if you do it now.
GIRL FIVE: Yeah -- you're being auditioned right now.
GIRL ONE: What do you mean?
GIRL THREE (whispered): The whole place is bugged.
GIRL FOUR: You're kidding.
GIRL THREE: No...no, Swan is watching us right now...

Suddenly Dorian enters the room from his sunken bath. Winslow leaps up, confronting him.

WINSLOW: Mr. Dorian, you remember me. I'm Winslow Leach.
DORIAN: Who let this fag in here?! (yelling to the guards) Get her out of here!

Winslow rips off his wigs.

WINSLOW: Mr. Dorian! It's me, Winslow.

The guards arrive and grab hold of Winslow.

GIRL FOUR: Hurry up, we're cooling off fast.

Dorian turns his back on Winslow and lustfully approaches the bed.

WINSLOW: Don't you remember me? Mr. Philbin gave you the music of my cantata. You're auditioning girls for the chorus. I'm Winslow Leach! I wrote it!

The guards drag Winslow from the room as Dorian slips into the rapidly cooling flesh pile.

DORIAN (to Girl Four): Hand me that telephone."

WHAT I'VE LEARNED: The reader can tell a lot about your protagonist (and antagonist) by how other characters react to him/her.

Phantom of the Paradise (1974)(dated 11/23/74)
by Brian De Palma