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Art's Tattoo Removal by Mark Lyons (rc1107) - Short - A retired hitman takes a job from an old employer in his new profession; slicing tattoos off of people's skin and selling them as artwork. 14 pages - pdf, format
Well, this was a little bit of an exercise for me.
I was sitting around thinking about 'Fight Club' and 'Adaptation', two movies that I really truly enjoy that kind of go against the grain of some of the rules of screenwriting. (Mainly because of the very heavy voiceovers in both of them.)
So, this is my attempt at having a story with heavy voiceover, while still putting something on the screen to watch.
While I thought the premise for this piece was really good, Mark, I thought the execution left a lot to be desired. For starters, it was way too long. Eight or ten pages would work so much better. Writing it as a short story would be a great alternative. All you had here was sixteen pages of a guy talking about himself... in voice over.
Art's character was your general film noir tough guy. And he lost steam pretty quickly. Maybe if you showed him doing his job, instead of eating, brushing his teeth and walking. Give us something to look at. When he revealed his ultimate plan, toward the end, I started asking myself: "Why am I still reading this?" I felt as if I was robbed of the story.
Wish there was something better to say. Keep the premise; lose everything else.
Writing it as a short story would be a great alternative.
You caught me. This is an adaptation from a short story I wrote. I just sent it out to a couple of literary magazines just a few weeks ago.
Quoted from dogglebe
Maybe if you showed him doing his job
I very heavily considered this, but to make it easier to film (this is one I really hope somebody wants to make), I opted for just showing him doing things that make him look good with his hands and might refer image-wise to him doing his job. (Cutting his blackened steak, sewing his shirt.)
Thank you for taking a look at this. I know it was long, (I could've cut a ton of parts out about the other tattooists, like Von D, but I thought that might have been a selling point to the story and grabbed people's attention.) Sorry you didn't care much for it. I promise I'll come up with something one day to knock everybody's socks off.
Hey Mark, just checked this out. Took some notes as I read. Nothing too detailed but some stuff that will hopefully help.
My general thoughts echo Phil. Story-wise, this could be quite engaging, but execution-wise, it doesn’t work for me at all. It appears that you wrote this as a kind of exercise utilizing V.O., but for some reason, you left out all the interesting visuals and showed us generic day to day activities, which is rarely going to work.
I’m not a tat guy myself, so my knowledge of this subject is very limited. I’m not sure if your basic premise is realistic or completely fabricated. Also don’t know if these tat artists are real people or made up, but it all seems realistic or at least possible to me.
Your Slugs are a HUGE issue here. The vast majority are incorrectly done, as they’re missing a time, and you need that unless you’re using Mini Slugs within a structure. I know some use these a little more freely, but IMO, they only really work when a character is literally moving from 1 room of a structure to another. If any time passes, I feel you need to show that with a new Slug. Another issue with your Slugs is that they are all extremely limited in information and very generic. This may “work” when you have a simple short with simple locales, but anytime you increase your settings, these generic Slugs aren’t going to work at all (if you don’t follow what I’m saying, just ask…).
The premise is good and could be effective. I think you need to rethink the structure and what exactly you want to show, and give this another go. I’ll be interested to see more thoughts from others. Notes as I read… You’re killing yourself right out of the gate, I’m sorry to say. No “FADE IN” – Big Red Flag. No time of day in your first Slug. First passage (the 2 descriptions) should be broken up, IMO, as it’s definitely 2 completely different shots. I don’t like how 1 character has a first and last name, but the other is only intro’d as Art. Just seems odd to me. I also don’t like how you start your opening line of dialogue with an ellipsis, then a space, then a new sentence with a capital letter. Doesn’t work that way.
Page 3 – FADE TO BLACK goes on the right side. If you fade out, like you want to here, you have to fade back in and you haven’t…so, based on how it’s written, from here on out, it’s all over a black screen.
Page 5 – You start off your passage very oddly here with, “Drinks coffee…”. Should be “He” or Art’, or…anything.
Page 6 – Big problems with your Slug here (EXT. HOUSE AND TINY YARD). Your prose states, “He leaves the quaint house and walks down to the bus stop at the corner of the street.”, which clearly is outside of what your Slug states.
Page 7 – The first time you’ve used a complete Slug with a time. All the other ones are incorrect and need attention. Your prose under this Slug is very odd, and awkward, and full of unfilmables, as you say, “Art walks a New York City street, only wearing his dingy gray t-shirt and jeans. Carries his long-sleeved button-up shirt because of the heat.”
“The chin of his face tatted on his arm sticks out from under the sleeve of his shirt.” – Really awkwardly phrased and hard to comprehend.
General note about the use of ellipsis’ – you don’t have a space after the 3 dots. And, you don’t cap the word following it, unless, of course, it’s a name or the like.
Page 8 – I don’t understand the “SLUG OF PICTURES” thing at all, nor do I feel this makes sense here, in terms of the flow and what’s going on.
Page 9 – No clue what “SLUG OF JONATHAN SHAW” is supposed to be or mean. Has this guy already been intro’d? I don’t think so…
Same thing with the next “Slug”, which aren’t Slugs as far as I’m concerned. Again, this person hasn’t even been intro’d yet, has she?
“Pictures and close-ups of Von D.” - I’m clueless as to what you’re attempting here again. Do you mean to “INSERT” various pictures or whatever? If so, you need to state it that way, so everyone is onboard with what is supposed to be happening.
Page 10 – “SLUG OF HENK” – Same deal here…absolutely no clue what’s happening with these things.
Page 11 – All of a sudden, you start using “V.O.” again, but you said earlier “V.O. throughout”…basically, you can’t say this earlier and then renig on it. If a character is speaking in V.O., you need to label it as such.
Page 12 – OK, now I’m really confused. On page 1, Art and Delvecchio are together talking. Now they’re back together again, and I’m wondering if you’ve missed some sort of Flashback or the like, as the continuity is completely gone. OK, it appears that the opening and closing scene is one and the same, right? Something’s off here structurely…
To ski or not to ski...that's not even a question.
Thank you very much for taking a look at this. I liked this story so much when I wrote it as a prose story, that I thought it would work well in any form. I don't know why I was blinded by it so much that I didn't see all the things you and Phil have mentioned. It seemed to work so well in my mind's eye.
Quoted from dreamscale
I’m not a tat guy myself .... I’m not sure if your basic premise is realistic or completely fabricated. Also don’t know if these tat artists are real people or made up
Lol. Actually, I'm not a tat guy, either. I don't even have one. I am a pretty avid fan of artwork, though, and I saw that Jutta Nexdorf, a real-life gallery owner in Switzerland, did pay a man $218,000 to show off his tattoo at one of her exhibits thrice a year. Plus, she DOES get the tattoo after the man dies. That part was real and how I got the idea of the story. All the tattooists are real, also. Even Anil Gupta. I was doing research just on tattoos in general and came across his portfolio and thought there was some amazing stuff in it.
As for the storyline of cutting off people's tattoos and selling them like artwork, that part was fabricated. (At least, to my knowledge. I hope it is. I've never heard of anybody doing that.)
Quoted from dreamscale
Another issue with your Slugs is that they are all extremely limited in information and very generic. This may “work” when you have a simple short with simple locales, but anytime you increase your settings, these generic Slugs aren’t going to work at all (if you don’t follow what I’m saying, just ask…).
I gotcha on those. For that first slug, in my head, there were no windows in the office, so I never thought it would be important to mention the time of day. As for why I don't mention the time of day in a lot of slugs later on, I think it's because I didn't want to get repetitive using 'DAY' all the time. I got what you mean, though, on both counts.
Quoted from dreamscale
No “FADE IN” – Big Red Flag
You know, I never knew if it was a hard fast rule or not that you have to have fade in. I've heard that you should, then I heard something else, so I've always just gone with what I see in my head happening. In this for instance, I bring the scene in right smack dab in the middle of a line of dialogue, (hence also, the ellipses,) so it didn't make sense to me to start out with a fade in.
And lol. It's not just that story that I did that to, either. I like cutting in on an opening scene. For me it just seems punchier (even when seeing a real movie) to jump right into it. I'm not trying to make a case for myself or say that I'll open up the story any way that I want to, I just didn't know it was a hard fast rule that you HAVE to have 'Fade In'.
Quoted from dreamscale
Really awkwardly phrased and hard to comprehend.
Yuck. How did I read those and think those were a smooth read? (I'm guessing I didn't. I was too focused on the dialogue, probably.)
Quoted from dreamscale
I don’t understand the “SLUG OF PICTURES” .... SLUG OF JONATHAN SHAW .... KAT VON D .... HENK ....
Yeah, those were all supposed to be inserts of pictures and/or video clips of them working. That was me just trying something new. I've never really wrote anything before that used that kind of element, so i wasn't too sure how to go about it and get the picture across.
Quoted from dreamscale
it appears that the opening and closing scene is one and the same, right?
Yeah. It starts at the beginning of the conversation in the first scene (that we missed the first time around), and also picks up where the first scene left off and finishes it.
Sorry all this got confusing. Like I said, it all came together fine in MY mind, but it really looks like I messed up on relaying all the information in the short story to the script. Looks like I got some things to figure out about this one. I think I'm trying to do to many things that just don't click.
Anyway, thanks again for taking the time to let me know what you thought about this. I'll be seeing you around.
This had sort of a Fight Club vibe to it. The thing is --- Art's chatter went on for far too long without enough of a payoff. I think you can lose some of what he was saying and/or insert some scenes of him actually doing what he does rather than just him doing his everyday things. While I found a lot of what he had to say to be interesting, it did get to a point where I was ready for the story to just continue on.
It's an interesting premise and I think you can easily do some other things with this. But just cap what Art is saying and/or add more action to it to keep it going.
Yeah, I think I got carried away with how much voiceover I could push and get away with while still keeping it interesting and an effective story. I also think I might have rushed it a little bit because everything seemed so simple in my head.
I'm glad to see that you did like it overall, though. That makes me feel a little bit better about the story, even though I still have miles to go to fix it.
Thank you very much for checking it out and letting me know what you think.
Congrats for coming up with a engaging premise, had to take a look. Your concept is subverted by the dry execution of the plot. I kept waiting to see Art in action, I was excited by the prospect. The voice over stuff keeps me at arm's length from your story. This feels much more like published fiction than a spec screenplay. But I don't mean that your action description is chunky by any means. It just reads like you were trying to shoot a one location low budget short yourself. If that's the case, I can see why you might go with this approach. Trim down the narrative and get down to the nitty gritty. Art's power is diminished by stripping away the mystery with all the talk. And the surprise ending is cute, but your premise is better than parlor tricks. Take this story on the road and I'll gladly read it again, thanks for posting.
LATEST NEWS CineVita Films is producing a short based on my new feature!
I did want to keep this low budget, but I have no plans of making it myself. (I don't have the means at all right now.) But I did want to make it simple if somebody out there did want to take it on.
Sorry you didn't like the execution of it. I was trying something a little different for me.
Quoted from Electric Dreamer
This feels much more like published fiction than a spec screenplay.
Well, it's not published, but I did write it as a short story. In fact, I sent it out a couple of weeks ago to some magazines. Hopefully, everybody's right when they say this would work better as a short story than a short film. Guess I'll find out when the editors get back to me.
When I was writing it, (the script version,) I was thinking about cutting out all the extra stuff (like about the other tattooists), but I decided to do it this way just to see what other people thought. Guess I should have kept all that stuff out. I don't know if it would have made the read any better, but...
Thank you very much for taking a look at this and letting me know what you thought of it.
This might seem like I'm taking the easy way out, but I'm pretty much just gonna echo everything Electric Dreamer said. I don't have anything new to bring to the table that hasn't already been said. BUT...
No. I've never even tried Celtx or Final Draft. I never thought there was a problem.
Actually, I went back and looked at the script again to see if I did anything wrong when I was uploading it, and, to be honest, I don't understand what you mean that the font is atrocious. Are we not supposed to use Courier New anymore? I've even brought up many other scripts alongside it (including Phil's, Bert's, yours and some miscellaneous other ones) and I see no difference between the fonts whatsoever. (Except that you and I bold our slugs.)
Am I looking at something wrong or did you mean that something else was wrong with it format wise?
I like the vibe I get from this script. I like the V.O. However, Not much happens. I get the sense that Art tricked the buyer but I'm unsure about it. This needs to be made clear in my opinion if this is what you were aiming at.
I really don't get into format since I'm not an expert on it but i would suggest putting V.O.'s when necessary. It makes the read easier and distinguish when he's speaking and when he's doing a voice over. My opinion, though.
Ahh, now I see what you're talking about, Mike. Well, actually, I can't see it. (I'm horribly color-blind. I can't even make out shades of colors. I'm guessing that's why it looked no different from all the others to me.) But I understand what you mean now. I've been meaning to mess around with some screenwriting software anyway, so this looks like as good a reason as any. Thank you.
Thanks for taking a look at this. I'm glad to see you liked it and the voiceover.
Quoted from Mr. Ripley
I get the sense that Art tricked the buyer but I'm unsure about it.
Yeah, I made the end of this one very subtle. I think it's even more subtle in the original short story version I wrote. But Art is actually Johnson Lamana, the one with the Vitruvian Man tattoo on his back. (That's why Art talks about Delvecchio patting him on the back at the end.) There's a couple tiny clues here and there, like when Art says it's his favorite piece of artwork ever, and when he talks about his two tattoos. The 'one on his back a friend from high school tatted on him for free in return of a favor', and then he doesn't mention that one again.
I was just hoping to keep people on their toes.
And yeah, I am going to go back and put the 'V.O.'s throughout. I just didn't want it to seem redundant. Seemed like a good idea at the time.
Thank you very much for letting me know what you thought about it.