What surprised me most from the audiences was how difficult it was for them to follow the opening. Originally we opened on the pharmacy – David, our hero, is tired (pale, dark circles, unkempt hair) and he’s staring at laxatives. It should be a funny image, right? But it wasn’t. The small people I tested the movie with didn’t laugh. We cut wide to reveal the pharmacy and the fact that it is dark outside – the middle of the night. Then the pharmacist comes out and starts talking about his favorite stool softeners. He hands some pills to David and the camera moves right to reveal the animated character – at this point it is Cartoon David, a younger, hipper, thinner version of our lead character. Cartoon David looks at David and the Pharmacist and then turns directly to the audience and says: “I think I’m going to vomit.”

This is a great joke. And it should have gotten a great laugh. Nope. Nothing. Crickets.

Dingus "Time To Pay The Friend Tax" Poster

Dingus “Time To Pay The Friend Tax” Poster

I showed the movie to a few editor friends. They looked at it and said something amazing and obvious – there is too much going on here; the audience is way too busy trying to figure out what is happening to laugh. 

  1. Who is this guy? Do we like him?
  2. Why is he looking at laxatives? Is it for him? Is he constipated? Are they missing something?
  3. WOAH – there’s a cartoon mixed in with the real people? Who is that? What’s going on?
Making "Married Young"

Making “Married Young”

This should be a mandatory lesson for anyone who wants to write comedy: there is no room for confusion. The opening moments of anything – a novel, a song, a movie, even a commercial – the opening moments the artist is teaching the audience how to watch. With humor, we need to give the audience permission to laugh. The opening is crucial. We have to take the audience by the hand and guide them to the proper state of mind to watch.

I had to answer these questions and answer them quickly and seamlessly. Yes, David is a good guy – he’s our hero. No the laxatives are not for him; they are for his wife. He has left his bed in the middle of the night because his pregnant wife is constipated (makes him a good guy). And yes, there is an animated version of David – big deal. It is his inner voice. We all have one… don’t we? (Or am I the one who is schizophrenic?)

Making "Married Young"

Making “Married Young”

My friend Jason Venokur (a terrific comedy writer) came up with the idea of recording a scene between David and Cartoon David. We could do it over black/opening titles. Maybe it was a conversation about where they are going. Maybe Cartoon David is excited to go out and party, but no, real David has to go on a horrible middle of the night journey to the pharmacy to deal with his wife’s poop. I thought we could throw in some funny jokes. Maybe Cartoon David wants to go see a porn flick. It would sound like two friends going out and then when we opened on them in the pharmacy, we would reveal the crazy reality that the irresponsible friend is a cartoon.

It was a good idea. And it helped. No Room For Confusion. But boy, we still had a lot of problems. So I moved on from the opening issue and tried to solve some of the issues deeper into the movie.  But so much for having No Room For Confusion.  I’ll tackle those deeper issues in another installment.

 

Please rate this story, and share it with your friends?  1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)

Loading...

Previous Post In This Story Thread: http://thecameraforum.com/discovering-your-movie/

    Leave a Reply

    About Daniel Kaufman

    - IMDb Mini Biography By: Daniel Kaufman Although most known for directing over 400 commercials, Daniel still remains active in long-form content. With his co-writer, Michael Craven, he wrote the feature screenplay, "Big Shot," which won the Gold Prize in Comedy at the PAGE International Screenplay Awards being chosen from more than 1900 other entries. His script, "Clean," won the Samuel Goldwyn writing award, and another script "The Conversation Piece," is in active development. Mr. Kaufman's short-films have also won awards, and are screened around the world. In April 2012, Mr. Kaufman completed "Listen to Grandpa, Andy Ling" - a TV pilot starring Elliott Gould (as Director/Executive Producer ). Mr. Kaufman is also a leader in the world of Internet content and has created viral web pieces for companies like LG Televisions and Old Navy that have garnered more than 15,000,000 unique views. Mr. Kaufman's current project is the feature film, "Married Young," set to go into production in August 2013.Daniel Kaufman is a multiple award winning commercial director who has worked with such clients as Budweiser, McDonalds, Nestle, Walmart and Comcast and with top-level advertising agencies like Goodby-Silverstein, McCann Erickson and TBWA/Chiat-Day. His work has garnered many accolades - AICP Honors (3 times), AICE (campaign of the year) and others. Recently he has directed commercials for eHarmony, X-Box, the NFL, Boston Market, ABC, Comedy Central, Toyota and Ikea. One of the unusual aspects of Mr. Kaufman's advertising career is that he is often asked to write and concept the very commercials that he directs - something which rarely happens in the industry. Consequently, in 2006 he opened BOGADA, a boutique advertising agency and production company to service the needs of several clients including Insight Communications, the country's eighth largest cable television operator.As an author/photographer, Daniel wrote the book "To Be A Man" (Simon & Shuster, 1994), in which he visually explored the issue of male identity and conflicting gender expectations. His photographic work has been viewed in solo and group shows around the country and internationally. Before moving to the creative side of the industry, Mr. Kaufman was an executive in the business of film and television production and distribution. He was Vice-President of Acquisition at Caleco Pictures and Vice-President of Development at Ron Lyon Productions.As an actor, Daniel trained with the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He has more than fifty professional stage credits as well as numerous film and television appearances.Mr. Kaufman graduated Magna Cum Laude from UC Berkeley. He has a Master of Fine Arts in Film Directing from UCLA (where he was the only Film student in the 75 year history to also complete the theater directing course). He also is an Acting Associate to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama - the Associate School of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

    Category

    Making A Movie

    Tags

    , , , , , , , , ,