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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Unproduced Screenplay Discussion    Short Comedy Scripts  ›  Bad Fish: A Stanley Crumpler Novel
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  Author    Bad Fish: A Stanley Crumpler Novel  (currently 292 views)
Don
Posted: March 20th, 2019, 8:31pm Report to Moderator
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So, what are you writing?

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Bad Fish: A Stanley Crumpler Novel by Paul Knauer - Short, Comedy - An emotionally-stunted loner and his newly-adopted, hard-charging goldfish attempt to negotiate a budding relationship. 13 pages - pdf format

Writer interested in feedback on this work



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Warren
Posted: March 20th, 2019, 9:53pm Report to Moderator
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Hi Paul,

Bravo, I loved it. And it would be easy to film with a pretty big pay off in my opinion, Iím sure you know that because of the way you wrote it.

Saw everything you wanted me to see. I didnít really laugh during the script, was more of a constant smile. But I cracked up at the post credit scene, funny stuff.

Congrats on another fantastic script to add to your collection. Make sure you send this in to get reviewed.

Hope to see this made sometime.


EDIT: I thought I might mention to anyone reading this that it's easy to miss the final scene, I almost did, so make sure you keep reading after FADE TO BLACK


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LC
Posted: March 20th, 2019, 11:22pm Report to Moderator
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Yes, the idea and the wit and the characterisations, lovely.

I'm going to give it another read though cause I'm not as easily won over with the clarity of the 'visuals to screen' (on first read) as Warren is and I wonder if it could run a bit shorter.

I think it would be beautiful as animation.

Okay, gimme another go at it and I'll add to my critique later.

Hard-charging goldfish?

P.S. The nod to Gremlins at the end is terrific.

...
Okedoke. Second read and maybe I'll retract my comment re length. I didn't notice it second time round but rather was immersed in the story.

Moments I loved that cracked me up:
Stanley slapping the headphones around the fish bowl.
The 'gold alert' .  
Albert floating upside down - the false alarm. Very funny.
That's when I learned he could drive a stick.
The 'rude' and 'racist' implications from Albert - all work well.

Things that didn't quite work as well as others:
The ham.
The fishsticks? Tighten up or vary a bit.
The pizza works fine, the crust etc.

What we as an audience see and don't see is, as Warren has said, is down to the resulting actions and reactions  which is why I think you need be a little bit careful about direct description lines like this:

Albert stares into the freezer.

Previously Albert was hidden from view.

I suppose a Director could do a big close up of Albert's fish-face and a lot of this will obviously be down to creative choices. I only point lines like that one out cause it did pull me up momentarily.

I'm also on the fence about Stanley punching Officer Bleets. It would work better for me if animation. Otherwise, I dunno... If enough slapstick, maybe.


Stanley turns to Albert. Small piles of food surround his
fish bowl: cans of tuna, bags of frozen popcorn shrimp, etc.


We were in the yard a moment before that. New scene heading?

To V.O. or not with Stanley - p.8
'The sky was dark...' perhaps V.O. too? I think V.O. suits this.

Aww, a heartfelt ending with the mug.

When it comes down to it all this may seem nitpicky but that's what we're here for.

This is a very different and funny story about the challenges of cohabitation.

And honestly, despite my nitpicks I loved it!

There's nothing wrong with animation. You only need watch UP to see how moving and clever it can be.

Good one, Paul!



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LC  -  March 21st, 2019, 4:16am
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Warren
Posted: March 21st, 2019, 1:16am Report to Moderator
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I think a lot of the quirkiness would be lost if this was an animation where anything is possible. Obviously it's a movie so anything is possible, but I think you'll get what I mean.

The thing is that a lot of the visuals aren't really on screen. You know the fish has done it by the resulting action, not by visually seeing it happen. I think that's the genius of it, in my opinion.


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PKCardinal
Posted: March 21st, 2019, 9:53am Report to Moderator
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Great comments from both of you. Appreciate the feedback.

You're hitting on the exact points of challenge. Mainly, how to translate Albert's actions to visuals.

So, this is basically a condensed version of a pilot script. (I've got a matching pilot - in rewrite - as well as a 5 season show bible that lays out the basic storyline from adoption to a final, dramatic flushing of the toilet.)

I've been massaging this concept for several years and feel like I've finally got it close. The main question, to me, is "will it translate to the screen?" So, I see this as a proof of concept short for the larger project.

I'm hoping to find a producer/director who sees the project in the same way I do -- someone who's comfortable with the slightly absurd, and who's excited about tackling dramatic storylines from very odd angles and in humorous ways. (The entire season 5 storyline is about accepting death.)

LC- I've thought long and hard about the animation question, and also how much FX to use if live action. I think animation (and too much FX work) would blunt the humor. If I were to switch to animated, I'd definitely rewrite to make the humor much more jokey - and the action more over the top.


PaulKWrites.com

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PKCardinal
Posted: March 21st, 2019, 10:13am Report to Moderator
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Warren, glad you enjoyed the final scene. In the larger project, I outline how we'll use the final scene. (Post credits.) It'll be a mix of extremely absurd scenes. For example, one week we'll do a deleted scene, the next week it might be fake outtakes. The next, an on-set interview. (Dreaming big, I picture Matt Damon being interviewed about the challenges of playing a goldfish.) I also see developing storylines within those scenes -- arcing through the season. Using the Matt Damon example, maybe he gets into a contract dispute. A couple weeks later, we're interviewing Meryl Streep about replacing Matt Damon. Maybe Matt Damon gets jealous. And, maybe, a couple weeks after that, in a drunken rage, he angrily demands the job back. All that would play out over the course of the season, in the final scene. All played straight.

I think it'd be a fun addition to the show, and there's a million directions to take it. And, don't worry, most wouldn't include Matt Damon and Meryl Streep.


PaulKWrites.com

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Matthew Taylor
Posted: March 21st, 2019, 10:27am Report to Moderator
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Hi Paul

I have nothing constructive to add - Just leaving a message to say that I enjoyed it.
It was original and funny. Also well written, I didn't stumble in my read at all and got a clear image of what the characters are about - Seems like the kind of program I would put on after a hard day at work and want to be cheered up.

I mean, you gave real character to a goldfish - How did you do that?

Anyway - all the best with it

Matt

P.S I too loved the after credits scene


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eldave1
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Hey, Paul.

Expertly written. Loved how you handled the ending.

What I didn't care for were the real world interventions. As the story goes along, I'm  immersed in how much of this Goldfish persona is in Stanley's head. The scene with the Girl Scout and the Cop took me out of that. As an example:


Quoted Text
The door swings open, answered by Albert - though heís hidden
from view by the couch.


Would have much preferred Stanley opening the door and calling back into the room - Hey, you want any cookies - bubbles - we'll take two boxes...

Same issue with the Cop - now the Goldfish is seen acting like a human by someone other than Stanley - ends the sense of mystery for me.

Could be just me as others love it as is - so probably don't change it. Just thought I would share.


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PKCardinal
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Quoted from Matthew Taylor
Hi Paul

I have nothing constructive to add - Just leaving a message to say that I enjoyed it.
It was original and funny. Also well written, I didn't stumble in my read at all and got a clear image of what the characters are about - Seems like the kind of program I would put on after a hard day at work and want to be cheered up.

I mean, you gave real character to a goldfish - How did you do that?

Anyway - all the best with it

Matt

P.S I too loved the after credits scene


Thanks, Matt. Much appreciated! Love your comment about coming home and getting cheered up. Exactly the type of stuff I want to write.


PaulKWrites.com

60 Feet Under - Low budget, contained thriller/Feature
The Hand of God - Low budget, semi-contained thriller/Feature

Many shorts available for production: comedy, thriller, drama, light horror
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PKCardinal
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Quoted from eldave1
Hey, Paul.

Expertly written. Loved how you handled the ending.

What I didn't care for were the real world interventions. As the story goes along, I'm  immersed in how much of this Goldfish persona is in Stanley's head. The scene with the Girl Scout and the Cop took me out of that. As an example:



Would have much preferred Stanley opening the door and calling back into the room - Hey, you want any cookies - bubbles - we'll take two boxes...

Same issue with the Cop - now the Goldfish is seen acting like a human by someone other than Stanley - ends the sense of mystery for me.

Could be just me as others love it as is - so probably don't change it. Just thought I would share.


This is the kind of project that definitely won't be for everyone. That said, Albert (the goldfish) is very much a character in this world. He'll be treated like any human in the script. My show bible spells out the world's rules... but, that's one 'em. Albert can do anything a human can do. And, some things only a fish can do. (We'll just use basic camera tricks to hide those actions - and focus on the results/consequences of the actions.)

My hope is that as the series plays out (this is a proof of concept short for a sitcom), the audience quickly becomes comfortable with the basic idea that Albert is just another cast member. But, it's my job to get them/you to buy into the device. The trick, I think, is giving him "believable" actions (within the world's rules) and have all other characters accept that reality.

But then, that's why I call this a proof of concept short. I'd like to film it to confirm my creative suspicions. I think it'll work. I can see it in my head. I hope I have it on paper. But, the proof will be on screen. It'll either work well... or, it'll REALLY bomb.


PaulKWrites.com

60 Feet Under - Low budget, contained thriller/Feature
The Hand of God - Low budget, semi-contained thriller/Feature

Many shorts available for production: comedy, thriller, drama, light horror
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Warren
Posted: March 21st, 2019, 4:59pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from PKCardinal


So, this is basically a condensed version of a pilot script. (I've got a matching pilot - in rewrite - as well as a 5 season show bible that lays out the basic storyline from adoption to a final, dramatic flushing of the toilet.)

I've been massaging this concept for several years and feel like I've finally got it close. The main question, to me, is "will it translate to the screen?" So, I see this as a proof of concept short for the larger project.

.


Interesting, going to PM you.



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Andrew
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This is a smart concept and idea. The writing is sharp. The concept itself absolutely has legs as something someone would want to produce. The opening scene in the car was fantastic, but from there, it seemed to lose steam quickly.

Can see you have mapped out a series, and no doubt there's a lot within that in terms of story. But for this short, on its own merit, it falls flat for me. From when they get in the house, there are a series of repetitive actions that overstate the point this is a quirky scenario. I think you coud cut that down from the 6 or so pages it is now to 1 or 2, and not lose anything. Just don't see what it is adding to the story.

From seeing your replies, it would appear proof of concept is what you're looking for, which is fine, but as a filmmable short, this script doesn't really appear attractive in its current form, because nothing really happens.

My suggestion would be to slice it down to a 6/7 pager, and plot out a mini story that gives us something unique in terms of story that matches the undeniably strong concept. Right now, it feels like this short is squandering it.


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Warren
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Is your profile picture Albert and Stanley?


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hawkeye
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Paul, this is changed significantly from the first time I read it, what, almost two years ago?  I think I read the original pilot, which seemed to me to be a tad darker.  This seems to be more whimsical and more focused on the relationship between Stanley and Albert.  The pilot had a lot more subplots and other key characters, but I greatly appreciate what you've done with this.

One thing that hasn't changed from the pilot is that Albert is indeed a bad, bad fish. And he still has human tendencies, which is what makes him funny.  I recall my original question to you was whether other people could understand him, but the way you have him here it with the water bubbles it gives the indication that he is talking, and that makes it more believable.

I do think if you get into a pilot with this, you'll definitely need to venture Stanley and Albert out into the world with interaction with other humans (and animals, perhaps?) to keep it fresh.  I'll be interested to see how Albert interacts with others besides Stanley.  That will be the real test, to me at least.

The writing is superb, the comedy just the right touch. You can easily visualize an angry Albert and a frustrated Stanley.  Good job here.

Oh, and thanks for the shout out!

Gary


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PKCardinal
Posted: March 22nd, 2019, 10:34am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Andrew
This is a smart concept and idea. The writing is sharp. The concept itself absolutely has legs as something someone would want to produce. The opening scene in the car was fantastic, but from there, it seemed to lose steam quickly.

Can see you have mapped out a series, and no doubt there's a lot within that in terms of story. But for this short, on its own merit, it falls flat for me. From when they get in the house, there are a series of repetitive actions that overstate the point this is a quirky scenario. I think you coud cut that down from the 6 or so pages it is now to 1 or 2, and not lose anything. Just don't see what it is adding to the story.

From seeing your replies, it would appear proof of concept is what you're looking for, which is fine, but as a filmmable short, this script doesn't really appear attractive in its current form, because nothing really happens.

My suggestion would be to slice it down to a 6/7 pager, and plot out a mini story that gives us something unique in terms of story that matches the undeniably strong concept. Right now, it feels like this short is squandering it.


Thanks for the great feedback. Definitely agree on length. I'd really like to get it down to about 7 pages total. Tighter is always better, and shorter is obviously easier to shoot. Maybe if I cut it down, the story will stand out more.

My logic on the short is that, if all goes according to plan, we're shooting it only for a pitch. So, I really wanted to concentrate on showing the rules of the world. How does Albert interact with objects around him? How do Stanley and Albert communicate? How does the world see/interact with Albert? I definitely want to tell a story though - the story of how they almost split up on their very first day together, and how they agreed to take the journey together. It's an introduction to the series.

I'll keep working it. See if I can't get the story to stand out more.

Again, thanks! Good stuff.


PaulKWrites.com

60 Feet Under - Low budget, contained thriller/Feature
The Hand of God - Low budget, semi-contained thriller/Feature

Many shorts available for production: comedy, thriller, drama, light horror
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