Settle in for the Night, Cowpokes. It’s Story Time.

Posted: August 16, 2010 in The Making Of Iridium Consequence, Updates from the Outlaw
Tags: , , , ,

Light up the campfire and pour a tin cup of boiled coffee, it’s time for the harrowing tale… of SCENE 16!!! Ooo, I’m scared already. Look at my arms, look! Goosepimples!

I first met scene 16 when I was writing the script for The Making of Iridium Consequence.  It was just  a flutter of an idea, a pleasant sparkle back then. Little did I know the monster it would grow to be.

It’s a movie about a movie, and all the things that can go wrong when well meaning newbies make movies.

Scene 16 was about all the things that ruin a take. I thought it would be funny (silly me) to stack those scene ruiners into a building series of mayhem.  Ha ha.

So the scene, as written, seemed like it was going to be funny. It was seven pages long, but with two or three laughs on each page. And then we shot the scene. And it took an entire day, but we were entertained while we shot that. And that seems to me to a good indicator: if It makes us laugh while we are shooting, there must be something there that can make other people laugh, too.

So then I edited the rough cut. And scene 16 had grown. Seven written pages should have been seven minutes. But scene 16 was not content with seven minutes. Scene 16 wanted more. It wanted ten minutes, twelve minutes. It was a bloated monster. And watching it, it was decidedly NOT funny. It was slow and awkward and blindingly repetitive. The discussion of cat fights that should have been bizarrely inappropriate and hilarious was dull water cooler talk. The frustrated reactions were muted. It felt like years of screen time passed, and that everyone should give up and go home.

It’s just the rough cut, I told myself. It will get better. I didn’t know how. I just knew that it must.

So I handed off to Will, and he tackled it first because it had clearly become the biggest problem in the whole movie. And Will attacked it with a machete, hacking through the blobby arms of scene 16 like Indiana Jones being attacked by sharktopus.

He sent me the cut. “It’s so much better,” he said, wiping the sweat and sharktopus guts from his brow. “And now, it is seven minutes.”

But I made the mistake of watching it alone, in the dark, that dead husk of a scene. And that was awful. Because the scene was better. And it was still nowhere near good.

Oh, I wept. Oh, the pain. Oh, scene 16, you glorious monster! Why must you kill me? What had I done to deserve scene 16?

But Will and I gathered our forces. We controlled our gag reflexes, and watched it again. And again. And again. And we formulated a plan.

We would attack again. We would hack more viciously that before. I said, “five seconds of screen time for  each joke—and nothing more.”

“You’re crazy!” Will said.

“Maybe I am. Maybe what we need is a little more crazy.” And I arched one eyebrow.

And Will said, “Fine. But I’m taking my whip this time,” and returned to the fray.

It was a butchering like nothing ever seen before. And when he emerged, scene 16 was a svelte three minutes long.

I was nervous. He pushed play.

And miraculously, out of the sharktopus remains rose a strong, kicker of a scene, so different from scene 16, it’s hard to call it scene 16 anymore. Now that scene 16 is beautiful, I think I will call it Larry.

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